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INSTRUCTION ON THE OCTAVE DAY OF THE NATIVITY
NEW YEAR'S DAY
Taken from Fr. Leonard Goffine's Explanations of the Epistles and Gospels for the Sundays, Holydays throughout the Ecclesiastical Year, 1880

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Why is this day so called?


Because the secular year begins with this day, as the Church year begins with the First Sunday in Advent.


What should we do on this day?


An offering of the new year should be made to God, asking His grace that we may spend the year in a holy manner, for the welfare of the soul.


Why do we wish each other a "happy new year"?

Because to do so is an act of Christian love; but this wish should come from the heart, and not merely from worldly politeness, otherwise we would be like the heathens (Mt. 5:47), and receive no other reward than they.


What feast of the Church is celebrated today?

The Feast of the Circumcision of our Lord, Who, for love of us, voluntarily subjected Himself to the painful law of the Old Covenant, that we might be freed from the same.


What was the Circumcision?

It was an external sign of the Old Law, by which the people of that day were numbered among the chosen people of God, as now they become, by baptism, members of the Church of Christ.


What is the signification of Circumcision in the moral or spiritual sense?


It signifies the mortification of the senses, of evil desires, and inclinations. This must be practiced by Christians now, since they have promised it in baptism which would be useless to them without the practice of mortification; just as little as the Jew by exterior Circumcision is a true Jew, just so little is the baptized a true Christian without a virtuous life. Beg of Christ, therefore, today, to give you the grace of the true Circumcision of heart.


PRAYER. I thank Thee, O Lord Jesus, because Thou hast shed Thy blood for me in Circumcision, and beg Thee that by Thy precious blood I may receive the grace to circumcise my heart and all my senses, so that I may lead a life of mortification in this world, and attain eternal joys in the next. Amen.

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INTROIT. A child is born to us, and a Son is given to us; whose government is upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called the Angel of great counsel (Is. 9). Sing ye to the Lord a new canticle: for he bath done wonderful things (Ps. 97). Glory be to the Father.

COLLECT. O God, Who, by the fruitful virginity of blessed Mary, hast bestowed upon mankind the rewards of eternal salvation; grant, we beseech Thee, that we may feel the benefit of her intercession for us, through whom we have deserved to receive the author of life, our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who livest and reignest, etc.

EPISTLE. (Tit. 2:11-15). Dearly beloved, the grace of God our Savior hath appeared to all men, instructing us, that denying ungodliness and worldly desires, we should live soberly, and justly, and godly in this world, looking for the blessed hope and coming of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and might cleanse to himself a people acceptable, a pursuer of good works. These things speak, and exhort, in Christ Jesus our Lord.

GOSPEL. (Lk. 2:21). At that time, 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.


Why did Jesus submit to Circumcision?

That He might show His great love for us, which caused Him even at the very beginning of His life, to shed His blood to cleanse us thereby from all our sins. Furthermore to teach us obedience to the commandments of God and His Church, since He voluntarily subjected Himself to the Jewish law, although He was not in the least bound by it, which ordered that every male child should be circumcised on the eighth day after its birth (Lev. 12:3).


Why was He named Jesus?


Because Jesus means Redeemer and Savior, and He had come to redeem and save the world (Mt. 1:21). This is the holiest, most venerable, and most powerful name by which we can be saved.


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What power has this name?


The greatest power, for it repels all attacks of the evil Spirit, as Jesus Himself says (Mk. 16:17). And so great is the efficacy of this most holy name that even those who are not righteous, can by it expel devils (Mt. 7:22). It has power to cure physical pains and evils, as when used by the apostles (Acts. 3:3-7), and Christ promised that the faithful by using it could do the same (Mk. 16:17). St. Bernard calls the name of Jesus a "Medicine"; and St. Chrysostom says, "This name cures all ills; it gives succor in all the ailments of the soul, in temptations, in faintheartedness, in sorrow, and in all evil desires, etc." "Let him who cannot excite contrition in his heart for the sins he has committed, think of the loving, meek, and suffering Jesus, invoke His holy name with fervor and confidence, and he will feel his heart touched and made better," says St. Lawrence Justinian. It overcomes and dispels the temptations of the enemy: "When we fight against Satan in the name of Jesus," says the martyr St. Justin, "Jesus fights for us, in us, and with us, and the enemies must flee as soon as they hear the name of Jesus." It secures us help and blessings in all corporal and spiritual necessities, because nothing is impossible to him who asks in the name of Jesus, whatever tends to his salvation will be given him (Jn. 14:13). Therefore it is useful above all things, to invoke this holy name in all dangers of body and soul, in doubts, in temptations, especially in temptations against holy chastity, and still more so when one has fallen into sin, from which he desires to be delivered; for this name is like oil (Cant. 1:2) which cures, nourishes, and illumines.


How must this name be pronounced to experience its power?

With lively faith, with steadfast, unshaken confidence, with deep­est reverence and devotion, for in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth (Phil. 2:10). What wickedness, then, is theirs who habitually pronounce this name carelessly and irreverently, upon every occasion! Such a habit is certainly diabolical; for the damned and the devils constantly abuse God and His holy name.


Why does this name so seldom manifest its power in our days?


Because Christian faith is daily becoming weaker, and confidence less, while perfect submission to the will of God is wanting. When faith grows stronger among people, and confidence greater, then will the power of this most sacred name manifest itself in more wonderful and consoling aspects.


PRAYER TO JESUS IN DIFFICULTIES

O Jesus! Consolation of the afflicted! Thy name is indeed poured out like oil; for Thou dost illumine those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death; Thou dost disperse the blindness of the soul and dost cure its ills; Thou givest food and drink to those who hunger and thirst after justice. Be also, O Jesus! my Savior, the phy­sician of my soul, the healer of its wounds. O Jesus! Succor of those who are in need, be my protector in temptations! O Jesus! Father of the poor, do Thou nourish me! O Jesus! joy of the angels, do Thou comfort me! O Jesus! my only hope and refuge, be my helper in the hour of death, for there is given us no other name beneath the sun by which we may be saved, but Thy most blessed name Jesus!

EXHORTATION. St. Paul says: All whatsoever you do in word or in work, all things do ye in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (Col. 3:17). We should, therefore, follow the example of the saints, and continually say, at least in our hearts: "For love of Thee, O Jesus, I rise; for love of Thee I lie down; for love of Thee I eat, drink, and enjoy myself; for love of Thee I work, speak, or am silent." Thus we will accustom ourselves to do all in the name of Jesus, by which everything is easily or at least meritoriously accomplished.



