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What Makes a Holy Family? / Octave of Christmas + Holy Family + Solemnity of Mary

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The Bread PDF


This week in The Bread:

  • We’ve got 21+ Catholic Christmas traditions for your family to choose from as you celebrate the Christmas season in the coming weeks.
  • Speaking of the Christmas season…just when does it end? After Epiphany? After the famous twelve days? We sort it all out for you.
  • Get ready for the Feast of the Holy Family by planning a pilgrimage for the Jubilee of the Family…we’ll connect you with a cool Vatican resource for the occasion.
  • It’s a triple play on January 1, with the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God and the World Day of Peace and, of course, New Year’s Day. We’ve got ideas for all three observances.
  • Jen Schlameuss-Perry continues her new media column, Bigger on the Inside, with a look at kids and cartoons.
  • Heidi Indahl on expectations vs. reality…compromising in the face of overwhelming odds may not be such a bad move.

Spread The Bread! If you find it useful, send it along to your friends, or sign up to receive it weekly by e-mail:


Sunday, December 27, 2015
Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph
» Jubilee of Families

God sets a father in honor over his children; a mother’s authority he confirms over her sons.
—Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14

Blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways.
—Psalm 128

Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another….
—Colossians 3:12-21

…and his mother said to him,
“Son, why have you done this to us?
Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.”
—Luke 2:41-52

Being holy doesn’t mean that our lives are perfect, serene or easy….
—Jen Schlameuss-Perry

This reflection continues in Breaking Open the Word at Home has more Sunday Scripture resources, including reflection questions for kids and adults; by Jennifer Schlameuss-Perry.



MONDAY December 28
Feast of the Holy Innocents
“[Herod] ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under.”

TUESDAY December 29
St. Thomas Beckett (1118-1170)
The Archbishop of Canterbury who stood up to Henry II, and was assassinated in Canterbury

WEDNESDAY December 30
Eugenia Ravasco (1845-1900)
The young woman who founded the religious congregation of the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary at the age of 23.

THURSDAY December 31
Saint Columba of Sens (257 – 273)
The teen virgin-martyr who was supposed to be burned with a bear, but was beheaded instead.

FRIDAY January 1
Solemnity of Mary, Holy Mother of God
Catholics are obliged to celebrate Mass today in honor of the motherhood of Mary.

World Day of Peace
The Church calls the world to pray for peace in a special way.

Poverty Awareness Month begins

SATURDAY January 2
St. Basil the Great (329-379)
The archbishop who is regarded as the founder of manasticism in the eastern Church; defender of the faith against the Arian heresy.

1 week until the Feast of the Epiphany (Jan 3)



Try out a handful of these ideas this week . . . and if you want to “play for points,” record your points in the Get Your Grace On game in the PDF version of The Bread. You can add up your points at the end of the week, and give your kids an appropriate prize. Points are roughly equivalent to minutes, so adjust your points for extra time spent on family faith formation.


Preview this Sunday’s readings with your kids. [20]

Pray the “Prayer for the New Year” with your family on New Year’s. (The prayer can be found in Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers or at the USCCB website.) [10]

Make a family pilgrimage to the nearest Holy Door on the Jubilee of Families (Sunday, Dec. 27). Use the family resource provided by the Vatican* for the passage of a family through the Holy Door. [120]

Begin Christmas morning with a short prayer before the baby Jesus in your nativity scene. [50]



Go to Mass on the Solemnity of Mary, Holy Mother of God. [60]

Celebrate your family by making a very simple “family tree” with photos of each person in your family. Talk with younger children about what it means to be a family. Include the date of your wedding anniversary as the “birthday” of your family. [30]

Continue to celebrate the Christmas season using the ideas at pbgrace.com.



Introduce yourself and your family to someone you don’t know at Mass this week, and get to know them. [30]



Use the format of the Ignatian Daily Examen* to do an “examen” of the life of your family in 2015. If praying the examen is too formal, go through your 2015 calendar and/or family photos month by month, sharing Highs and Lows from the year.* [50]

Talk with your kids about the themes in the pope’s message for the World Day of Peace. You can catch a summary of this year’s message at the USCCB World Day of Peace website. [30]


Stump the Parents! Christmas Trivia Fun

We’ll get back to working our way through the Catechism after the holidays. This week, in honor of the World Day of Peace, have your kids try to stump you with questions from Chapter Eleven of the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church: Promoting Peace. The document is available as a book or online (Google the title); or have them use the questions below. The answers can be found in the paragraphs indicated in parenthesis:

  • In Biblical revelation, peace is much more than the absence of war; what is it? (#489)
  • In what sense is the promise of peace fulfilled in Jesus Christ? (#491-493)
  • Peace is the fruit of what two virtues? (#494)
  • Why is violence never a proper response to problems? (#496-497)
  • What are the four conditions under which a nation may legitimately defend itself from unjust aggression by the use of armed force? (#500)
  • The right of nations to defend themselves against terrorism is accompanied by certain responsibilities. Name one. (#514)
  • The Church teaches that true peace is made possible only through what? (#517)

How to play: Older kids and teens skim the text to come up with questions to ask their parents. Parents score 10 points for correct answers; kids score 20 points for stumping the parents. All points get added up for the Get Your Grace On game. See “Stump the Parents” at pbgrace.com for more ideas.



Celebrate Christmas to the Fullest with These Catholic Traditions
Family Christmas traditions are a great way to connect, make memories, and grow closer to Christ. Here are 21+ Catholic traditions to choose from this Christmas season.
How Long Is the Christmas Season, Anyway?
How long is the Christmas season? However you measure it, for many Christians, the celebration of Christmas is just getting started on December 25. 
There Are Expectations…Then There Is Reality
We settle for “less” out of necessity at times…but is it really less? In accepting the ways we fall short of our daily goals, while still finding a way to keep moving, don’t we teach our children to do the same? by Heidi Indahl
Holy Family | Breaking Open the Word at Home
Being holy doesn’t mean that our lives are perfect, serene or easy. It means that no matter what’s going on, we love one another and try to help one another be our best. by Jen Schlameuss-Perry
Cartoons and You | Bigger on the Inside
It’s no secret that most cartoons are for kids these days—in fact, there are many people who, upon seeing animation, believe that any given cartoon must be for kids. Not so… by Jen Schlameuss-Perry
Follow Jerry Windley-Daoust:

Publisher, Gracewatch Media

Jerry Windley-Daoust is a writer, editor, and father of five. He writes essays and stories at Windhovering and is the show-runner for Gracewatch Media, a small Catholic publisher. You can follow his latest publishing projects at gracewatch.org.