Mandeville, LA – Today is the day we celebrate the Feast of The Holy Family, given to us by God as The example to model our lives by and for the young to aspire to begin families in their image. In a world gone mad and given to the most hideous practices of “family-life” e.g. the obsession with helping 5 year olds to “transition”, the Holy Family’s example deservedly shines as a beacon to illuminate this age of familial sacrilege.
The recognition of The Holy Family has roots that extend all the way back to the writing of the Gospels when Saint Luke tells us that after finding Our Lord in the temple “he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was subject to them”.
In his speech titled Obedience and Love, Bishop Fulton Sheen takes this passage and explains the beauty and humility of Our Lord and the holiness of his family as the greatest example there ever was.
“What adds particular emphasis to the fact of His obedience was that Our Blessed Lord was subject to parents so much His inferiors — even as a creature is far below a Creator. One day the sun in the heavens, in obedience to the voice of a Man, stopped in its course. So, obedient to the voice of Mary, the Light of the World submitted for thirty years — I might almost say that it stopped in full midday to illumine, embrace, and enrich her for all eternity.”
And that Our Lord was subject to the greatest model of fatherhood God ever created, the Bible’s only “just man”, Saint Joseph. Bishop Sheen continues.
“If Joseph ever bade Him search for a tool that was lost, it was the Wisdom of God and the Shepherd in search of lost souls who was actually doing the seeking. If Joseph taught Him carpentry, He Who was taught was One Who had carpentered the universe and Who would one day be put to death by the members of His own profession. If He made a yoke for the oxen of a neighbor, it was He Who would call Himself a yoke for men —– and yet a burden that would be light.”
I have spoken of the fact that the entire civilization of Man can be brought into existence and made to flourish through the Divine prose of the 4th Commandment, that is the Family, made Holy by God’s Grace, contra the example of the Prince of this world; Bishop Sheen concurs.
But there is no evidence that Jesus limited Mary and Joseph to the mere nominal right to command. The Gospel says: “He lived there in subjection to them.” Two great miracles of humility and exaltation are involved — God obeying a woman, and a woman commanding her God. The very fact that He makes Himself subject endows her with power. By this long span of voluntary obedience, He revealed that the Fourth Commandment is the bedrock of family life. For, looking at it in a larger way, how could the primal sin of disobedience against God be undone except by the obedience in the flesh of the very God Who was defied? The first revolt in God’s universe of peace was the thunderbolt of Lucifer: “I will not obey!” Eden caught up the echo, and down the ages its infraction traveled, winging its way into the nook and crevices of every family where there were gathered a father, a mother, and a child. By making Himself subject to Mary and Joseph, the Divine Child proclaims authority in the home and in public life to be a power granted by God Himself.
In her one of a kind work, Maria Cecilia Baij, O.S.B., The Life of Saint Joseph, Our Lord manifested revelation to Sister Cecilia about the life of Saint Joseph. In one of them, the fining of Our Lord in the temple is revealed in detail.
The divine youth, meanwhile, had concluded his expositions. And everyone applauded. Jesus now hastened to his mother who was lovingly waiting for him, and who declared: “son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have sought you amid great sorrow.“ Jesus answered Her with majesty, while Joseph remained silent, being too overcome with consolation to speak. He was quite satisfied just to have again found his All, and he could not get his fill of the satisfaction which you derive from contemplating the Savior. In his joy he wept.
Many of those present in the temple congratulated Mary and Joseph on their son, and they all urged that they give him special attention since he showed promise of being a man of eminence and a prophet. Joseph praised and thanked God for all of this, but even as he was making these various protestations to him, he also abased himself before Him, acknowledged his own nothingness, and gave all glory to Him alone.
After they praised and adored God for a time together, the holy family left the temple and the city of Jerusalem to return to Nazareth. Jesus was now always in their midst, but Joseph still kept an attentive eye upon him, fearful that he might again separate himself from them. Jesus assured him that he would not do so again, and after that Joseph felt very much relieved.
This work is available in paperback in our store, click here to read the whole thing.
THE HOLY FAMILY, NOT JUST FOR MODERNS ANYMORE
The devotion to The Holy Family can be seen in sermons preached by the author of the Memoraré Prayer, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux.
“Who was subject to whom? A God to men. God, I repeat, to Whom the angels are subject: Whom principalities and powers obey: was subject to Mary; and not alone to Mary, but to Joseph also, because of Mary. Learn, O Man, to obey. Learn, O Earth, to be subject. Learn, O Dust, to submit. The Evangelist in speaking of thy Maker says: He was subject to them; that is, without doubt, to Mary and to Joseph. Learn, O Man, to obey. Learn, O Earth, to be subject. Learn, O Dust, to submit.
