Feast of the Holy Family: Christians heed ways of Mary, Joseph, Jesus

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 29: Marriage and family are celebrated throughout the Catholic Church and, today, the faithful look to one family in particular for blessings and guidance: Today is the Feast of the Holy Family. In 2014, the focus of the Extraordinary meeting of the Synod of Bishops will be marriage and family—which Pope Francis addressed questions for in a recent Vatican interview—and for most Christians, there is no better model than Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Although the Bible tells very little about the childhood of Jesus, many writers down through the centuries have added stories about the family’s life together. (In fact, ReadTheSpirit is recommending a new book about the boyhood of Jesus by Chris Stepien, called Three Days.)

St. Bernard of Clairvaux wrote about the remarkable situation of Jesus living in his parents’ home: “God, to whom angels submit themselves and who principalities and powers obey, was subject to Mary; and not only to Mary but Joseph also for Mary’s sake [….]. God obeyed a human creature; this is humility without precedent. A human creature commands God; it is sublime beyond measure.” (First Homily on the ‘Missus Est’).

Veneration of the Holy Family officially began in the 17th century with Blessed Francois de Laval, the first bishop of New France, and it was instituted by Pope Leo XIII in 1893. Though the feast day has moved around the Church calendar through the years, it now occurs in the Sunday within the Octave of Christmas. (Wikipedia has details.)

For home-based resources:  Catholic Culture suggests appropriate prayers and activities, including an array of Lebanese recipes the like of which Mary would have prepared for Jesus and Joseph.