Blood was shed on this day. Yes, the Most Precious Blood of Jesus was shed for the first time in His life as Man, eight days after His Nativity in Bethlehem.
His Most Blessed Mother and His foster-father, Saint Joseph, brought Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ to be circumcised according to the precepts of the Mosaic Law then still in effect. Although He was the Author of the Old Law and would supercede it by the inauguration of the New and Eternal Covenant on the wood of the Holy Cross by the shedding of every single drop of His Most Precious Blood, Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ submitted Himself to the precepts of the Law in order to fulfill all righteousness. The Mosaic Law was to be in effect until the curtain in the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom at the moment Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ breathed His last breath atop Golgotha and uttered His last words on Good Friday. Teaching us yet another lesson in humility, therefore, Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ permits Himself to be ritually circumcised to demonstrate that He was willing to submit Himself to the precepts of Old Law, of which He was the very Author, and that He had come from the House of David and was born of a Jewish maiden to be subject to the authority of a Jewish carpenter.
The Mosaic Law consisted of over six hundred precepts designed to regulate almost every aspect of daily life. The people of the Old Covenant needed to have their lives bound in such a way so as to observe the Ten Commandments because the circumcision of the spirit, signifying the blotting out of our sins, that would be effected by Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ's Sacrifice to the Father in Spirit and in Truth had not yet taken place. Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ's Redemptive Act on the wood of the Holy Cross liberated man from the shackles of the Old Law, freeing him to live in accord with the precepts of the New Law of Love made possible by the out flowing of sanctifying grace, symbolized by the Blood and water that flowed from Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ's Wounded Side when It was pierced by the centurion's lance. Until that time, however, men who were of the stock of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and Moses had to submit to the Old Law, codified in the Torah. By submitting Himself to the precepts of the Old Law, Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ was teaching us that those of us who have been incorporated into His Death and Resurrection in the Sacrament of Baptism must submit to His New and Eternal Covenant at every moment of our lives without any degree of complaint or hesitation whatsoever.
Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ could have redeemed us with the shedding of just one drop of His Most Precious Blood at His Circumcision. He chose to redeem us by walking the Via Crucis, the Via Dolorosa, so that He would be united with the sufferings of all men and all times, and so that they would in turn give to Him all of their own sufferings through the Immaculate Heart of His own Most Blessed Mother, the Co-Redemptrix of the world and the Mediatrix of all graces. It was not enough that Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ shed His Most Precious Blood as a newborn Babe. No, He chose to endure the totality of suffering entailed by His Passion and Death to teach us of the horror of our own sins and of the incompressible, mysteriously ineffable nature of His unmatched love for us, His sinful, frequently ungrateful creatures. The shedding of His Most Precious Blood on this day, however, is a foreshadowing of the four other times He would do so: His Agony in the Garden, His scourging at the pillar, His being crowned with thorns, and His Crucifixion. Today's Blood-shedding is also a foreshadowing of the vast amount of blood that the martyrs would shed over the centuries for the sake of the Faith, which has circumcised our spirits to the world, the flesh, and the devil.
Dom Prosper Guearanger, O.S.B., explained this feast as follows in The Liturgical Year:
Our new-born King and Saviour is eight days old to-day; the Star that guides the Magi is advancing towards Bethlehem, and five days hence will be standing over the Stable where our Jesus is being nursed by his Mother. To-day the Son of Man is to be circumcised; this first sacrifice of his innocent Flesh must honour the eighth day of his mortal life. To-day also a Name is to be given him: the Name will be Jesus, and it means Saviour. So that mysteries abound on this day: let us not pass one of them over, but honour them with all possible devotion and love.
But this day is not exclusively devoted to the Circumcision of Jesus. The mystery of this Circumcision forms part of that other great mystery, the Incarnation and Infancy of our Saviour – a mystery on which the Church fixes her heart not only during this Octave, but during the whole forty days of Christmastide. Then, as regards our Lord’s receiving the Name of Jesus, a special Feast, which we shall soon be keeping, is set apart in honour of it. There is another object that shares the love and devotion of the Faithful on this great Solemnity. This object is Mary, the Mother of God. The Church celebrates to-day the august prerogative of this divine Maternity which was conferred on a mere creature, and made her the co-operatrix with Jesus in the great work of man’s salvation.
The holy Church of Rome used formerly to say two Masses on the first of January; one was for the Octave of Christmas Day, the other was in honour of Mary. She now unites the two intentions in one Sacrifice, in the same manner as, in the rest of this Day’s Office, she unites together the acts of her adoration of the Son, and the expressions of her admiration for and confidence in the Mother.
The Greek Church does not wait for this eighth day, in order to pay her tribute of homage to her who has given us our Emmanuel. She consecrates to Mary the first day after Christmas, that is December 26, and calls it the Synaxis of the Mother of God, making the two days one continued Feast. She is thus obliged to defer the Feast of St Stephen to December 27.
