Why is this Feast celebrated on the first Sunday after Epiphany instead
of closer to Christmas?
Because in Old Testament Law, a child wasn't a son of Abraham or a true
part of the family until his circumcision at 8 days of age, an event of
Christ's life that we celebrated on 1
January (from 25 December to 1
January are 8 days).1
Some may prepare for the day by making a Novena to the Holy Family such that
it ends on the eve of this feast, and there are a number of other
private devotions associated with this day, including the
blessing of children by their parents, the private renewal of marriage
vows, and consecration of the family to the Holy
to the Holy Family
O Jesus, our most loving Redeemer, who having come to enlighten the
world with Thy teaching and example, didst will to pass the greater
part of Thy life in humility and subjection to Mary and Joseph in the
poor home of Nazareth, thus sanctifying the Family that was to be an
example for all Christian families, graciously receive our family as it
dedicates and consecrates itself to Thee this day. Do Thou protect us,
guard us and establish amongst us Thy holy fear, true peace and concord
in Christian love: in order that by living according to the divine
pattern of Thy family we may be able, all of us without exception, to
attain to eternal happiness.
Mary, dear Mother of Jesus and Mother of us, by the kindly intercession
make this our humble offering acceptable in the sight of Jesus, and
obtain for us His graces and blessings.
O Saint Joseph, most holy Guardian of Jesus and Mary, help us by thy
prayers in all our spiritual and temporal needs; that so we may be
enabled to praise our divine Savior Jesus, together with Mary and thee,
for all eternity. Amen.
Say an Our
Father, Hail Mary, and Glory be three times.
year, your family would undoubtedly benefit from this prayer, from the
1910 Raccolta, to God, the Holy Family, the three Archangels named in
Sacred Scripture, and the family's guardian angels and patron Saints:
God of bounty
and of mercy, to Thy almighty protection we commend our home, our
family and all we possess. Bless us all, as Thou didst bless the Holy
Family at Nazareth.
O Jesus, our most blessed Saviour, by the love with which Thou didst
become man for our salvation, by Thy mercy in dying for us on the
Cross, bless, we beseech Thee, our home, our family and our household;
preserve us from every evil and from the snares of men; protect us from
lightning and hail, from fire, flood and tempest; preserve us from Thy
wrath, from the hatred and the evil designs of our enemies, from
pestilence, famine and war. Let not any one of us die without the holy
Sacraments; grant us Thy blessing, that we may bravely confess that
faith by which we are sanctified, that we may preserve our hope in
sorrow and in affliction, and that we may redouble our love of Thee and
our charity towards our neighbour. O Jesus, bless and protect us.
O Mary, mother of grace and of mercy, bless us, defend us against the
evil spirit, lead us by the hand across this vale of tears, reconcile
us with thy Son, and commend us to Him that we may be made worthy of
O holy Joseph, reputed father of our Saviour, guardian of His most
blessed Mother, head of the Holy Family, intercede for us, and bless
and protect our habitation at all times.
St. Michael, defend us against all the malice of hell.
St. Gabriel, make us ever to seek the holy will of God.
St. Raphael, preserve us from sickness and all danger of death.
Ye holy angels, our guardians, keep us day and night in the way of
Ye holy saints, our patrons, pray for us before the throne of God.
Bless this our home, O God the Father, Who hast created us; O God the
Son, Who hast suffered for us on the Cross; O God the Holy Spirit, Who
hast sanctified us in baptism. May God in His three Divine Persons
preserve our bodies, purify our souls, guide our hearts and lead us to
eternal life. Glory be to the Father, glory be to the Son, glory be to
the Holy Ghost. Amen.
It's a good day
to think of the ways that your family can better emulate the Holy
Family. How can you, as a mother, make your heart more like the heart of Our Lady? How can you,
as a father, make your heart more like St. Joseph's? How can you, as a
son, better honor your parents and grandparents by embracing the Sacred Heart of Christ and emulating Christ's
submission and obedience? How can you make your domestic church holier,
happier, more joyous, and more fun?
Note that throughout the year, it's traditional for Catholics to honor
the Holy Family by writing
"J.M.J." -- sometimes with a cross on either side -- at the tops of
homework, and other such writings. The letters stand, of course, for
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.
The Feast of
the Holy Family
By St. Bernard of Clairvaux
In Mary we
praise that which places her above all others, that is, fruitfulness of
offspring together with virginity. For never has it been known in this
world that anyone was at the same time mother and virgin. And see of
Whom she is mother. Where does your astonishment at this so wondrous
dignity lead you? Is it not to this, that you may gaze in wonder yet
never sufficiently revere? Is she not in your veneration, nay, in the
esteem of Truth itself, raised above choirs of angels? Does not Mary
address the Lord and God of all the angels as Son, saying: Son, why
hast thou done so to us?
