-the Altar from Palm Sunday, 2014-
According to Dom Gueranger in The Liturgical Year, “This Sunday is called Passion Sunday, because the Church begins, on this day, to make the sufferings of our Redeemer her chief thought”. Traditionally, all statues and crucifixes were veiled at the Vespers for Passion Sunday. The Introit, Gradual and Tract all are petitions to save the just from the persecution of the unjust and the Tract even foreshadows the scourging.
Introit: “Judge me, O God, and distinguish my cause from the nation that is not holy: deliver me from the unjust and deceitful man: for thou art my God and my strength...”
Gradual: “Deliver me, O Lord, from my enemies; teach me to do thy will. Thou, O Lord, art my deliverer from the enraged Gentiles: thou wilt put me out of the reach of those that assault me; and thou wilt rescue me from the unrighteous man.”
Tract: “Many a time have they fought against me from my youth. Let Israel now say: They have often attacked me from my youth. But they could not prevail over me: the wicked have wrought upon my back. They have lengthened their iniquity: the Lord who is just, will cut the necks of sinners.”
The Epistle is from Heb 9, 11-15 and is St. Paul's exposition of Christ as both the High Priest and the perfect victim who was sacrificed for our salvation.
The Gospel is from John 8: 46-59 and is the condemnation of the Jews by Christ in the temple. He tells them that they do not know God and that before Abraham was I AM. They try to stone him but he slips away.
The Communion Antiphon is the final Passion foreshadowing of the Mass. The verse is the words Christ used to institute the Eucharist at the Last Supper: “'This is my body, which shall be given up for you: this is the cup of the new covenant in my blood,' says the Lord, 'do this as often as you receive it, in remembrance of me.'”
WHY DO WE FAST AND ABSTAIN?
The Holy Catholic Church teaches that every Catholic, even after his sins have been forgiven in the Sacrament of Penance, must do penance in order to satisfy God's justice for the temporal punishment due to sin. The eternal punishment of our serious sins is taken away by the merits of Christ in the Divine tribunal of penance but it remains for us to give temporal satisfaction for them. Knowing human nature, the Church realizes that, even though we admit this obligation, we would put it off day to day until the end of our lives would be upon us without our having done any penance. Thus the Church has established, by her laws, that we will at least do penance on certain days throughout the year. Since most of our sins consist in indulging the appetites of our body beyond what is lawful, it is appropriate to do penance by curbing them in what is lawful.
ABSTINENCE: To refrain from eating meat or poultry, which includes sauces and soups made from their juices. It does not, however, affect the quantity of food we may take on days of abstinence. All Catholics who have attained the use of reason, which is commonly seven years of age, are bound by the law of abstinence, unless otherwise dispensed. The law of abstinence is abrogated whenever a Holy Day of Obligation falls on a day of abstinence.
FAST: In keeping with the obligation of doing penance in reparation for our many sins, the Church also obliges us to fast on certain days throughout the year. All persons over 21 and under 59 years of age must fast, unless their health prevents them from doing so. This means that on a fast day, they may have only one principal or full meal, and two smaller snacks. They may eat meat at this principal meal, except on days of abstinence. At the two smaller snacks, they may not have meat, but they may take sufficient food to maintain their strength. However, these two smaller snacks together should be less than a full meal. Eating between meals is not permitted; but liquids, including milk and fruit juices, may be taken at any time on a fast day. Lent begins on February 18 (Ash Wednesday) and each Friday of Lent is an obligatory day of abstinence and a traditional day of fast. Each day of Lent is a traditional day of fast and of partial abstinence.
THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS
A FEW SELECTIONS FROM THE WRITINGS OF ST. MARGARET MARY
The Promises of the Sacred Heart
The twelve promises which we find in prayer books and manuals of the devotion to the Sacred Heart do not contain all the promises made by our Divine Lord to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. They are not even a summary of them, but are rather a selection of those promises best calculated to arouse sentiments of love for Our Lord in the hearts of the faithful and to induce them to practice the devotion. These twelve promises are found in the writings of St. Margaret Mary, but not all in one place.
We give here the complete list of the various promises, as found in Monsignor Gauthey's edition of the writings of St. Margaret Mary, but we do not give the full text. Those who wish to have the full text of the promises will find it in The Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus the Essence of Christianity, pages 48 to 69. But first, we present the basic twelve promises without commentary: Near the conclusion of this section. St. Margaret Mary writes an explanation of how the Nine First Fridays are to be practiced. The Prayer for Daily Neglect was not written by St. Margaret Mary but because it is so invaluable an aid with have included it here as it is a prayer to the Sacred Heart that is to be said daily, thus it can be incorporated into the practice of the Devotion easily, it is short and known to be efficacious.