But it is to-day that we, the children of the Roman Church, must pour forth all the love of our hearts for the Virgin-Mother, and rejoice with her in the exceeding happiness she feels at having given birth to her and our Lord. During Advent we contemplated her as pregnant with the world’s salvation; we proclaimed the glory of that Ark of the New Covenant, whose chaste womb was the earthly paradise chosen by the King of Ages for his dwelling-place. Now she has brought him forth, the Infant-God; she adores him, him who is her Son. She has the right to call him her Child; and he, God as he is, calls her in strictest truth his Mother.
Let us not be surprised, therefore, at the enthusiasm and profound respect wherewith the Church extols the Blessed Virgin and her prerogatives. Let us on the contrary be convinced that all the praise the Church can give her, and all the devotion she can ever bear towards her, are far below what is due to her as Mother of the Incarnate God. No mortal will ever be able to describe, or even comprehend, how great a glory accrues to her from this sublime dignity. For, as the glory of Mary comes from her being the Mother of God, one would have first to comprehend God himself in order to measure the greatness of her dignity. It is to God that Mary gave our human nature; it is God whom she had as her Child; it is God who gloried in rendering himself, inasmuch as he is Man, subject to her: hence, the true value of such a dignity, possessed by a mere creature, can only be appreciated in proportion to our knowledge of the sovereign perfections of the great God, who thus deigns to make himself dependent upon that favoured creature. Let us therefore bow down in deepest adoration before the Majesty of our God; let us therefore acknowledge that we cannot respect as it deserves the extraordinary dignity of her whom he chose for his Mother.
The same sublime Mystery overpowers the mind from another point of view: what were the feelings of such a Mother towards such a Son? The Child she holds in her arms and presses to her heart is the Fruit of her virginal womb, and she loves him as her own; she loves him because she is his Mother, and a Mother loves her Child as herself, nay, more than herself: but when she thinks upon the infinite majesty of him who has thus given himself to her to be the object of her love and her fond caresses, she trembles in her humility, and her soul has to turn, in order to bear up against the overwhelming truth, to the other thought of the nine months she held this Babe in her womb, and of the filial smile he gave her when her eyes first met his. These two deep-rooted feelings – of a creature that adores, and of a Mother that loves – are in Mary’s heart. To be Mother of God implies all this: and may we not well say that no pure creature could be exalted more than she? and that in order to comprehend her dignity, we should first have to comprehend God himself? and that only God’s infinite wisdom could plan such a work, and only his infinite power accomplish it?
A Mother of God! It is the mystery whose fulfilment the world, without knowing it, was awaiting for four thousand years. It is the work which, in God’s eyes, was incomparably greater than that of the creation of a million new worlds, for such a creation would cost him nothing; he has but to speak, and all whatsoever he wills is made. But that a creature should become Mother of God, he has had not only to suspend the laws of nature by making a Virgin Mother, but also to put himself in a state of dependence upon the happy creature he chose for his Mother. He had to give her rights over himself, and contract the obligation of certain duties towards her. He had to make her his Mother, and himself her Son.
It follows from all this, that the blessings of the Incarnation, for which we are indebted to the love where with the Divine Word loved us, may and ought to be referred, though in an inferior degree, to Mary herself. If she be the Mother of God, it is because she consented to it, for God vouchsafed not only to ask her consent, but moreover to make the coming of his Son into this world depend upon her giving it. As this his Son, the Eternal Word, spoke his FIAT over chaos, and the answer to his word was creation; so did Mary use the same word FIAT: let it be done unto me [St Luke i. 38], she said. God heard her word, and immediately the Son of God descended into her virginal womb. After God, then, it is to Mary, his ever Blessed Mother, that we are indebted for our Emmanuel.
The divine plan for the world’s salvation included the existence of a Mother of God: and as heresy sought to deny the mystery of the Incarnation, it equally sought to deny the glorious prerogative of Mary. Nestorius asserted that Jesus was only man; Mary consequently was not Mother of God, but merely Mother of a Man called Jesus. This impious doctrine roused the indignation of the Catholic world. The East and West united in proclaiming that Jesus was God and Man, in unity of Person; and that Mary, being his Mother, was, in strict truth, Mother of God’ [Deipara, Theotókos, are the respective Latin and Greek terms.] This victory over Nestorianism was won at the Council of Ephesus. It was hailed by the Christians of those times with an enthusiasm of faith which not only proved the tender love they had for the Mother of Jesus, but was sure to result in the setting up of some solemn trophy that would perpetuate the memory of the victory. It was then that the pious custom began, in both the Greek and Latin Churches, of uniting during Christmas the veneration due to the Mother with the supreme worship given to the Son. The day assigned for the united commemoration varied in the several countries, but the sentiment of religion which suggested the Feast was one and the same throughout the entire Church.
The holy Pope Xystus III ordered an immense mosaic to be worked into the chancel-arch of the Church of St Mary Major, in Rome, as a monument to the holy Mother of God. The mosaic still exists, bearing testimony as to what was the faith held in the fifth century. It represents the various scriptural types of our Lady, and the inscription of the holy Pontiff is still legible in its bold letters: XYSTUS EPISCOPUS PLEBI DEI (Xystus Bishop to the people of God): for the Saint had dedicated to the faithful this his offering to Mary, the Mother of God. (Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., The Liturgical Year.)
