February 1, 2016

February is Dedicated to Honoring the Holy Family

The Holy Family
The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph is the model for all Christian families. Beginning in the 17th century, devotion to the Holy Family spread throughout the Church. In 1893, Pope Leo XIII approved the feast of the Holy Family; composing part of the Office observing it. Since ancient times, the Coptic Church has celebrated this memorial in light of the flight into Egypt. Succeeding Pontiffs have affirmed the feast as an efficacious means of reminding Christians of the sanctity of the family and it's essential role in disseminating the faith.

The example of the Holy Family at Nazareth is a template for the restoration of family life and a safeguard against diabolical, present-day attempts to redefine or destroy the institution as ordained by God at the start of humanity.
Nothing truly can be more salutary or efficacious for Christian families to meditate upon than the example of this Holy Family, which embraces the perfection and completeness of all domestic virtues.
— Pope Leo XIII

The Hidden Life of the Holy Family
The home of Nazareth is the school where we begin to understand the life of Jesus— the school of the Gospel. First, then, a lesson of silence. May esteem for silence, that admirable and indispensable condition of mind, revive in us...A lesson on family life. May Nazareth teach us what family life is, its communion of love, its austere and simple beauty, and its sacred and inviolable character...A lesson of work. Nazareth, home of the Carpenter's Son, in you I would choose to understand and proclaim the severe and redeeming law of human work.
— Pope Paul VI at Nazareth, January 5, 1964

Since the Holy Family observed the Jewish law in its perfection, we can deduce quite accurately what prayers they recited. The Psalms, of course, were the favorites. Three times a day Jesus, Mary, and Joseph said the Tephillah, "The Prayer," consisting of eighteen long invocations and blessings. Joseph (and later Jesus when He attained to manhood) was obliged to say the Shema, a sort of profession of faith in the one true God, twice daily.

A very interesting Jewish custom of prayer that must have been observed in the house at Nazareth was that of the Mezuzah, "the doorpost," and the "phylacteries," small square calfskin boxes with Scripture texts written on parchment inside them.

On the doorpost of the house at Nazareth was fastened a wooden tube containing a rolled parchment inscribed with the passage quoted above from the Book of Deuteronomy and another passage [11:13-21] citing the blessings of serving God. On entering and leaving the house the members of the Holy Family would piously touch this Mezuzah, saying, "May God keep my going out and coming in from now on and forevermore." All this was intended to show reverence for the word of God.

Such was the vocal and the more or less formal prayer which Jesus, Mary, and Joseph offered in their home at Nazareth. In their hearts, however, they prayed always. Just as the Heart of Jesus was constantly united with His divinity, so were the hearts of Mary and Joseph so closely bound to God that their every action was a prayer.

Excerpted from Reflections on the Life of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, Francis L. Filas, S.J.

Prayer to the Holy Family

Lord Jesus Christ, who, being made subject to Mary and Joseph, didst consecrate domestic life by Thine ineffable virtues; grant that we, with the assistance of both, may be taught by the example of Thy holy Family and may attain to its everlasting fellowship. Who livest and reignest, world without end. Amen.

The Holy Family Prayer

JESUS, Son of God and Son of Mary, bless our family. Graciously inspire in us the unity, peace, and mutual love that you found in your own family in the little town of Nazareth.

MARY, Mother of Jesus and Our Mother, nourish our family with your faith and your love. Keep us close to your Son, Jesus, in all our sorrows and joys.

JOSEPH, Foster-father to Jesus, guardian and spouse of Mary, keep our family safe from harm. Help us in all times of discouragement or anxiety.

HOLY FAMILY OF NAZARETH, make our family one with you. Help us to be instruments of peace. Grant that love, strengthened by grace, may prove mightier than all the weaknesses and trials through which our families sometimes pass. May we always have God at the center of our hearts and homes until we are all one family, happy and at peace in our true home with you. Amen.

Prayer Before the Blessed Sacrament in Honor of the Holy Family

Grant us, O Lord Jesus, faithfully to imitate the examples of Thy Holy Family, so that in the hour of our death, in the company of Thy glorious Virgin Mother and St. Joseph, we may deserve to be received by Thee into eternal tabernacles. Amen.

Catholic Holy Family Collect

Let us pray
[for peace in our families]

Father,
help us to live as the Holy Family,
united in respect and love.
Bring us to the joy and peace of your eternal home.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Alternate Catholic Holy Family Collect

Let us pray
[as the family of God who share in his life]

Father in heaven, creator of all,
you ordered the earth to bring forth life,
and crowned its goodness
by creating the family of man.
In history's moment when all was ready
You sent your Son to dwell in time,
obedient to the laws of life in our world.
Teach us the sanctity of human love,
show us the value of family life,
and help us to live in peace with all men
that we may share in your life forever.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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