Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!

Circumcision, Octave of Christmas, Solemnity of the Mother of God—1 January A.D. 2013

“O God, Who, by the fruitful virginity of blessed Mary, hast bestowed upon mankind the rewards of eternal salvation; grant, we beseech Thee, that we may feel the benefit of her intercession for us, through whom we have deserved to receive the author of life, our Lord Jesus Christ.”[1]

Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text - English
Veni Creátor Spíritus - Come, Holy Ghost, Creator blest

    This same day, January 1st, is known by a number of titles:    the Circumcision of our Lord, which took place according to God's Law on the eighth day after His birth;    it is also called the Octave day of Christmas, completing its celebration, again, in eight days;    it is the Solemnity of the Mother of God, a relatively new name, but one fully justified by the text of the Mass and Office celebrated today;    and, of course, it is also New Year's day, the beginning of the civil year.

    Circumcision refers to the rite by which men were marked as descendants of Abraham, and members of the Covenant that God made with the Jewish people.    Jesus was that descendant of Abraham who would “rule on the throne of David forever.”[2]    He was sent to the people of the Jews to be their Messiah—to deliver them from the slavery and bondage of sin.    We hear that in this ritual He received the name “Jesus”—the name given to Him by God through the mission of the Archangel Gabriel—the name which means “deliverer” or “savior.”    “Thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins.”[3]

    The “octave day” is simply the eighth day, and reminds us that in both the Old and New Covenants many important events were accorded a week-long celebration.    Christmas, Easter, the Ascension, Pentecost, the Immaculate Conception, and a few others all have octaves.   

    The Solemnity of the Mother of God was explained by Pope Saint Leo the Great in this morning's Divine Office.    That holy Pope tells us that:

    Whosoever will keep truly and honor today's festival, he must not think falsely of the Lord's Incarnation, nor contemptuously of the Lord's Godhead. For just as there is danger, on the one hand, of denying the truth of Christ's participation of our human nature, so is equal danger of doing so in spite to the equality of His glory with the glory of the Father.    Wherefore, when we try to understand the mystery of Christ's Birth, wherein He was born of the Virgin Mary, we must leave behind the clouds of earthly imagination behind, and pierce the fog of human wisdom with the enlightened eye of faith.

    The authority on which we believe is the authority of God Himself; the teaching which we follow is the teaching of God Himself.... “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made. “The Word was made Flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only-begotten of the Father.”[4]

    Mary as mother of Jesus Christ, the God-man, is equally the earthly mother of His human and divine natures.    This is not to say that she came before God in time, but simply that she gave birth to a Son who is truly both God and man.    God has truly visited His people and become one of us.

    Finally, we recognize the we begin the new year of the civil calendar today.    The custom is to wish one another a “good year,” or a “happy new year.”     The great preacher, Fr. Goffine suggests that this is a good Christian custom, denoting the charitable affection we have for our friends and neighbors.    “Holy” and “prosperous” probably ought to be part of that same greeting.

    So today we extend our celebration of Christmas, recall that our Lord shed His precious blood for the remission of sins, and did these things through the woman who gave birth to Him as God and man.    These are indeed inducements to love one another, and to pray for a good, happy, holy and prosperous new year for all who are of the household of the Faith.


[1]    Collect of the feast.

[4]     Cf.    Second nocturn of the feast.    From the Sermons of Pope St Leo the Great. Seventh for Christmas.


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