Thought for the Day – 31 December – Feast of the Holy Family and the Seventh Day of the Octave

Thought for the Day – 31 December – Feast of the Holy Family and the Seventh Day of the Octave

Sermon of Saint Bernard for the Feast of the Holy Family
(1090-1153) – Doctor of the ChurchVision of St. Bernard_Munich, AP_1493.Perugino, Virgin Appearing to St. Bernard Italian, 1493holy-family41with st bernard

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. [Ps. 103: 4] 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. [Apoc. 14: 4]   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 savourest not the things that are of God. [Mark 8: 33]

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 to you.

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,[Ps. 67: 36] 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

Mary and Joseph be our teachers and our guides, pray for us and for all the families of the world.holy family pray for us no 2 - 31 dec 2017


Sunday Reflection – 31 December – Feast of the Holy Family and the Seventh Day of the Octave

Sunday Reflection – 31 December – Feast of the Holy Family and the Seventh Day of the Octave

While they were eating, He took some bread, and after a blessing He broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is My body.”   And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them and they all drank from it.   And He said to them, “This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many..…Mark 14:22-24

The only ritual that Christ asks us to repeat, over and over again, is the Eucharist.
In it we remember Him as broken,
poured out,
in anguish.
To celebrate this ritual properly, we need to have in our hearts what Christ has in His at the first Eucharist.
What was He feeling then?

Joy and thanksgiving.   Yes.   LOVE for those at the table with Him.   Surely.  But beyond this, His heart felt anguish, deep longing and fear at the prospect of the pain that was now a certainty before intimacy and community could be achieved.

It would perhaps do all of us good, occasionally when we leave the Eucharist, instead of going to a lively meal with the folks, to go off as Jesus did after the first Eucharist, to a lonely place to have an agony in the garden and to sweat some blood as we ask for strength to drink from the real chalice – the chalice of vulnerability.

Occasionally, when St Augustine handed the Eucharist to a communicant, instead of saying, “the Body of Christ”, he would say, “Receive what you are.”

Augustine had perceived, for whatever reason, that the words of consecration, “this is my body, this is my blood”, are intended more to change the people present, than to change bread and wine.
(Fr R Rolheiser – Light for the World)

Lord Jesus Christ we pray…thank You for abiding with us.
May we always reverence the Holy Eucharist, as Your Real Presence amongst us. Amenthe only ritual - the eucharist - rolheiser - 31 dec 2017


Quote/s of the Day – 31 December – Feast of the Holy Family and the Seventh Day of the Octave

Quote/s of the Day – 31 December – Feast of the Holy Family and the Seventh Day of the Octave

“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.”

St Bernard of Clairvaux – (1090-1153) – Doctor of the Churchgod obeyed a human creature - st bernard - 31 dec 2017

“What was family life in Nazareth like?
In the home of the Holy Family in Nazareth,
Jesus, Mary and Joseph sanctified their ordinary life,
without doing anything spectacular or newsworthy.
They led a life that was to all appearances,
the same as that of their neighbours,
a life that was important, not because
of the material things they did
but because of the love that they put into these things,
in perfect union with the Will of God the Father.”what was the family life in nazareth life - st josemaria - 31 dec 2017

“Marriage is to help married people
sanctify themselves and others.
For this reason they receive
a special grace in the sacrament
which Jesus Christ instituted.
Those who are called
to the married state,
will, with the grace of God,
find within their state
everything they need to be holy.

St Josemaria Escrivá (1902-1975) (Christ is Passing By – no 22)marriage is to help - st josemaria - 31 dec 2017


One Minute Reflection – 31 December – Feast of the Holy Family and the Seventh Day of the Octave

One Minute Reflection – 31 December – Feast of the Holy Family and the Seventh Day of the Octave

Certainly sons are a gift from the Lord, the fruit of the womb, a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man who has filled his quiver with them. He will never be shamed.…Psalm 127:3-5psalm 127 - 3-5 - 31 dec 2017

