Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!

Circumcision of Our Lord--Octave of Christmas--Solemnity of the Mother of God--New Year's Day--1 January AD 2014


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

“After eight days were accomplished that the child should be circumcised, his name was called Jesus, which was called by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.”[1]

    In my lifetime, even before I was thirty years old, the name of today’s feast changed three times.  The text of the Mass remained exactly the same, but it went from being called the “Circumcision of our Lord,” to the “Octave Day of Christmas,” to the Solemnity of the Mother of God.”  Of course, many people just refer to this as “New Year’s Day,” so we need to consider the day from all four perspectives.  The Holy Name of Jesus is mentioned in the Gospel, but that will get its own feast day this coming Sunday.

    On the civil calendar today is the beginning of a new year.  And one of the things we often associate with a new year is the making of resolutions for doing things differently in the future.  Usually these are “self help” things like quitting smoking, eating and drinking less, learning a foreign language, or getting daily exercise.  All of these things are probably good, but I would suggest that one also ought to consider what changes might be made in order to live life a little closer to Almighty God.  Perhaps this is the year in which you will pray more, or at least pray more regularly.  How about a resolution to make a sacramental Confession once a month?  Or to attend Mass twice each week?  To say the Rosary, or to add a few more decades to the Rosary you already say?  I urge you to examine your own situation and decide what you need to do before this first day of the year becomes the second or third day.

    On the eighth day after His birth our Lord was circumcised.  God’s command to do this went back many years before even the Law of Moses—back to God’s covenant with Abraham, making Abraham’s descendants God’s chosen people.[2]  Now, Jesus was the Son of God—a fortiori He was one of God’s chosen, and had no need of any mark or ceremony to establish this birth right.  Likewise, His holy Mother was in absolutely no need of purification from childbirth, but in the next month we will see that the Holy Family was careful to observe all the Jewish laws and customs, even though they could have quite legitimately claimed exemption from them.

    As traditional Catholics we should be prepared to act in the same spirit to preserve the customs and traditions of the Catholic Church.  Ember days, vigils, and Fridays are traditionally days of abstinence that we ought to be keeping (even if we have discovered the “substitute penance” prescribed by the American bishops![3]).  The Eucharistic fast has become something of a joke in modern times—reduced pretty much to not eating in the car on the way to Mass—I would venture that anyone in good health can all do better than that.  Jesus went out into the desert and fasted “forty days and forty nights.”[4]  “And He ate nothing in those days.”[5]  And we might keep His example in mind this Lent if our friends suggest that Lent is nothing more than Ash Wednesday and a few Fridays.  My point is that God was ultimately generous with us—even sending His Son to die for us on the Cross—we can afford to be a little generous in return, even when not absolutely necessary.

    Today is the “octave day” of Christmas.  Traditionally, the Church celebrates Her greatest feasts with an octave, commemorating the feast in the Mass and the Office;  prolonging the celebration of the feast for eight days.  I mentioned a week ago that Christmas is primarily a feast of the Incarnation, the physical entrance of God into the history of His creatures by taking human nature, human flesh and blood, a human body and soul—in addition to His own divinity.  That is an amazing statement—that God became man—that the Creator became one of His own creatures. March 25th, December 25th, and January 1st all have the Incarnation in common.

    But, perhaps three days out of three hundred and sixty five are not really enough to commemorate a reality so tremendous!  We can do better, of course!  We celebrate the Incarnation every time we receive Holy Communion.  If we make that resolution I mentioned to attend Mass twice a week, we can receive Holy Communion over a hundred times a year—conceivably, we can receive our Lord’s body and blood every day of the year.  Realistically, not everyone can be here for Mass every day—but virtually nothing can keep you from commemorating the Incarnation by saying the first three mysteries of the Rosary every day.  And, how about joining us for an hour of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament on First Friday evenings?

    And, if you are ever tempted to commit sins of the flesh, perhaps a reflection on the Incarnation—that Jesus Christ possessed the same human flesh as we—may be enough to deliver your from those temptations.  You will be rewarded for that.

    Finally, the most recent title for this feast day recognizes Mary as Mother of God.  What a nearly incomprehensible title!  But clearly Jesus Christ is God, the Son of God, and Mary was His mother: “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”[6]  Shame on those who call themselves Christians, yet deny her divine motherhood!  Shame on those who deny her perpetual virginity!  Strengthened by the grace of her Immaculate Conception, her “fiat,” her acceptance, of this divine promise was unconditional.  Shame on those who suggest that she might have later been disappointed with the way in which God fulfilled His promise.[7]

    “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.  Amen.”  We have this marvelous prayer to remind us of Mary’s divine motherhood, and to remind us of the Incarnation, and to remind us of the need to preserve the customs and traditions of the Catholic Church—and since this is New Year’s Day, a fine resolution would be to pray this lovely prayer every day in her Holy Rosary. 

“Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.  Amen.”



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