Sacred Mysteries | Christmas

Feast of the Holy Family

School of Nazareth

The Feast of the Holy Family is celebrated on Sunday during the Christmas Octave. This feast calls us to reflect on the ordinary life of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. The Holy Family — a model of familial love — helps us find God in the ordinary and strive for holiness through our daily tasks. Sunday’s readings can be found here.

Learning Objectives


The hidden life of the Holy Family was an ordinary life.

Jesus’ “hidden life” was before His public ministry, when He was growing up. His hidden life was so ordinary that acquaintances rejected His teachings and miracles.

Scripture Resources:

John 6:42, knowledge of Jesus family

Catechism Resources:

CCC 531-533, mysteries of Jesus’ hidden life


Joseph and Mary are models for all parents.

Parents and caregivers have the duty of educating their children in all aspects of life, especially raising them as disciples. At home, children learn how to treat others, handle difficulties, grow in a relationship with God, and more. Mary and Joseph can help with the difficult task of raising children.

Scripture Resources:

Sirach 3:2-6, honor parents

Luke 2:41-50, losing Jesus

Catechism Resources:

CCC 2207-2208, family in society

CCC 2221-2228, duties of parents


Jesus shows children how to honor their parents.

Although He was God, Jesus learned from His parents how to live in society, practice His religion (Judaism), and acquire a trade. He showed them obedience and love.

Scripture Resources:

Exodus 20:12, honor your parents

Luke 2:51-52, Jesus’ behavior

Catechism Resources:

CCC 2214-2220, duties of children

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Explore key themes for this week

Look for opportunities throughout the week to ponder with and communicate these truths to your child. You know your child best (what questions will resonate better with them, if they need a simpler or a more complex version of a particular objective, etc.), so use the section that works best for your family. Refer to the Parent Guide for more recommendations and remember that our faith is a mystery that we can always ponder, but sometimes we do not always fully understand (and that is ok).


The hidden life of the Holy Family was an ordinary life.

To ponder this idea with your child, ask:

  • Who are the members of the Holy Family?
  • What daily tasks do you think they had to do each day?
  • How are these tasks like what your family does each day?
  • What do you think life was like for the Holy Family when Jesus was your age?
  • What kind of chores might Jesus have had? Are they similar to your chores?
  • How do you carry out your chores? (Do you procrastinate? Smile while you work? Offer to help? Complain about the chores?)
  • How do you think Jesus carried out His chores?
  • How can you imitate Jesus’ way of working?


Joseph and Mary are models for all parents.

To ponder this idea with your child, ask:

  • Who takes care of you when you are sick? Who takes you to school or walks you to the bus stop?
  • What are some other ways your parent(s) show you love?
  • How do you respond to their love?
  • What are some things your parents do for you?
  • Why do they do these things?
  • How are your parents like Joseph and Mary?


Jesus shows children how to honor their parents.

“He went down with them [His parents] and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them…and Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and man” (Luke 2:51-52).


To ponder this idea with your child, ask:

  • God tells us to honor our parents. How did Jesus honor His parents? (He was obedient to them.)
  • What are some ways you can obey me/your parents better?
  • What are some ways you can show honor to me/your parents?
  • How does this passage say Jesus treated His parents?
  • What happened when Jesus obeyed His parents? (He grew in favor with God and man.)
  • Why do you think Jesus obeyed His parents when He was God?
  • What are some ways you can show me/your parents love and honor?
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Family lectio divina

Read the passage for this week’s family Lectio Divina time. Refer to the Parent Guide for further recommendations on doing Lectio Divina with children.

Luke 2:41-52, Finding Jesus in the Temple

Special Prayer for the Week

Litany of the Holy Family

Take turns being the leader with your children. The leader reads the first half of the line and the rest of the family responds with the second half of each line.