Most Protestants do not honor Our Lady as the Mother of God because they do not believe that this is possible. They are rationalists who have propagated the Nestorian heresy for over five hundred years now. Even many Modernist Catholics are Nestorians (as well as Gnostics, Arians, etc.). We must be celebrate this day as a Feast of Our Lady, she who is truly the Mother of God, the God Who became Flesh in her own Virginal and Immacualte Womb and Who shed his Most Precious Blood for the first time on this day.
Father Maurice Meschler, S.J., provided another very cogent summary of the meaning of this great feast day, which, of course, was suppressed in liturgical calendar of the Protestant and Judeo-Masonic Novus Ordo liturgical abomination:
Christ was not, as a matter of fact, subject to the law of circumcision. As God-Man He was not bound by human or positive law, any more than a prince is bound by the laws which he makes for his subjects as sch, e.g., taxation laws. The God-Man was the Lawgiver and Head of the Old Covenant, and as such did not fall under the obligation of His own laws. Indeed, He often vindicated this freedom later on (Matt. Xii. 8; xvii. 25). He only subjected Himself to this law, then, because He wished to do so, and for the following reasons.
First, our Saviour wished by the Circumcision to give another proof of the reality of His human nature; and to give it in this matter, in order to become like us in everything. He assumes a human nature, a country, a nationality, and now also a definite form of religion and a name, —He, the Author of all men and nations, the Nameless and Ineffable! He also wishes to prove Himself in the most complete sense a descendant of Abraham, who accepted circumcision as a sign of the Covenant and of faith (Gal. iii. 7). Otherwise He would in no case have been accepted by the Jews as a true son of Abraham and as the Messias.
Secondly, our Lord permitted Himself to be circumcised in order to sanction the old law, because it was a divine law and the way to Christ. Indeed, He accepted circumcision in order to fulfil the law in the highest sense of the word, i.e., by perfect observance, by fulfilment of the type and prophecies, by participation in the graces attached to it, and by the endurance of the punishment due to the transgressions of men, His brethren. On this account He sheds His Blood to-day for the first time, and offers Himself as a victim; and these first drops of blood are only a pledge that He will later offer all His Blood and His very life as a sacrifice. This is the real meaning of the Circumcision for our Saviour. This Blood is like a threatening, lurid glow in the dawn of His Childhood—a sign of storm and tempest (Matt. xvi. 3. Gal. iii. 10 13).
Thirdly, our Saviour wished by His Circumcision to encourage us to employ all the means which God temporarily prescribes and give us, in order to avoid sin, to practice obedience penance and mortification—the true circumcision of heart (Matt. iii. 15)—and to avoid every scandal (Matt. xvii. 26). (Father Maurice Meschler, S.J., The Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ, The Son of God, in Meditations, Freiburg Im Breisgau 1928 Herder & Co., Publishers to the Holy Apostolic See, pp. 142-143.)
Father Benedict Baur, O.S.B., provided a similar reflection on this Holy Day of Obligation in his The Light of the World:
Although He was the Lord of the Sabbath and in no way subject to the law of Moses, Christ freely and willingly submits to the prescriptions of the law. Although entirely sinless, He who is the Holy of Holies desires to appear before men as a sinner and to bear the mark of sin on His own holy body. He conceals the fullness of grace and holiness which He possesses, and subjects Himself to the law of circumcision, to which the older children of Israel were obliged. What sublime humility He shows by this act of submission! Such is the way of eternal wisdom.
"His name was called Jesus." He humiliates Himself by submitting to circumcision, and God exalts Him because of this sublime humility. At the moment of this humiliation, when He is being circumcised, He received the name of Jesus, "the Savior." For which cause God also hath exalted Him and hath given Him a name which is above all names" (Phil. 2: 9). Every man who is born into this world is born in the state of original sin, since he is a son of Adam. Likewise, all who escape this curse that was leveled at Adam, do so through the saving merits and the humility of Jesus. Those who receive grace from God, who perform any meritorious act, and who attain to the sonship of God, do so only by virtue of the merits and the humility of Christ. "He is before all, and by Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the Church, who is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; that in all things He may hold the primacy. Because in Him it hath well pleased God the Father that all fullness should dwell" (Col. 1. 17-19). This is the first law of the supernatural life: "He that shall humble himself shall be exalted" (Matt. 23: 12)
The Church is deeply stirred by this voluntary humiliation of the incarnate Word of God. She listens as He declares: "I am the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14: 6). "He that followeth Me walketh not in darkness but shall have the light of life" (John 8: 12).
"Learn of Me." Neither miracles, nor deeds of great valor are required of us, but only a deep and true humility. That is the first lesson our Lord wishes us to learn. He knows that the cause of our unfruitfulness is our pride, and in His divine wisdom He tells us through St. Peter: "In like manner, ye young men be subject to the ancients. And do you all insinuate humility one to another, for God resisteth the proud, but to the humble He giveth grace" (1 Pet. 5: 5).