The Evangelist in speaking of thy Maker says: He was subject to them ; that is, without doubt, to Mary and to Joseph. Be you ashamed, vain ashes that you are. God humbles Himself, and do you exalt yourself? God becomes subject to men, and will you, eager to lord it over men, place yourself above your Maker? O would that God might deign to make me, thinking such thoughts at times in my own mind, such answer as He made, reproving him, to His apostle: Go behind Me, Satan: because thou savorest not the things that are of God.”
LONG BEFORE THERE WAS HOCKEY IN CANADA, THERE WAS THE HOLY FAMILY!
The story of the Feast of The Holy Family becoming a traditional part of our Catholic lives and thus into the Liturgical calendar, passes through Canada and the noble, humble service of French Catholics to convert the native inhabitants of this continent. Barbara d’Hillehoust, and her husband Louis, had ventured from France to Canada in 1643 to work among the Indians. After her husband died, she was invited to Montreal, Quebec, where she founded an Association of the Holy Family in 1663. She received the encouragement of Monsignor François de Laval who was to become Bishop of Quebec. In 1675, Bishop de Laval had a little book printed in Paris instructing the members of the confraternity as to virtuous practices and established The Feast of the Holy Family, and had a mass and office drawn up which were proper to the Diocese of Québec.
Later Barbara d’Hillehoust’s work received the attention of the saintly Pope Leo XIII, who raised the Association to the rank of an Arch-Confraternity. On June 14th, 1892 in his Apostolic Letter Breve Neminem Fugit, Pope Leo XIII wrote.
“From the foregoing it is evident how natural and fitting it was that devotion to the Holy Family should in due time have grown up amongst Catholics; and once begun, that it should spread far and wide. Proof of this lies first in the sodalities instituted under the protection of the Holy Family; then in the unique honors bestowed upon it; and above all, by the privileges and favors granted to this devotion by our predecessors to stimulate fervor and piety in its regard. This devotion was already held in great esteem in the seventeenth century. Widely propagated in Italy, France, and Belgium, it spread over almost the whole of Europe ; thence, crossing the wide ocean, through Canada it made is way in the Americas, and finding favor there, became very flourishing. Indeed, among Christian families, nothing more salutary nor efficacious can be imagined than the example of the Holy Family, where are to be found all domestic virtues in perfection and completeness. When Jesus, Mary, and Joseph are invoked in the home, charity is likely to be maintained in the family through their example and heavenly entreaty ; a good influence is thus exerted over conduct ; the practice of virtue is thus incited ; and thus the hardships which are everywhere wont to harass mankind, are both mitigated and made easier to bear.”
MARK YOUR CALENDARS, THE HOLY FAMILY FEAST BECOMES DOCTRINE
On October 26, 1921 the Congregation of Rites (under Pope Benedict XV) inserted The Feast of the Holy Family into the Latin Rite general calendar and was thus extended to the entire Church. The Vatican’s instructions for the celebration should be published in every Church bulletin this Sunday as a reminder and exhortation to the Faithful to mold their lives into conformity and devotion, to those of the Holy Family.
The feast of the holy family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph is a festive occasion particularly suitable for the celebration of rites or moments of prayer proper to the Christian family. The recollection of Joseph, Mary and Jesus’ going up to Jerusalem, together with other observant Jewish families, for the celebration of the Passover (cf. Lk 2, 41-42), should normally encourage a positive acceptance of the pastoral suggestion that all members of the family attend Mass on this day. This feast day also affords an opportunity for the renewal of our entrustment to the patronage of the Holy Family of Nazareth; the blessing of children as provided in the ritual; and where opportune, for the renewal of marriage vows taken by the spouses on their wedding day, and also for the exchange of promises between those engaged to be married in which they formalize their desire to found a new Christian family.
Outside of the feast, the faithful have frequent recourse to the Holy Family of Nazareth in many of life’s circumstances: joining the Association of the Holy Family so as to model their own families on the Holy Family of Nazareth; frequent prayers to entrust themselves to the patronage of the Holy Family and to obtain assistance at the hour of death. – Pope Benedict XV
No Liturgical Feast Is Complete Without Popping The Cork on Some Dom!
The French monk who labored so long to revive liturgical tradition and piety in France, Dom Prosper Gueranger, waxes on the mystical and contemplative beauty of this Feast of The Holy Family.
THIS SUNDAY has been chosen by the Church for the celebration of the Feast of the Holy Family; the liturgy of the day, as expressed in the Gospel, harmonizes well with the mystery of the new Feast, for it already carries us forward to the childhood of our Emmanuel and gives us those wonderful words which, after the example of his Blessed Mother, we must ever ponder within our hearts: And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was subject to them… If we have kept before our eyes the example of the holy Family, we may humbly trust that at the hour of our death we shall be helped and consoled and be found worthy to have fellowship with Christ in the eternal dwellings. Such is the last prayer of the Church, and may it be the one we love to repeat and dwell on. – Dom Prosper Gueranger, The Liturgical Year, Volume III, Christmas Book Two
O’ Holy Family, Jesus, Mary and Joseph, oremus!