PRAYER TO BE SAID ON NEW YEAR'S DAY

O God, Heavenly Father of Mercy, God of all Consolation! we thank Thee that from our birth to this day, Thou hast so well pre­served us, and hast protected us in so many dangers; we beseech Thee, through the merits of Thy beloved Son, and by His sacred blood which He shed for us on this day in His circumcision, to for­give all the sins which, during the past year, we have committed against Thy commandments, by which we have aroused Thy indig­nation and wrath against ourselves. Preserve us in the coming year from all sins, and misfortunes of body and soul. Grant that from this day to the end of our lives, all our senses, thoughts, words, and works, which we here dedicate to Thee for all time, may be directed in accordance with Thy will, and that we may finally die in the true Catholic faith, and enjoy with Thee in Thy kingdom a joyful new year, that shall know no end. Amen.
HE CIRCUMCISION OF OUR LORD AND OCTAVE OF CHRISTMAS DAY
Taken from THE LITURGICAL YEAR by Dom Prosper Gueranger

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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.

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Special chants were also composed at Rome for the celebration of the great mystery of the Word made Man through Mary. Sublime Responsories and Antiphons, accompanied by appropriate music, were written to serve the Church and her children as the expression of their faith, and they are the ones we now use. The Greek Church makes use of some of these very Antiphons for the Christmas Solemnity; so that with regard to the mystery of the Incarnation there is not only unity of faith, there is also oneness of devotional sentiment.


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FIRST VESPERS

The First Vespers of the Circumcision are made peculiarly solemn by the chanting of the five venerable Antiphons to which we have just alluded. The Psalms are those which are sung at the Vespers of the Feasts of our Lady.

The first of these Psalms celebrates the kingly character, the Priesthood and the sovereign Judgeship of our Emmanuel, and implies, consequently, the wonderful dignity of her who gave him Birth. The second contains the praise of God, who exalts the humble, and gives the joys of maternity where nature has refused them; it announces with an air of triumph the glories and the maternity of Mary, Mother of God and Mother of men. The last three Psalms chant the praises of Jerusalem, the City of God: the symbol of Mary, who is the City of God.

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Ant. O admirable Interchange The Creator of mankind, assuming a living Body, deigned to be born of a Virgin; and becoming Man without man’s aid, bestowed on us his Divinity.


PSALM 109

The Lord said to my Lord, his Son: Sit thou at my right hand, and reign with me.Until, on the day of thy last coming, I make thy enemies thy footstool.

O Christ! the Lord thy Father will send forth the sceptre of thy power out of Sion: from thence rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.

With thee is the principality in the day of thy strength, in the brightness of the saints: for the Father hath said to thee: From the womb before the day-star I begot thee.

The Lord hath sworn, and he will not repent: he hath said, speaking of thee, the God-Man: Thou art a Priest for ever, according to the order of Melchisedech.

Therefore, O Father! the Lord thy Son, is at thy right hand: he hath broken kings in the day of his wrath.

He shall also judge among nations: he shall fill the ruins of the world: he shall crush the heads in the land of many.

He cometh now in humility; he shall drink, in the way, of the torrent of sufferings: therefore shall he lift up the head.


Ant. O admirable Interchange The Creator of man kind, assuming a living Body, deigned to be born of a Virgin; and becoming Man without man’s aid, bestowed on us his Divinity.


Ant. When thou wast born ineffably of the Virgin, the Scriptures were fulfilled. As dew upon Gedeon’s Fleece, thou camest down to save mankind.


PSALM 112

Praise the Lord, ye children: praise ye the name of the Lord.

Blessed be the name of the Lord: from henceforth now and for ever.

From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same, the name of the Lord is worthy of praise.

The Lord is high above all nations: and his glory above the heavens.

Who is as the Lord our God, who dwelleth on high:

and looketh down on the low things in heaven and on earth? Nay, not content with this, he deigns to come down among us.

Raising up, from his divine Crib, the needy from the earth: and lifting up the poor out of the dunghill.

That he may place him with princes: with the princes of his people.

Who maketh a barren woman to dwell in a house, the joyful mother of children.


Ant
. When thou wast born ineffably of the Virgin, the Scriptures were fulfilled. As dew upon Gideon’s Fleece, thou camest down to save mankind.

Ant. In the bush seen by Moses as burning yet unconsumed, we recognize the preservation of thy glorious Virginity. O Mother of God, intercede for us.


PSALM 121

I rejoiced at the things that were said to me: We shall go into the house of the Lord.

Our feet were standing in thy courts, O Jerusalem! Our heart loves and confides in thee, O Mary.
Mary is like to Jerusalem that is built as a city; which is compact together.

For thither did the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord: the testimony of Israel, to praise the Name of the Lord.

Because seats sat there in judgement; seats upon the house of David; and Mary is of a kingly race.
Pray ye, through Mary, for the things that are for the peace of Jerusalem: and may abundance be on them that love thee, O Church of our God!

The voice of Mary: Let peace be in thy strength, O thou new Sion! and abundance in thy towers.
I, a daughter of Israel, for the sake of my brethren and of my neighbours, spoke peace of thee.
Because of the house of the Lord our God, I have sought good things for thee.

Ant. In the bush seen by Moses as burning yet unconsumed, we recognize the preservation of thy glorious Virginity. O Mother of God, intercede for us.

Ant. The Root of Jesse hath budded; the Star hath risen out of Jacob; a Virgin hath brought forth the Saviour. O Lord our God we praise thee.


PSALM 126

Unless the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it.

Unless the Lord keep the city, he watcheth in vain that keepeth it.

It is vain for you to rise be fore light; rise ye after you have sitten, you that eat of the bread of sorrow.

When he shall give sleep to his beloved: behold the inheritance of the Lord are children; the reward, the fruit of the womb.

As arrows in the hand of the mighty, so the children of them that have been shaken.

Blessed is the man that hath filled his desire with them; he shall not be confounded when he shall speak to his enemies in the gate.


Ant
. The Root of Jesse hath budded; the Star hath risen out of Jacob; a Virgin hath brought forth the Saviour. O Lord our God we praise thee.

Ant
. Lo! Mary hath brought forth a Saviour unto us, whom John seeing exclaimed: Behold the Lamb of God! Behold him that taketh away the sins of the world, alleluia


PSALM 147

Praise the Lord, O Mary, thou true Jerusalem: O Mary, O Sion ever holy, praise thy God.