1. I WILL GIVE THEM ALL THE GRACES NECESSARY FOR THEIR STATE OF LIFE.
2. I WILL GIVE PEACE IN THEIR FAMILIES
3. I WILL CONSOLE THEM IN ALL THEIR TROUBLES.
4. THEY SHALL FIND IN MY HEART AN ASSURED REFUGE DURING LIFE AND ESPECIALLY AT THE HOUR OF DEATH.
5. I WILL POUR ABUNDANT BLESSINGS ON ALL THEIR UNDERTAKINGS.
6. SINNERS SHALL FIND IN MY HEART THE SOURCE AND INFINITE OCEAN OF MERCY.
7. TEPID SOULS SHALL BECOME FERVENT.
8. FERVENT SOULS SHALL SPEEDILY RISE TO GREAT PERFECTION.
9. I WILL BLESS THE HOMES IN WHICH THE IMAGE OF MY SACRED HEART SHALL BE EXPOSED AND HONORED.
10. I WILL GIVE TO PRIESTS THE POWER TO TOUCH THE MOST HARDENED HEARTS.
11. THOSE WHO PROPAGATE THIS DEVOTION SHALL HAVE THEIR NAME WRITTEN IN MY HEART, AND IT SHALL NEVER BE EFFACED.
12. THE ALL-POWERFUL LOVE OF MY HEART WILL GRANT TO ALL THOSE WHO SHALL RECEIVE COMMUNION ON THE FIRST FRIDAY OF NINE CONSECUTIVE MONTHS THE GRACE OF FINAL REPENTANCE; THEY SHALL NOT DIE UNDER MY DISPLEASURE, NOR WITHOUT RECEIVING THE SACRAMENTS; MY HEART SHALL BE THEIR ASSURED REFUGE AT THE LAST HOUR.
This devotion consists in attending Holy Mass and receiving Holy Communion in reparation for those who do not receive Our Lord, who do not love Him and who wound Him by their sinful lives.
"I promise you, in the excessive mercy of My Heart, that My all-powerful love will grant to all those who communicate on the First Friday of nine consecutive months, the grace of final penitence; they shall not die in my disgrace, nor without receiving their Sacraments, My Divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment."
(Our Lord to St. Margaret Mary)
WHY ASH WEDNESDAY?
In Genesis 3:19 we hear God tell us "for dust thou art, and into dust thou shalt return," but nowadays, when someone dies, they are rushed from deathbed to funeral home to be embalmed and to be worked over by a make-up artist so that that "dusty reality" is hidden from us. Their deaths are spoken of as almost an embarrassment; "he passed," they say, or "he is no longer with us." These comforting but sterile luxuries weren't an option in the past when plagues felled so many people that there weren't enough survivors to bury them, when bodies had to be stored all winter until the ground was soft enough to dig, when most of the children a woman bore died before they were able to grow up. In our culture, with our medicines and "funeral sciences," we are afraid to look at death, and we are a poorer people because of it. No matter how long science can prolong life, no matter how much embalming fluid is pumped into a corpse, nature will have her way. This is Truth. And when nature has her way, we can either rest in the knowledge that the ultimate Victor is Christ, Our Lord, Who walked out of His tomb 2,000 years ago and offers resurrection to us, or we can believe that decay is all that is left. This is the meaning of Ash Wednesday.
Ash Wednesday is the day for being reminded of and contemplating our mortality, of which Ecclesiasticus 1 reminds us:
What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun? One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh...
When a new Pope processes to St. Peter's Basilica to offer his first Mass as Pope, the procession stops three times and, at each stop, a piece of flax mounted on a reed is burned. As the flames die, the Pope hears the words, "Pater sancte, sic transit gloria mundi" ("Holy Father, thus passes the glory of the world"), to remind him not only that he is a mere man, but as a man, a mere mortal whose end is like the end of all other men. The things of this world are transient, and Christians must always keep one eye on the world to come.
Recalling this Truth is one of the principles behind the use of ashes on the forehead today: to remind us that we are mortal, subject to the rot and decay our Western culture now desperately tries to euphemize away, and that we are radically dependent on -- solely dependent on -- Jesus Christ to overcome this fate.
