Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Lisa Burke

7/27/2011 (5 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 (5 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.

---


'Help give every student and teacher Free resources for a world-class moral Catholic education'


Copyright 2017 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for DECEMBER 2016
Universal:
End to Child-Soldiers: That the scandal of child-soldiers may be eliminated the world over.
Evangelization: Europe: That the peoples of Europe may rediscover the beauty, goodness, and truth of the Gospel which gives joy and hope to life.



Comments


More Christian Saints & Heroes

Quotes of the Saints - Five saints have a message for you on this Thanksgiving holiday Watch

Image of Let us remember to give thanks for this day the Lord has made.

By Marshall Connolly, (California Network)

If you are an American, today is Thanksgiving. Hopefully today you have made a point to attend Mass and to give thanks to God for all His blessings. If you are not American, today's holiday is a reminder that God deserves thanks from all His creation. We pray you will ... continue reading


St. Ignatius of Antioch: Model of Bravery, Man for our Times Watch

Image of One of many icons of St. Ignatius of Antioch

By Billy Atwell

In the face of the current "witch-hunts" endured by some of our Bishops, let us remember a hero on October 17, the feast of St. Ignatius of Antioch.  St. Ignatius of Antioch is a bishop and martyr of the Church who died in the ... continue reading


St Francis Through the Eyes of His Friend St Bonaventure Watch

Image of Francis of Assisi in prayer

By Deacon Keith Fournier

There is so much to write about in this marvelous account of the life of one of my own personal heroes, the saint whose witness led me back to the Church, Francis of Assisi. However, I will focus on one aspect of Bonaventure's tribute to Francis. He was his ... continue reading


A Promise to God: St. Michael the Archangel, Defend Us in Battle Watch

Image of Michael is also represented in icons as standing on a horizontal body and with his left arm held high, holding a small image of a

By Youngsun Jun

Though I am not strong enough to hold the suffering souls in my arms and carry them home, I can do one thing: I can pray for the deliverance of the souls who are in the darkness. I can request help from the angels for them. I can make a 911 call for them. So again, I ... 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


My Memoir of St. Padre Pio: Price of Suffering and Beatification by the Brush of Grace

Image of Padre Pio in death.

By Matt Hicks

Miraculous testimony of an elite level gymnast touched by Padre Pio: 'Pio, like all the saints, is like the window-washer that scales tall buildings to clear away the muck and allow us to see His luminous rays aflame. God sends them, as He pushes us forward, ... continue reading


Which is it? Saint Teresa of Calcutta or Mother Teresa of Kolkata Watch

Image of The icon of Saint Teresa of Calcutta.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

There is confusion over the proper title of Mother Teresa. Her name is appearing in the media as both "Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta" and "Mother Teresa of Kolkata," sometimes written with the word "Mother" and sometimes without. Which is correct? LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


The saints are real and active in our lives! Saint Padre Pio intercedes on behalf of baby with critical heart condition Watch

Image of Saint Padre Pio has been credited with intercession that saved the life of baby Caitlin Dooley.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The saints are real and active in our lives. This is more obvious than ever following the miraculous recovery of a baby in an Irish intensive care unit. LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - A relic of Saint Padre Pio has been credited with a dramatic improvement in ... continue reading


Clare of Assisi as Model: Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI Calls for Women of Courage to Renew the Church Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

In her convent of San Damiano, Clare heroically practiced the virtues that should characterize all Christians: humility, a spirit of piety and penance, and charity.  Her fame of sanctity and the prodigies that came about thanks to her intervention led Pope ... 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

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Isaiah 35:1-10
1 Let the desert and the dry lands be glad, let the wasteland rejoice and ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 85:9-10, 11-12, 13-14
9 His saving help is near for those who fear him, his glory will dwell in ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 5:17-26
17 Now it happened that he was teaching one day, and Pharisees and ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for December 5th, 2016 Image

St. Sabas
December 5: Sabas was born at Mutalaska, Cappadocia, near ... Read More