Because he hath strengthened against sin the bolts of thy gates: he hath blessed thy children within thee.

Who hath placed peace in thy borders, and filleth thee with the fat of corn, with Jesus who is the Bread of life.

Who sendeth forth by thee his Word to the earth; his Word runneth swiftly.

Who giveth snow like wool; scattereth mists like ashes.

He sendeth his crystal like morsels: who shall stand before the face of his cold?

He shall send forth his Word by Mary, and shall melt them:

his spirit shall breathe, and the waters shall run.

Who declareth his Word to Jacob: his justices and judgements to Israel.

He hath not done in like manner to every nation; and his judgements he hath not made manifest to them.

Ant. Lo! Mary hath brought forth a Saviour unto us, whom John seeing exclaimed: Behold the Lamb of God! Behold him that taketh away the sins of the world, alleluia.

CAPITULUM

(Tit. ii)  The grace of God our Saviour hath appeared to all men, instructing us, that denying ungodliness and worldly desires, we should live soberly and justly and godly in this world.


Then is sung the Hymn of Christmas Day, Jesu, Redemptor omnium.

V. Verbum caro factum est, alleluia.
R. Et habitavit in nobis, alleluia.

V. The Word was made flesh, alleluia
R. And dwelt among us, alleluia.

ANTIPHON OF THE MAGNIFICAT

Ant. By reason of the exceeding charity wherewith God loved us, he sent us his Son in the likeness of sinful flesh. Alleluia.

Let us pray.

O God, who by the fruitful Virginity of the Blessed Mary hast given to mankind the rewards of eternal salvation; grant, we beseech thee, that we may experience her intercession, by whom we received the Author of Life, our Lord Jesus Christ, thy Son. Who liveth, etc.

MASS

This Station is at St Mary’s across the Tiber. It was but just that this Basilica should receive such an honour, for it is the most ancient of all the Churches raised by the devotion of the faithful of Rome in honour of our Blessed Lady. It was consecrated in the third century by St Callixtus, on the site of the ancient Taberna Meritoria, celebrated even among the Pagans, for the fountain of oil which sprang up in that spot in the reign of Augustus, and flowed into the Tiber. The piety of the Christians interpreted this as a symbol of the Christ that was afterwards born; and the Basilica is sometimes called, even to this day, Fons Olei.
Fr. Hewko's Sermons for the Feast of the Circumcision and the Octave of Christmas


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2021 - Two Masses

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2022 - Two Masses

Taken from The Golden Legend
compiled by Jacobus de Voragine, Archbishop of Genoa, 1275

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And here followeth His Circumcision

The day of the circumcision of our Lord there be four things that make and show it to be holy and solemn. The first is the utas of the Nativity. The second the imposition of a new name bearing health. The third the effusion of his precious blood. The fourth the signs of the circumcision. As for the first it appeareth, for the utas of saints be solemn, by much more reason ought it to be of him that is the saint of all saints.

Now it seemeth that the Nativity of our Lord ought not to have none utas. For the nativity tendeth to the death. And the decease of saints have their utas because they be born of the nativity that stretcheth to life perdurable, for to be after glorified in body. And by the same way it seemeth that the nativity of the glorious Virgin Mary and of S. John Baptist, and of the Resurrection of our Lord ought not to have utas, for the resurrection was then done. Hereto we ought to consider, like as saith a doctor, that, in this we should fulfil such things as we accomplished not in the principal day that our Lord was born in. Of which of ancient time men were wont to sing at the Mass: Vultum tuum domine, etc. to the honour of our Lady S. Mary.

The other octaves or utases as of Paske, Whitsuntide, the nativity of our Lady and S. John Baptist be of devotion, as of other saints that men will honour for singular cause or affection. And they may be said the octaves of figuration, for they signify and figure the octave of the last resurrection perpetual, which is the eighth age. And as to the second, this day was his name imposed to him, and was named with the new name that the mouth of God named.

This is the name of which there is none other under heaven by which we may be saved, that is Jesus. After S. Bernard: This is the name which in the mouth is honey, in the ear melody, and in the heart joy; this is the name after that he saith, it lighteth and shineth like oil. When it is preached it feedeth the soul, when it is in the mind of the heart it is sweet, and it anointeth when it is called. And as the evangelist saith, he had three names, that is to wit the Son of God, Jesus, and Christus.

He is called the Son of God insomuch as he is God of God the Father; Christ insomuch as he is a man taken of a person divine and nature human, and Jesus inasmuch as he is God united to our humanity. And of this three manner of names, saith S. Bernard: Ye that lie in dust and powder arise out of your sleep and awake ye and give praising to God. Lo here that our Lord shall come unto your health, he cometh with unction, he cometh with glory. Jesus cometh not without health, nor Christ cometh not without unction, nor the Son of God without glory. For he is our health, our unction and our joy. And as touching this treble name; before his passion, he was not perfectly known. As touching the first he was somewhat known by conjecting, as of his enemies, which said Jesu Christ to be the Son of God. And as to the second, of less or fewer he was known for Jesu Christ. And as to the third, vocally, for as much as by the voice he was called Jesus. But as to the reason of the name, he was not known. For Jesus is as much to say as Saviour, and this understood not they.

After the resurrection, this treble was clarified and declared. The first to the certainty, the second to the publication, the third to the reason of the name. The first name is Son of God. And that these names be appropriate to him, Saint Hilary in his book that he made of the Trinity saith thus: Vere filium Dei unigenitum. In divers manners this name, Son of God, is known, as it is witnessed of God. God the Father witnesseth it that he is his son. Apostles preach it, the religious believe it, the fiends our enemies confess it. And therefore we know our Lord Jesu Christ in his manners, by name, by nature, by nativity, by puissance, and by his passion.

The second name is Christus, which is interpreted unction. For he was anointed with the oil of gladness before all them that to him were party. And by that he is said anointed, it is showed that he was a prophet, a champion, a priest and a king. These four persons sometime were wont to be anointed. Jesu Christ was a prophet teaching the doctrine divine, a champion in the battle against the devil whom he overcame, a priest in reconciling the human lineage to God the Father, and a king in distributing and rewarding every man. Of this second name we be all named, for of this name Christ we be called christian men. Of which name S. Austin saith thus: Every christian man ought to be c puissance or might is to him perdurable, the second, of might of habitation, is to him sith the beginning of his conception, like as the angel showed, and after that he hath puissance of deed and work. was imposed to him of Joseph, because of his passion that was to against original sin, the devil weened that he that received it were a sinner, and had need of the remedy of circumcision.

