Nazareth Catholic Parish

Grovedale, Torquay and Anglesea

Grow with Us

Here you will find all sorts of things that are chosen to help us all grow in the mission of God's people to continue on the way to sainthood!

A Christmas Prayer for (nearly) Everyone

Dear God, I know that it is Christmas and I am supposed to be focused on the birth of Jesus, but once again Advent came and went and all I did was focus on so many other things.

So, this Christmas, please help me remember a few simple things, even if I am stressed from shopping and travel, lonely from a lack of friends and family, sick from a difficult illness or poor from the lack of work or a living wage.

Help me remember that when you became human, you came into the world in the most vulnerable way possible—as an infant. That meant that you were totally dependent on Mary and Joseph to care for you. And when you left this world, naked on a cross, you were vulnerable, too. That shows what you were willing to do just to love me.

You were vulnerable for me.

Help me remember that when you came into this world, it was not into some powerful clan in Galilee, not into some great ruling family of Judea and certainly not into a royal dynasty in Rome. You could have come in power and exercised that power as a scholar, a soldier, a king or an emperor. Instead, you came with no earthly power at all.

You were powerless for me.

Help me remember that you could have entered the world in a wealthy family. There was no need for you to be born to a young, probably illiterate woman who was married to a simple carpenter and who lived in a town so insignificant that one of your disciples would make a joke about it. But you chose not only to enter a poor family but to toil for many years as a laborer yourself.

You were poor for me.

Help me remember that you spent most of your life in obscurity in Nazareth, living an everyday life and working as a carpenter alongside Joseph. You were not well known. You did not set out to make a big name for yourself. In fact, the Gospels barely mention your hidden life in Nazareth, the place you spent your first 30 years. That is how simple, obscure and uneventful most of your life was.

You were unknown for me.

Help me remember that when you became human you took on a human body. That means that you experienced everything that anybody does. You had stomachaches and headaches, got colds and the flu, experienced hunger and thirst, and grew weary at the end of a long day. It also means that you experienced joy and sadness, frustration and anger, and all the emotions that any human being does, even in your divinity.

You were human for me

Help me remember that your entire life, from your birth to your death on a cross, was spent in love. You loved Mary and Joseph and your whole extended family. Later, you loved your friends, disciples and followers. You loved even your enemies and persecutors. And you had a special love for anyone who was poor, sick, lonely, misunderstood or marginalized in any way. Your entire life was poured out as one great offering of love.

You were love for me

Help me remember that you offered yourself without counting the cost. You preached the good news to the poor, healed the sick and shared the coming of the reign of God with everyone. Not everyone wanted to hear your message, but you kept proclaiming it until your death. You gave your whole self for humanity, even when we rejected you. You gave up even your body and spirit on the cross.

You were everything for me

Help me remember that Christmas is only the beginning of the story. After your death, you returned as the Risen One, never again to die, offering hope in the face of despair, love in the face of hate and life in the face of death. Your rising on Easter Sunday revealed the same message that the angel told your mother when he announced the coming Christmas: Nothing is impossible with God!

You are life for me

Dear God, I know that I don’t always remember these things at Christmas. There are so many emotions swirling in my head this time of year. But I want to remember them. And I trust that the desire to remember them is itself a good thing and comes from you.

This Christmas, give me the gift of memory,
And I will remember that you became love for me,
So that I can become love for others.



One of our patronal feastdays is that of the Holy Family and this year we will celebrate this feast on Sunday December 31. 
The Feast of the Holy Family came into the general calendar on October 26, 1921 and many Popes have promoted the feast as a way to counteract the breakdown of the family unit. In a beautiful address on December 28, 2011, at his Wednesday audience, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of the life of the Holy Family in Nazareth. Here is a short excerpt: "The house of Nazareth is a school of prayer where we learn to listen, to meditate, to penetrate the deepest meaning of the manifestation of the Son of God, drawing our example from Mary, Joseph and Jesus.

"The Holy Family is an icon of the domestic Church, which is called to pray together. The family is the first school of prayer where, from their infancy, children learn to perceive God thanks to the teaching and example of their parents. An authentically Christian education cannot neglect the experience of prayer. If we do not learn to pray in the family, it will be difficult to fill this gap later. I would, then, like to invite people to rediscover the beauty of praying together as a family, following the school of the Holy Family of Nazareth".
But it is not just about the Holy Family, but about our own families too. The main purpose of the Feast is to present the Holy Family as the model for all Christian families, and for domestic life in general. Our family life becomes sanctified when we live the life of the Church within our homes. This is called the "domestic church" or the "church in miniature." St. John Chrysostom urged all Christians to make each home a "family church," and in doing so, we sanctify the family unit. 

The Holy Family through the eyes of Michelangelo

Michelangelo's "DONI TONDO" hangs in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, and is the only finished panel painting of the mature Michelangelo to survive. Painted in 1507, it was  probably commissioned by Agnolo Doni to commemorate his marriage to Maddalena Strozzi, the daughter of a powerful Tuscan family. 

Mary is the most prominent figure in the composition, taking up much of the center of the image. She sits directly on the ground without a cushion between herself and the grass, to better communicate the theme of her relationship to the earth. Joseph is positioned higher in the image than Mary, although this is an unusual feature in compositions of the Holy Family. Mary is seated between his legs, as if he is protecting her, his great legs forming a kind of de facto throne. There is some debate as to whether Mary is receiving the Child from Joseph or vice versa, although it is clear that the former is the case as she has put down the book she was reading.

Saint John the Baptist, the patron saint of Florence, is very commonly included in Florentine works depicting the Madonna and Child. He is in the middle-ground of the painting, between the Holy Family and the background. The scene appears to be a rural one, with the Holy Family enjoying themselves on the grass and separated from the curiously (seemingly) unrelated group at the back by a low wall.

The painting is still in its original frame, one that Michelangelo might have influenced or helped design. The frame is ornately carved and rather unusual for the five heads it contains which protrude three-dimensionally into space. Similar to the nudes of the background, the meanings of these heads has been the subject of speculation. The frame also contains carvings of crescent moons, stars, vegetation, and lions’ heads. These symbols are, perhaps, references to the Doni and Strozzi families, taken from each one’s coat of arms. As depicted on the frame, “the moons are bound together with ribbons that interlock with the lions,” possibly referring to the marriage of the two families.

There is a horizontal band, possibly a wall, separating the foreground and background. The background figures are five nudes, whose meaning and function are subject to much speculation and debate. Because they are much closer to us, the viewers, the Holy Family is much larger than the nudes in the background, a device to aid the illusion of deep space in a two-dimensional image. Behind Saint John the Baptist is a semi-circular ridge, against which the 'ignudi' are leaning, or upon which they are sitting. This semi-circle reflects or mirrors the circular shape of the painting itself and acts as a foil to the vertical nature of the principal group (the Holy family). Mary and Joseph gaze at Christ, but none of the background nudes looks directly at him. The far background contains a mountainous landscape rendered in atmospheric perspective.