Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Lisa Burke

7/27/2011 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Faithful, prayerful, devout. These three powerful adjectives tell us a lot about them

Catholics, for the most part, are probably pretty familiar with the Feast of the Holy Family that is celebrated on the Sunday after Christmas, a day set aside to honor the Holy Family into which Jesus was born, a family that provides a model for families today, regardless of their specific composition.  But in reality, there was an earlier Holy Family of Nazareth, the family into which Mary, the immaculately conceived Mother of God was born, the family of Ann, Joachim, and Mary.

A popular icon of Saints Joachim and Ann

A popular icon of Saints Joachim and Ann

Highlights

By Lisa Burke

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

7/27/2011 (3 years ago)

Published in Christian Saints & Heroes

Keywords: Joachim and Anne, Holy Family, Mary, Jesus, Lisa Burke


HOBOKEN, N.J. (Catholic Online) - July 26th was, liturgically speaking, the feast of St. Ann and St. Joachim.  Growing up it was a popular day to celebrate St. Ann with parish festivals and fireworks (the St. Ann feast in Hoboken, NJ is legendary).  With a grandmother named Anne, it was also a day to give special thanks for her and to remember the ways in which she mirrored St. Ann(e).

Ten years ago when I relocated to the central part of New Jersey, I found myself at the Church of Saint Ann, the parish where I have since been a member.  Each year the parish holds a preparatory novena for the feast that is a combination of the traditional novena and a parish renewal wherein a guest preacher - often a priest, not always - leads us in a series of reflections. 

When my work scheduled allowed me greater involvement in the nuts and bolts of parish life, the Novena Committee was the first activity I officially joined.   Since then, I have had the standing privilege of "authoring" the daily general intercessions for the nine days of the novena.  Having the opportunity to pre-pray the readings and themes of the novena has provided an additional layer of engagement with the feast that we celebrate today.

Catholics, for the most part, are probably pretty familiar with the Feast of the Holy Family that is celebrated on the Sunday after Christmas, a day set aside to honor the Holy Family into which Jesus was born, a family that provides a model for families today, regardless of their specific composition.  But in reality, there was an earlier Holy Family of Nazareth, the family into which Mary, the immaculately conceived Mother of God was born, the family of Ann, Joachim, and Mary.

While it is common to relate to Ann and Joachim as the grandparents of Jesus and the parents of Mary, I think it is beneficial today, particularly in an era where diversity in the composition of families is more prominent and (unfortunately) sometimes more contested, to consider the first Holy Family of Nazareth.

Much of what we believe about Ann and Joachim comes to us through tradition based upon the Protoevangelium (or Infancy Gospel) of St. James. (See for example) In our minds, we understand Ann and Joachim to be somewhat older, perhaps around the age of Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, who tradition holds was the first cousin of Ann (or at least that is what I recall learning). So here we have the first Holy Family of Ann, Joachim, and Mary. 

To understand the family, it is important to understand Ann and Joachim as individuals, as a couple, and as parents.  Faithful, prayerful, devout.  These three powerful adjectives tell us a lot about them.  Trusting, confident, and hopeful.  These three adjectives tell us a lot as well, about our own vocational calls. 

But let's think, too, about what we don't often focus on, the preoccupations, concerns, and worries they must have had as they raised Mary and as they grew older.  Clearly faith and, yes, spirituality (although that would not have been a common term at that time) were essential components of their lives. 

I can see them in my mind's eyes participating in the rituals and worship of the Jewish tradition on a regular basis.  I can see them relying on the Scriptures of the Torah, and I can hear them engaging in the psalms as their way to connect with the Most Sacred G-d. 

I can imagine them working daily and toiling to sustain a home where G-d was all and all lived for G-d and one another. I can see Ann and Joachim raising their daughter to be a woman who would be betrothed to a man of G-d.  Could they ever have imagined that she in fact would be the Spouse of G-d and bear in her own body the Savior of the World?

In that way, Ann and Joachim are beautiful models for parents and caregivers today.  They provide us with real life people who dealt with all the unknowns life has to offer and faced the uncertainties of life with trust, faith, confidence, hope, and surrender.

It's really impossible to appreciate fully the Holy Family (of the New Covenant) who we celebrate at Christmas without getting to know better the first Holy Family of Nazareth, and it's limited in meaning to honor the Holy Family of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus if we don't recognize the Holy Family of today, the families in which we find ourselves, whether they are blood families, spiritual families, religious families, or chosen families.

Join me in taking time to contemplate the family of Ann, Joachim, and Mary and what treasures of faith and wisdom that Holy Family offers me and you.  Join me in considering how the Holy Family of Ann, Joachim, and Mary made possible - and in fact was essential to - the Holy Family of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus. 

Join me in thanking God for the Holy Family of Today, the many Holy Families, I have encountered in my own life.  Join me in lifting up in prayer the rich diversity of families who comprise the one human family where all are made in the image and likeness of God and all are invited to "Love one another as I have loved you."

The Feast of Saints Ann and Joachim, the First Holy Family of Nazareth, Teaches Us about our own vocation and the Lord's invitation to follow Him in this day when the world so desperately needs to hear and see the Good News. 

-----
A 40-something lifelong Catholic and product of Catholic K-12 education, Lisa Burke has an M.A. in Human Rights Studies from Columbia University. She is a native of New Jersey; having been born and raised in the Archdiocese of Newark, she currently resides in the Diocese of Trenton where she is a parishioner of the Church of Saint Ann, Lawrenceville.  Lisa enjoys exploring and writing about politics, culture, faith, and the complex points where they intersect.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for October 2014
Peace:
That the Lord may grant peace to those parts of the world most battered by war and violence.
World Mission Day: That World Mission Day may rekindle in every believer zeal for carrying the Gospel into all the world.



