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.”
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.
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!).
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.”
“And He ate nothing in those days.”
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
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.”
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.
“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
“Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”