And for this cause Jesu Christ would that his mother being alway a virgin should be married, because that by the sacrament of matrimony his Incarnati purpose is for to leave sin and take the good, the which is showed us by the son that dispended his good follily, and when he had perceived that he had done evil and foolishly, he advertised himself and said: I shall depart and return to my father, and shall pray that I may serve him, and that he may receive me to mercy, and make me as one of his servants.

The third is shame of sin, whereof saith S. Paul to them that for their sins be in pain and in torment: What fruit have ye founder in those sins in your life of which now ye be ashamed?

The fourth is dread of the coming judgment and doom, whereof Job saith: I have feared and doubted God as men dread the waves of the sea in their great rage and tempest. And S. Jerome saith thus: Sive comedam sive bibam, etc. As oft as I eat or drink or that I do any other thing, alway me seemeth that I hear the sound and the voice crying: Arise, ye dead men, and come to the doom and the judgment.

The fifth is contrition, whereof S. Jerome saith: Give thy weeping and bitterness of that which thou hast angered thy God by thy sin.

The sixth is confession, whereof David saith: Dixi confitebor, etc.: I have said and purposed in my heart that I shall confess me to God and make knowledge of my sin.

The seventh is hope of pardon, for if Judas had had very repentance and hope, and had confessed his sin, he had had forgiveness and pardon.

The eighth is satisfaction and sacrifice, and then is the man verily circumcised, not only from the sin, but also from pain. Where the two first days be for the sorrow of sin that hath been done and the will for to amend it, the third day we should confess the evil that we have done and the good deeds that we have left. The other four days be orison, effusion of tears, affliction of body, and alms given.

Or otherwise by these eight days may be understood eight things, of which the considerati the nativity of Jesu Christ that is called the day of circumcision, we find that Jesu Christ said by the mouth of his saints: Non veni legem solvere sed adimplere; I came not, said Jesu Christ, to break the law, but to fulfil it. And he was that day circumcised and named Jesus, which is as much to say as Saviour.

And at the circumcision must he cut a little of the skin at the end of the member or yard, and that is signified and shewed that we ought to be circumcised, and cut and taken away from us the sins and evil vices, that is to wit pride, wrath, envy, covetousness, sloth, gluttony, and lechery, and all sins, and purge us by confession, by contrition, by satisfaction, by almsdeeds, and by prayers, and to give for God’s sake of the goods that he hath lent us. For we have nothing proper, but Jesu Christ hath lent to us all that we have.

Then it is well reason that we do give for him to the poor of such goods as be his, for we be but servants, and we ought to give to the hungry meat, to the thirsty drink, to the naked clothing, visit the sick, and tofore all things to love God, and after, our neighbour as ourself; and despoil ourself from sin, and clothe us with good works and virtues, and follow the commandment of Jesu Christ. And in this manner we shall fulfil the will of our father Jesu Christ, if we been so purged and thus circumcised.

Then let us pray unto the Lord of heaven that saith that he came not to break the law but to fulfil it, that he give us grace in such manner to fulfil the law and his will in this world, that we may come into his holy bliss in heaven. Amen.
Taken from The Mystical City of God, Book 4, Chapter V:


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From the moment the most prudent Virgin found Herself chosen as the Mother of the divine Word, She began to ponder upon the labors and sufferings in store for her sweetest Son. As her knowledge of Scripture was profound, She understood all the mysteries contained therein and She began to foresee and prepare with incomparable compassion for all that He was to suffer for the Redemption of Man. This sorrow, foreseen and expected with such a full knowledge of details, was a prolonged martyrdom for the most meek Mother of the sacrificial Lamb of God (Jer. 11, 19). But in regard to the Circumcision, which was to take place after the birth of the Child, the heavenly Lady had received no command or intimation of the will of the eternal Father. This uncertainty excited the loving solicitude and sweet plaints of the tender and affectionate Mother. Her prudent foresight enabled Her to conjecture, that, as her most holy Son had come to honor and confirm his law by fulfilling it and as He had moreover come in order to suffer for men, He would be constrained by his burning love and by other motives to undergo the pains of circumcision.

On the other hand her maternal love and compassion longed to exempt her sweet Child if possible, from this suffering; moreover She knew, that circumcision was a rite instituted for cleansing the newborn children from original sin, whereas the divine Infant was entirely free from this guilt, not having contracted it in Adam. In this hesitation between love of her divine Son and obedience to the eternal Father, the most prudent Virgin practiced many heroic acts of virtue, unspeakably pleasing to his Majesty. Although She could have easily escaped this uncertainty by directly asking the Lord what was to be done; yet, being as humble as She was prudent, She refrained. Neither would She ask her angels; for with admirable wisdom, She awaited the opportune time and occasion, assigned by divine Providence for all things, and She would not presume curiously to search or pry into his decrees by consulting supernatural sources of information, especially in order to rid Herself of any suffering. When any grave and doubtful affair arose, in which there was danger of offending God, or some urgent undertaking for the good of creatures, in which it would be necessary to know the divine will, She first asked permission to submit her petition for enlightenment regarding the divine pleasure.

Most holy Mary issued from her prayer and requested saint Joseph to take the necessary steps for the Circumcision of the divine Infant. With rarest prudence She avoided telling Him anything of what She had been told in answer to her prayer. She spoke as if She wished to consult Him or ask his opinion in regard to the Circumcision, saying that the time appointed by law for the Circumcision of the Child had arrived 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 saint Joseph answered with the greatest modesty and discretion, saying, that, as no command to the contrary had been given concerning the Child he wished in all things to conform himself to the divine will manifested in the common law; that, although as God the incarnate Word was not subject to the law, yet He was now clothed with our humanity, and, as a most perfect Teacher and Savior, no doubt wished to conform with other men in its fulfillment. Then he asked his heavenly Spouse how the Circumcision was to take place.

The 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 that She would herself hold Him in her arms. And 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 saint Joseph to procure a crystal or glass vessel for preserving the sacred relic of the Circumcision of the divine Infant. In the meanwhile the cautious Mother prepared some linen cloths to catch the sacred blood, which was now for the first time to be shed for our rescue, so that not one drop of it might be lost or fall upon the ground. After these preparations the heavenly Lady asked saint 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 might, as a fit and worthy minister of so hidden and great a sacrament, with his priestly hands perform the rite of the Circumcision.

