Happy Feast Day! from The Fatima Center
It was on the eighth day after Our Lord’s birth that He first shed His Precious Blood for us, on which occasion He was also formally given His Holy Name, Jesus, meaning Savior.
Our Lord, being the Son of God by nature, had no need to undergo this rite of adoption into God’s Chosen People, but He desired to submit Himself to the Law in order to begin the work of our Redemption from the outset of His life on earth.
Jesus, model of virtues,
Jesus, most patient,
Jesus, zealous for souls, Have mercy on us!
The Feast of the Circumcision of Our Lord
by Dom Prosper Gueranger
Our newborn King and Savior is eight days old today; and therefore the Son of Man must be circumcised on this day. This first sacrifice of His innocent Flesh must honor the eighth day of His mortal life.
The Child subjects Himself to this painful ceremony, to this symbol of one devoted to the divine service, in order that He may fulfil all justice.
Being now circumcised, He is not only a member of the human race; He is made today a member of God’s chosen People. He receives, at the same time, His holy Name. The Name is Jesus, and it means a Savior. A Savior! Then, He is to save us? Yes; and He is to save us by His Blood. Such is the divine appointment, and He has bowed down His will to it. The Incarnate Word is upon the earth in order to offer a Sacrifice, and the Sacrifice is begun today.
This first shedding of the Blood of the Man-God was sufficient to the fullness and perfection of a Sacrifice; but He is come to win the heart of the sinner, and that heart is so hard that all the streams of that Precious Blood, which flow from the Cross on Calvary, will scarcely make it yield. The drops that were shed today would have been enough to satisfy the justice of the Eternal Father, but not to cure man’s miseries, and the Babe’s Heart would not be satisfied to leave us uncured. He came for man’s sake, and His love for man will go to what looks like excess — He will carry out the whole meaning of His dear Name — He will be our “Jesus,” our Savior.
But Our Lord’s Circumcision and receiving of His holy Name are not the only mysteries to which this day’s feast is devoted. Holy Church is mindful also today, on this great Solemnity, of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s august prerogative as the Mother of God. Though a mere creature, Her divine Maternity made Her the co-operatrix with Jesus in the great work of man’s salvation.
Thus today, also, we 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 that She has brought Him forth, the Infant God, She adores 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, inasmuch as He is Man, gloried in rendering Himself 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 favored 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 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. The being Mother of God implies all this — and may we not well say that no pure creature could be exalted more than She? 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 whom 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 this that the blessings of the Incarnation for which we are indebted to the love wherewith 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, 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 there being 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, he impiously raved, was not Mother of God, but merely Mother of a Man called Jesus. This blasphemous doctrine roused the indignation of the Catholic world, and 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.”
This victory over Nestorianism, won at the Council of Ephesus, was hailed by the Christians of those times with an enthusiasm of faith, which proved the tender love they had for the Mother of Jesus.