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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: 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, 1992, 1991, 1990, 1989, 1987, 1986, 1985, 1984, 1982, 1981, 1980, 1979 & 1978.
Blessed Paul VI's words in Bethlehem in 1964

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.
Amen."

Feast of the Holy Family 2015

Pope Francis's homily at Holy Mass for Families
St Peter's Basilica, Sunday 27 December 2015 - in Arabic, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"The biblical readings which we just heard presented us with the image of two families on pilgrimage to the house of God. Elkanah and Hannah bring their son Samuel to the Temple of Shiloh and consecrate him to the Lord (cf 1 Sam 1, 20-22, 24-28). In the same way, Joseph and Mary, in the company of Jesus, go as pilgrims to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover (cf Lk 2, 41-52).

We often see pilgrims journeying to shrines and places dear to popular piety.  These days, many of them are making their way to the Holy Door opened in all the cathedrals of the world and in many shrines. But the most beautiful thing which emerges from the word of God today is that the whole family goes on pilgrimage. Fathers, mothers and children together go to the house of the Lord, in order to sanctify the holy day with prayer. It is an important teaching, which is meant for our own families as well. Indeed, we could say that family life is a series of pilgrimages, both small and big.

For example, how comforting it is for us to reflect on Mary and Joseph teaching Jesus how to pray! This is a sort of pilgrimage, the pilgrimage of education in prayer. And it is comforting also to know that throughout the day they would pray together, and then go each Sabbath to the synagogue to listen to readings from the Law and the Prophets, and to praise the Lord with the assembly. Certainly, during their pilgrimage to Jerusalem, they prayed by singing the Psalm: “I was glad when I heard them say, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord!’ Our feet are standing within your gates, O Jerusalem (Ps 122, 1-2).

How important it is for our families to journey together towards a single goal! We know that we have a road to travel together; a road along which we encounter difficulties but also enjoy moments of joy and consolation. And on this pilgrimage of life we also share in moments of prayer. What can be more beautiful than for a father and mother to bless their children at the beginning and end of each day, to trace on their forehead the sign of the cross, as they did on the day of their baptism? Is this not the simplest prayer which parents can offer for their children? To bless them, that is, to entrust them to the Lord, just like Elkanah and Anna, Joseph and Mary, so that He can be their protection and support throughout the day. In the same way, it is important for families to join in a brief prayer before meals, in order to thank the Lord for these gifts and to learn how to share what we have received with those in greater need. These are all little gestures, yet they point to the great formative role played by the family in the pilgrimage of every day life.

At the end of that pilgrimage, Jesus returned to Nazareth and was obedient to his parents (cf Lk 2, 51). This image also contains a beautiful teaching about our families. A pilgrimage does not end when we arrive at our destination, but when we return home and resume our everyday lives, putting into practice the spiritual fruits of our experience. We know what Jesus did on that occasion. Instead of returning home with his family, he stayed in Jerusalem, in the Temple, causing great distress to Mary and Joseph who were unable to find him. For this little “escapade”, Jesus probably had to beg forgiveness of his parents. The Gospel doesn’t say this, but I believe that we can presume it. Mary’s question, moreover, contains a certain reproach, revealing the concern and anguish which she and Joseph felt. Returning home, Jesus surely remained close to them, as a sign of his complete affection and obedience. Moments like these become part of the pilgrimage of each family; the Lord transforms the moments into opportunities to grow, to ask for and to receive forgiveness, to show love and obedience.

In the Year of Mercy, every Christian family can become a privileged place on this pilgrimage for experiencing the joy of forgiveness. Forgiveness is the essence of the love which can understand mistakes and mend them. How miserable we would be if God did not forgive us! Within the family we learn how to forgive, because we are certain that we are understood and supported, whatever the mistakes we make.

Let us not lose confidence in the family! It is beautiful when we can always open our hearts to one another, and hide nothing. Where there is love, there is also understanding and forgiveness. To all of you, dear families, I entrust this most important mission - the domestic pilgrimage of daily family life - which the world and the Church need, now more than ever."

Papa Francesco's words at the Angelus in St Peter's Square
Feast of the Holy Family, Sunday 27 December 2015 - in Arabic, Croatian, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese & Spanish

"Cari fratelli e sorelle, buongiorno! Come cantano bene questi ragazzi. Bravi!

