Feast of the Holy Family

26 Dec 2014

Icon of the Holy Family of Nazareth Photograph

Mass readings for the Feast of the Holy Family 

Mass readings for Sunday, December 28, 2014, the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph: Gen 15:1-6; 21:1-3. Ps 104. Heb 18:11-12, 17-19. Lk 2: 22-40. www.catholicbishops.ie/readings.

Feast of the Holy Family

The primary place of encounter with God for most adults, and children, is family life.  For Christians, the family is the first experience of Church where we first live our Christianity and integrate our faith, not in idealised or unreal situations but in all the realities of joys, problems and challenges in our journeying (Cf. ‘Share the Good News’, National Directory for Catechesis in Ireland, par.82, p.118).

As we draw close to a new Calendar Year, during the Octave of the 8 days of Christmas we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.  We can learn the meaning and mystery of this Feast and apply it to our own lives in our family life.  The path to holiness is found in living our ordinary family life with Jesus at the centre of it all and family is where progress and development in the Christian life, the way of ordinary holiness, can find its raw material. Our choices not only affect the people and the world around us, they make us become the people we are and will become.

Through our Baptism, we are invited to live our lives in Jesus, in the Body of Christ, the Church and in the World.  The Holy Family is seen as the model for the human family, the religious community, and the Church itself.  In the Holy Family we see the ordinariness of the life of Jesus, the simple acceptance of Mary and Joseph of the marvels of God.  In the daily life of family and community we can touch the divine, we can come close to God. But we have to learn to live centered on God, with respect, mercy and love for each other, for every person. (Cf. ‘Liturgical Calendar for Ireland’, p.36).

Pope Francis’ Prayer Intentions for December 2014 include, Christmas, hope for humanity: That the birth of the Redeemer may bring peace and hope to all people of good will and Parents: That parents may be true evangelizers, passing on to their children the precious gift of faith.

The Lessons of Nazareth

Nazareth is a kind of school where we may begin to discover what Christ’s life was like and even to understand his Gospel . . .  How I would like to return to my childhood and attend the simple yet profound school that is Nazareth!  How wonderful to be close to Mary, learning again the lesson of the true meaning of life, learning again God’s truth

. . .  May Nazareth serve as a model of what the family should be.  May it show us the family’s holy and enduring character and exemplify its basic function in society: a community of love and sharing, beautiful for the problems it poses and the rewards it brings, in sum, the perfect setting for rearing children – and for this there is no substitute.

from an address given by Blessed Paul VI in Nazareth,  January 5 1964

Saint John Paul II’s Prayer for Families

“May the Holy Family, who had to overcome many painful trials, watch over all the families in the world, especially those who are experiencing difficult situations.  May the Holy Family also help men and women of culture and political leaders so that they may defend the institution of the family, based on marriage, and so that they may sustain the family as it confronts the grave challenges of the modern age! . . .  may Christian families find the light and strength to be united and to grow as the ‘domestic church’ especially in their diligent participation in the celebration of the Eucharist on Sunday.

Saint John Paul II,  – Prayer from Angelus Message for the Feast of the Holy Family 2004

At the school of prayer in the house in Nazareth

Our continuing catechesis on prayer leads us, during this Christmas season, to reflect on the place of prayer in the life of the Holy Family of Nazareth. In the home of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, we learn to contemplate the mystery of God’s presence and to grow as faithful disciples of Christ. The Gospels present Mary as the supreme model of prayerful meditation on the mysteries of Christ’s life; in praying the Rosary, in fact, we unite ourselves to her contemplation of those mysteries in faith and hope. Saint Joseph fulfilled his vocation as the father of the Holy Family by teaching Jesus the importance of quiet fidelity to work, prayer and observance of the precepts of the Law. Jesus’ unique relationship with his heavenly Father was reflected in the prayer life of the Holy Family and stands at the heart of all Christian prayer. May the example of the Holy Family inspire all Christian families to be schools of prayer, where parents and children alike come to know that closeness to God which we joyfully celebrate in these days of Christmas.

Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, Dec. 29, 2011

Pope Francis:

Synod prayer to Holy Family

Prayer to the Holy Family for the Synod

Jesus, Mary and Joseph,

in you we contemplate

the splendour of true love,

to you we turn with trust.

Holy Family of Nazareth,

grant that our families too

may be places of communion and prayer,

authentic schools of the Gospel

and small domestic Churches.

Holy Family of Nazareth,

may families never again

experience violence, rejection and division:

may all who have been hurt or scandalized

find ready comfort and healing.

Holy Family of Nazareth,

may the approaching Synod of Bishops

make us once more mindful

of the sacredness and inviolability of the family,

and its beauty in God’s plan.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph,

graciously hear our prayer.


