from Saint Andrew Daily Missal:
“Is it not fitting,” says Leo XIII, “to celebrate the royal birth of the Son of the supreme Father, of the house of David and the glorious names of that ancient line? Yet it is more consoling for us to call to memory the little house at Nazareth and the humble life lived there; thus celebrating the hidden life of our Lord. For there the divine Child received his training in Joseph’s humble trade; there hidden and sheltered, He grew up and showed Himself ready to share the toil of a carpenter’s life. Let the moisture,” he seemed to say, “trickle over my limbs before they are drenched with the torrent of my blood, and the pain of this labour shall go to atone for the sins of men.” Close to the divine Child is His tender Mother; close to Joseph stands his devoted wife, happy to relieve their toil and suffering by her loving care: O Thou, who Wait not free from toil and care and who hast known adversity, come to the aid of the unfortunate, crippled by poverty and struggling against the difficulties of life”.
In this lowly dwelling at Nazareth, by practising the domestic virtues of charity, obedience, mutual help and regard, Jesus, Mary and Joseph hallowed family life . There too they constantly found joy and peace in recollection and prayer in common. May the great Christian family practise here on earth the virtues of the Holy Family, so meriting a life in their blessed company in Heaven.
Benedict XV, being desirous of securing for souls the blessings flowing from meditation on the virtues of the Holy Family and from their imitation, extended this feast to the universal Church, fixing its observance for the Sunday in the Octave of the Epiphany.
“He was subject to them.”
“Who was subject?” St. Bernard asks, “and to whom?”
“A God to men! Yes, the God whom the angels serve, whom the Principalities and Powers obey. He was subject to Mary and not to Mary only, but to Joseph also, for Mary’s sake. That a God should obey a human creature; here is humility without parallel. That the same human creature should command God; here is height and depth nowhere else attained. Man, learn to obey. Earth, learn to consent to a low estate. Dust, learn to humble yourself, for the Evangelist says of your Creator; “He was subject to them,” and there is no doubt that this means, to Mary and Joseph. Blush then, proud ashes. A God humbles Himself; while you exalt yourself. A God becomes subject to men, while you, seeking to rule over men, put yourself above your Creator. O Man, if you will not condescend to follow the example of a man, surely it will not be beneath you to follow your Creator.”
The most efficacious method of embracing the depth of God’s love for us, in order to convey this love to others, is by meditating upon the face of Jesus, or upon the face of His Blessed Mother. Similarly, the most efficacious way to understand the potential of our particular family is by meditating on the Holy Family. This feast day is one in which we can reflect on the Holy Family as a model for our family lives.
The Holy Family was a family like no other. However, a meditation on the relationships which governed this family unit is not a dry and academic exercise: This was a family which operated in simple love and obedience to God’s will and to each other. It was a family that was not powerful or wealthy, but which, nevertheless, had an effect upon the world and humanity for the subsequent history of mankind. This was a family that changed the course of history and touched all of us.
Each family has dimensions that are both legal and material, but also metaphysical and spiritual. In reflecting on the nature and dynamics of the Holy Family, we are assisted in understanding the potential within ourselves upon which we can draw, individually and as a group.
Today, it is especially important to understand and to teach the values of Christ within the Church at home. In the circumstances of the individual family, it is possible to meditate upon those family values and to resolve to approach the tasks of the home and the relationships with family members with renewed generosity of spirit, humility and selflessness – to give love to each member of the family generously and to give without taking score.
There is, however, another aspect to the family that has a potentially powerful political effect: The family is the nucleus of our society. It is for this reason that totalitarian regimes seek to target and destroy the family and to weaken the family bonds in order to indoctrinate the young. It is within the family unit that the young person learns to think as an individual, to develop a moral code by which the courage to resist populist doctrines can be imbued and where the values of a harmonious culture are instilled.
We are currently in a post sexual revolution world where the consequences of the sexual revolution reveal to us families that are split, sexuality that is confusing, and where young people are exposed to, and expected to participate in, behaviour for which they are not emotionally equipped. We are in a crisis in the Church where the sexual abuse scandals have resulted in a generation of priests and young people who have been scandalized and victimized by the actions of predatory people who have abused trust. Now, more than ever, we need strong and faithful Catholics to defend Holy Mother Church and to openly and honestly teach and live by her Truths. We need courageous people who will defend the family.
This is a battle which is fought simply by living a life which reflects, as much as is possible, the values of the Holy Family and the teachings of Jesus Christ. In doing so, we must strive to make our home a sanctuary, a place of refuge and love, where the love of God is directed to those within our family and to all people as created in God’s image.
ACT OF CONSECRATION TO THE HOLY FAMILY
“O Jesus, our most loving Saviour! Thou Who was sent down from heaven to enlighten the world by Thy teaching and example, and Who willed to pass the greater part of Thy holy life in Nazareth, subject to Mary and Joseph, and thereby did allow the household which was to be a pattern for all Christian families, do Thou in Thy goodness receive our household which this day consecrates itself to Thee. Protect and guard us, strengthen us in holy fear, establish in our hearts the peace and concord of Christian charity, so that each one of us, becoming like to the Divine model of Thy family, may be sharers of eternal joy.
O Mary, most loving Mother of Jesus Christ, our Mother, through thy love and mercy intercede, that Jesus receive this act of Consecration and pour out His graces and blessings.
O Joseph, most holy guardian of Jesus and Mary, help us by thy prayers in all our necessities, both of body and soul: that together with the Blessed Virgin Mary and thyself we shall praise and thank Jesus Christ, our Divine Redeemer.”