Comments


More Christian Saints & Heroes

Saint Teresa of Avila: Virgin and Doctor of Prayer Watch

Image of St. Teresa of Avila

By Deacon F.K. Bartels

St. Teresa's whole life is one of simple beauty and fervent purpose; it is a life contained in Christ. She shows us how to live the same way through Prayer.On reading from St. Teresa, a deep feeling of her love for His Majesty envelops us; we begin, in a very real, ... continue reading


Femine Genius, Holiness and St. Teresa of Avila Watch

Image of Teresa of Avila was a mystic as well as an active and effective disciple of Jesus Christ. She demonstrates that the two expressions of the one Christian Way of Life can and should work together in our own experience - no matter what out vocation or state in life. This insight lies at the heart of the teaching of the Second Vatican Council's on the Universal Call to Holiness.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

If Christ Jesus dwells in a man as his friend and noble leader, that man can endure all things, for Christ helps and strengthens us and never abandons us. He is a true friend. And I clearly see that if we expect to please him and receive an abundance of his ... continue reading


From St Francis of Assisi to the Faithful: We Must be Simple Watch

Image of St. Francis of Assisi

By St. Francis of Assisi

We must not be wise and prudent according to the flesh. Rather we must be simple, humble and pure. We should never desire to be over others. Instead, we ought to be servants who are submissive to every human being for God's sake. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on all ... continue reading


St Therese of the Child Jesus: In the Heart of the Church I Will Be Love Watch

Image of Perhaps one of the most beloved saints of the Catholic Church,Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus (1873-1897) had wisdom beyond any formal learning which came from the depth of her interior life

By St Therese of Lisieux

O Jesus, my love, at last I have found my calling: my call is love. Certainly I have found my place in the Church, and you gave me that very place, my God. In the heart of the Church, my mother, I will be love, and thus I will be all things, as my desire finds its ... continue reading


The Feast of Sts. Michael, Gabriel and Raphael: Archangels and Powerful Spiritual Allies Sent by Love and for Love Watch

Image of

By Deacon F. K. Bartels

The Catechism of the Catholic Church informs us - The existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls 'angels' is a truth of faith. The witness of Scripture is as clear as the unanimity of Tradition (328). Charged by God to ... continue reading


Pope Cornelius and Bishop Cyprian are Examples for this Age of Martyrs Watch

Image of The blessed Cyprian suffered martyrdom on 14 September, under the emperors Valerian and Gallienus, but in the reign of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom is honor and glory for ever. Amen.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

God and his angels look down upon us; Christ, who looks on as we do battle in the contest of faith. What great dignity and glory are ours, what happiness to struggle in the presence of God and to be crowned by Christ our judge. Let us be armed with a great ... continue reading


Feast of St Augustine of Hippo: Defender of Truth Watch

Image of St. Augustine:

By F. K. Bartels

If there is any message which can be drawn from St. Augustine's life, and there are many, it is the message of repentance and conversion. This is a message the world desperately needs to hear today. It is one of heartfelt dedication to Christ as Master, Teacher and ... continue reading


Saint Bernard of Clairvaux Reminds Us that 'Love Is Sufficient of Itself' Watch

Image of Bernard of Clairvaux, Doctor of the Church

By Deacon F.K. Bartels

It is true that the creature loves less because she is less. But if she loves with her whole being, nothing is lacking where everything is given. To love so ardently then is to share the marriage bond; she cannot love so much and not be totally loved, and it is in the ... continue reading


Saint Clare Shows Us How The Path of Simplicity Can Lead To A Greater Love for Christ

Image of

By Deacon F. K. Bartels

We learn from St. Clare both the importance of giving one's life to Christ as well as the sublime, eternal rewards of doing so. When we leave the fleeting, temporary created objects of the world behind, no longer placing our trust in them or seeing them as inordinately ... continue reading


Fr. Paul Schenck on Edith Stein: Daughter of Israel, Daughter of the Church Watch

Image of St. Teresia Benedicta a Cruce, Edith Stein, Catholic feminist, philosopher and martyr of Auschwitz: Throughout her life, Edith never renounced or denounced her Jewish identity. Rather, as demonstrated in her memoir, her participation in Jewish customs at home, her letter to the Pope and in her correspondences, she spoke of her Jewish roots as intrinsic to her self-identification, to her views and even to aspects of her vocation

By Fr. Paul Chaim Benedicta Schenck

August 9 is the Memorial of St. Teresia Benedicta a Cruce, Edith Stein, Catholic feminist, philosopher and martyr of Auschwitz. In this sketch, Fr. Paul Chaim Benedicta Schenck, Jewish born priest and Chair of the National Pro-Life Center (Washington, DC), examines the ... continue reading


All Christian Saints & Heroes News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Exodus 22:20-26
20 'You will not molest or oppress aliens, for you ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 18:2-3, 3-4, 47, 51
2 Yahweh is my rock and my fortress, my deliverer is ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 22:34-40
34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced ... Read More

Reading 2, First Thessalonians 1:5-10
5 because our gospel came to you not only in words, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 26th, 2014 Image

St. Bean
October 26: On December 16, there is named in the Roman Martyrology and in ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter