Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God,
Feast of the Circumcision,
Octave of the Nativity, and
Day of Prayer for World Peace -
[Holy Day of Obligation celebrated on 1 January,
Eight Days (Octave) after Christmas]

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Adoration of the Shepherds - by Charles LE BRUN - from Musée du Louvre, Paris

 

Gospel: Luke 2:16-21

The shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph, and the Baby lying in the manger; once they saw, they understood what had been told them concerning this Child. All who heard of it were astonished at the report given them by the shepherds.

Mary treasured all these things and reflected on them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, in accord with what had been told them.

When the eighth day arrived for His circumcision, the name Jesus was given the Child, the name the angel had given Him before He was conceived.

 

Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God

by Father Charles Irvin, M.Div, J.D.

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Nativity3.jpg (20690 bytes) Of all of the women who have ever lived, the mother of Jesus is the most Renowned, the most Celebrated, Venerated and Honored. Millions of newborn babies have been given her name, along with countless Churches, Shrines, and Holy Places. The world's greatest musicians and artists have lavished their considerable talents upon her with a prodigality unknown for any other woman in human history. Try as the Worldly might, they cannot rid us of her Holy Presence, a Presence that always, truly and surely, gives us the Divine Presence that comes into our world in her Son. She is the Quintessential Mother. Throughout Christian History it has become quite clear that those who seek Mary's Love and Care find something that only a Holy Mother can give.

She is First presented to us as a young Jewish Maiden who devoutly goes to the Synagogue in Nazareth, there to fervently recite the Psalms of David and pray her people's Prayers along with the other women of the town, learning from her Religion about abandoning herself over into the care of God.

All of a sudden one day the call to abandon herself to God becomes extraordinarily immediate and real when she is visited by annunciation.jpg (15157 bytes) Gabriel, One of the Mightiest and Most Glorious of the Archangels of God. Will she assent to become (and strangely become!) the human mother of God's Only Begotten Son, Gabriel asks? "Yes", she declares, filled with wonderment as to how this might be. And with her "Yes", all of human history explodes. God shatters open His Creation and becomes astonishingly and wondrously a part of it, taking on for all Eternity, our lowly Human Flesh. Because of Mary's "Yes" and from her Flesh and Blood, God the Son becomes Incarnate.

We are, during these Holy Days of Christmastide, celebrating the reality of her initial story. She will disappear now until Good Friday when she will reappear again to Suffer, and Dreadfully Suffer, at the Death ofher only Child, Jesus, having endured the fact that He gave her away to be the mother of another, young Saint John, and eventually gave her over to us to be our mother, too.

epiphany.gif (15417 bytes) In the Council of Ephesus, held in the Year 431 A.D., Mary was declared to be "The Mother of God", to make crystal clear her Son's exact nature. Hence the origin of today's Holy Day Liturgy.

Artists, Musicians and Theologians have lavished their considerable skills upon her. Old ladies and young men who Pray their Rosaries in the darkened corners of our churches, wiser than all of the Professors of Theology at the World's Universities, have a message for us. They know, more than the learned ones, that taking Mary seriously is the way to take her Son seriously. When you draw near to Mary, like the Wise Men from the East did, she presents you with her Son. And, just in case you haven't noticed, when she appears to mortals such as us, she appears to Shepherds and Children, not to Professors and Theologians.

sacheart_ani.gif (8256 bytes) If we believe in the Communion of Saints, as we profess whenever we recite the Creed, then we believe in the Power of Intercessory Prayer. And when we get into Intercessory Prayer, we eventually find ourselves with Mary, Mediator Mary, who finds a way to get the most Wretched and Abject of Sinners, the most Degraded and Sin-covered Rejects among us, into the Sacred Heart of her Son.

 

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

Amen

Holy Mother Mary I place myself in your hands, all that I have and all that I am are yours. Take me to your Son.

Amen

 

rosary_transparent.gif (7670 bytes) If you consider the fact that Mary's name is the name most given to girls all over the world, that countless churches have been named after her and thereby placed under her Patronage, that her Icon and her Statue have been produced in the Hundreds of Millions, along with countless Holy Cards and Pictures, that her Rosary has been produced in Countless Millions of Numbers, you can understand that Archaeologists Thousands of Years hence, when they dig up our artifacts, will declare that our Church must have been the most feminist and woman-oriented in all of human history.

Mary, in case you haven't heard, is mentioned, and mentioned with Honor and Reverence, Thirty-Four Times in the Koran, Islam's most holy of books. If you travel to Turkey, and particularly to Ephesus where she lived with Saint John until her "going asleep in the Lord", you will hear the Islamic Turkish people refer to her as "Mother Mary".

And so it is that you and I, who Love Mary so dearly and so fervently, Peacefully Pray:

 

sacheart_ani.gif (8256 bytes)Holy Mary, mother of God, I place myself in your loving protection, asking you to pray for me, and in spite of all my disfiguring and revolting sins, to take me to your Son, and place me in His Heart . . . and to be my help and my strength both now and at the hour of my death.

Amen

 

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by Saint Alphonsus Liguori . . .

Saint Alphonsus examines the words and phrases of the Hail Holy Queen. Having established the fact that all prayer leads to Love of God and that Love of God prompts us to Pray, he further indicates that to invoke Mary is one of the best forms of Prayer. His purpose here is to establish and confirm our confidence in the Mother of God.

 

The Circumcision of Jesus

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The Circumcision - by TINTORETTO - from Scuola di San Rocco, Venice

 

The Circumcision

 sheen.gif (6584 bytes)  by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

And 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. [Luke 2:21] (DRV)

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:

Again God said to Abraham: And thou therefore shalt keep My Covenant, and thy seed after thee in their generations. This is My Covenant which you shall observe between Me and you, and thy seed after thee: All the male kind of you shall be circumcised. And you shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin, that it may be for a sign of the Covenant between Me and you. [Genesis 17:9-11] (DRV)

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. Saint 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:

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) the Agony in the Garden,

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) the Scourging,

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) the Crowning with Thorns,

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) the Way of the Cross,

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) the Crucifixion, and

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) 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 Arms 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.

 

The number seven usually means fullness or completeness, as in seven days of the week. God rested on the seventh day. The seven blood-sheddings of Jesus signify the fullness or completeness of our Redemption.