Saint Brigid Religious Education
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West Hartford, CT 06110

Holy Days

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.

The Holy 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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