Saint Brigid Religious Education
100 Mayflower Street
West Hartford, CT 06110
Holy Family ~ The Sunday between Christmas and New Year’s Day
The Holy Family is the name given to the family of Jesus. The Divine Son
of God Jesus, his mother Mary, and his foster-father Joseph. We know
very little about the life of the Holy Family through the Canonical
Scriptures. They speak of the early years of the Holy Family, including
the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, the flight into Egypt, and the finding
of Jesus in the temple.
Various non-canonical works, including the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, try
to fill in the blanks. However, even though these apocryphal works may
contain some truth from oral tradition, they have been deemed unworthy
of canonical status because of the way they present Jesus. While the
exact details of the day-to-day life of the Holy Family may be unknown,
we can still learn a lot from the stories we do have.
Devotion to the Holy Family is a recent development, but one that
naturally grows out of a love for Jesus and his family. This devotion to the
Holy Family grew in popularity in the 17th century, and several
religious congregations have been founded under this title.
Family also became portrayed in popular art of the period. On October
26, 1921 the Congregation of Rites, under Pope Benedict XV, inserted the
Feast of the Holy Family into the calendar. Until then it had been
celebrated regionally. Popes before and including Benedict XV,
especially Leo XIII, promoted the feast as a way to counter the
breakdown of the family unit.
The Feast of the Holy Family is not just about the Holy Family, but
about our own families too. The main purpose of the Feast is to present
the Holy Family as the model for all Christian families.
The Holy Family feast is a good time to remember the family unit and
pray for our human and spiritual families. We also may take this feast
to reflect on the value and sanctity of the family unit, and to evaluate
our own family life. What ways may it be improved? What would Jesus,
Mary, and Joseph do?
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