Categories: General Date: Dec 30, 2017 Title: The Feast of the Holy Family
On Sunday, December 31st, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Family. This Feast is celebrated on the Sunday within the Octave of Christmas. The Feast of the Holy Family was instituted in 1893 by Pope Leo XIII, who was concerned by the apparent general breakdown of the family at the end of the 19th century. It was originally celebrated on the Sunday within the Octave of Epiphany but the date was changed in the liturgical calendar which was promulgated in 1969.
Scripture reveals very little about the early years of the child Jesus. There is an escape to and a sojourn in Egypt, a return to Nazareth and one memorable trip to Jerusalem during which the boy Jesus becomes separated from his parents. It can only be assumed that the Holy Family was an ordinary family. The primary purpose of the Church in establishing this feast is to present the Holy Family as the model and exemplar of all Christian families. The Mass and Office of the Feast of the Holy Family give Christian parents an opportunity to pray that their family life may be sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
As it was explained in Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church which was promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1962,
“The family is, so to speak, the domestic church. In it parents should, by their word and example, be the first preachers of the faith to their children; they should encourage them in the vocation which is proper to each of them, fostering with special care vocation to a sacred state.”