They are like a yearly contemplation of the tombstone inscribed with:
Remember friends as you pass by,
as you are now so once was I.
As I am now so you must be.
Prepare for death and follow me.
While death should, of course, be avoided as the evil it is, we should accept the reality of it with the attitude behind the words attributed to the great Sioux warrior, Crazy Horse: "It is a good day to die" ("Hoka hey"). Death should not be feared in itself; what should be approached with trepidation is the judgment that follows -- not because God is a malicious Father who wants to inflict pain, but because He is as just as He is merciful. We need to repent, accept the reality of death, and not only consider our judgment, but be ready for it.
The Blessing and Disposition of the Ashes The ashes are made by the burning of palms from last year's Palm Sunday -- palms that were waved in victory and praise. That the ashes are made from burnt palms shows us the link between victory, and penance and mortification which ashes have always symbolized:
Therefore I reprehend myself, and do penance in dust and ashes.
Before the Mass, the blessing of the ashes begins with an antiphon and a verse of a psalm begging God's grace and mercy. Then come four prayers which express what the ashes symbolize:
1. To be a spiritual help for all who confess their sins.
2. To secure pardon of sins for those who receive the ashes.
3. To give us the spirit of contrition.
4. To give us the grace and strength to do penance.
After the priest sprinkles the ashes with holy water and incenses them, he puts some on his own forehead, and then imposes the ashes on the people. In Latin countries, such as Italy, this is done by sprinkling the ashes over the congregants. In other places, including almost all of the English-speaking world, this means that he will smear the ashes on the foreheads of those present, the head being the seat of pride. He puts them on our foreheads in the shape of a Cross to remind us of our hope, and as he does so, he says the words of Genesis 3:
Meménto, homo, quia pulvis es, et in púlverem revertéris
Remember, man, that thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return.
We make no response to these words; we simply return to our pews.
Following the disposition of the ashes come two Antiphons and a Response. Then the priest says another prayer for protection in the coming combat, and begins the Mass.
After we leave the church, we leave the ashes on our foreheads until they wear off naturally from the course of the day's activities. They are a public witness to those things our society does not wish to embrace: the reality of death, penance for sin, and the hope of resurrection in Our Lord, Jesus Christ.
CATHOLIC TEACHING ON FASTING
"If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me."
Sacred Scripture clearly speaks of a need for fasting:
"Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning" (Joel 2, 12);
"Prayer is good when accompanied by fasting, almsgiving, and righteousness" (Tob. 12, 8);
"And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth" (Jon. 3, 5);
"But as for me, when they were sick, I wore sackcloth; I afflicted myself with fasting. I prayed with head bowed on my bosom" (Ps. 35 , 13);
"Then I turned to the Lord God, to seek an answer by prayer and supplication with fasting and sackcloth and ashes" (Dan. 9, 3).
Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself spoke of how and when we should fast:
"But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you" (St. Matt. 6, 17-18);
"Jesus said to them, The wedding guests cannot fast while the bridegroom is with them...As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day" (St. Mark 2, 19-20).
Christ Himself fasted forty days and forty nights: St. Matt. 4, 1; St. Luke 4.
Fasting has since the beginning been part of the Church's ceremonial worship:
"While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them. Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off" (Acts 13, 2-3);
"And after they had appointed elders for them in each church, with prayer and fasting they entrusted them to the Lord in whom they had come to believe" (Acts 14, 23).
Fasting gives added strength to the apostle against the powers of the Evil One:
"Then came the disciples to Jesus secretly, and said: Why could not we cast them out? Jesus said to them: Because of your unbelief...But this kind is not cast out but by prayer and fasting" (St. Matt. 17, 17-20 [Douai]). " I chastice my body and bring it into subjections, lest perhaps after having preached to others, I should become a castaway". - 1 Corinth 9:27
Fasting is a sign of the suffering and penitential Christian:
"But in all things let us exhibit ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in tribulation, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in prisons, in seditions, in labors, in watchings, in fastings" (2 Cor. 6, 4-5 [Douai]).
In today's world, smothered by pride and sensuality, the concept of fasting stands out as a great, if not repugnant, contradiction. Yet, fasting disciplines the body and brings into line the wayward desires of the flesh, that is, the unruly inclinations of our lower nature. By fasting we unite ourselves to God since we learn by our sacrifices to think of God and unit our small sacrifices with his great sacrifices, not that anything is lacking to the suffering of Christ but that we are called to partake in it. As St. Paul puts it,
"I Fill up in my body those things which are wanting to the suffering of Christ in my flesh, for his body, which is the Church" - Col 1:24 Fasting raises our hearts and minds to the contemplation of heavenly things, aiding us to fulfil the universal call to sanctity. Conversely, the glutton is equated with being an enemy of Christ's Cross (Phil. 3, 18).
