Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!


Ave Maria!
Feast of the Holy Family
—10 January AD 2016

Ordinary of the Mass
Today's Mass text - Latin
Today's Mass text - English

    In a brief titled Néminem fugit, June 14, 1892, Leo XIII instituted this feast of the Holy Family, which was first celebrated in 1893.[1]  Pope Benedict XV extended the feast to the entire Catholic Church a few years later.  In his brief and in the celebration of this feast, Pope Leo urged Christians to recognize the importance of the family as the building block of society, and urged all members of families to look to Jesus, Mary, and Joseph as the perfect exemplars of family life.[2]  Leo wrote:

    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.

    Pope Leo was born in 1810, and lived through one of the most turbulent centuries of modern times.  The upheavals he witnessed brought great distress to two institutions central to the life of the Catholic Church—the priesthood and the family.

    The industrial revolution was still in progress during Pope Leo’s younger days.  Heretofore, the bulk of the population lived on farms, where buildings could be spacious and children were considered a blessing to the family farming effort.  In the industrial cities, living space was expensive and cramped.  Many couples sought ways to avoid having children, while others exploited their children with long hours in often dangerous factory work.  Socialism and class struggle sought to address the grievances of industrial workers—sometimes real grievances, but oftentimes nothing more than envy of the factory owners.  Latin America and Europe in the nineteenth century were filled with Masonic and socialist revolutions—some successful and some not.  The revolutions took the industrialists, the Church, and the monarchy to task—falsely claiming to champion the “brotherhood of man,” and claiming that such “brotherhood” could be achieved only with the demise of capital, religion, and kingship. 

    In many countries the powers of the Church and Its families were usurped by the government.  Secular governments arrogated control over marriage and education.  Schools were to be government run, and even seminaries had to follow government approved curricula.  Children were considered to a resource of the government rather than members of families.  Marriage was reduced to the level of a civil contract, subject to nullification by the civil authorities.  In some places, the religious orders were suppressed by government edict, with their properties being sold to line the pockets of the secular elites.  Where the orders remained, the government sought to exercise control over entry into the solemn vows of religion, and the properties which an order might acquire.  Pope Leo’s predecessor, Pope Pius IX, issued a whole “grocery list” condemning the errors of the modern secularists—dealing more with abuses of power than with the intellectual errors that would later be condemned by Pope Pius X.[3]

    Today, we live roughly a century after Popes Leo XIII and Pius X.  With the benefit of hindsight we are beginning to understand more clearly that governmental abuse of power is intimately tied to disorders of the intellect.  The disordered intellect makes secular government possible, and governments respond by protecting and rewarding disordered belief.

    There can be no doubt that homosexuality and adultery existed during the time of Pope Leo XIII—they go back to the Bible and beyond.  But most people in Leo’s time knew these things were wrong and tried to keep their sins secret.  But today, disordered belief and sinful behavior have become the norm—and governments are prepared to punish any who object.  New York City, for example, just announced quarter million dollar fines for anyone who discriminates against perversion—even the failure to address someone by their preferred pronoun is an offence![4]  Civil officials are in fear of the loss of their jobs if they refuse to conduct biologically impossible faux “marriages.”[5]  The disorder is so great that not only are men trying to become women and women become men, but, indeed there are folks claiming that one may simply choose one’s gender without regard to biological reality—and that one may choose from over four dozen different genders![6]   There are even a few that have tried to become another species—one fellow altering himself to look like a tiger, and another trying to mutilate himself into a bird![7]

    Around the time of Pope Leo XIII, the great American poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote in a poem that whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.”[8]  The “gods” of secularism have done a good job of that.

    So, if there was ever a time for prayer to Jesus, Mary, and Joseph … If there was ever a need to emulate them in our own families …that time is now.  Let us pray:

O Lord Jesus Christ, who when Thou wast subject to Mary and Joseph didst sanctify home life with ineffable virtues:  grant that by their assistance, we may be instructed by the example of Thine Holy Family and become partakers of their eternal happiness.

Thou live and reign with the Father and the Holy Ghost, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.



[1]   Only excerpts of Néminem fugit appear in English on the Internet.  See

[2]   Leo also wrote Quamquam pluries August 15th, 1889, similarly encouraging the emulation of Saint Joseph in families.

[3]   The Syllabus of Errors Condemned by Pius IX

[8]   Prometheus in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem “The Masque of Pandora” (1875).





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