Then most holy Mary and Joseph took counsel concerning the name to be given to the divine Infant in the Circumcision, and the holy spouse said: “My Lady, when the holy angel of the Most High informed me of this great sacrament, he also told me that thy most sacred Son should be called JESUS.” The Virgin Mother answered: “This same name was revealed to me when He assumed flesh in my womb; and thus receiving this name from the Most High through the mouth of his holy angels, his ministers, it is befitting that we 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 will propose to the priest, for inscription in the register of the other circumcised children.”

While the great Mistress of heaven and saint Joseph thus conversed with each other, innumerable angels descended in human forms from on high, clothed in shining white garments, on 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 appeared repulsive. But pre–eminent in splendor were the devices or escutcheons on their breasts, at each of which the sweet name of Jesus was engraved or embossed. The effulgence which each of these escutcheons 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, saint Michael and saint 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.

The two princes presented themselves apart from the rest before their Queen and said: “Lady, this is the name of thy Son (Matth. 1, 21), which was written in the mind of God from all eternity and which the blessed Trinity has given to thy Onlybegotten Son and our Lord as the signal of salvation for the whole human race; establishing Him at the same time on the throne David. He shall reign upon it, chastise his enemies and triumph over them, making them his footstool and passing judgment upon them; He shall raise his friends to the glory of his right hand. 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 all 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; afterwards we shall enjoy an especial accidental glory beyond that of the other blessed, to whom no such commission has been given.” All this was witnessed by the most fortunate spouse 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 saint 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 that they experienced in these various and wonderful events surpasses human language, and certainly my own powers, and I cannot find adequate words for expressing my conceptions.

The priest came to the gates or cave of the Nativity, where the incarnate Word, resting in the arms of his Virgin Mother, awaited him. With the priest came also two other officials, who were to render such assistance as was customary at the performance of the rite. The rudeness of the dwelling at first astonished and somewhat disconcerted the priest. But the most prudent Queen spoke to him and welcomed him with such modesty and grace that his constraint soon changed into devotion and into admiration at the composure and noblest majesty of the Mother; and without knowing the cause he was moved to reverence and esteem for such an unusual personage. When the priest looked upon the face of Mary and of the Child in her arms he was filled with great devotion and tenderness, wondering at the contrast exhibited amid such poverty and in a place so lowly and despised. The priest thereupon proceeded to his duty and circumcised the Child, the true God and man. At the same time the Son of God, with immeasurable love, offered up to the eternal Father three sacrifices of so great value that each one would have been sufficient for the Redemption of a thousand worlds. The first was that He, being innocent and the Son of the true God, assumed the condition of a sinner (Phil. 2, 7) by subjecting Himself to a rite instituted as a remedy for original sin, and to a law not binding on Him (II Cor. 5, 21). The second was his willingness to suffer the pains of circumcision, which He felt as a true and perfect man. The third was the most ardent love with which He began shed his blood for the human race, giving thanks to eternal Father for having given Him a human nature capable of suffering for his exaltation and glory.

This prayerful sacrifice of JESUS our Savior the Father accepted, and, according to our way of speaking, He began to declare Himself satisfied and paid for the indebtedness of humanity. The incarnate Word offered these first fruits of his blood as pledges that He would give it all in order to consummate the Redemption and extinguish the debt of the sons of Adam. All these interior acts and movements of the Onlybegotten his most holy Mother perceived, and in her heavenly wisdom She penetrated the mystery of this sacrament, acting as his Mother and in concert with Her Son and Lord in all He was doing and suffering. True to his human nature, the divine Infant shed tears as other children. Although the pains caused by the wounding were most severe, as well on account of the delicacy of his body as on account of the coarseness of the knife, which was made of flint, yet his tears were caused not so much by the sensible pain as by the supernatural sorrow caused by his knowledge of the hard–heartedness of mortals. For this was more rude and unyielding than the flint, resisting his sweetest love and the divine fire He had come to enkindle in the world and in the hearts of the faithful (Luke 12, 49). Also the tender and affectionate Mother wept, like the guileless sheep, which raises its voice in unison with the innocent lamb. In reciprocal love and compassion the Child clung to his Mother, while She sweetly caressed Him at her virginal breast and caught the sacred relics and the falling blood in the towel.

In the meanwhile the priest asked the parents what name they wished to give to the Child in Circumcision; the great Lady, always attentive to honor her spouse, asked saint Joseph to mention the name. Saint Joseph turned toward Her in like reverence and gave Her to understand that He thought it proper this sweet name should first flow from her mouth. Therefore, by divine interference, both Mary and Joseph said at the same time; “JESUS is his name.” The priest answered: “The parents are unanimously agreed, and great is the name which they give to the Child”; and thereupon he inscribed it in the tablet or register of names of the rest of the children. While writing it the priest felt great interior movements, so that he shed copious tears; and wondering at what he felt yet not being able to account for, he said: “I am convinced that this Child is to be a great Prophet of the Lord. Have great care in raising Him, and tell me in what I can relieve your needs.” Most holy Mary and Joseph answered the priest with humble gratitude and dismissed him after offering him the gift of some candles and other articles.

Being again left alone with the Child, most holy Mary and Joseph celebrated anew the mystery of the Circumcision, commenting on the holy name of JESUS amid sweet canticles and tears of joy, the fuller knowledge of which (as also of other mysteries which I have mentioned) is reserved as an additional accidental glory to the saints in heaven. The most prudent Mother applied to the wound caused by the knife such medicines as were wont to be used on such occasions for other children, and during the time while the pain and the healing lasted She would not for a moment part with holding Him in her arms day and night. The tender love of the heavenly Mother is beyond all comprehension or understanding of man; for her natural love was greater than any other mother was capable of, and her supernatural love exceeded that of all the angels and saints together. Her reverence and worship cannot be compared with that of any other created being. These were the delights of the incarnate Word (Prov. 8, 31), which He desired and longed for among the children of men; and this was the recompense, which his loving heart drew from the exceeding sanctity of the Virgin Mother for the sorrows occasioned Him by their behavior.



WORDS OF THE QUEEN
The Virgin Mary speaks to Sister Mary of Agreda, Spain

My daughter, I wish thee to consider attentively the blessed favor conferred upon thee by being informed of the solicitous care and attention which I lavished upon my most holy and sweetest Son in the mysteries just now described. The Most High does not give thee this special light in order only to be regaled by the knowledge of these mysteries; but in order to imitate me in all these things as a faithful handmaid and in order to distinguish thyself in rendering thanks for his works in the same measure as thou art distinguished in knowing them more fully. Ponder, then, dearest, upon the small return given for the love of my Son and Lord by mortals, and how forgetful of thanks even his faithful continue to be. Assume it as thy task, as far as thy weak powers allow, to render satisfaction for this grievous offense: loving Him, thanking Him and serving Him with all thy powers, for all the other men who fail to do so. Therefore thou must be an angel in promptitude, most fervent and punctual on all occasions; thou must die to all earthly things, eliminating and crushing all human inclinations and rising upon the wings of love to the heights of love designed for thee by the Lord.