Some quotes from the Church Fathers :
The Didache (C. 90 - 150 A.D.): "...The teaching of these words is this. Bless those who curse you, and pray for your enemies: fast for those who persecute you...Do not let your fasts be with the hypocrites. They fast on Monday and Thursday; but you will fast on Wednesday and Friday."
Shepherd of Hermas (C. 140 - 150 A.D.): "On the day of the fast, eat only bread and water and, working out the cost of the food you would have consumed, give a corresponding sum to a widow, an orphan, a needy person...Observe these things with your children and all your household; thus you will be happy."
Tertullian, The Demurrer Against the Heretics, Prayer (C. 200 - 206 A.D.): "Likewise, in regard to days of fast, many do not think they should be present at the sacrificial prayers, because their fast would be broken if they were to receive the Body of the Lord...Will not your fast be more solemn if, in addition, you have stood at God's altar?"
St. Ambrose of Milan (+397 A.D.), Ep. 63, 17: "Those who do not believe in the afterlife indulge in food and drink."
St. Jerome (+420 A.D.), Ep. 54, 105: "If you wish to be perfect, it is better to fatten the soul than the body."
St. Leo I, Sermon 13, 1 (Ante 461 A.D.): "The abstinence of him who fasts becomes the nourishment of the poor."
THE FEAST OF CHRIST THE KING
(Last Sunday in October)
Pope Pius XI taught:
“The kingship and empire of Christ have been recognized in the pious custom, practiced by many families, of dedicating themselves to the Sacred Heart of Jesus; not only families have performed this act of dedication, but nations, too, and kingdoms. In fact, the whole of the human race was at the instance of Pope Leo XIII, in the Holy Year 1900, consecrated to the Divine Heart. We institute the Feast of the Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ to be observed yearly throughout the whole world on the last Sunday of the month of October–the Sunday, that is, which immediately precedes the Feast of All Saints. We further ordain that the dedication of mankind to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which Our predecessor of saintly memory, Pope Pius X, commanded to be renewed yearly, be made annually on that day.”
- Quas Primas, Encyclical of Pope Pius XI, December 11, 1925
Act of Consecration of the Human Race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
On the Feast of Christ the King, this Act of Consecration is to be read solemnly with the Litany of the Sacred Heart before the blessed Sacrament exposed:
Most sweet Jesus, Redeemer of the human race, look down upon us humbly prostrate before Thy altar. We are Thine, and Thine we wish to be; but, to be more surely united with Thee, behold each one of us freely consecrates himself today to Thy Most Sacred Heart. Many indeed have never known Thee; many too, despising Thy precepts, have rejected Thee. Have mercy on them all, most merciful Jesus, and draw them to Thy Sacred Heart. Be Thou King, O Lord, not only of the faithful who have never forsaken Thee, but also of the prodigal children who have abandoned Thee; grant that they may quickly return to their Father's house lest they die of wretchedness and hunger. Be Thou King of those who are deceived by erroneous opinions, or whom discord keeps aloof; call them back to the harbour of truth and unity of faith, so that soon there may be but one flock and one Shepherd. Be Thou King of all those who are still involved in the darkness of idolatry or of Islamism; refuse not to draw them all into the light and kingdom of God. Turn Thine eyes of mercy toward the children of that race, once Thy chosen people: of old they called down upon themselves the Blood of the Saviour; may it now descend upon them a laver of redemption and of life. Grant, O Lord, to Thy Church assurance of freedom and immunity from harm; give peace and order to all nations, and make the earth resound from pole to pole with one cry: Praise to the Divine Heart that wrought our salvation; to It be glory and Honour forever. Amen.