This axiom, then, should light our way as we enter the new year. "He that humbleth himself shall be exalted" (Luke 14: 11; 18:14). Let us choose the path which Christ points out to us, the way of humility. We will possess the spirit of Christ in the measure that we imitate His humility. Today He gives us a sublime example of His humility in the Gospel; and in Holy Communion, He furnishes us with the strength to follow where He has led. Humility is the way to grace and to a life in union with God. Let us try to understand the lessons of the liturgy and practice them in our daily life. . . .
Mary's place in the liturgy of the feast of the Circumcision is so prominent that this feast may be considered as much a feast of the Blessed Mother as it is of the Lord.
Mary took an intimate and motherly party in the events celebrated in this feast. We feel her compassion for her son. But following the guide of the liturgy, we can hardly feel that this is a feast of the "sorrowful" Mother. We see her, rather, as the valiant Virgin Mother renewing her fiat and joining in the sacrifice of her child. On this day Jesus makes the first offering of His blood for the redemption of mankind. Mary suffers with Him, but she does so with joy, for she knows that in this way the redemption of the race is being accomplished. Her love is heroic and disinterested, for she is not concerned with her own suffering, but looks upon it as a necessary sacrifice for the salvation of men.
Mary is here a type of the Church. The Church, too, looks on at this first offering of the blood of Jesus with compassion and love. This most precious blood for the redemption of mankind she offers up with Jesus and Mary daily and hourly without interruption. She knows that the shedding of His blood is for the redemption of men. No one understood better than she the immense value of a human soul and the terrible tragedy of the damnation of a single soul.
Like Mary, looking on and yet suffering with Christ, the Church has worked with diligence, suffered with patience, and has striven for two thousand years for the salvation of men. Thousands upon thousands of her priests daily approach the altar to renew this sacrifice in the interest of the salvation of the race. Daily they pray for themselves and for the Church: "Forgive us our trespasses; . . . led us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." She invites the faithful to the sacrament of penance, where these graces are freely dispensed. She urges them to receive the body of the Lord, that their souls may abound in grace and grow strong against the temptations of the world. Her liturgy is a continual appeal on the part of priests and religious for the salvation of men. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, she has instituted various confraternities of prayer, societies given to the practice of good works and penance, that souls may advance in holiness and grace. In fact, she exists only for the salvation of souls, and is ever restless until they rest in God.
We can well imagine the motherly compassion Mary endured with her Son at His circumcision. Our hearts should be filled with admiration and gratitude for this forgetfulness of self which makes her suffer so willingly for us.
Perhaps too few of us appreciated the great privilege that is ours in being members of the Church. She is a second Virgin Mary, animated by the Holy Spirit, and she has only one aim and ambition: the salvation of the souls of her children. Her principal work is the salvation of the souls of men. Her dogmas, her moral teaching, and her sacred liturgy are all directed toward this end. A man has no better assurance of his salvation than his loyalty and and devotion to the Church.
Every true son of Holy Mother the Church will share in this zeal for the salvation of souls. If the love of Christ resides in the soul of man, that man must of necessity thirst with Christ for the salvation of souls. We may well test the genuineness of our love for Christ by asking ourselves whether we are really devoted to the work of saving our own soul and that of our neighbor. (Father Benedict Baur, O.S.B., The Light of the World, B. Herder Book Company, 1954, pp. 123-126.)
Yes, each of us must be about the salvation of souls, starting with our own. We must be about the business of seeking to Catholicize every aspect of our own lives and to try to plant a few seeds for the conversion of others and of our very nation itself to the true Faith. This is not an option. This is a mandate of the Catholic Faith imposed upon us when we were taken to the Baptismal font as infants (or, in the case of converts, went there later in life).
The readings for Matins in today's Divine Office contains a sermon given by Saint Ambrose, whose feast was celebrated twenty-five days ago now, that is, on Friday, December 7, 2020, that amplifies this point:
So the Child is circumcised. This is the Child of Whom it is said: Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given, Isa. ix. 6. Made under the law to redeem them that were under the law. Gal. iv. 4. To present Him to the Lord, 22. In my Commentary on Isaiah I have already explained what is meant by being presented to the Lord in Jerusalem, and therefore I will not enter into the subject again. He that is circumcised in heart gaineth the protection of God, for the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous. Ps. xxxiii. 16. Ye will see that as all the ceremonies of the old law were types of realities in the new, so the circumcision of the body signified the cleansing of the heart from the guilt of sin.
But since the body and mind of man remain yet infected with a proneness' to sin, the circumcision of the eighth day is also a type of that complete cleansing from sin which we shall have at the resurrection. This ceremony was also performed in obedience to the commandment of God: Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy unto the Lord. These words were written with especial reference to the delivery of the Blessed Virgin. Truly He That opened her womb was holy, for He was altogether without spot, and we may gather that the law was written specially for Him from the words of the Angel: That Holy Thing Which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God.
