Feast of The Holy Family
Friday, December 30th, 2016
Family is the name given to the family unit 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
Devotion to the Holy
Family is a recent development, but one that naturally grows out of
a love for Jesus and his family. The cult of 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 Latin Rite general 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. Today the Church celebrates the Feast on the Sunday between
Christmas and New Year’s Day (Known as the Feast of Mary Mother of
God in the Catholic Church). If both Christmas and New Year’s Day
fall on Sundays, no Sunday exists between the two dates, so the
Church celebrates the Holy Family Feast on December 30th. If the
feast falls on the 30th, attendance is not obligatory. Up until
1969, the Holy Family feast was kept on the first Sunday after the
Epiphany. It was transferred to its current date in 1969.
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, and
for domestic life in general. Our family life becomes sanctified
when we live the life of the Church within our homes. This is called
the “domestic church” or the “church in miniature.” St. John
Chrysostom urged all Christians to make each home a “family church,”
and in doing so, we sanctify the family unit. Just how does one live
out the Church in the family? The best way is by making Christ and
his Church the center of family and individual life. Ways to do this
include: reading scripture regularly, praying daily, attending Mass
at least on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation, imitating the
actions of the Holy Family, and so forth, all done together as a
In addition to cultivating positive actions, the Church understands
that various actions and behaviors are contrary to God’s Divine plan
for the family, and these should be avoided. These include abortion,
contraception, same-sex marriage, polygamy, embryonic stem-cell
research, divorce, spousal abuse, child abuse, and co-habitation.
Catholic Teaching is that a marriage must be open to children.
Anything artificial that prevents this is contrary to divine law.
Also, poverty, lack of health care, and other social justice
concerns must be addressed by faithful Christians because of the
negative effect these conditions have on the family unit.
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? Finally, we can use this feast to
ask ourselves what are we doing to promote the family within our own
cultures, neighborhoods, and communities.
For more Information, please contact the
Parish Office at
email@example.com or phone 818.986.8234