Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text - English
Veni Creátor Spíritus -
Come, Holy Ghost, Creator blest
“O God, who by
the fruitful virginity of blessed Mary hast bestowed upon the human race the
rewards of eternal salvation: grant, we beseech Thee,
that we may experience
the intercession of her, through whom we have been made worthy to receive
the author of life, Jesus Christ, Thy Son….”
As you can see from today’s collect (written long
before any of the Modernist liturgical tampering), this Octave Day of
Christmas, this feast of the Circumcision, has always recognized the
importance of the Blessed Virgin Mary as Mother of God. Today is no
different, but I have a few words for you to put into perspective the
understanding of the Mosaic Law by the Great Mother of God.
According to the Law of Moses, on the eighth day after
birth, each male Jewish child was to be circumcised. Actually, this
predates Moses, going back to the covenant God made with Abraham. This
particular rite was the means by which God's people were physically marked
and set aside from all others. Under this old covenant there was to be a
definite separation between the Jews and the Gentiles.
Like many of the Jewish rituals, this one involved the
shedding of blood—a sort of “sacrificial” pledge of fidelity of God's people
to God alone.
And even though our Lord could in no way be considered
bound by the Law of Moses, Mary and Joseph were careful to practice this
custom of the Law, among others, out of devotion if not constraint. You may
recall that on February 2nd we will celebrate the Purification of the
Blessed Mother; another ritual of the old Law that Mary and Joseph observed
as models of obedience, even though Mary was in no need of purification.
So eight days after His birth, our Lord shed the first
drops of His Precious Blood. We might say that He turned the sacrificial
relationship around; God returning a pledge of fidelity to His people. It
was a token, if you will, of the Blood that God would shed for us on the
There is then a sacrificial aspect to the ritual of
circumcision. But to the Jew in the time of Christ, as it had been since
the time of Abraham, the most important aspect was the separation of God's
people from all others. If we read the books containing the Mosaic
Law—particularly Deuteronomy—we see that God demanded this separation in
order to keep His people from adopting the pernicious customs, and
particularly the false worship, of the surrounding peoples. In fact, if a
neighboring tribe tried to entice the Jews to idol worship, God demanded the
total destruction of that people and their city, even to the burning of
their buildings and the killing of their livestock.
This may seem a bit extreme to us, but we must remember
that the Jews were relatively new followers of the one God. If we read of
the Exodus—their escape from Egypt to the Promised Land—we see several
examples of them coming close to loosing their faith and lapsing back into
the worship of idols and false “gods.” Aaron, the high priest, and brother
of Moses, made a golden calf to worship while Moses was away on the
mountain. Later on we read of King Solomon, favored by God with so much
wisdom, yet lapsing into the false worship urged on him by his foreign
This feast day, then, might serve to recall to our
minds the necessity for keeping ourselves somewhat separated from those who
deny God, or who deny the divinity of His Son, or who repudiate the
authority of His Church and the doctrines and moral principles that God
teaches through it.
Obviously, we are not going to go out and set fire to
the preachers who knock on our doors asking if we are “saved,” or “born
again,” or whatever. (We are not even going to collapse their buildings or
kill their livestock!) And, clearly, we do have to make our way in a
pluralistic world, and have respect for those around us, even if they lack
the graces of the Catholic Faith.
Yet there is a need to preserve our “Catholic identity”
among the “gentiles,” and to keep the practice of our Faith undiminished by
the opinions and the pressures of the secular world. At one time—prior to
the wide spreading of Modernism in the Church—we did this almost as a matter
Catholics, even bad Catholics, didn't eat meat on
Friday; thus setting themselves apart.
Catholics made the Sign of the Cross when they prayed;
even in a public place, like a restaurant.
Catholics didn't worship together with those who denied
the truths of the Faith.
Catholics rarely married non-Catholics, for they
understood the difficulties associated with having a family of divided
Catholics got up and went to Mass each and every Sunday
and Holy Day—at a minimum—even if it was inconvenient.
Surely, there are other examples we could all think of
if we tried.
Certainly, these are things we should still be
doing—even if they have been forsaken by so many of us—particularly if we
call ourselves “traditional” Catholics. But, of course, the Catholic Faith
goes beyond merely external things. Saint Paul tells the Romans that true
circumcision is that of the heart—that is in the sense of rooting out all of
our vices, and divorcing ourselves from the attachments of the world in
order to devote ourselves more closely to God.
We no longer observe the Mosaic Law, and perhaps the
days of burning heretics are gone forever but on this feast of our Lord's
Circumcision, we should remember that Saint Paul's words to us today will
always be fresh and vital:
We are to deny “ungodliness and worldly desires,
We should live soberly and justly and godly in this
Looking for the blessed hope and coming of the glory of
the great God and Savior Jesus Christ,
That he might cleanse to Himself”—separate for
Himself—a people acceptable to God.