Pope Francis


A Child’s Prayer for Parents and Family

O God, bless our home, our family, friends and

neighbours; and give us thankful hearts for all

your mercies. Amen.

Dear God, I am glad that you love daddy and

mammy and me and everybody. I want to love

You, too, and to grow up to be strong and good.

Bless us today and keep us in your care. Dear

Father in heaven, I thank you for Jesus who came

to bring us your love, and to teach us to love one

another; for Mary who carried your Son; for

Joseph who protected them both in the Holy

Family. Help our family to be made perfect in

their example. Amen.


A Child’s Prayer for Parents

Heavenly Father, I thank you for my father and

mother and for our home. Bless us all and help us

to love you and in love to serve one another as

Jesus taught us to do. Give me strength to do

what is right today and to do for others what I

would want them to do for me. Amen.


A Child’s Prayer for their Father

I thank you, Lord, for my father. Grant me to

realise the depth of his love for me so often left

unspoken, and to appreciate his great and

continuous sacrifices.

His fatherly care reflects your divine care; his

strength, your power; his understanding, your

wisdom. He is your faithful servant and image.

Bless him with peace of soul, health of body and

success in his life. Amen.

Stephen Cummins


A Child’s Prayer for their Mother

I thank you, Lord, for my mother. Let me never

forget the depth of her love

for me and to appreciate her many and

continuous sacrifices.

Her motherly care reflects your divine care; her

strength, your power; her understanding, your


Bless her Lord with peace of soul, health of mind

and body and be for her

a source of strength and support. Amen.

Stephen Cummins


Thanks for My Family

Lord Jesus,

You also needed a mother and a father to grow.

Thanks for my parents.

What would my life be without them?

Help me to be always grateful for

the gift which they are to me.

Rev Peter Murphy


For Children (by Parents)

Blessed are you, Lord God,

giver of life and love;

we thank you for the gift of our children;

may they grow before you in wisdom and grace;

through Christ our Lord.


The Veritas Book of Blessing Prayers


The Family

Blessed are you, Lord our God, giver of life:

give your strength and wisdom to the father of

this family.

Blessed are you, Holy Spirit, bearer of love:

give your compassion and understanding to the

mother of this family.

Blessed are you, Son of God, eternal wisdom:

give your knowledge and truth to the children of

this family.

(Blessed are you, Holy Trinity, eternal and

almighty: shadow with your protecting wings the

absent/departed members of this family.)

Father, we want to live as Jesus, Mary and Joseph,

in peace with you and with one another.

By following their example in mutual love and

respect may we come to the joy of our

home in heaven.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.


May the Lord bless you and keep you.

May his face shine upon you and be gracious to


May he look upon you with kindness, and give

his peace.

May almighty God bless you, the Father and Son,

+ and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The Veritas Book of Blessing Prayers


Prayers for Families

Lord, we thank you for our family.

Bless each one of us in our uniqueness

and let us use our gifts and talents to ensure

unity and love within our family now and always.


Stephen Cummins


Lord, you chose to enter the world as a member

of a family. Take care of all families. May they be

sources of love and security for all family

members, where each person is valued and given

the chance to reach their full potential.

Stephen Cummins


For all our families, who welcome Christ into

their lives; that they learn to receive him in the

poor and suffering people of this world.

Stephen Cummins


A Family Prayer

God our Father,

your Son, Jesus Christ,

is our Way, our Truth and our Life.

His way of being human shapes our

understanding of the human person and

of human relationships of every kind.

In a special way it shapes our

understanding of ourselves as a family.

Trying to live as Jesus lived –

respectful, forgiving, helpful and

caring towards one another –

is a daily challenge to every person

in this family of ours.

We are in constant need of your

forgiveness and help. May your

Holy Spirit – the Spirit of Jesus

himself – bind us together in love.

Together, as a family, may we face with

hope and confidence whatever suffering or

sorrow may come our way.

May our hearts be ever open to the needs

of other families and individuals

everywhere in our world.

We make this prayer through

Christ our Lord.


Diocese of Elphin

Family Prayers and Conversations on the Feast of the Holy Family 

The Concluding Rites at Mass: The Dismissal

Preparation :

  • Invite your children to choose 3 prayers, one to commence, one to pray in the middle and one to conclude.
  • Cover a table with a special cloth
  • Add to the table a bible, a crucifix, holy water and a candle
  • Add to the table if possible, ‘The Family Prayer Book’ available from Veritas.ie
  • Place a book marker on the Bible at the Sunday Gospel Passage, e,g. for the Feast of the Holy Family : Luke 2:22-40


{e.g. from ‘The Family Prayer Book’ or from its Section on the Website}




Read aloud or share the following in your own words:

“When we go to school or to a party, or visit our friends, neighbours or relations, or even go to bed or wake in the morning, we always have a little ritual, something special we stop to say or do.  What do we say when we leave (for school, granny and granda’s house, or if we were visiting someone in hospital . . .) ?”