Thou art not ignorant of the sweet efficacy contained in the memory of the works performed by my most holy Son: and although thou canst so copiously avail thyself of the light given thee to be thankful: yet, in order that thou mayest fear so much the more the danger of forgetfulness, I particularly inform thee that the saints in heaven, comprehending by the divine light these mysteries, are astonished at themselves for not having paid more attention to them during their life. And if they were capable of pain, they would be deeply grieved for their tardiness and carelessness in not having set proper value upon the works for the Redemption, and for failing in the imitation of Christ. All the angels and saints, by an insight hidden to mortals, wonder at the cruelty of human hearts against themselves and against Christ their Redeemer. Men have compassion neither for the sufferings of the Lord, nor for the sufferings they themselves stand in danger of incurring. When the foreknown, in unending bitterness shall recognize their dreadful forgetfulness and their indifference to the works of Christ their Savior, their confusion and despair will be an intolerable punishment, and it alone will be a chastisement beyond all imagination; for they will then see the copiousness of the Redemption, which they have despised (Ps. 44, 11). Hear me, my daughter, and bend thy ears to these counsels and doctrines of eternal life. Cast out from thy faculties every image and affection toward human creatures and turn all the powers of thy heart and soul toward the mysteries and blessings of the Redemption. Occupy thyself wholly with them, ponder and weigh them, give thanks for them as if thou alone wert in existence, as if they had been wrought solely for thee, and singly for each human being in particular (Gal. 2, 20). Thus thou wilt find life and the way of life, proceeding thus thou canst not err; but thou shalt find therein the light of thy eyes and true peace.


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Taken from Divine Intimacy: Meditations on the Interior Life for Everyday ofthe Liturgical Year

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36. THE OCTAVE OF THE NATIVITY OF OUR LORD
JANUARY FIRST


PRESENCE OF GOD - I draw near You, Divine Babe, in order to receive the first drops of Your most Precious Blood in my soul.


MEDITATION

1. The Magnificat antiphon of First Vespers of the Feast sums up perfectly the spirit of this day: “For His great love, wherewith God loved us, He sent His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh.” This liturgical solemnity unites to the consideration of God’s immense charity, which illumines and dominates all the feasts of the Christmas cycle, this vision of the Incarnate Son of God in the likeness of sinful man. In order to transform us from sinners into children of God, the only Son of the Father willed to be clothed in human nature, thereby putting on our sinful flesh and submitting to all its most humiliating consequences. The law of circumcision could in no way affect Jesus, the Son of God, the Most Holy One; but Jesus willed to submit to it as the least of the sons of Abraham, for as St. Paul says, “It behooved Him in all things to be made like unto His brethren...that He might be a propitiation for the sins of the people” (Heb 2,17). The rite, which Joseph may have performed in the intimacy of the family, caused the first drops of the Precious Blood to be shed from the immaculate flesh of Jesus. Thus eight days after His birth, He is beginning His redemptive mission. He has not yet spoken; the world does not know Him; but He is already shedding His Blood for the salvation of mankind. Contemplating Him, we shall learn that deeds are better than words, that the greater the sacrifices they require, the greater the proof they give of real love. Furthermore, every undertaking must receive its baptism of blood in order to be fruitful.


2. This Feast coincides with the beginning of the civil year; the first drops of Jesus’ Blood seal and consecrate each new year, making it really the “annus Domini,” the year of Our Lord, which it actually is, since time belongs to God. Our life too is God’s; it has been redeemed and sanctified by the Blood of Christ. Let us, then, begin the year by circumcising our hearts, for as St. Ambrose says, “He who has been circumcised of every vice will be judged worthy of the Lord’s attention... . See how all the events which followed one another in the Old Testament prefigured what was to happen later, for the circumcision also represents purification from sins” (RB).

A new year, a new life! A new life indeed!—for if we circumcise in ourselves the “old man” with his vices and passions, the “Christian” can grow in us: we can become new creatures, purified by the Blood of Christ, vivified and nourished by His grace, so that it may no longer be we who live, but Christ who lives in us. The new year which begins today will acquire value only if lived in this light. Only by this daily circumcision of the heart will grace triumph in us, thus making the Christ-life an ever-increasing reality in our souls. Jesus’ humble submission to His Father’s will, manifested by His obedience to the law, is another lesson to be learned from today’s Feast. It is an invitation to us to be docile to God’s will, whatever it may be. None of us knows what awaits us in this new year, but God knows. His will has already prepared our path; every detail of our life is already determined in His mind. Let us be ready to accept, or rather to embrace with courage and readiness, everything that God wishes or permits, certain that in His holy will we shall find our peace and our sanctification.


COLLOQUY

“O Word Incarnate, You are but eight days old and already You are giving Your Blood for me. What lesson do I draw from this?... Obedience. By Your circumcision You reveal to me Your obedience to God, Your meekness, and Your humility” (St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi). O Jesus, permit the first drops of Your most pure Blood to purify and inebriate my poor soul! I understand that from the very first days of Your life You hastened to shed Your Blood because You wanted to show us at once that You are our Savior and Redeemer. This shedding of Blood was not necessary for You, O Son of God, who art holy with the holiness of Your Father; but it was necessary for me, a poor creature born in sin. You wished to humble Yourself, even to submitting Yourself to a law which was made for sinners. O my Lord, teach me to be humble and obedient. You did not refuse circumcision, You the innocent Lamb, who taketh away the sins of the world... and I, a sinner, want to be considered just? I resent it when I am considered imperfect; I try to conceal my faults under a cloak of false excuses. Oh! teach me that I can neither follow You, nor become like You, if I do not welcome opportunities of humbling myself with You!

