The month of February is dedicated to the Holy Family. The special devotion which proposes the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph as the model of virtue of all Christian households began in the 17th century. It started almost simultaneously in Canada and France: the Association of the Holy Family was founded in Montreal in 1663, and by the Daughters of the Holy Family in Paris in 1674. This devotion soon spread and in 1893 Leo XIII expressed his approval of a feast under this title and himself composed part of the Office. On account of the flight into Egypt this feast has been observed by the Copts from early times. The feast was welcomed by succeeding Pontiffs as an efficacious means for bringing home to the Christian people the example of the Holy Family at Nazareth, and by the restoration of the true spirit of family life, stemming, in some measure, the evils of present-day society.
In the words of His Holiness Pope Leo XIII, "Nothing truly can be more salutary or efficacious for Christian families to meditate upon than the example of this Holy Family, which embraces the perfection and completeness of all domestic virtues."
The home of Nazareth is the school where we begin to understand the life of Jesus—the school of the Gospel. First, then, a lesson of silence. May esteem for silence, that admirable and indispensable condition of mind, revive in us...A lesson on family life. May Nazareth teach us what family life is, its communion of love, its austere and simple beauty, and its sacred and inviolable character...A lesson of work. Nazareth, home of the Carpenter's Son, in you I would choose to understand and proclaim the severe and redeeming law of human work. — Paul VI at Nazareth, January 5, 1964
Since the Holy Family observed the Jewish law in its perfection, we can deduce quite accurately what prayers they recited. The Psalms, of course, were the favorites. Three times a day Jesus, Mary, and Joseph said the Tephillah, "The Prayer," consisting of eighteen long invocations and blessings. Joseph (and later Jesus when He attained to manhood) was obliged to say the Shema, a sort of profession of faith in the one true God, twice daily.
A very interesting Jewish custom of prayer that must have been observed in the house at Nazareth was that of the Mezuzah, "the doorpost," and the "phylacteries," small square calfskin boxes with Scripture texts written on parchment inside them.
On the doorpost of the house at Nazareth was fastened a wooden tube containing a rolled parchment inscribed with the passage quoted above from the Book of Deuteronomy and another passage (11:13-21) citing the blessings of serving God. On entering and leaving the house the members of the Holy Family would piously touch this Mezuzah, saying, "May God keep my going out and coming in from now on and forevermore." All this was intended to show reverence for the word of God.
Such was the vocal and the more or less formal prayer which Jesus, Mary, and Joseph offered in their home at Nazareth. In their hearts, however, they prayed always. Just as the Heart of Jesus was constantly united with His divinity, so were the hearts of Mary and Joseph so closely bound to God that their every action was a prayer. — Excerpted from Reflections on the Life of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, Francis L. Filas, S.J.
The Holy Family models for us what family life should exemplify. It is a school of virtue for both parents and children. There we find God, and learn how to connect with God and with others. The family is where love is freely given without self-interest. It is where we learn to love, to pray and to practice the gift of charity. Pope John Paul II has said, “The family, more than any other human reality, is the place in which the person is loved for himself and in which he learns to live the sincere gift of self” (Nov. 27, 2002).
We should ask ourselves if our own families model that of the Holy Family. We need to be open to God’s grace to value the positive and to accept our mistakes — and to be willing to rectify them. Parenting is a very challenging responsibility and at times errors are made despite the best intentions. Recognizing this, children should trust their parents and never forget that parents want only what is best for them.
Which leads us to what may be the most important family virtue — forgiveness. Living so intimately within the family nucleus naturally gives rise to unpleasant situations where someone is apt to be offended. St. Paul knew this when he told us to “bear with and forgive one another.” The health of our family may depend on how quickly we learn to forgive without harboring feelings of resentment.
No family can thrive and grow without constant work. Even the material details that take time and effort are essential to keeping the family strong. Everyone has to pull together for the good of the family — even to the point of putting ahead of our own needs and ambitions the happiness of other family members, setting aside our own selfish desires.
It is also important to pray as a family, especially the holy rosary. Prayer will help us to intensify our closeness with each other and to learn to forgive.
