Madonna House

A Book for Families — and Others, Too

by Suzanne Atkinson

Nazareth Family Spirituality: Celebrating Your Faith at Home with Catherine Doherty edited by Fr. Blair Bernard, MH Publications, 230 pages, $15.95.

In page after page of her writings, as well as in hour after hour of talks and teachings, Catherine Doherty spoke about the Gospel as it was lived in Nazareth, the village home of the Holy Family, where Jesus spent thirty years of hidden life.

In this book, we find a collection of these reflections, some never before published, as well as liturgical customs and traditions to help bring Nazareth alive in Catholic families and homes.

The titles of its five sections tell us specifically what this book is about: “Nazareth Spirituality for Your Family,” “Wife, Mother, Foundress: Catherine’s Meditations on Marriage and Family,” “Handing on the Faith Through Celebration: Family Customs and Traditions for the Church Year,” “Questions Parents Ask: Q. & A. with Catherine Doherty,” and “’Till Death Do Us Part’: First and Last Things in Marriage and Family.”

Before she founded Madonna House, Catherine was a married woman who knew the challenges of family life, and she had a heart for families.

The friendly, conversational tone of Nazareth Family Spirituality draws you in to experience the heart of Nazareth, and it gives you the feeling that Catherine is alongside you offering encouragement and love.

Early in the book, Catherine states, “We go to Nazareth, that hidden little village and live with the Holy Family to become whole again. Here we learn about the little things done with great love, perfectly, for the love of God.”

Nazareth is a place where growth in holiness and love of God through ordinary everyday life can transpire. And Catherine connects the various aspects of Nazareth to modern Catholic family life.

These reflections can be an inspiration to young couples as well as to those who have been married for many years. This book can also be a resource for study for them, individually or in a group.

My own adult faith life has been profoundly formed by the words of Catherine Doherty. When I was a young wife and mother trying to live out my vocation, her words sang in my heart.

Her winsome way of putting things—even deep spiritual truths—gave great encouragement to me as I sought to live “the duty of the moment” and grow in my understanding of Nazareth.

In this book, the traditions from Madonna House are presented in such a way that they can be easily adapted to Catholic homes, and over the years, our family has followed many of these customs. Through such things as food and decorations, these customs have brought to life the richness of the faith.

Nazareth Family Spirituality is a treasury of love, wisdom and celebration from the heart of Catherine Doherty. It is a treasury that presents a way of passing on the faith that is accessible and vibrant. Through it, families can find healing and joy.

The author attended Cana Colony at MH in 1996 and the Nazareth Family Retreat in Combermere in 1992. Since 2003, her family has been part of the core team of families that hosts Nazareth Family Retreats at Dominus Vobiscum, a family camp north of Montreal. Nazareth is, naturally, very close to the heart of her family.