Ave Maria!
Circumcision of Our Lord—Octave of Christmas
Solemnity of the Mother of God—AD 2008

Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text - English
Veni Creator

    The historians of the liturgy tell us that centuries ago there were two different Masses offered on this day; one in honor of the Circumcision of Our Lord on the Octave Day of Christmas, and the other in honor of Mary, the Mother of God.[1]  In modern times, these two Masses have been combined into one.  This combining is quite natural and quite fitting.  Indeed, the whole Christmas season—from December 24th until February 2nd—can be considered a sort of “joint feast” of our Lord's Incarnation and Mary's Divine Motherhood.  Mary is continuously there with the Baby Jesus—in His birth;  as He sheds his first drops of blood in circumcision;  as He receives His divinely given name;  as she presents Him to the shepherds and the Wise Men;  as she brings Him to the temple when the days of her purification are fulfilled.

    While it is always dangerous to deal in superlatives, we might be tempted to say that this season and these Masses express some of the doctrines most central to our Catholic Faith.

    We speak of the Incarnation.  The Son of God was not created—He existed long before the first Christmas day.  The Son existed with the Father from all eternity, sharing the same Divine Nature, being as we say in the Creed, “of one substance with the Father.”  He would have existed with the Father, in precisely the same way, even if mankind had no need of redemption, even if Adam and Eve had never sinned, even if God had never created the universe.  As the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, He was one with God, a purely spiritual being.

    But because God did choose to create the universe, and because Adam and Eve left mankind in need of redemption—and, quite possibly, because God knew that mankind required tangible things to make an impression on it—things it could see and touch and hold—God elected to unite human nature to His divinity.  Pope St. Leo the Great tells us that “it is equally dangerous to deny Him the reality of a human nature or equality in glory with the Father.”[2]  Our Lord is the Redeemer of the human race because He was one of us, and because as God He could satisfy a debt that no mere man could ever repay.

    In the very next sentence, Pope St. Leo bids us “consider the mystery of Christ's nativity, how He was born of a Virgin Mother.”  The two are inseparable.  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God ... and the Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us.”  And the Word dwelt amongst us because “the Virgin conceived and brought forth a Son,” because she was “overshadowed by the power of the Most High,” and because the Virgin gave her willing consent, “be it done to me according to thy word.”[3]  “Mary, ever Virgin,” she is called, for being free from Original Sin she gave birth to our Lord without damage or pain.  St. Jerome tells us that “Jesus entered the world as He entered the upper room, «the doors being closed. ..»  «An enclosed garden, a fountain sealed» was Mary.”[4]

    The Gospels speak of “the brethren” of Jesus, but only the foolish think that these too are the biological children of Mary.  They may have been related to Mary or Joseph, perhaps uncles or cousins of our Lord, but the Gospels name other people as their parents.  It is the absolute and universal tradition of Christianity that Mary did not give herself over to the generation of other children; that she remains a Virgin to this day—under the protection of Saint Joseph, and then Saint John while on this earth, and under the protection of her Divine Son since her bodily Assumption into heaven.  It is unthinkable that she might have given her virginity up to Saint Joseph, for under the Jewish law that would have made her unclean with respect to her first spouse—unthinkable for such a thing would have made her unclean with respect to God Himself![5]

    Again, these are what we might call "core doctrines" of the Catholic Faith:  the Incarnation of Christ, and the Virgin Motherhood of Mary.  Our very salvation depends on belief in them, because they have been revealed to us by God Himself.  Not surprisingly, they are doctrines that have been under attack by the devil ever since these events took place.  They are under attack, even by Christians, and even by people who would call themselves "Catholics" in our modern world.  As Pope St. Pius X warned us, the Modernists would reduce all such doctrines to "feelings" or opinions.[6]  Some of them would even try to have us believe that there can be two different truths; that these “core doctrines” can be true in Faith while being false in history!  What nonsense!

    Earlier in this century, Msgr. Ronald Knox wrote a piece in defense of the Blessed Mother against those Christians who refused to honor her as Mother of God.  I’ve read this to some of you before, but it bears repeating every six months or so:

They have said that we deify her; that is not because we exaggerate the eminence of God's Mother, but because they belittle the eminence of God.  A creature miraculously preserved from sin by the indwelling power of the Holy Ghost -- that is to them a divine title, because that is all the claim their grudging theologies will concede, often enough, to our Lord Himself.  They refuse to honor the God-bearing Woman because their Christ is only a God-bearing Man.  We who know that God could (if He would) annihilate every existing creature without abating anything of His blessedness or His glory, are not afraid less the honor done to His creature of perfect Womanhood should prejudice the honor due to Him.  Touchstone of truth in the ages of controversy, romance of the medieval world, she has not lost with the rise of new devotions, any fragment of her ancient glory.  Other lights may glow and dim as the centuries pass, she cannot suffer change; and when a Catholic ceases to honor her, he ceases to be a Catholic.[7]

    The only thing I can add is that when, in the way in which Monsignor Knox describes, they cease to honor her Son—then they cease to be even Christians.



[1]   Dom Guéranger, OSB, The Liturgical Year, Vol. II, p. 371.

[2]   Leo I, Sermon 7 on the Birth of the Lord.

[3]   Isaias vii;  Luke i.

[4]   St. Jerome, “Against Jovinian.”

[6]   Pius X, Pascendi Dominici gregishttp://www.rosarychurch.net/answers/ap031999.html

[7]   Msgr. Ronald Knox, The Belief of Catholics (Image).


Dei via est íntegra
Our Lady of the Rosary, 144 North Federal Highway (US#1), Deerfield Beach, Florida 33441  954+428-2428
Authentic  Catholic Mass, Doctrine, and Moral Teaching -- Don't do without them -- 
Don't accept one without the others!