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Octave of Christmas - The Feast of the Holy Family

By Deacon keith Fournier
December 28th, 2008
Catholic Online (

The silence of Nazareth should teach us how to meditate in peace and quiet, to reflect on the deeply spiritual, and to be open to the voice of Godís inner wisdom and the counsel of his true teachers.

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (Catholic Online) - During the Octave of Christmas we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family. The significance of the Feast grows as we come to understand the deeper truths it reveals, about Jesus, about Mary, about Joseph and about each one of us and our Baptismal vocation to live our lives now, in Christ.

The Incarnate Word became one of us. He was born into a human family. There, in what our beloved Pope Paul VI called the "school of Nazareth", he spent so many of his years. Every moment of his time among us Jesus was saving the world and to use a word from the early Church Father and Bishop St. Ireneaus, "recapitulating" the entire human experience. There, in the holy habitation of Nazareth he forever transformed family life. There in the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the Lord still teaches us how to live our own family life now, always in His presence.

From antiquity the Christian family has been called a "domestic church" in the Christian Tradition. In our life with one another as a Christian family, Jesus Christ is truly present.We need the eyes to see Him at work, the ears to hear His instruction and the hearts to make a place for Him to continue His redemptive mission within us and through us. In our relationships, in Him and with one another, we can learn the way of selfless love and walk the path of holiness. We present an excerpt from a beautiful reflection from the late Pope Paul VI entitled "The Example of Nazareth" for all of our readers and viewers as we continue our Christmas celebration.

An address given at Nazareth by Pope Paul VI: The Example of Nazareth

"Nazareth is a kind of school where we may begin to discover what Christís life was like and even to understand his Gospel. Here we can observe and ponder the simple appeal of the way Godís Son came to be known, profound yet full of hidden meaning. And gradually we may even learn to imitate him.

"Here we can learn to realise who Christ really is. And here we can sense and take account of the conditions and circumstances that surrounded and affected his life on earth: the places, the tenor of the times, the culture, the language, religious customs, in brief, everything which Jesus used to make himself known to the world. Here everything speaks to us, everything has meaning. Here we can learn the importance of spiritual discipline for all who wish to follow Christ and to live by the teachings of his Gospel.

"How I would like to return to my childhood and attend the simple yet profound school that is Nazareth! How wonderful to be close to Mary, learning again the lesson of the true meaning of life, learning again Godís truths. But here we are only on pilgrimage. Time presses and I must set aside my desire to stay and carry on my education in the Gospel, for that education is never finished. But I cannot leave without recalling, briefly and in passing; some thoughts I take with me from Nazareth.

"First, we learn from its silence. If only we could once again appreciate its great value. We need this wonderful state of mind, beset as we are by the cacophony of strident protests and conflicting claims so characteristic of these turbulent times. The silence of Nazareth should teach us how to meditate in peace and quiet, to reflect on the deeply spiritual, and to be open to the voice of Godís inner wisdom and the counsel of his true teachers. Nazareth can teach us the value of study and preparation, of meditation, of a well-ordered personal spiritual life, and of silent prayer that is known only to God.

"Second, we learn about family life. May Nazareth serve as a model of what the family should be. May it show us the familyís holy and enduring character and exemplify its basic function in society: a community of love and sharing, beautiful for the problems it poses and the rewards it brings, in sum, the perfect setting for rearing children Ė and for this there is no substitute.

"Finally, in Nazareth, the home of a craftsmanís son, we learn about work and the discipline it entails. I would especially like to recognise its value Ė demanding yet redeeming Ė and to give it proper respect. I would remind everyone that work has its own dignity. On the other hand, it is not an end in itself. Its value and free character, however, derive not only from its place in the economic system, as they say, but rather from the purpose it serves.

"In closing, may I express my deep regard for people everywhere who work for a living. To them I would point out their great model, Christ their brother, our Lord and God, who is their prophet in every cause that promotes their well being."

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