The spiritual life of the Holy Family, explained by Fr. Manns

The Holy Family followed the liturgical calendar of the Hebrew religion; they prayed in the synagogue or the temple, along with their fellow Jews and they observed the Jewish rites (circumcision, presentation to the temple and other religious feast days). They also prayed in private, in the quiet of their home in Nazareth. The family prayed together on a daily basis, but each individual member also found time for personal prayer in the privacy of their own room. In addition, Mary, Joseph and Jesus practiced prayer from the heart in a continuous manner. This is to say that the family atmosphere in the home of the Holy Family was a prayerful one.

A new way to communicate with God

The spiritual life of the Holy Family announced a new way to communicate with God: made up of intimacy and confident simplicity, both spiritual attributes of love...

As everyone else in Israel, Mary awaited the coming of the Messiah. She awaited him with all her soul, with all her might and with all her hope. As a young girl, she must certainly have offered her life and her virginity for this reason. And to maintain the memory of the events of salvation, she went to the Temple in Jerusalem on pilgrimage three times a year.

Although the calendars of the feast days specified that men alone come on pilgrimage, the practice of the pilgrimage in the first century had become for many a family matter.

Little by little the Temple accepted the presence of women

The patriarchal society had managed to evolve to a mentality that respected the woman more, perhaps under the influence of the Roman society. The Temple was essentially a masculine institution: only men were priests, only male beasts were offered in sacrifice. Since at the time of the Second Temple entire families had taken on the habit of coming in pilgrimage, they ended up by allowing women to present the Easter sacrifice. Even more so, the presence of women obliged the priests to introduce a special ceremony for the feast of the Tents: the lighting up of the women's courtyard in the evening.

Nevertheless, men and women attended the ceremonies separately. For the feast of Pentecost, it became acceptable for the women to offer the first gift of fruit, for the first to enjoy these gifts were the priests. Rabbi Gamaliel had even decided to add a special blessing when he met a beautiful woman in the Temple: "Blessed is the author of beauty".

The family home: the true place of Jewish prayer

Jerusalem was the center of prayer three times per year, but the true place of prayer was the family home. The home of the Holy Family in Nazareth, in the very heart of the spiritual life of Israel, was already in itself not only the first domestic church, but the very first church whatsoever.