You also teach me to obey and to submit to my heavenly Father’s will, no matter what it demands or what sacrifice it requires. “I think of this new year as a white page given to me by Your Father, on which He will write, day by day, whatever His divine good pleasure has planned. I shall now write at the top of the page, with complete confidence: Domine, fac de me sicut vis, Lord, do with me what You will, and at the bottom I already write my Amen to all the proposals of Your divine will. Yes Lord, yes to all the joys, the sorrows, the graces, the hardships prepared for me, which You will reveal to me day by day. Grant that my Amen may be the Paschal Amen, always followed by the Alleluia, uttered wholeheartedly, in the joy of a complete gift. Give me Your love and Your grace, and I shall be rich enough” (Sr. Carmela of the Holy Spirit, O.C.D.).
Taken from the Sermons of St. Alphonsus Liguori:

January 1st ~ Feast of the Circumcision of Our Lord

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Morning Meditation
JESUS OUR SAVIOUR

Consider that the Infant Jesus, eight days after His Birth, showed Himself even then to be our Saviour, by shedding His divine Blood for us in the Circumcision, and taking the Name of Saviour. O most merciful Infant God, I give Thee thanks, and I beseech Thee by the pain which Thou didst feel, and by the Blood which Thou didst shed in Thy Circumcision, to grant me the grace and the power to tear out of my heart all earthly affections.

I.

Behold how the Eternal Father, having sent His Son to suffer and die for us, wills that on this day He should be circumcised, and should begin to shed His Divine Blood, which He has to shed for the last time on the day of His death upon the Cross in a sea of contumely and sorrow. And wherefore? In order that this innocent Son should thus pay the penalties which we have deserved. The Holy Church exclaims: "O admirable condescension of divine pity towards us! O inestimable love of charity! To redeem the slave Thou hast delivered Thy Son to death!"

O Eternal God, who could ever have bestowed upon us this infinite gift but Thou Who art infinite goodness and infinite love. O my God, if in giving me Thy Son, Thou hast given me the dearest treasure Thou hast, it is right that I should give myself entirely to Thee. Yes, my God, I give Thee my whole self; do Thou accept of me, and permit me not to leave Thee again.

II.

Behold, on the other hand, the Divine Son, Who, all humble, and full of love towards us, embraces the bitter death destined for Him in order to save us sinners from eternal death, and willingly begins on this day to make satisfaction for us to the divine justice with the price of His Blood. He humbled himself, says the Apostle, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross (Phil. ii. 8). Thou, therefore, O my Jesus, hast accepted death for my love; what, then, shall I do? Shall I continue to offend Thee by my sins? No, my Redeemer, I will no longer be ungrateful to Thee. I am sorry from my heart that I have caused Thee so much bitterness in times past. I love Thee, O infinite Goodness, and for the future I will never cease to love Thee.

Our Redeemer has said: Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends (Jo. xv. 13). Thou, O my Jesus, as St. Paul tells us, hast shown greater love than this towards us, by giving Thy life for us who were Thy enemies. Behold one of them, O Lord, at Thy feet. How many times have I, a miserable sinner, renounced Thy friendship because I would not obey Thee! I now see the evil I have done; pardon me, my Jesus, for I could wish to die of sorrow. I now love Thee with my whole soul, and I desire nothing else but to love Thee and to please Thee. O Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, pray to Jesus for me.

Spiritual Reading
THE NAME OF JESUS CONSOLES

This great Name of Jesus was not given by man, but by God Himself; "The Name of Jesus," says St. Bernard, "was preordained by God." It was a new Name: A new name which the mouth of the Lord shall name (Is. lxii. 2). A new Name which God could give only to Him Whom He destined to be the Saviour of the world. A new and an eternal Name; because, as our salvation was decreed from all eternity, so from all eternity was this Name given to the Redeemer. Nevertheless this Name was only bestowed on Jesus Christ in this world on the day of His Circumcision: And after eight days were accomplished that the child should be circumcised, his name was called Jesus. The Eternal Father wished at that time to reward the humility of His Son by giving Him so honourable a Name. Yes, while Jesus humbles Himself, submitting in His Circumcision to be branded with the mark of a sinner, it is just that His Father should honour Him by giving Him a Name that exceeds the dignity and sublimity of any other name: God hath given him a name that is above all names (Phil. ii. 9). And He commands that this Name should be adored by the Angels, by men, and by devils: That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth (Ibid. ii. 10). If, then, all creatures are to adore this great Name, still more ought we sinners to adore it, since it was in our behalf that this Name of Jesus, which signifies Saviour, was given to Him; and for this end also He came down from Heaven, namely, to save sinners: "For us men and for our salvation He came down from Heaven, and was made Man." We ought to adore Him, and at the same time to thank God Who has given Him this Name for our good; for it is this Name that consoles us, defends us, and makes us burn with love.

The Name of Jesus consoles us; for when we invoke Jesus, we find relief in all our afflictions. When we have recourse to Jesus, He wishes to console us because He loves us; and He can do so, because He is not only Man, but He is also the Omnipotent God; otherwise He could not properly have this great Name of Saviour. The Name of Jesus signifies that the bearer of it is of infinite power, infinite wisdom and infinite love; so that if Jesus Christ had not united in Himself all these perfections, He could not have saved us: "If any one of these," says St. Bernard, "had been wanting, Thou couldst not call Thyself Saviour." Thus, when speaking of the Circumcision, the Saint says: "He was circumcised as being the son of Abraham, He was called Jesus as being the Son of God." He is branded as man with the mark of sin, having taken upon Himself the burden of atoning for sin; and from His very Infancy He began to satisfy for the crimes of men, by suffering and shedding His Blood.

The Name of Jesus is said by the Holy Spirit to be like oil poured out: Thy name is as oil poured out (Cant. i. 2). And so indeed it is, says St. Bernard; for as oil serves for light, for food, and for medicine, so especially the Name of Jesus is light: "it is a light when preached." And how was it, says the Saint, that the light of Faith shone forth so suddenly in the world that in a short time so many Gentile nations knew the true God, and became His followers, if it was not through hearing the Name of Jesus preached? "Whence, think you, shone forth in the whole world, so bright and so sudden, the light of Faith, except from the preaching of the Name of Jesus?" Through this Name we have been happily made sons of the true light, that is, sons of the Holy Church; since we were so fortunate as to be born in the bosom of the true Church, in Christian and Catholic kingdoms -- a grace which has not been granted to the greater part of men, who are born amongst idolaters, Mahometans, or heretics.

Further, the Name of Jesus is a food that nourishes our souls. "The thought of it is nourishment." This Name gives strength to find peace and consolation even in the midst of the miseries and persecutions of this world. The holy Apostles rejoiced when they were ill-treated and reviled, being comforted by the Name of Jesus: They went from the presence of the council rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer for the name of Jesus (Acts. v. 41).