Leader: Lord, have mercy.  All: Lord, have mercy.
Leader: Christ, have mercy.  All: Christ, have mercy.
Leader: Lord, have mercy.  All: Lord, have mercy.
Leader: Christ, hear us.  All: Christ, graciously hear us.
Leader: God, the Father of Heaven, All: Have mercy on us.
Leader: God the Son, Redeemer of the world, All: Have mercy on us.
Leader:God, the Holy Spirit, All: Have mercy on us.
Leader: Holy Trinity, one God, All: Have mercy on us.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph R/ (Pray for us)
Jesus, Mary and Joseph, most worthy of our veneration R/
Jesus, Mary and Joseph, called the Holy Family from all time R/
Jesus, Mary and Joseph, son, mother, and head of the Holy Family R/
Jesus, Mary and Joseph, image of the Blessed Trinity while here on earth R/

Holy Family, tested by the greatest of difficulties R/
Holy Family, with much suffering on the journey to Bethlehem R/
Holy Family, without a welcome in Bethlehem R/
Holy Family, visited by the poor shepherds R/
Holy Family, obliged to live in a stable R/
Holy Family, praised by the angels R/
Holy Family, venerated by the wise men from the East R/
Holy Family, greeted by the pious Simeon in the temple R/
Holy Family, persecuted and exiled to a foreign country R/
Holy Family, hidden and unknown in Nazareth R/
Holy Family, faithful in the observance of divine laws R/
Holy Family, perfect model of the Christian family R/
Holy Family, whose protector is a model of paternal care R/
Holy Family, whose mother is a model of maternal diligence R/
Holy Family, whose Divine Child is a model of filial obedience R/
Holy Family, poor in material goods, but rich in divine blessings R/
Holy Family, as nothing in the eyes of men, but so great in heaven R/
Holy Family, our support in life and our hope in death R/
Jesus, Mary and Joseph R/

Leader: Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, All: spare us, O Lord.
Leader: Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, All: graciously hear us, O Lord.
Leader: Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,  All: have mercy on us.

Leader: Let us pray,
All: O God of infinite goodness and kindness, give us the grace to venerate Jesus, Mary and Joseph, so that, imitating them in this life, we may enjoy with them the life to come. Through Christ our Lord. Amen

Prayer to the Holy Family

(By the Missionaries of the Holy Family)

Jesus, Son of God and Son of Mary, bless our family. Graciously inspire in us the unity, peace, and mutual love that you found in your own family in the little town of Nazareth. Mary, Mother of Jesus and Our Mother, nourish our family with your faith and your love. Keep us close to your Son, Jesus, in all our sorrows and joys. Joseph, Foster-father to Jesus, guardian and spouse of Mary, keep our family safe from harm. Help us in all times of discouragement or anxiety.

Holy Family of Nazareth, make our family one with you. Help us to be instruments of peace. Grant that love, strengthened by grace, may prove mightier than all the weaknesses and trials through which our families sometimes pass. May we always have God at the center of our hearts and homes until we are all one family, happy and at peace in our true home in Heaven.

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Concrete ways to live out this week’s theme

Conversation & Blessing

Take some time as a family this week to have a family CONVERSATION. Allow time for each member to tell other members of the family what they love about them and share favorite family memories. You can even use the time together for a personal reflection time on how you can be a better participant in the family.

Conclude the time by the adults BLESSING the children. For example, as you trace a small cross on the child’s forehead, say, “May the Lord bless you and keep you all the days of your life.”

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Going Deeper
Optional parent reading

The Bible

Proverbs 22:6, tip for raising children

Sirach 3, responsibilities to parents

Colossians 3:18-21, relation of family members

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC)

CCC 2196-2200, 4th Commandment

CCC 2201-2233, Treatise on family life

CCC 2599, Teaching prayer

Official Church Documents

Familiaris Consortio, Pope Saint John Paul II, 1981; p. 86

Other Sources

Sunday Reading Reflections, from the USCCB

©Roman Catholic Archbishop of Boston. A Corporation Sole, 2022.