Among all that are born of women the Lord Jesus Christ stood alone in holiness. Fresh from His immaculate Birth, He felt no contagion from human corruption, and His heavenly Majesty drove it away. If we are to follow the letter and say that every male that openeth the womb is holy, how shall we explain that so many have been unrighteous? Was Ahab holy? Were the false prophets holy? Were they holy on whom Elijah justly called down fire from heaven? But He to Whom the sacred commandment of the law of God is mystically directed is the Holy One of Israel; Who also alone hath opened the secret womb of His holy Virgin-bride the Church, filling her with a sinless fruitfulness to give birth to Christian souls. (Matins, Divine Office, January 1, Feast of the Circumcision of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.)
Jorge Mario Bergoglio is just the latest and most nakedly obvious of the false prophets that have dared to call themselves Successors of Saint Peter in the past fifty-nine years. He has no concept as to what it means to be circumcised in heart so as to have a true hatred, a detestation, for one's own sins and for the promotion of sin in the world.
Morevoer, this insidious blasphemer has no concept of true holiness as anyone who would dare to contend that God in the very Flesh would ever have to ask "forgiveness" from anyone at any time for any reason as He knows all things. No one is truly circumcised in heart if can abide such offenses against Our Lord, Who was circumcised in the flesh on this very day, and against His Most Blessed Mother, who was so humble as to think her loss of Him in the Temple was the result of some unworthiness on her part, a notion that her Divine Son cast aside during their journey home to Nazareth (see If It Is In The Apostolicae Sedis, It Is Official Teaching.)
Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen's brief reflection on the Circumcision of Our Blesssed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ emphasizes the fact that the Jewish ritual of circumcision was a prefiguring of the Sacrament of Baptism and a foreshadowing of Our Lord's propitatory offering of Himself to His Co-Equal and Co-Eternal God the Father in Spirit and in Truth on the wood of the Holy Cross:
"Eight days later the time came to circumcise him, and he was given the name of Jesus, the name given by the Angel before he was conceived." [Luke 2: 21]
Circumcision was the symbol of the covenant between God and Abraham and his seed, and took place on the eighth day; circumcision presumed that the person circumcised was a sinner. The Babe was now taking the sinner's place—something He was to do all through His Life. Circumcision was a sign and token of membership in the body of Israel. Mere human birth did not bring a child into the body of God's chosen people. Another rite was required, as recorded in the Book of Genesis:
“God said to Abraham, For your part, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you, generation by generation. This is how you shall keep my covenant between myself and you and your descendants after you: circumcise yourselves, every male among you.” [Genesis 17: 9-11]
Circumcision in the Old Testament was a prefiguring of Baptism in the New Testament. Both symbolize a renunciation of the flesh with its sins. The first was done by wounding of the body; the second, by cleansing the soul. The first incorporated the child into the body of Israel; the second incorporates the child into the body of the new Israel or the Church. The term "Circumcision" was later used in the Scriptures to reveal the spiritual significance of applying the Cross to the flesh through self-discipline. Moses, in the Book of Deuteronomy clearly spoke of circumcising the heart. Jeremiah also used the same expression. St. Stephen, in his last address before being killed, told his hearers that they were uncircumcised in heart and ears. By submitting to this rite, which He need not have done because He was sinless, the Son of God made man satisfied the demands of His nation, just as He was to keep all the other Hebrew regulations. He kept the Passover; He observed the Sabbath; He went up to the Feasts; He obeyed the Old Law until the time came for Him to fulfill it by realizing and spiritualizing its shadowy prefigurements of God's dispensation.
In the Circumcision of the Divine Child there was a dim suggestion and hint of Calvary, in the precious surrendering of blood. The shadow of the Cross was already hanging over a child eight days old. He would have seven blood-sheddings of which this was the first, the others being the Agony in the Garden, the Scourging, the Crowning with Thorns, the Way of the Cross, the Crucifixion, and the Piercing of His Heart. But whenever there was an indication of Calvary, there was also some sign of glory; and it was at this moment when He was anticipating Calvary by shedding His blood that the name of Jesus was bestowed on Him.
A child only eight days old was already beginning the blood-shedding that would fulfill His perfect manhood. The cradle was tinged with crimson, a token of Calvary. The Precious Blood was beginning its long pilgrimage. Within an octave of His birth, Christ obeyed a law of which He Himself was the Author, a law which was to find its last application in Him. There had been sin in human blood, and now blood was already being poured out to do away with sin. As the East catches at sunset the colors of the West, so does the Circumcision reflect Calvary.
Must He begin redeeming all at once? Cannot the Cross wait? There will be plenty of time for it. Coming straight from the Father's Arm to the arms of His earthly mother, He is carried in her arms to His first Calvary. Many years later He will be taken from her arms again, after the bruising of the flesh on the Cross, when the Father's work is done. (Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, Life of Christ page 30.)
