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. Today, many families are reviving this practice as part of the way they observe the liturgical calendar at home. By practicing monthly devotions, the core values of the faith will become more alive within your family. The beauty of monthly devotions is that there is no set way to celebrate. So, be creative, make it fun, and adapt your celebration to your own family.
Talking with Kids about The Holy Family
Jesus was born into a poor and humble family. He did not have the best toys or clothes. What he did have though is something that all parents strive to give to their children: love. Mary, Joseph and Jesus show us how a family ought to live. The family is the foundation of society. If we want to honor God and make the world to be a better place, we must imitate the Holy Family.
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. Thankfully, an angel appeared to Joseph to warn him of the impending danger. The Holy Family left the few things they had behind and fled to Egypt until it was safe for them to return home. 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 would. 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 that they had. They never bragged about Jesus being the Son of God or made other people think that 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. This is explained to Catholics in depth in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Feast Days & Memorials
(Dates in bold are particularly relevant to this month’s devotion.)
5 St. Agatha
6 St. Paul Miki and companions
10 St. Scholasitca
22 Feast of the Chair of St. Peter
23 St. Polycarp
Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt.
Questions to help propogate the faith with your children.
- 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?
Incorporate this month’s devotion with the virtues of faith, hope and charity.
Learn to pray as a family.
Have you considered consecrating your family to the Holy Family? A family consecration will help to encourage your family members to lead a life that is more strongly devoted to serving God.
Recite the following prayer from The Catholic Family Book of Prayers:
Prayer of Consecration to the Holy Family
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,
we place our family under your care
and at your service.
you taught that all those
who do the will of your Father in heaven
are your family.
Strengthen us to do your Father’s will
so we might become a true family
to one another,
and to all people of good will.
you said “yes” to God
with all your heart, all your soul,
all your mind, and all your strength;
and by your “yes,”
you gave birth to the Son of God.
Help us to say “yes” to God every day
so that we, too, might bring Jesus
into the world.
you listened to God’s voice
in your work, in your prayer,
and in your dreams;
help us to discern God’s voice
so that, like you, we might
rise from our sleep
to do the will of God.
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, pray for our family,
and send down upon us the help of the Holy Spirit:
give us wisdom and knowledge,
strength and self-control,
hope and humility,
mercy and forgiveness,
patience and generosity;
and most of all, give us your love,
that we might share it with one another,
and the whole world.
Learn about God’s infinite mercy.
The Holy House of Loreto is said to be the dwelling in which the Holy Family lived. However, the Holy Family lived in Nazareth … not Loreto, Italy! The house was located in Nazareth until May 9, 1291, when it mysteriously began to reappear in different cities. The house made its final stop in Loreto in 1296, where it remains to this day. It is said that the house was transported by angels.
Help the Church to grow within your own community.
Catholics certainly have been persecuted throughout the centuries and even today. 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 their 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. As Joseph protected Mary and Jesus; what can your family do to assist others?
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].