Sunday, December 27, 2009

Feast of the Holy Family: Consecrations and Blessings

I understand the complaint of many traditionalists for moving the Feast of the Holy Family to the Sunday of the Octave of Christmas. For one thing, the chronology seems odd when you are at the Nativity one day (Christmas), Jesus is twelve years old (Holy Family), and Jesus is immediately reverted back to a newborn for his circumcision (Mary, Mother of God, New Year's).

Nevertheless, I am grateful for the opportunity to meditate on family life in this time. In particular, the Christmas season is an excellent opportunity for devotions related to the family. This is especially true for the Feast we celebrate today.

The Directory of Popular Piety says the following about this Feast:

The feast of the holy family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (Sunday in the Christmas octave) is a festive occasion particularly suitable for the celebration of rites or moments of prayer proper to the Christian family. The recollection of Joseph, Mary and Jesus' going up to Jerusalem, together with other observant Jewish families, for the celebration of the Passover (cf. Lk 2, 41-42), should normally encourage a positive acceptance of the pastoral suggestion that all members of the family attend Mass on this day. This feast day also affords an opportunity for the renewal of our entrustment to the patronage of the Holy Family of Nazareth(120); the blessing of children as provided in the ritual(121); and where opportune, for the renewal of marriage vows taken by the spouses on their wedding day, and also for the exchange of promises between those engaged to be married in which they formalize their desire to found a new Christian family(122).

With this in mind, I think that it would be opportune to focus on an Act of Consecration to the Holy Family as well as the Blessing of Sons and Daughters.

One Act of Consecration to the Holy Family may be found here. While it is no longer indulgenced, this in no way is a diminution of the beauty and worthiness of this prayer.

The Order of Blessing of Sons and Daughters (not to be confused with the Order of Blessing of Children, which should be performed by a priest) may be found in the Shorter Book of Blessings (or the larger one as well).

While I may not be able to print the whole of the Rite, I think that the following prayer of blessing may be appropriate to post, so that others may see the contents of this prayer. The following prayer of blessing is the one to be used by a parent, rather than by a priest or deacon:

Father, inexhaustible source of life and author of all that is good, we bless you and we thank you for brightening our communion of love by your gift of children.
Grant that your children (child) will find in the life of this family such inspiration that they (he/she) will strive always for what is right and good and one day, by your grace, reach their (his/her) home in heaven.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

I hope that this may aid in your celebration of the Feast of the Holy Family.

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