Wait for the responses shared as you listen to each one.

“At each celebration of the Mass there is also a ritual before we leave.

There is a blessing.”

Describe the sign of the cross that the priest makes at the end of the celebration of Mass as slowly his right hand moves down and then across, making a large cross and blessing the people.

Make the sign of the cross by blessing yourself slowly and then invite each family member to do the same with you.

“What are the words the priest says with this blessing?”

“May almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  The people reply: Amen”

“With these words the priest asks God to be with us, to give us strength and help.  Let us stop for a few moments to think of some of the ways God blesses us each day.”

Wait for the responses shared as you listen to each one.

“After the blessing the priest or deacon says (Choose one or two commonly said in your parish):

‘Go forth, the Mass is ended.’


‘Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.’


‘Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.’


‘Go in peace’

“These words remind us that the gifts of god received during Mass are meant to go with us to our homes, and schools, and work living like Jesus and his message, following him and loving and serving him in everything we say and do.”


“Let’s think of a gift we receive at Mass.”

e.g. united more closely with Jesus, Jesus giving himself to us, the Word of God, peace, forgiveness, the gift of love, strength, life through the Holy Spirit, the community, hope, living in Jesus, preserving us from sins, nourishment to grow in the Christian life, strength for our charity and love, asking that love may be granted to us by the coming of the Holy Spirit, receiving the gift of love, dying to sin and living for God, Jesus unites us to all the faithful in one body – the Church, to be more merciful, to share, to be committed to the poor and the poorest.

“How can we bring this gift home this week?  How can it change how we live?”

Invite each family member to name a gift received at Mass and consider together how that gift might be part of our life in the coming week.


{e.g. from ‘The Family Prayer Book’ or from its Section on the Website}


The Holy Family (year B) from Luke 2:22-34

Read aloud or say the following in your own words:

When the day came for them to be purified as laid down by the Law of Moses, the parents of Jesus took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord – observing what stands written in the law of the Lord: Every first-born male must be consecrated to the Lord – and also to offer in sacrifice, in accordance with what is said in the Law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.  Now in Jerusalem there was a man named Simeon. He was an upright and devout man; he looked forward to Israel’s comforting and the Holy Spirit rested on him.  It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death until he had set eyes on the Christ of the Lord.  Prompted by the Spirit he came to the Temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the Law required, he took him into his arms and blessed God; and he said: ‘Now, Master, you can let your servant go in peace, just as you promised; because my eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared for all the nations to see, a light to enlighten the pagans and the glory of your people Israel.’

As the child’s father and mother stood there wondering at the things that were being said about him, Simeon blessed them . . .

The Holy Family (year B) from Luke 2:39-40

An older child or parent lights the candle and reads Luke 2: 39-40

When they had done everything the Law of the Lord required, they went back to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth.  Meanwhile the child grew to maturity, and he was filled with wisdom; and God’s favour was with him


“Let’s reflect on and review what we just heard.

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph visit the Temple and Jesus’ presentation in the Temple is very special.  Jesus’ parents are faithful and live by the religious laws of the time. The old man Simeon is guided by the gift of the Holy Spirit to speak about the child, and about his mother. Simeon points to Jesus as the hopes of his own people, and of all peoples. He is to be a ‘light for the nations’.

“What does this gospel tell us about the role of Mary and Joseph as parents who received a special blessing and why did they bring him to the Temple?”

Jesus, the Son of God, obeys the Law of God as he is presented in the Temple by Mary and Joseph.

“What does this gospel tell us about Jesus and his parents?”

When Mary, Joseph and Jesus they had done everything the Law of the Lord asked of them they went back after their blessings to their own town of Nazareth.  Jesus the child grew to maturity, and he was filled with wisdom; and God’s favour was with him.

“What is so special about Jesus who has God’s favour and blessing and who loves us and how did he learn to be filled with wisdom and use his gifts at home with Mary and Joseph?”

“Knowing that God loves me and that we love one another in our home, what does Jesus see that is very special about me?”

“How can we live like Jesus each day?”


Think again of our special and caring family rituals for leaving each other.  And this week let’s pick one or two to practice deliberately and faithfully.

Ask for suggestions and ideas.

Think as well of special ways for kindness and care for our family members and other people and this week let’s make a special effort in what we might do to help a person or a particular need or situation especially the poor and the poorest.

Ask for suggestions and ideas.


{e.g. from ‘The Family Prayer Book’ or from its Section on the Website}