In popular practice, February traditionally has been devoted to the Holy Family. Here are some ways to practice that devotion with your family this month.
by Brian Smith
Back in the Middle Ages, many Catholics began observing special devotions around a particular theme each month—the Holy Name of Jesus in January, for instance, or the Blessed Virgin Mary in May (or November, in some places). Today, many families are reviving the practice as part of the way they observe the liturgical calendar at home. Observing a monthly devotion is another way to recognize Christ’s lordship over all time—plus, it’s fun!
Here are some ways to celebrate the popular devotion for February, the Holy Family.
Talking to Kids About The Holy Family
Jesus was born into a poor and humble family. He did not have the best toys or clothes. However, what he did have is something that all parents strive to give to their children: love. Mary, Joseph and Jesus show us how each family should live.
Shortly after Jesus was born, King Herod was worried that Jesus would come to have more power and influence over the citizens in Judea. Not wanting this, King Herod ordered that all male babies be murdered. God sent an angel to Joseph to warn him of the impending danger. The Holy Family left the few things they had behind and fled to Egypt. They lived in Egypt for many years until it was safe for them to return to Nazareth. The Holy Family teaches us that family members should put aside their own desires and do what is best for others. This often means making sacrifices and doing things that are hard.
As Jesus grew up, Mary and Joseph taught Jesus his prayers and made sure that he lived his life as a traditional Jewish person. As a child, Jesus was obedient to God, his mother Mary and his earthly father Joseph. Together, they lived a simple life and worked hard for everything they had. They never bragged about Jesus being the Son of God or made other people think they were better than them. The Holy Family is said to have lived a life of silence while they waited, with anticipation, God’s plan (Catechism, 525-534).
Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt. (Mt 2:14)
- How can we live more like the Holy Family?
- What can we do to show our family members that we love them?
- What talent should I ask God for so that I can improve my community?
Have you considered consecrating your family to the Holy Family? To consecrate means to dedicate someone or something to God, or to a holy purpose—in this case, to the imitation of the Holy Family. A family consecration will encourage your family members to lead a life that is more strongly devoted to serving God. For an explanation of this special family consecration and a prayer of consecration to the Holy Family, search the Peanut Butter & Grace website for “A Family Consecration to the Holy Family.”
The Holy House of Loreto is the dwelling in which it is believed the Holy Family lived. The house is in Loreto, Italy.
Wait a minute! The Holy Family lived in Nazareth…not in Italy!
The house was located in Nazareth until May 9, 1291. Many people made pilgrimages to the house when it was in Nazareth. Some of these people included Sts. Francis of Assisi and Louis of France.
On May 10, 1291, the house was nowhere to be found in Nazareth. Overnight, it had been transported across the Mediterranean Sea to a small town named Trsat in Croatia, 2,000 miles away! The priest of the local church there, Father Alexander Geogevich, did not know what this house was or how it came to be located in his town. Father Geogevich experienced a vision from Mary in which she told him what had happened. During the night, angels had transported the house from Nazareth to Croatia.
The house remained in Croatia until Dec. 9, 1294, when it was moved to Italy. For the next two years, the house would travel to various towns throughout Italy. Finally, the house came to rest in a forested area in 1296 where it remains today. More than 45 popes and many saints have testified that they believe this miracle to be true. To learn a special prayer to say with your family, called the Litany of Loreto, click here or search for it on the Peanut Butter & Grace website.
Catholics have been persecuted over the centuries and even are persecuted today. To be persecuted for being Catholic means to be treated unjustly for what you believe. Many of us are fortunate to not know of anyone facing religious persecution directly. Joseph took Mary and Jesus into Egypt to flee the persecution of King Herod. Though we may not know of anyone facing such a dire scenario, we may be able to draw connections in other ways.
Perhaps you or your children know someone facing a challenging moment in his or her life:
- Moving to a new city for the sake of a new job
- Missing work, activities or sacrificing personal time to care for a loved one
- Facing a reoccurring battle with a disability, cancer or some other grave illness
Whatever the case, take a moment to examine the family, friends and neighbors around you. Just as Joseph protected Mary and Jesus, what can your family do to assist others?
Special Days in February
The dates of some feast days occur on different dates each year. For exact dates, consult the liturgical calendar, which can be found on the website of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
2 The Presentation of the Lord/ Candlemas
3 St. Blaise
4 St. Andrew Corsini
5 St. Agatha
6 St. Paul Miki and companions
8 St. Jerome Emiliani
10 St. Scholastica
11 Our Lady of Lourdes
14 St. Valentine
18 St. Simeon
20 Sts. Francisco and Jacinta Marto
21 St. Peter Damian
22 Feast of the Chair of St. Peter
23 St. Polycarp
24 St. Mathias
For more information about monthly devotions, see the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy: #20, #32, #190-191 and the Catholic Encyclopedia: Special Devotions for Months
Brian Smith is a stay-at-home dad of two girls. He and his wife of more than 10 years enjoy traveling, the outdoors and discovering new things with their children. He can be reached at [email protected].