Sunday, January 13, 2013


Interior of the Holy House of Loreto

From the venerable St Andrew Daily Missal (1937 edition) on the Feast of the Holy Family:

"Is it not fitting," says Leo XIII, "to celebrate the royal birth of the Son of the supreme Father, of the house of David and the glorious names of that ancient line?  Yet it is more consoling for us to call to memory the little house at Nazareth and the humble life lived there; thus celebrating the hidden life of our Lord.  For there the divine Child  received his training in Joseph's humble  trade; there hidden and sheltered, He grew up and showed Himself ready to share the toil of the carpenter's life.  'Let the moisture,' he seemed to say, 'trickle over my limbs before they are drenched with the torrent of my blood, and the pain of this labour shall go to atone for the sins of men.'  Close to the divine Child is His tender Mother; close to Joseph stands his devoted wife, happy to relieve their toil and suffering by her loving care.  O Thou, who wast not free from toil and care and who hast known adversity, come to the aid of the unfortunate, crippled by poverty and struggling against the difficulties of life (Hymn for Matins)."

When one visits this sacred place, the Holy House of Loreto, as this writer was once fortunate enough to do, one is very much aware that a tremendous history attaches itself to it.  There is no doubt when you step inside that you should not be there.  No sinful man should enter there; it is too holy a place.  Domine, non sum dignus.  Standing inside such a dwelling the true sense of unworthiness comes very clearly to mind.  It is easy to leave the House with an inner feeling of bitterness at one's self, bitterness over past failures.  The Holy Family lived in this house, and if you dare to set foot in it a new responsibility makes itself known to you.  This goes far beyond the mere emotionalism of standing in the home where Jesus, Mary and Joseph lived.  A demand is made upon the visitor, a demand to live a different kind of family life than, perhaps, you have been living.

It is impossible to forget the overwhelming sense of awe, if we can still use such an over-used word, at being present in such a place.  But awe is the perfect word for it encompasses fear, wonder and respect at the same time.  It is easy to tremble in the presence of such holiness.

A visitor to the church wherein is kept the holy house will if a member of a group be herded into it altogether at once.  Naturally in that type of a situation it is difficult not to wonder at the smallness of this one-room domicile.  But if we can see it singly without a bustling crowd it all then seems quite adequate somehow.  It is an amazing place and I can only urge everyone to make it one of life's goals to visit there.  A more suitable pilgrimage in these days would be hard to imagine.

"Verily Thou art a hidden God," says the psalmist as quoted in the Gradual of today's Mass, still during Christmastide, the Feast of the Holy Family.

Behold the place where He was hidden.

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