Nel clima di gioia che è proprio del Natale, celebriamo in questa domenica la festa della Santa Famiglia. Ripenso al grande incontro di Filadelfia, nel settembre scorso; alle tante famiglie incontrate nei viaggi apostolici; e a quelle di tutto il mondo. Vorrei salutarle tutte con affetto e riconoscenza, specialmente in questo nostro tempo, nel quale la famiglia è soggetta a incomprensioni e difficoltà di vario genere che la indeboliscono.

Il Vangelo di oggi invita le famiglie a cogliere la luce di speranza proveniente dalla casa di Nazaret, nella quale si è sviluppata nella gioia l’infanzia di Gesù, il quale – dice san Luca – «cresceva in sapienza, età e grazia davanti a Dio e agli uomini» (2,52). Il nucleo familiare di Gesù, Maria e Giuseppe è per ogni credente, e specialmente per le famiglie, un’autentica scuola del Vangelo. Qui ammiriamo il compimento del disegno divino di fare della famiglia una speciale comunità di vita e d’amore. Qui apprendiamo che ogni nucleo familiare cristiano è chiamato ad essere “chiesa domestica”, per far risplendere le virtù evangeliche e diventare fermento di bene nella società. I tratti tipici della Santa Famiglia sono: raccoglimento e preghiera, mutua comprensione e rispetto, spirito di sacrificio, lavoro e solidarietà.

Dall’esempio e dalla testimonianza della Santa Famiglia, ogni famiglia può trarre indicazioni preziose per lo stile e le scelte di vita, e può attingere forza e saggezza per il cammino di ogni giorno. La Madonna e san Giuseppe insegnano ad accogliere i figli come dono di Dio, a generarli e educarli cooperando in modo meraviglioso all’opera del Creatore e donando al mondo, in ogni bambino, un nuovo sorriso. È nella famiglia unita che i figli portano a maturazione la loro esistenza, vivendo l’esperienza significativa ed efficace dell’amore gratuito, della tenerezza, del rispetto reciproco, della mutua comprensione, del perdono e della gioia.

Vorrei soffermarmi soprattutto sulla gioia. La vera gioia che si sperimenta nella famiglia non è qualcosa di casuale e fortuito. E’ una gioia frutto dell’armonia profonda tra le persone, che fa gustare la bellezza di essere insieme, di sostenerci a vicenda nel cammino della vita. Ma alla base della gioia sempre c’è la presenza di Dio, il suo amore accogliente, misericordioso e paziente verso tutti. Se non si apre la porta della famiglia alla presenza di Dio e al suo amore, la famiglia perde l’armonia, prevalgono gli individualismi, e si spegne la gioia. Invece la famiglia che vive la gioia, la gioia della vita, la gioia della fede, la comunica spontaneamente, è sale della terra e luce del mondo, è lievito per tutta la società.

Gesù, Maria e Giuseppe benedicano e proteggano tutte le famiglie del mondo, perché in esse regnino la serenità e la gioia, la giustizia e la pace, che Cristo nascendo ha portato come dono all’umanità.

Dopo l'Angelus:

Cari fratelli e sorelle,

il mio pensiero va in questo momento ai numerosi migranti cubani che si trovano in difficoltà in Centroamerica, molti dei quali sono vittime del traffico di esseri umani. Invito i Paesi della Regione a rinnovare con generosità tutti gli sforzi necessari per trovare una tempestiva soluzione a questo dramma umanitario.

Un caloroso saluto oggi va alle famiglie presenti in piazza, a tutti voi! Grazie per la vostra testimonianza. Il Signore vi accompagni con la sua grazia e vi sostenga nel vostro cammino quotidiano.

Saluto tutti voi, pellegrini giunti da ogni parte del mondo. In particolare i ragazzi della Diocesi di Bergamo che hanno ricevuto la Cresima. E anche ringrazio tutti i ragazzi e bambini che hanno cantato così bene e continueranno a farlo... Un canto di Natale in onore delle famiglie.

A tutti auguro una buona domenica. Vi ringrazio ancora dei vostri auguri e delle vostre preghiere e per favore continuate a pregare per me. Buon pranzo e arrivederci!"