It is light, it is food, and it is also medicine to those who invoke it: "When pronounced, it soothes and anoints." The holy Abbot says: "At the rising of the light of this Name, the clouds disperse, and calm returns." If the soul of any one is afflicted and in trouble, let him pronounce the Name of Jesus, and immediately the tempest will cease and peace will return. Does any one fall into sin? Does he run in despair into the snares of death? Let him invoke the Name of Life, and will his life not be renewed? He shall immediately be encouraged to hope for pardon, by calling on Jesus, Who was destined by the Father to be our Saviour, and obtain pardon for sinners. Euthymius says that if when Judas was tempted to despair, he had invoked the Name of Jesus, he would not have given way to temptation: "If he had invoked that Name, he would not have perished." Therefore, he adds, no sinner can perish through despair, however abandoned he may be, who invokes the Holy Name, which is one of hope and salvation: "Despair is far off where His Name is invoked."

But sinners leave off invoking this saving Name, because they do not wish to be cured of their infirmities. Jesus Christ is ready to heal all our wounds; but if people cherish their wounds, and will not be healed, how can Jesus Christ heal them? The Venerable Sister Mary of Jesus Crucified, a Sicilian nun, once saw the Saviour, as it seemed, in a hospital, going round with medicines in His hands, to cure the sick people who were there; but these miserable people, instead of thanking Him and begging Him to come to them, drove Him away. So do many sinners, after they have of their own free will poisoned their souls with sins, refuse the gift of health, that is, the grace offered them by Jesus Christ, and thus remain lost through their infirmities.

But, on the other hand, what fear can that sinner have who has recourse to Jesus Christ, since Jesus offers Himself to obtain our pardon from His Father, He having paid by His death the penalty due to us? St. Laurence Justinian says: "He Who had been offended, appointed Himself as Intercessor, and Himself paid what was owing to God." Therefore, adds the Saint, "if thou art bound down by sickness, if sorrows weary thee, if thou art trembling with fear, invoke the Name of Jesus." O poor man, whoever thou art, if thou art weighed down by infirmity or by grief and fear, call on Jesus, and He will console thee. It is enough that we pray to the Father in His Name, and all we ask will be granted to us. This is the promise of Jesus Himself, which He repeated many times, and which cannot fail: If you ask the Father anything in my name, he will give it to you (Jo. xvi. 23). Whatsoever you shall ask of the Father in my name that will I do (Jo. xiv. 13).

Evening Meditation
HIS NAME WAS CALLED JESUS (Gospel, Luke ii. 21).

I.

The Name of Jesus is a divine Name, announced to Mary on the part of God by St. Gabriel: and thou shalt call his name Jesus (Luke i. 31). For that reason it was called a name above all names (Phil. ii. 9). And it was also called a Name in which alone salvation is found: whereby we must be saved (Acts iv. 12).

This great Name is likened by the Holy Spirit unto oil: Thy name is as oil poured out (Cant. i. 2). For this reason, says St. Bernard, that as oil is light, food, and medicine, so the Name of Jesus is light to the mind, food to the heart, and medicine to the soul.

It is light to the mind. By this Name the world was converted from the darkness of idolatry to the light of Faith. We who have been born in these regions, where before the coming of Christ our ancestors were Gentiles, should all have been in the same condition had not the Messias come to enlighten us. How thankful ought we not, then, to be to Jesus Christ for the gift of Faith! And what would have become of us if we had been born in Asia, in Africa, in America, or in the midst of heretics and schismatics? He who believes not is lost: He that believeth not shall be condemned (Mark xvi. 16). And thus probably we also should have been lost.

O Jesus, Thou Who didst make the power of Thy Name to shine forth to deliver us from the servitude of sin, and the slavery of the devil, deign now and always to preserve our souls from all unworthy subjection. O Jesus all powerful, if the eyes of our souls had not been opened and enlightened by the light of Faith which Thou hast taught us by Thy own mouth, how should we ever have been able to know Thy divine mysteries! Without Thy aid we should always have been buried in the darkness of ignorance and the shadow of death. May thanks be ever given to our sweet Jesus Who has had compassion on us, and, in opening the gates of Heaven to us, has made us heirs of His Eternal Kingdom.

II.

The Name of Jesus is also food that nourishes our hearts; yes, because this Name reminds us of what Jesus has done to save us. Hence this Name consoles us in tribulation, gives us strength to walk along the way of salvation, supplies us with courage in difficulties, and inflames us with love for our Redeemer, when we remember what He has suffered for our salvation.

Lastly, this Name is medicine to the soul, because it renders it strong against the temptations of our enemies. The devils tremble and fly at the invocations of this Holy Name, according to the words of the Apostle: That at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth (Phil. ii. 10). He who in temptation calls upon Jesus shall not fall, and shall be saved: Praising, I will call upon the Lord; and I will be saved from my enemies (Ps. xvii. 4). And who was ever lost who when he was tempted invoked Jesus? He alone is lost who does not invoke His aid, or who, whilst the temptation continues, ceases to invoke Him. Oh, that I had always called upon Thee, my Jesus; for then I should never have been conquered by the devil! I have miserably lost Thy grace, because in temptation I have neglected to call Thee to my assistance. But now I hope for all things through Thy Holy Name. Write, therefore, O my Saviour, write upon my poor heart Thy most powerful Name of Jesus, so that, by having it always in my heart by loving Thee, I may have it always on my lips by invoking Thee, in all the temptations that hell prepares for me to induce me to again become its slave, and to separate myself from Thee. In Thy Name I shall find every good. If I am afflicted, it will console me when I think how much more afflicted Thou hast been than I am, and all for the love of me. If I am disheartened on account of my sins, it will give me courage when I remember that Thou camest into the world to save sinners. If I am tempted, Thy Holy Name will give me strength, when I consider that Thou canst help me more than hell can cast me down; finally, if I feel cold in Thy love, Thy Name will give me fervour, by reminding me of the love that Thou bearest me. I love Thee, my Jesus! To Thee do I give all my heart, O my Jesus! Thee alone will I love! Thee will I invoke as often as I possibly can. I will die with Thy Name upon my lips; a Name of hope, a Name of salvation, a Name of love. O Mary, if thou lovest me, this is the grace I beg of thee to obtain for me -- the grace constantly to invoke thy name and that of thy Son; obtain for me that these most sweet Names may be the breath of my soul, and that I may repeat them constantly during life, in order to repeat them with my last breath. Jesus and Mary, help me; Jesus and Mary, I love You; Jesus and Mary I recommend my soul to You.