REFLECTION – “How important it is, therefore, that every child coming into the world be welcomed by the warmth of a family!   External comforts do not matter, Jesus was born in a stable and had a manger as His first cradle but the love of Mary and of Joseph made Him feel the tenderness and beauty of being loved.   Children need this, the love of their father and mother.   It is this that gives them security and, as they grow, enables them to discover the meaning of life.   The Holy Family of Nazareth went through many trials …. Yet, trusting in divine Providence, they found their stability and guaranteed Jesus a serene childhood and a sound upbringing.”…Pope Benedict XVI (Feast of the Holy Family 2010)how important it is therefore - pope benedict - 31 dec 2017

PRAYER – Holy Father, trusting in the motherly intercession of Mary Most Holy, Queen of Families and under the powerful protection of St Joseph, her spouse, grant we pray, that we may dedicate ourselves tirelessly to this beautiful mission which You have placed in our hands, as mothers and fathers of Your children.   Strengthen us to protect and guide them in Your ways.   Through the prayers of our Holy Mother and the Guardian of Your divine Son and of His Church, in union with Jesus Christ our Lord and the Holy Spirit, amen.holy-fam-pray-for-us - 2016


Our Morning Offering – 31 December – Feast of the Holy Family and the Seventh Day of the Octave

Our Morning Offering – 31 December – Feast of the Holy Family and the Seventh Day of the Octave

Prayer for the Family
By St Pope John Paul II (1920-2005)

Lord God,
from You every family in Heaven
and on earth takes its name.
Father, You are love and life.
Through Your Son, Jesus Christ, born of woman
and through the Holy Spirit,
the fountain of divine charity,
grant that every family on earth may become,
for each successive generation
a true shrine of life and love.
Grant that Your grace,
may guide the thoughts and actions
of husbands and wives
for the good of their families
and of all the families in the world.
Grant that the young may find in the family
solid support for their human dignity
and for their growth in truth and love.
Grant that love,
strengthened by the grace
of the sacrament of marriage,
may prove mightier than all the weaknesses
and trials through which our families sometimes pass.
Through the intercession of the Holy Family of Nazareth,
grant that the Church may fruitfully carry out
her worldwide mission in the family
and through the family.
We ask this of You,
Who is life, truth and love
with the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amenprayer for the family - st john paul - 31 dec feast of the holy family 2017


31 December – Feast of the Holy Family and the Seventh Day of the Octave

31 December – Feast of the Holy Family and the Seventh Day of the Octave

The Holy Family is the name given to the family unit of Jesus:  The Divine Son of God Jesus, His mother the Virgin Mary and His foster-father Joseph.   We know very little about the life of the Holy Family through the canonical Gospels.   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 derived 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 do have.

As far back as St John Chrysostom (347-407) , Christians were urged to make of their home a family church in which the family members would find their sanctification.   That was to be accomplished by putting Christ at the center of all individual and family life, by working and praying together, reading the Scriptures and worshiping as a unit. 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 26 October 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 30 December.

Michelangelo The Doni Tondo, The Holy Family with the infant St John the Baptist

The Holy Family:   Jesus, Mary and Joseph
The devotion to the Holy Family was born in Bethlehem, together with the Baby Jesus. The shepherds went to adore the Child and, at the same time, they gave honour to His family.   Later, in a similar way, the three wise men came from the East to adore and give honour to the newborn King with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh that would be safeguarded by His family.holy-family10-SIMON VOUET

We can go further to affirm that in a certain sense Christ, Himself, was the first devotee of His family.   He showed His devotion to His mother and foster father by submitting Himself, with infinite humility, to the duty of filial obedience towards them.   This is what St Bernard of Clairvaux said in this regard, ‘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’).holy-family41with st bernard

