Holy Family—10 January AD 2021
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The Holy Sacrifice of the
Mass in Latin and English
Holy Family - Jesus, Mary, and Joseph
Dominica infra Octavam Epiphaniæ -
Letter of Pope Leo XIII, Néminem fugit.
And his parents
went every year to Jerusalem,
at the solemn day of the Passover
Today’s Gospel has the Holy Family
returning from the feast of the Passover at the Temple in Jerusalem. It
was the duty of every able-bodied Jewish man in Israel to attend at the
Temple on the three principal feasts of the year:
(or Pesach), Pentecost (or Shavuot), and Sukkot—feasts
marking the barley harvest, the wheat harvest, and the end of the
general harvest, respectively.
Throughout the Bible we see that the Holy Family carefully observed the
prescriptions of the Mosaic Law, and this Passover was particularly
important for as a twelve year old, the boy Jesus was on the eve of
becoming Bar Mitzva, an adult under Jewish Law at age thirteen.
We are uncertain as to our Lord’s actual birthday, and some scholars
suggest that He turned thirteen during the seven days of the feast.
The Feast of the Holy
Family was instituted by Pope Leo XIII in 1893. Formal
devotion to the Holy Family can be traced back to 17th
century Québec when the first bishop of New France: Blessed
François de Laval expanded the role of the Confraternity of
the Holy Family, an association with roots going back to the
very founding of Montréal.
On October 26, 1921 the Congregation
of Rites under Pope Benedict XV inserted the Feast of the Holy Family
into the church's general calendar. Earlier Popes, particularly Leo
XIII, promoted the feast as a way to counter the breakdown of the family
unit. The date in 1921 makes this year the hundredth anniversary of the
feast being celebrated throughout the Universal Church. The Popes of
that time were generally concerned with the effects of the Industrial
Revolution, Modernism and Freemasonry on Christian Families, the basic
unit of Society and of God's Church.
Industrialization had already driven
many families into the cities in search of jobs. Living quarters tended
to be cramped, thereby promoting family strife, and encouraging the
limitation of children. Both women and children were tempted to take
industrial jobs, exposing some to overwork, and some to extramarital
compulsion or temptation.
Years before 1921, Karl Marx had
written his Manifesto, and the Russian Revolution had taken
place. Not only was the Communist Party officially atheistic , but in
the name of equality for women, it established legal abortion, easy
divorce, and abolished the notion of “illegitimate” birth—thereby
loosening public morality, and more or less dissolving any notion of a
stable family life. Marx claimed that capitalists viewed women as a
means of production, and in their moral hypocrisy treated women as
common property. Instead of calling for greater morality, he undermined
the Institution of the Family for everyone.
Socialist ideas were not confined to
Soviet Russia, but spread throughout Western society as well. Indeed,
Thomas Malthus had espoused the need for population control over a
century earlier in 1789.
Mistaken economists held that population would always outgrow the
available food supply. Any increase in production would be consumed by
the greedy “elites,” leaving the working poor in continuously greater
With smaller workforces as the result
of population limitation, Russian communists experienced severe
shortages—which were made much worse by the folly of government command
of economic planning. Soviet population policy changed by 1944
when Russians began to recognize women with ten or more children as
“Mother-Heroines of the Soviet Union.” But the Chinese Communists are
still at it, according to an article published just days ago, in which
they claimed to have “emancipated” various tribal women.
Even in the West, and even in Catholic
countries, population control schemes still occasionally raise their
ugly heads. Even successful free market economies are not completely
immune. In modern times, appeal has been made to the myth of “global
warming” to justify population limitation.
In reality, it was the same God Who
gave mankind “dominion” over nature, that told them to “go forth and
In extending today's feast day, Pope
Leo XIIII proposed the Holy Family as a model for all families to
To all fathers of
families, Joseph is [truly] the best model of paternal
vigilance and care. In the most holy Virgin Mother of God,
mothers may find an excellent example of love, modesty,
resignation of spirit, and the perfecting of faith. And in
Jesus, who was subject to his parents, the children of the
family have a divine pattern of obedience which they can
admire, reverence, and imitate....
“And he went
down with them,
and came to Nazareth,
and was subject to them.”