Indulgences: 5 years; plenary once a month for daily recitation on the usual conditions. On the Feast of Christ the King, to be read solemnly with the Litany of the Sacred Heart before the Blessed Sacrament exposed: then, 7 years and 7 quarantines, and a plenary indulgence on the usual conditions of Confession and Communion, and prayer for the intentions of the Pope. (Pius XI, 1926, 1927, 1932)
BLESSING OF HOMES
20 + C + M + B + 12
“Christus Mansionem Benedicat”
(May Christ Bless this House)
Epiphany Chalk is used to write the inscription over all the doors of one’s House. The priest has blessed this chalk on the feast of the Epiphany, according to the Roman Ritual. This ceremony is done by the priest, or the father, or the senior member of the family. The following prayer is said once and at the main entrance to the house.All the family members should be present and should accompany the priest or the head of the house as he or she goes from door to door: everyone keeping a respectful silence.The Joyful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary may be recited. The Blessed Frankincense may also be used during the blessing. The Blessing should be written with the Blessed Chalk as follows:
20 + C + M + B + 12
As the Blessing is inscribed, the following should be said:
“MAY CHRIST BLESS THIS HOUSE”
The Chair of Unity Octave
The Octave is a period of eight days of prayer (Jan. 18-25) for the reunion of Christendom, the return of lapsed Catholics, and the conversion of unbelievers. It was founded by Fr. Paul James Francis, S.A. in 1908 and blessed by St. Pius X in 1909. Since then it has spread to all parts of the Catholic world. The intentions of the Octave are given below.
Jan. 18. FEAST OF ST. PETER’S CHAIR AT ROME [formerly]. The return of all the "other sheep" to the one Fold of St. Peter, the One Shepherd.
Jan. 19. The return of all Oriental Separatists to Communion with the Apostolic See.
Jan. 20. The submission of Anglicans to the Authority of the Vicar of Christ.
Jan. 21. That the Lutherans and all other Protestants of Continental Europe may find their way "Back to Holy Church."
Jan. 22. That Christians in America may become One in Communion with the Chair of St. Peter.
Jan. 23. The return to the Sacraments of lapsed Catholics.
Jan. 24. The conversion of the Jews.
Jan. 25. FEAST OF THE CONVERSION OF ST. PAUL. The Missionary conquest of the world for Christ.
What We Pray For:
The unity which all men desire in these dark days cannot be had apart from Jesus Christ; everyone who professes to be Christian admits this. But the unity which Christ offers is that of one fold and one shepherd. The Octave aims to secure for all men this unity of Christ.
As Fr. Paul said: "There is no other unity possible in the divine economy save that which is built upon the same foundation as the one on which Christ Jesus, the Lord and Master, founded His Church, and you know what that foundation is: . . . ‘And I say to thee that thou art Peter, and upon this Rock, I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven (by which He meant His Church) and whatever thou shalt bind upon earth shall be bound also in heaven, and whatever thou shalt loose upon earth shall be loosed also in heaven.’. . . When, therefore, you unite with us in the observance of the Unity Octave it should be to pray specifically that all those who, down through the centuries, have been separated from the Chair of Peter at Rome, may return to Catholic communion, that is to say, communion with the Apostolic See."
The Official Octave Prayer:
Form of Prayer Decreed by Pope Benedict XV to be recited daily during the Octave.
ANTIPHON. That they all may be One, as Thou, Father, in Me and I in Thee; that they also may be one in Us; that the world may believe that Thou has sent Me.
V. I say unto thee thou art Peter; R. And upon this Rock I will build my Church.
O Lord Jesus Christ, who saidst unto Thine Apostles: Peace I leave with you, My Peace I give unto you: regard not our sins, but the faith of Thy Church, and grant unto her that peace and unity which are agreeable to Thy will; Who livest and reignest God forever and ever. Amen.
(attached to official prayer)
Granted by rescript of December 10, 1946, by His Holiness, Pope Pius XII, through Nicola Cardinal Canali.
1. Partial indulgence of 800 days on each day of the Octave in any Church or public oratory where the exercise is performed.
2. Plenary indulgence under usual conditions at the completion of the Octave.
Lord Jesus, most gracious Saviour of the world, we humbly beg of Thee by Thy Most Sacred Heart, that all the sheep now wandering astray may be converted to Thee, the Shepherd and Bishop of their souls: Who livest and reignest world without end. Amen. (Raccolta, 625: 500 days)
Prayer to Our Lady Priest and People:
O Virgin Immaculate who was preserved by a singular privilege of grace from original sin look down with pity upon our separated brethren who are still your children and call them back to the Center of Unity. Many have, even from afar preserved a most tender devotion towards you, O Mother. Reward them for their devotion by obtaining for them the grace of conversion. Victorious over the powers of hell from the very first moment of your existence renew, now that the necessity is more urgent your triumphant progress, as in ages past. Glorify your Son,
O Mother by bringing back to the One Fold His straying sheep making them obedient to the guidance of the universal Shepherd who is His Vicar on earth. And may it be your glory, O Virgin Mary to banish error from the earth to put an end to disunity and to restore peace to the world. Amen. (Raccolta, 627: 500 days.)
