Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Chaplet of the Holy Family Confraternity

Madame Barbe d'Ailleboust, the widow of the governor of Canada, founded the Confraternity of the Holy Family in 1663 with the assistance of Father Pierre-Joseph Chaumonot. The Confraternity was soon afterward approved by the first Bishop of Quebec, Blessed Fran├žois Laval, who had established a feast and a Mass for the Holy Family on the Third Sunday of Easter. From these humble beginnings the feast spread, until now it is celebrated by the Universal Church, though it has since been moved to the Christmas season.

The Chaplet of the Holy Family, composed of 3 sets of 10 beads, is as old as the Confraternity itself. By the early 1670s Catherine Gandeaktena introduced it to the Indian mission of St. Francis Xavier, and by the end of the decade St. Kateri Tekakwitha would make it an important part of her devotional life.

Recently I found the instructions and meditations for this chaplet in an 1867 manual of prayers for the Confraternity the Holy Family (see p. 120 and following).

There are, of course, other chaplets dedicated to the Holy Family, but this one occupies such a unique place in Canadian history that I think it deserves to be better known. I have translated it below.



Prayer before the Chaplet

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Thy faithful and kindle in them the fire of Thy love.

V. Send forth Thy Spirit, and they shall be created.
R. And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.

Let us pray.

O God, who didst instruct the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit: give to us, in the same Spirit, to know what is right, and ever rejoice in His consolation. Through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, Who with Thee livest and reignest in the unity of the same Holy Spirit, God. World without end. Amen.



The Chaplet is composed of three decades, each with a brief meditation.

On the large beads is said the Our Father.

On the small beads is said the following:

V. Jesus, Mary, Joseph, Joachim and Anna, come to our assistance.
R. Holy Trinity, One God, have mercy on us.

The Glory Be is said at the end of each decade.



First Decade.

Remember the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, on which the Most Holy Trinity has bestowed every kindness and the fullness of grace. In the Holy Family all sin has been banished, and the peace of the most perfect union reigns there, along with charity toward everyone. Those who wish to shower upon their household the mercies of Heaven must refrain from offending God, apply themselves in a concerted manner to maintain peace and unity in their family, and be filled with sweetness and charity for their fellow man. These things are what we ask of God, through the merits of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, for all the children of their Holy Family, in reciting the first decade. Our Father…

Second Decade.

Consider the intentions of Our Lady and Saint Joseph in raising the Divine Infant Jesus. Undoubtedly they cared only for the glory of God and for the relief of their fellow man; undoubtedly these thoughts encouraged them at every moment. They thought, "Oh, how the life of our lovable child is dear and agreeable to God! Oh, how it will bring glory to Him, and what good it will bring to the world when he is older!" Let us enter into the same spirit, and let us ask of God, for the fathers and mothers who do not care for God, that all the cares they take with their children will some day make them capable of glorifying God and edifying their fellow man. Our Father…

Third Decade.

Observe, on the one hand, the promptness and the joy with which the child Jesus, the Son of God that he was, obeyed the Holy Virgin and St. Joseph, and on the other hand, the repugnance, the cowardice, and the boredom that some children show in obeying their fathers and mothers. Are we not saddened by this difference? Let us ask of our Eternal Father, for the grace of submission and obedience that Jesus showed to the Holy Virgin and to her Spouse, that He make the children of the members of the Confraternity of the Holy Family tractable and obedient to their parents. Our Father…

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