During this Year of the Eucharist it is essential to discover the relationship between the Eucharist and family life. Pope John Paul II wrote, “In the eucharistic gift of charity the Christian family finds the foundation and soul of its communion and its mission” (Letter on the Family, No. 57). — Excerpted from The Holy Family models what family life should be, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.
The month of February is dedicated to the Holy Family. This year the entire month of February falls within the liturgical season of Ordinary Time which is represented by the liturgical color green. Green, the symbol of hope, is the color of the sprouting seed and arouses in the faithful the hope of reaping the eternal harvest of heaven, especially the hope of a glorious resurrection.
That all those who are afflicted, especially the poor, refugees, and marginalized, may find welcome and comfort in our communities. (See also Apostleship of Prayer)
The feasts on the General Roman Calendar celebrated during the month of February are:
2. Presentation of the Lord, Feast
3. Blaise; Ansgar, Opt. Mem.
5. Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sunday
6. Paul Miki and Companions, Memorial
8. Jerome Emiliani; Josephine Bakhita, Opt. Mem.
10. Scholastica, Memorial
11. Our Lady of Lourdes, Opt. Mem.
12. Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sunday
14. Cyril and Methodius, Memorial
17. Seven Founders of the Orders of Servites, Opt. Mem.
19. Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sunday
21. Peter Damian, Opt. Mem.
22. Chair of St. Peter, Feast
23. Polycarp of Smyrna, Memorial
26. Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sunday
The Gospel readings for the Sundays in February are taken from St. Matthew and are from Year A Cycle 1 of the readings.
February 5th - Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time
Jesus tells his disciples, "You are the salt of the earth."
February 12th - Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time
Jesus said, "Let your 'Yes' mean 'Yes,'and your 'No' mean 'No.' Anything more is from the evil one."
February 19th - Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time
Jesus says, "love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father."
February 26th - Eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time
Jesus counsels his disciples, "No man can serve two masters."
Highlights of the Month
The month of February is traditionally dedicated to the Holy Family. Between the events which marked Christmas and the beginning of Christ's public life the Church has seen fit to recall the example of the Holy Family for the emulation of the Christian family.
The Feast of the Presentation (February 2) or Candlemas forms a fitting transition from Christmas to Easter. The small Christ-Child is still in His Mother's arms, but already she is offering Him in sacrifice.
The saints that we will focus on this month and try to imitate are St. Blaise (February 3), St. Paul Miki & Companions (February 6), St. Jerome Emiliani and St. Josephine Bakhita (February 8), St. Scholastica (February 10), Our Lady of Lourdes (February 11), Sts. Cyril and Methodius (February 14), Seven Founders of the Orders of Servites (February 17), St. Peter Damian (February 21), Chair of St. Peter (February 22) and St. Polycarp (February 23).
The feast of St. Agatha (February 5) and will not be celebrated this year because it is superseded by the Sunday liturgy.
Though the shortest month of the year, February is rich in Liturgical activity. It contains a feast (Presentation of our Lord) that bridges two other seasons (Christmas and Easter)! In addition, the faithful may receive in February two of the four major public sacramentals that the Church confers during the liturgical year: blessed candles and the blessing of throats.
The Solemnity of the Presentation of the Lord on February 2nd harkens back to the Christmas mystery of Light except that now, Christ, the helpless babe, is “the Light of Revelation to the Gentiles who will save his people from their sins.” Candles, symbolizing Christ our Light, will be carried in procession this day, as will be the Paschal candle during the Easter Vigil Liturgy.
"The Light of Revelation" shines more brightly with each successive Sunday of Ordinary Time, until its magnificence – exposing our sinfulness and need for conversion – propels us into the penitential Season of Lent. We prepare to accept the cross of blessed ashes on Ash Wednesday (March 1) and plunge ourselves into anticipating the major exercises of Lent – fasting, prayer, almsgiving – laying our thoughts and prayers on the heart of our Mother Mary. She, who offered her Son in the temple and on the Cross, will teach us how to deny ourselves, take up our cross daily, and follow after her Son.
Ideally, the members of the domestic church should try to have the candles for their home altar blessed on Candlemas Day (February 2nd); and the next morning, on the Feast of St. Blaise, all might receive the blessing of the throats. Always a solicitous Mother, the Church offers this sacramental during the wintry month of February, and also sets aside the World Day of Prayer for the Sick on February 11, the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.