Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Octave-Day of the Nativity

In the Old Law, by the rite of Circumcision, every male Jew became a member and shared in the privileges and blessings of the chosen people of God. A Jew who failed to be initiated by the ceremony was excluded. Our Lord was Son of God by nature, and absolutely sinless, and therefore did not need adoption into the membership of God's children. Yet, He submitted to the law. The Church also honors on this day the holy name of Jesus, given to the Divine Child at the Circumcision.

Today is especially important for two reasons: on the eighth day the Christ Child received the Holy Name of Jesus, and on the eighth day He first shed His Precious Blood for us, of which the Church teaches that one drop would have sufficed for our salvation. For this reason, the whole month of January is dedicated to the Holy Name and Childhood of Jesus (tomorrow is the Feast of the Holy Name). Why the Novus Ordo Calendar moved the Feast of the Motherhood of Mary from Oct 11 to Jan 1 is a mystery to me; I wonder if anyone has seen/heard a justification offered for this move? Practically speaking, it would be hard to dispute that this move has led to a neglect of the salvific significance of the Circumcision and the Holy Name.

I highly recommend the wonderful source of traditional Catholic information that is Fish Eaters for their page on the Feast of the Circumcision, and on the practice of (or avoidance of) circumcision.

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).


Anonymous said...

You are kind of right. There seems to be no legitimate reason to do away with the feast of the Holy Name, but the "Solemnity of the Mother of God" actually pre-dates the Feast of the Circumcision.

If one looks at the collects for the Octave day of Nativity, one can see that they make no reference to the Circumcision, but rather commemorate the Theotokos. Additionally, in the Office, the antiphons and psalms are taken from the Common of the BVM.

To be fair, the novus ordo does not do away with the circumcision altogether. The Gospel reading includes the old Gospel reading (the NO gospel is a bit longer, but incuuldes the entirety of, and ends with the reading of the Gospel appointed for the Circumcision).

So what we have here is an old feast for the Octave day of Christmas, commemorating the Theotokos--which makes sense given the nature of the Nativity. It is similar to how in the Byzantine rite the day after a major feast commemorates the second most important figure of the feast (Dec. 26 is the Syanaxis of the Theotokos, Mar. 26 is the Synaxis of the Archangel Gabriel, Jan. 7 is the Synaxis of John the Baptist). So, the Octave day of Christmas commemorates the Theotokos, just as the Octave day of Epiphany commemorates the Baptism, which for the Latins is the secondary meaning of the feast. In the 7th Century, the Feast of the Circumcision was added to the Octave day of Christmas for obvious reasons, but it seems that both the Circumcision and the Theotokos were commemorated, as the structure of the Office (Common of the BVM with lessons about the Circumcision) and the Mass (Collects for the BVM with lessons about the Circumcision) prove.

The Feast of the Motherhood of the Theotokos was instituted only in the 1930s, probably as a polemic against the early feminist movement just as the Feast of St. Joseph the Workman was instituted as a polemic against Communism. I therefore do not think that what we have is a transfer of a (new) feast, but rather a shift in emphasis for a day with two feasts. The Theotokos had always been commemorated on January 1, but what happened in the NO, as you pointed out, is that the idea of the Holy Name has disappeared, even though the Circumcision is still commemorated in the Gospel reading.

Anonymous said...

Anselm, you are right about one thing: if anyone claims any spiritual significance for circumcision at all, then anathemas upon them, as Florence-Ferrara stated.

But, having recently become the father of a baby boy, I opted for circumcision for one reason alone: I thought uncircumcised penises were disgusting. I did a little bit of reading about it before the procedure; after reading about the need to clean off an accretion called "smegma" that was described as a "whitish-yellow," smelly, and "cheesy" substance that accumulated under the foreskin, I thought, "That is freakin' disgusting. Cut the damn thing off."

Also, when I was in the military, I saw lots of uncirced guys from South America in the shower...their members were totally weird looking (granted, part of that is because we are not used to seeing them) and disgusting from my opinion; like overgrown earthworms or the monsters from the movie "Tremors."

Anyhow, we decided on the procedure for our baby just out of sheer disgust at how one left in its natural state looks and the cleaning up of the cheesy, smelly smegma.

Anonymous said...

You are quite definte in your views. heheheh.

Glad you don't own monkies. heheh

By the way ...... South America doesn't circum-size?