The account of the Circumcision of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ as found in The Mystical City of God provides us with a deeper and very profound appreciation of the humility of Our Lady, who fulfilled the Divine Plan for her very Redeemer to undergo a ritual circumcision of which He had no need:
519. To this decree of the eternal Father the heavenly Lady, as the Cooperatrix of our salvation, conformed Herself with such a plenitude of all sanctity as is far beyond human understanding. With complete and most loving obedience She offered up her Onlybegotten, saying: “Supreme Lord and God, I offer to Thee this Victim and Host of acceptable sacrifice with all my heart, though I am full of compassion and sorrow that men have offended thy immense goodness in such a way as to force a God to make amends. Eternally shall I praise Thee for looking with such infinite love upon thy creatures, and for preferring to refuse pardon to thy own Son rather than hinder the salvation of men (Eph. 5:2). I, who by thy condescension am his Mother, must before all other mortals subject myself to thy pleasure, and therefore I offer to Thee the most meek Lamb (Rom. 8:32) who is to take away the sins of the world by his innocence (Jn. 1:29). But if it is possible to mitigate the pains caused by this knife at the expense of suffering in me, thy arm is mighty to effect this exchange.”
520. Most holy Mary issued from her prayer, and without manifesting to St. Joseph what She had understood therein, with rare prudence and most sweet reasoning advised him to arrange for the Circumcision of the Infant God (Lk. 2:21). She spoke to him as one consulting him and asking his opinion, for the time pointed out by the law for the Circumcision of the divine Infant had already arrived (Gen. 17:12), and since they had not received any orders to the contrary it seemed necessary to comply with it. They themselves, She said, were more bound to please the Most High, to obey more punctually his precepts, and to be more zealous in the love and care of his most holy Son than all the rest of creatures, seeking to fulfill in all things the divine pleasure in return for his incomparable favors. To these words St. Joseph answered with the greatest modesty and discretion, saying that since no command to the contrary had been given concerning the Child, he desired in all things to conform himself to the divine will manifested in the common law; that although the incarnate Word as God was not subject to the law, yet He was now clothed with our humanity, and as a most perfect Teacher and Savior no doubt desired to conform with other men in its fulfillment. Then he asked his heavenly Spouse how the Circumcision was to be executed.
521. Most holy Mary answered that the Circumcision should be performed substantially in the same way as it was performed on other children, but that She need not hand Him over or consign Him to any other person, but rather She herself would hold Him in her arms. And because the delicacy and tenderness of the Infant would make this ceremony more painful to Him than to other children, they should have at hand the soothing medicine which was ordinarily applied at circumcision. Moreover, She requested St. Joseph to procure a crystal or glass vessel for preserving the sacred relic of the Circumcision of the divine Infant. In the meanwhile the careful Mother prepared some linen cloths to catch the sacred blood which was now for the first time to be shed for our rescue, so not one drop of it would be lost or fall upon the ground. After these preparations the heavenly Lady asked St. Joseph to inform the priest and request him to come to the cave, where without the necessity of bringing the Child to any other place he could, as a fit and worthy minister of such a hidden and great sacrament, with his priestly hands perform the rite of Circumcision.
522. Then most holy Mary and St. Joseph took counsel concerning the name to be given to the divine Infant in Circumcision, and the holy spouse said: “My Lady, when the Angel of the Most High informed me of this great sacrament he also told me thy most sacred Son would be called JESUS.” The Virgin Mother answered: “This same Name was revealed to me when He assumed flesh in my womb; and thus learning the Name by the mouth of the Most High through his ministers the Angels, it is appropriate for us to conform in humble reverence with the hidden and inscrutable judgments of his infinite wisdom in conferring it on my Son and Lord, and that we call Him JESUS. This Name we shall propose to the priest for inscription in the register of the other circumcised children.”
523. While the great Lady of heaven and St. Joseph thus conversed with each other, innumerable Angels descended in human forms from on high, clothed in shining white garments upon which were woven red embroideries of wonderful beauty. They had palms in their hands and crowns upon their heads, and emitted a greater splendor than many suns. In comparison with the beauty of these holy Princes all the loveliness seen in this world seems repulsive. But preeminent in splendor were the devices or escutcheons on their breasts, upon each of which the sweet Name of JESUS was engraved or embossed. The effulgence which each of these escutcheons emitted exceeded that of all the Angels together, and the variety of the beauty thus exhibited in this great multitude was so rare and exquisite as neither human tongue can express nor human imagination ever compass. The holy Angels divided into two choirs in the cave, keeping their gaze fixed upon the King and Lord in the arms of his virginal Mother. The chiefs of these heavenly cohorts were the two Princes, St. Michael and St. Gabriel, shining in greater splendor than the rest and bearing in their hands, as a special distinction, the most holy Name of JESUS, written in larger letters on something like cards of incomparable beauty and splendor.
