The Circumcision of Our Lord and Octave of Christmas Day

Our newborn King and Savior is eight days old today; the Star that guides the Magi is advancing towards Bethlehem, and in five days will be standing over the Stable where Jesus is being nursed by His Mother. Today the Son of Mary is to be circumcised; this first sacrifice of His innocent Flesh must honor the eighth day of His mortal life. Todav, also, a Name is to be given Him: the Name will be Jesus, and it means Savior. So that mysteries abound on this day: let us not pass one of them over, but honor 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 Savior - a mystery on which the Church fixes her heart not only during this Octave, but during the whole forty days of Christmastide. Then, as regard our Lord's receiving the Name of Jesus, a special Feast, which we shall soon be keeping, is set apart in honor 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 today the August prerogative of this divine Maternity that was conferred on a mere creature, and made her co-operatrix with Christ in the great work of man's salvation.

The holy Church of Rome used to say two Masses on the first of January; one was of the Octave of Christmas Day, the other was in honor of Mary. She now unites the two intentions in one sacrifice. She unites together the acts of her adoration of the Son, and the expression of her admiration for and confidence in the Mother.

Today 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 contemplate her as pregnant with the world's salvation; we proclaimed the glory of that Ark in 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 at the enthusiasm and profound respect wherewith the Church extols the Blessed Virgin. No mortal will ever be able to describe, or even comprehend, how great a glory accrues to her from this sublime 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. 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.

A Mother of God! It is the mystery whose fulfillment 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 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.