Today’s celebration demonstrates Christ’s humility and obedience with respect to the fourth commandment, whilst also highlighting the loving care that His parents exercised in His keeping.   The servant of God, St Pope John Paul II, in 1989, entitled his Apostolic Exhortation, ‘Redemptoris Custos’ (Guardian of the Redeemer) which was dedicated to the person and the mission of Saint Joseph in the life of Christ and of the Church.   After exactly a century, he resumed the teaching of Pope Leo XIII, for who Saint Joseph ‘.. shines among all mankind by the most august dignity, since by divine will, he was the guardian of the Son of God and reputed as His father among men’ (Encyclical Quamquam Pluries[1889] n. 3).   Pope Leo XIII continued, ‘.. Joseph became the guardian, the administrator and the legal defender of the divine house whose chief he was.[…]   It is, then, natural and worthy that as the Blessed Joseph ministered to all the needs of the family at Nazareth and girt it about with his protection, he should now cover with the cloak of his heavenly patronage and defend the Church of Jesus Christ.’   Not many years before, blessed Pope Pius IX had proclaimed Saint Joseph, ‘Patron of the Catholic Church’ (1870)holy-family18- POUSSIN

Almost intuitively, one can recognise that the mysterious, exemplary, guardianship enacted by Joseph was conducted firstly, in a yet more intimate way, by Mary. Consequently, the liturgical feast of the Holy Family speaks to us of the fond and loving care that we must render to the Body of Christ.   We can understand this in a mystical sense, as guardians of the Church and also in the Eucharistic sense.   Mary and Joseph took great care of Jesus’ physical body.   Following their example, we can and must take great care of His Mystical Body, the Church and the Eucharist which He has entrusted to us.   If Mary was, in some way, ‘the first tabernacle in history’ (St John Paul  Ecclesia de Eucharistia, n. 55) then we, the Tabernacle, in which Our Lord chose to reside in person, in His Real Presence, was also entrusted to us.   holy-family1 - RAPHAEL AND ROMANO

We can learn from Mary and Joseph!   What would they ever have overlooked in the care of Jesus’ physical body? Is there something, therefore, that we can withhold for the right and adoring care of His Eucharistic Body?   No amount of attention, no sane act of love and adoring respect will ever be too much!   On the contrary, our adoration and respect will always be inferior to the great gift that comes to us in the Holy Eucharist.holy-family3 caravaggio

Looking at the Holy Family, we see the love, the protection and the diligent care that they gave to the Redeemer.   We can not fail to feel uneasiness, perhaps a shameful thought, for the times in which we have not rendered the appropriate care and attention to the Blessed Eucharist.   We can only ask for forgiveness and do penance for all the sacrilegious acts and the lack of respect that are committed in front of the Blessed Eucharist.   We can only ask the Lord, through the intersession of the Holy Family of Nazareth, for a greater love for their Son Incarnate, who has decided to remain here on earth with us every day until the end of time.   (From the Congregation for the Clergy.)holy-family42



31 December – The Holy Family’s Feast Day is celebrated today the first Sunday after Christmas and Memorials of the Saints

The Holy Family (or the first Sunday after Christmas)
St Pope Sylvester I (Optional Memorial)

Bl Alan de Solminihac
St Anton Zogaj
St Barbatian of Ravenna
St Columba of Sens
Bl Dominic de Cubells
St Festus of Valencia
St Gelasius of Palestine
Bl Giuseppina Nicoli
St Hermes the Exorcist
St John Francis Regis
St Marius Aventicus
St Melania the Younger
St Offa of Benevento
Bl Peter of Subiaco
St Pinian
St Potentian of Sens
St Sabinian of Sens
St Theophylact of Ohrid
Bl Walembert of Cambrai
Bl Wisinto of Kremsmünster
St Zoticus of Constantinople

Martyrs of Catania – 10 saints: A group of early Christians martyred together, date unknown. The only other information to survive are ten of their names – Attalus, Cornelius, Fabian, Flos, Minervinus, Pontian, Quintian, Sextus, Simplician and Stephen. They were martyred in Catania, Sicily, Italy.

Martyrs of Rome – 10 saints: A group of Roman women martyred in an early persecution, date unknown. We known the names of ten of them – Dominanda, Donata, Hilaria, Nominanda, Paolina, Paulina, Rogata, Rustica, Saturnina and Serotina.
Their relics were enshrined in the catacombs of Via Salaria, Rome, Italy.

Martyred in the Spanish Civil War:
• Blessed Leandro Gómez Gil
• Blessed Luis Vidaurrázaga González