524. The two Princes presented themselves apart from the rest before their Queen and said: “Lady, this is the Name of thy Son (Mt. 1:21) which was written in the mind of God ab aeterno and which the blessed Trinity has given to thy Onlybegotten and our Lord, with power to save the human race, establishing Him at the same time upon the throne of David (Is. 9:7). He shall reign upon it, chastise his enemies and triumph over them (Col. 2:15; Ps. 54:20), making them his footstool (Ps. 109:1) and passing judgment upon them (Ps. 9:9). He shall raise his friends to the glory of his right hand (Mt. 25:33). But all this is to happen at the cost of suffering and blood, and even now He is to shed it in receiving this Name, since it is that of the Savior and Redeemer; it shall be the beginning of his sufferings in obedience to the will of his eternal Father. We are come as ministering spirits of the Most High, appointed and sent by the Holy Trinity in order to serve the Onlybegotten of the Father and thy own in all the mysteries and sacraments of the law of grace. We are to accompany Him and minister to Him until He shall ascend triumphantly to the celestial Jerusalem and open the portals of heaven, and afterwards we shall enjoy a special accidental glory beyond that of the other Blessed to whom no such commission has been given.” All this was witnessed by the most prosperous spouse St. Joseph conjointly with the Queen of heaven, but his understanding of these happenings was not so deep as hers, for the Mother of Wisdom understood and comprehended the highest mysteries of the Redemption. Although St. Joseph understood many more mysteries than other mortals, yet he did not penetrate them in the same way as his heavenly Spouse. Both of them, however, were full of heavenly joy and admiration, and extolled the Lord in new canticles of glory. All they experienced in these various and wonderful events surpass human language and certainly my own powers, and I cannot find adequate words for expressing my thoughts. (Venerable Mary of Agreda, The New English Edition of The Mystical City of God, Part II: The Incarnation, Book IV, Chapter XIII.)
As Father Baur noted in his reflection, today is also the day on which the Holy Name of Jesus was declared publicly to be the Name of the newborn Babe. Thus was fulfilled what Saint Gabriel the Archangel said to Our Lady at the moment of the Annunciation nine months and eight days before the Circumcision:
Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the most High; and the Lord God shall give him the throne of David his father; and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever. And of his kingdom there shall be no end. (Lk. 1: 31-33)
Saint Joseph had been told the Name of His foster-Son by the same Saint Gabriel the Archangel:
But while he thought on these things, behold the angel of the Lord appeared to him in his sleep, saying: Joseph, son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for that which is conceived in her, is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son: and thou shalt call his name Jesus. For he shall save his people from their sins. (Mt. 1: 20-21)
The Feast of the Circumcision is the first time that the Holy Name of Jesus, which is so hated in our world today, was uttered for the whole world to hear. The feast we celebrate on Sunday, January 3, 2021, the Holy Name of Jesus, was instituted for the Franciscan order eighty years after the death of Saint Bernardine of Siena (1380-1444), who spent his life promoting devotion to the Most Holy Name of Jesus to make reparation for blasphemies against the Holy Name. It was raised to a Feast of the Universal Church in 1721 by Pope Innocent XIII. Saint Bernardine of Siena took seriously the words of the first Pope to the Jews as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles:
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said to them: Ye princes of the people, and ancients, hear: If we this day are examined concerning the good deed done to the infirm man, by what means he hath been made whole: Be it known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God hath raised from the dead, even by him this man standeth here before you whole. This is the stone which was rejected by you the builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other. For there is no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4: 8-12)
If the proclamation of the Holy Name was good enough for Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ's parents and for the Apostles, then it is good enough for us. We must never fear the consequences of proclaiming His Holy Name, especially in "mixed company." Remember Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ's own words:
For he that shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, in this adulterous and sinful generation: the Son of man also will be ashamed of him, when he shall come in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. (Mk. 8: 38)
Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ used the occasion of the discourse at the Last Supper to remind the Apostles that the world would hate them on account of His Name, but that they had to rely upon the help of the Holy Ghost to remain steadfast in loyalty to Him:
If the world hate you, know ye, that it hath hated me before you. If you had been of the world, the world would love its own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember my word that I said to you: The servant is not greater than his master. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you: if they have kept my word, they will keep yours also.
But all these things they will do to you for my name's sake: because they know not him who sent me. If I had not come, and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. He that hateth me, hateth my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no other man hath done, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated both me and my Father. But that the word may be fulfilled which is written in their law: They hated me without cause.
