Feast of the Holy Family | Dec 29, 2019
Merry Christmas! This time of year is truly the holiday ( holy day ) season, with many feasts being celebrated between Christmas Day and the end of the Christmas Season on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (Jan. 12).

The Sunday after Christmas is the Feast of the Holy Family. When we think about the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, we might think it is very different from our own. And in many ways the Holy Family is unique. But in very fundamental ways the Holy Family is just like ours, and in fact we are included in Jesus' extended Holy Family. In the Incarnation, Jesus became part of our family! This is what I talk about in this week's reflection. Enjoy and share!

In Christ's Peace,
Deacon Matt
The Christmas Season
W hen does Christmas end? The secular celebration of Christmas begins the day after Thanksgiving and culminates on Christmas Day. Some might extend their celebration to include New Year's Eve, but for the most part Christmas is already winding down. But for Catholics, the celebration is only beginning!

The Christmas season starts for us with Christmas Day on Dec. 25 and lasts until the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which this year falls on Jan. 12. So keep the festivities going! Here are some other important celebrations that fall within the Christmas Season.

  • The Octave of Christmas: The eight days (inclusive) between Dec. 25 and Jan. 1 are celebrated as an Octave Feast. This means that the Church treats the entire week as one giant feast day! The Octave of Christmas itself includes other important feasts such as the Feast of St. Stephen (Dec. 26) the Feast of St. John the Evangelist (Dec. 27), and the Feast of the Holy Innocents (Dec. 28).
  • The Feast of the Holy Family is celebrated on the Sunday after Christmas.
  • The Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God is celebrated on Jan. 1 and ends the Octave of Christmas (but the Christmas Season continues). It is a holy day of obligation.
  • The Feast of the Epiphany is celebrated on the Sunday after the Octave of Christmas. Traditionally it was celebrated on Jan. 6, marking the end of the "Twelve Days of Christmas."
  • The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord is celebrated on the Sunday after Epiphany (Jan. 12 this year) and marks the official end of the Christmas Season, though in the past the Christmas Season was observed until the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord on Feb 2.
More on the Holy Family
W e celebrate the birth of our Savior with much fanfare during the Christmas season. He is Emmanuel,  God-with-us . He is Jesus,  God-saves . He is born of a virgin. The very stars announce His arrival onto the human scene. Angels rejoice. To say His birth is extraordinary would be an understatement.

Yet in very important ways, His birth and childhood are quiet and ordinary. Jesus had a mother, Mary, and a father, Joseph. He depended on His parents, just as all children do, for food, warmth, comfort, love and care. He grew strong nursing at His mother’s breast. As He grew older, He learned a trade. We are told in our gospel reading that Jesus “advanced in wisdom” (Lk 2:52). He did all of this within a family.

The human family is an image of the Holy Trinity. We are made in the image of God, which means we are made to be in relationship. God has within His being the relationship of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God is love, and love requires both a lover and a beloved. God, in His perfection, has this within Himself. But we must look outside of ourselves for relationship. The first relationships that all of us have — and often the most impactful — are with our families. We are literally born into relationship with others. Family life is an image of the inner life of God.

This may sound rather esoteric and mystical, but the most amazing thing about it is just how marvelously ordinary it is...
Catholic Campus Ministry at WCU
Deacon Matthew Newsome, MTh, campus minister