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Feast of the Holy Family

Feast Day - Sunday after Christmas
Introduced by Pope Benedict XV in 1925

Pope Francis' words in: 2017, 2015 & 2014.
Papa Benedict XVI's words in: 2013, 2012, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007 & 2006.
Saint John Paul II's words in: 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001 (end of Jubilee Year), the Great Jubilee of 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1996, 1995, 1994, 1992, 1991, 1990, 1989, 1987, 1986, 1985, 1984, 1982, 1981, 1980, 1979 & 1978.
Blessed Paul VI's words in: 1976, 1975, 1973, 1971, 1970 & 1965.
Saint John XXIII's words in: 1961.

JPII, on the Feast of the Holy Family, 28 December 1980:
"God, from whom comes every fatherhood in heaven and on earth,
Father, who art love and life,
grant that every human family on earth may become,
through your Son, Jesus Christ, "born of Woman"
and through the Holy Spirit, source of divine charity,
a true sanctuary of life and love
for generations that are always renewed.
Grant that your grace may guide the thoughts and deeds of spouses
for the good of their families
and of all the families of the world.
Grant that the young generations may find in the family
strong support for their humanity
and for their growth in truth and love.
Grant that love, strengthened by the grace of the sacrament of Marriage,
may prove stronger than every weakness and crisis
through which, at times, our families pass.
Lastly, I ask
through the intercession of the Holy Family of Nazareth,
that the Church in the midst of all the nations of the earth
may fruitfully accomplish her mission
in the family and through the family.
Through Christ our Lord,
that is the way, the truth and the life
forever and ever.

Catechesis by Pope St John Paul II on the Holy Family
General Audience, Wednesday 3 January 1979 - in English, French, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. The last night of waiting for humanity, which we are reminded of every year by the liturgy of the Church with the vigil and feast of the Nativity of the Lord, is at the same time the night in which the promise was fulfilled. The One who was awaited, who was and never ceases to be the end of the advent, is born. Christ is born. This happened once, in the night at Bethlehem, but in the liturgy it is repeated every year, in a certain way it "is actualized" every year. And also every year it is rich with the same contents: divine and human, which superabound/overflow in such a way that man is not capable of embracing them all with a single glance; and it is difficult to find words to express them altogether. Even the liturgical period of Christmas seems to us too short to abide/stop/halt/pause/dwell on this event, which presents more the characteristics of "mysterium fascinosum", than those of "mysterium tremendum". Too short, to "enjoy" fully the coming of Christ, the birth of God in human nature. Too short, to unravel the individual threads of this event and this mystery.

2. The liturgy centres our attention on one of these threads and places it particularly in relief. The birth of the Child in the night at Bethlehem gave beginning to the Family. For this reason the Sunday during the octave of Christmas is the feast of the Family of Nazareth. This is the Holy Family, because it was shaped/moulded for the birth of the One, whom even his "Adversary" will be compelled to proclaim, one day, "the Holy One of God" (Mk 1, 24). The Holy Family, because the holiness of the One who was born became (the) source of a singular sanctification, both of his Virgin-Mother and of her Spouse, who before men, as her lawful husband, was considered father of the Child born during the census in Bethlehem.

This Family is at the same time a human Family, and thus the Church, in the Christmas period, addresses through the Holy Family every human family. Holiness imprints on this Family, in which the Son of God came into the world, a unique, exceptional, unrepeatable, supernatural character. And at the same time all that (which) we can say of/about each human family, of/about its nature, its duties, its difficulties, we can also say of/about this sacred Family. In fact, this Sacred Family is truly poor: at the moment of Jesus' birth it is without a roof (over its head), then it will be forced into exile, and when the danger has passed, it remains a family that lives modestly, in poverty, with the work of its own hands.

Its condition is similar to that of so many other human families. It is the place of encounter/meeting-place of our solidarity with every family, with every community of man and woman, in which a new human being is born. It is a Family which does not remain only on the altars, as (the) object of praise and veneration, but through so many episodes known to us from the Gospel of St Luke and St Matthew, approaches, in a certain way, each/every human family. It takes charge of/on those
deep problems, both beautiful and at the same time difficult, that married and family life brings with it. When we read attentively that which/what the Evangelists (above all Matthew) wrote about the events lived by Joseph and Mary before the birth of Jesus, these problems, which I mentioned above, become even more evident.

3. The solemnity of Christmas and, in its context, the feast of the Holy Family are particularly near/close and dear to us, precisely because in them the fundamental dimension of our faith, that is, the mystery of the Incarnation, meets with the no less fundamental dimension of the vicende/affairs/events of man. Each one/Everyone must recognize that this essential dimension of the
vicende/affairs/events of man is precisely the family. And in the family it is procreation: a new man is conceived and is born, and through this conception and this birth man and woman, in the quality of husband and wife, become father and mother, parents, reaching a new dignity and assuming new duties. The importance of these fundamental duties is very great from multiple points of view. Not only from the point of view of this concrete community which is their family, but also from the point of view of every human community, every society, nation, state, school, profession, (and) environment. Everything depends, in principle, on how the parents and the family will fulfill their first and fundamental duties, on the way and measure/extent to which they will teach "to be man" this creature, who thanks to them has become a human being, has obtained "humanity".

In this the family is incomparable/unparalleled. Everything needs to be done so that the family does not have to be substituted/changed/superceded/replaced. That is required not only for the "private" good of each/every person, but also for the common good of every society, nation, (and) state of any continent. The family is placed at the very centre of the common good in its various dimensions, precisely because man is conceived and born in it. Everything possible needs to be done so that this human being
right from the beginning, from the moment of his conception, may be/is desired/wanted, awaited, lived/experienced as a particular, unique and unrepeatable value. He must feel that he is important, useful, dear and of great value, even if infirm or handicapped; indeed for this reason even more loved.

Thus/In this way the mystery of Incarnation teaches us. This is the logic of our faith. This is also the logic of every authentic humanism; in fact
I think that it cannot be otherwise. We are not seeking/looking for here elements of contraposition, but we are seeking/looking for points of encounter/meeting, which are the simple consequence of the full truth about man. Faith does not distance believers from this truth, but introduces them right into its heart.

4. And another thing. In the night of Christmas/On Christmas night, the Mother who was to give birth ("Virgo paritura") did not find a roof (over her head) for herself. She did not find the conditions in which
there normally takes place that great, divine and at the same time human Mystery of giving birth to a man.

Allow me to use the logic of faith and the logic of a consequent humanism. This fact of which I am speaking is a great cry, it is a permanent challenge to individuals and to everyone/all, particularly perhaps in our epoch/time, in which a great test of moral coherence is often asked of an/the expectant mother. In fact, what is euphemistically defined as "interruption of pregnancy" (abortion) cannot be evaluated with other authentically human categories which are not those of the moral law, that is, of conscience. Much could be said in this regard, if not the confidences made in confessionals, certainly those in counselling for responsible motherhood.

Consequently, the mother who has to give birth cannot be left alone, left alone with her doubts, difficulties, (and) temptations. We must stand by her side, so that she has sufficient courage and trust, so that she does not aggravate her conscience, so that the most fundamental bond of man's respect for man is not destroyed. Indeed, such is the bond, which begins at the moment of conception, whereby we must all, in a certain way, be with every mother who has to give birth; and we must offer her every possible help.

Let us look/gaze at Mary: "Virgo paritura" (Virgin in labour/giving birth). Let us look, we the Church, we men, and seek to understand better what responsibility the Nativity of the Lord bears/brings with it to each man who must be born on earth. For the present we will stop at this point and interrupt these considerations:
certainly we will have to return to them again, and not just once."