But when the Paraclete cometh, whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceedeth from the Father, he shall give testimony of me.And you shall give testimony, because you are with me from the beginning. (Jn. 15: 18-27)
Do not be surprised, therefore, that the world will hate us as much as it hated Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Who told us in the Sermon of the Mount that those who were persecuted for His Name's sake would have a blessed reward:
Blessed are ye when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for my sake: Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in heaven. For so they persecuted the prophets that were before you. (Mt. 5: 11-12)
Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ repeated this in the Sermon on the Plain as recorded in the Gospel of Saint Luke:
Blessed shall you be when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake. Be glad in that day and rejoice; for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For according to these things did their fathers to the prophets. (Lk. 6: 22-23)
The first Pope wrote the following in his first Epistle to instruct us to be ready to suffer for the sake of the Holy Name of Jesus:
If you be reproached for the name of Christ, you shall be blessed: for that which is of the honour, glory, and power of God, and that which is his Spirit, resteth upon you. (1 Pt. 4: 14)
No one has suffered for the Holy Name of Jesus the way that Our Lady did in her Seven Sorrows during the life of the Son to Whom she gave birth eight days before His Circumcision, eight days before the world heard for the first time the Holy Name that forces men to choose whether they are for Him or for the devil He came to vanquish by His redemptive act on the wood of the Holy Cross, extended to us in an unbloody manner in each and every offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Our Lady saw the first drop of her Divine Son's Most Precious Blood be shed during His Circumcision, which caused her to cringe, a foretaste of the swords of sorrow that would pierce her Most Sorrowful and and Immaculate Heart that the aged Simeon had prophesied during her Purification would wound her as her Son became a Sign of Contradiction to the world. Our Lady stood with her Divine Son as His Blood was shed for the first time. She would stand beneath the foot of the Holy Cross as He shed every single drop of His Most Precious Blood for our redemption. May we give her our thanks and love on this Christmas Day of rejoicing, vowing never to grieve her Immaculate Heart again by our sins.
On this day, the Octave Day of Christmas, we turn therefore to Our Lady, without whom we would still be idolatrous pagans, lost in a world of darkness and the miserable, blind slavery of our senses. The Immemorial Mass of Tradition reflects this gratitude in the Collect and the Postcommunion Prayers that are prayed by the priest when offering Holy Mass today:
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, our Lord, Who with Thee liveth and reigneth.
Dom Prosper Gueranger's last reflection for this feast is worth meditating upon today as we close the Octave of Christmas and commence the remainder of the Christmas season, which is highlighted by the great feast of the Epiphany of Our Lord on Wednesday, January 6, 2021, and concludes with the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Tuesday, February 2, 2021:
On this the eighth day since the Birth of our Emmanuel, let us consider the great mystery which the Gospel tells us was accomplished in his divine Flesh: the Circumcision. On this day the earth sees the first-fruits of that Blood-shedding which is to be its Redemption, and the first sufferings of that Divine Lamb who is to atone for our sins. Let us compassionate our sweet Jesus, who meekly submits to the knife which is to put upon him the sign of a Servant of God.
Mary, who has watched over him with the most affectionate solicitude, has felt her heart sink within her as each day brought her nearer to this hour of her Child’s first suffering. She knows that the justice of God does not necessarily require this first sacrifice, or might accept it, on account of its infinite value, for the world’s salvation: and yet, the innocent Flesh of her Son must, even so early as this, be torn, and his Blood flow down his infant limbs.
What must be her affliction at seeing the preparations for this painful ceremony! She cannot leave her Jesus, and yet how shall she bear to see him writhe under this his first experience of suffering? She must stay, then, and hear his sobs and heartrending cries; she must bear the sight of the tears of her Divine Babe, forced from him by the violence of the pain. We need St Bonaventura to describe this wonderful mystery. ‘And if he weeps, thinkest thou his Mother could keep in her tears? No: she, too, wept, and when the Babe, who was standing on her lap, perceived her tears, he raised his little hand to her mouth and face, as though he would beckon to her not to weep, for it grieved him to see her weeping, whom he so tenderly loved. The Mother, on her side, was touched to the quick at the suffering and tears of the Babe, and she consoled him by caresses and fond words; and as she was quick to see his thoughts, as though he had expressed them in words, she said to him: If thou wishest me to cease weeping, weep not thou, my Child! If thou weepest, I must weep too. Then the Babe, from compassion for the Mother, repressed his sobs, and Mary wiped his eyes and her own, and put his Face to her own, and gave him her Breast, and consoled him in every way she could.’ [Meditations on the Life of Christ, by St Bonaventura.]
And now, what shall we give in return to this Saviour of our souls for the Circumcision which he has deigned to suffer in order to show us how much he loved us? We must, according to the teaching of the Apostle, circumcise our heart from all its evil affections, its sins and its wicked inclinations; we must begin at once to live that new life of which the Infant Jesus is the sublime model. Let us thus show him our compassion for this his earliest suffering for us, and be more attentive than we have hitherto been to the example he sets us. (Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., The Liturgical Year.)
We must call upon Our Lady to help us to circumcise our hearts all times so that they, consecrated totally to her Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart and to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, will be ready to reject the evils and temptations of this passing world, ever ready to suffer for the sake of the Holy Name, ever desirous to possess the glory of the Beatific Vision of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost in an unending Easter Sunday of glory in Paradise.
May we use this season of rejoicing to help our hearts long for the possession of eternal rejoicing with Our Lady, Saint Joseph, and all of the angels and saints at the Throne of the Lamb of God Who taketh away the sins of the world.
Vivat Christus Rex! Viva Cristo Rey!
Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church and Protector of the Faithful, pray for us.
Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.
Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.
Saint John the Evangelist, pray for us.
Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Gabriel the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Raphael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Joachim and Anne, pray for us.
Saint Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar, pray for us.
Saint Stephen the Protomartyr, pray for us.
The Holy Innocents, pray for us.