Who among the angels may thus presume? It is enough for them, and for
them their greatest honour, that while they are spirits by nature they
have become and are called angels, as David testifies: Who makest thy
angels spirits. Mary, knowing herself mother, with confidence calls
that Majesty Son Whom the angels in reverence serve. Nor does God
disdain to be called that which He disdained not to be. For the
Evangelist adds a little later: He was subject to them.
Who was subject to whom? A God to men. God, I repeat, to Whom the
angels are subject: Whom principalities and powers obey: was subject to
Mary; and not alone to Mary, but to Joseph also, because of Mary.
Admire and revere both the one and the other, and choose which you
admire the more: the most sweet condescension of the Son, or the
sublime dignity of the Mother. For either am I at a loss for words: for
both are wondrous. For that God should obey a woman is humility without
compare; and that a woman should have rule over God dignity without
equal. In praise of virgins is it joyfully proclaimed: that they follow
the lamb withersoever he goeth. Of what praise shall you esteem her
worthy who also goeth before Him?
Learn, O Man, to obey. Learn, O Earth, to be subject. Learn, O Dust, to
submit. The Evangelist in speaking of thy Maker says: He was subject to
them; that is, without doubt, to Mary and to Joseph. Be you ashamed,
vain ashes that you are. God humbles Himself, and do you exalt
yourself? God becomes subject to men, and will you, eager to lord it
over men, place yourself above your Maker? O would that God might deign
to make me, thinking such thoughts at times in my own mind, such answer
as He made, reproving him, to His apostle: Go behind Me, Satan: because
thou savorest not the things that are of God.
For as often as I desire to be foremost among men, so often do I seek
to take precedence of God; and so do I not truly savour the things that
are of God. For of Him was it said: And he was subject to them. If you
disdain, O Man, to follow the example of a Man, at least it will not
lower thee to imitate thy Maker. If perhaps you cannot follow Him
wheresoever He goeth, at least follow in that wherein He has come down
If you are unable to follow Him on the sublime way of virginity, then
follow God by that most sure way of humility; from whose straitness
should some even from among the virgins go aside, then must I say what
is true, that neither do they follow the Lamb withersoever he goeth. He
that is humble, even though he be stained, he follows the Lamb; so too
does the proud virgin; but neither of the two whithersoever He goeth:
because the one cannot ascend to the purity of the Lamb that is without
stain, nor will the other deign to come down to the meekness of the
Lamb, Who stood silent, not merely before the shearer, but before the
one that put Him to death. Yet the sinner who makes after Him in
humility, has chosen a wholesomer part than the one that is proud in
his virtue; since the humble repentance of the one washes away
uncleanness, but the pride of the other contaminates his own virtue.
Truly blessed was Mary who possessed both humility and virginity. And
truly wondrous the virginity whose fruitfulness stained not, but
adorned her; and truly singular the humility, which this fruitful
virginity has not troubled, but rather exalted; and wholly incomparable
the fruitfulness which goes hand in hand with her humility and her
virginity. Which of these things is not wondrous? Which is not beyond
all comparison? Which that is not wholly singular? It would be strange
if you did not hesitate to decide which you regard as most worthy of
praise: whether the wonder of fruitfulness of offspring in virginity,
or of virginal integrity in a mother: sublimity of Offspring, or
humility joined to such dignity: unless it be that we place both
together above each one singly: and it is truly beyond any doubt more
excellent and more joyful to have beheld these perfections united in
her, than to see but one part of them.
And can we wonder that God, of Whom it is written that He is wonderful
in his saints, shows Himself in His own Mother yet more wondrous still.
Venerate then, Ye spouses, this integrity of flesh in our corruptible
flesh. Revere likewise, Ye virgins, fruitfulness in virginity. Let all
men imitate the humility of God's Mother. Honour, Ye angels, the Mother
of your King, you who adore the Offspring of our Virgin; Who is your
King and our King, the Healer of our race, the Restorer of our
fatherland: Who among you is so sublime, yet among us was so lowly: to
Whose Majesty as well from you as from us let there be adoration and
reverence: to whose Perfection be there honour and glory and empire for
ever and ever. Amen.
Prayer to the Holy Family
Christe, qui Mariae et Ioseph subditus, domesticam vitam ineffabilibus
virtutibus consecrasti: fac nos, utriusque auxilio, Familiae sanctae
tuae exemplis instrui et consortium consequi sempiternum: Qui vivis et
regnas in saecula saeculorum. Amen.
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
In the Novus Ordo, the Feast is remembered on the Sunday
between Christmas Day and January 1 (if both Christmas and January 1
are Sundays, it is celebrated on December 30th).