The month of February – In honour of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

The Most of Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

The month of February is dedicated to the Holy Family. The special devotion which proposes the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph as the model of virtue of all Christian households began in the 17th century. It started almost simultaneously in Canada and France: the Association of the Holy Family was founded in Montreal in 1663, and by the Daughters of the Holy Family in Paris in 1674. This devotion soon spread and in 1893 Leo XIII expressed his approval of a feast under this title and himself composed part of the Office. On account of the flight into Egypt this feast has been observed by the Copts from early times. The feast was welcomed by succeeding Pontiffs as an efficacious means for bringing home to the Christian people the example of the Holy Family at Nazareth, and by the restoration of the true spirit of family life, stemming, in some measure, the evils of present-day society.

In the words of His Holiness Pope Leo XIII, “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.”

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. — 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.

(Article courtesy of Catholicculture.org)

Prayer to the Holy Family

O Jesus, only-begotten Son of the Eternal Father, well-beloved Son of the Blessed Virgin and foster Child of St. Joseph, we most fervently implore Thee, through Mary Thine ever-blessed Mother and St. Joseph Thy foster father, take our children under Thy special charge and enclose them in the love of Thy Sacred Heart. They are the children of Thy Father in Heaven, created after His own image; they are Thy possession, for Thou hast purchased them with Thy Precious Blood; they are temples of the Holy Spirit, who sanctified them in Baptism and implanted in their hearts the virtues of faith, hope and charity.

O most loving Jesus, rule and guide them, that they may live according to the holy Catholic Faith, that they may not waver in their confidence in Thee and that they may ever remain faithful to Thy love.

O Mary, Blessed Mother of Jesus, grant to our children a place in thy pure maternal heart! Spread over them thy protecting mantle when danger threatens their innocence; keep them firm when they are about to stray from the path of virtue; and should they have the misfortune of falling into mortal sin, oh, then raise them up again, reconcile them with thy Divine Son and restore them to Sanctifying Grace.

And thou, O holy foster father St. Joseph, do not abandon our children! Protect them from the assaults of the wicked enemy and deliver them from all dangers of soul and body.
O dear parents of the holy Child Jesus! Intercede for us parents also, that we may bring up our children in the love and fear of God and one day attain with them the Beatific Vision.
Amen.