Our Lady of the Atonement, intercede for us that there may be fulfilled the prayer of your divine Son: That all may be one.
Prayer to St. Peter:
O glorious Saint Peter, who, in return for thy lively and generous faith, thy profound and sincere humility, and thy burning love, wast honored by Jesus Christ with singular privileges, and in particular, with the leadership of the other Apostles and the primacy of the whole Church, of which thou wast made the foundation stone, do thou obtain for us the grace of a lively faith, that shall not fear to profess itself openly, in its entirety and in all of its manifestations, even to the shedding of blood, if occasion should demand it, and to the sacrifice of life itself in preference to surrender. Obtain for us likewise, a sincere loyalty to our holy mother, the Church; grant that we may ever remain most closely and sincerely united to the Roman Pontiff, who is the heir of thy faith and of thy authority, the one, true, visible Head of the Catholic Church, that mystic ark outside which there is no salvation. Grant, moreover, that we may follow, in all humility and meekness, her teaching and her counsels, and may be obedient to all her precepts, in order to be able here on earth to enjoy a peace that is sure and undisturbed, and to attain one day in heaven to everlasting happiness. Amen.
V. Pray for us, Saint Peter the Apostle, R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
LET US PRAY
O God, who hast given unto Thy blessed Apostle Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and the power to bind and loose: grant that we may be delivered, through the help of his intercession, from the bonds of all our sins: Who livest and reignest world without end. Amen. (Raccolta, 484: 500 days.)
How to observe the Octave:
1. Recite official prayer daily.
2. Assist at Mass and receive Communion daily.
3. Pray the Rosary daily for Unity.
4. Attend Octave exercises in parish church or parish in vicinity; bring non-Catholic friends with you.
5. Visit the Blessed Sacrament; make the Way of the Cross; perform spiritual and corporal works of mercy.
6. Offer daily action for Unity.
7. Read Catholic literature.
8. Give good example to Catholics and non-Catholics.
Imprimi Potest:Angelus F. Delahunt, S.A., Superior GeoeralNihil Obstat:Edward Haoahoe, S.A., Censor DeputatusImprimatur:X Francis Cardinal Spellman, Archbishop of New YorkThe Nihil Ohstat and Imprimatur are official declarations that a hook or pamphlet is free of doctrinal or moral error. No implication is contained therein that those who have granted the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur agree with the contents, opinions or statements expressed.
—THE CIRCUMCISION OF OUR LORD.
CIRCUMCISION was a sacrament of the Old Law, and the first legal observance required by Almighty God of the descendants of Abraham. It was a sacrament of initiation in the service of God, and a promise and engagement to believe and act as He had revealed and directed. The law of circumcision continued in force until the death of Christ, and Our Saviour being born under the law, it became Him, Who came to teach mankind obedience to the law of God, to fulfill all justice, and to submit to it. Therefore He was circumcised that He might redeem them that were under the law, by freeing them from the servitude of it; and that those who were in the condition of servants before might be set at liberty, and receive the adoption of sons in Baptism, which, by Christ's institution, succeeded to circumcision. On the day that the divine Infant was circumcised, He received the name of Jesus, which signifies SAVIOUR, which had been given Him by the angel before He was conceived. That name, so beautiful, so glorious, the divine Child does not wish to bear for one moment without fulfilling its meaning; even at the moment of His circumcision He showed Himself a SAVIOUR by shedding for us that blood a single drop of which is more than sufficient for the ransom and salvation of the whole world.
Reflection:—Let us profit by the circumstance of the new year, and of the wonderful renewal wrought in the world by the great mystery of this day, to renew in our hearts an increase of fervor and of generosity in the service of God. May this year be one of fervor and of progress! It will go by rapidly, like that which has just ended. If God permits us to see its end, how glad and happy we shall be to have passed it holily!
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
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 evermore experience the intercession in our behalf of her through whom we have been found worthy to receive the author of life, Our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.
(Collect from Traditional Latin Missal for Octave Day of Christmas)
WHAT ABOUT THE HOLY INNOCENTS?
After Mass I'm frequently trying to spend time in various discussions and answering questions that come up. I'll share a question that came up as regards the "Holy Innocents" and how it was the Church celebrates a special feast in their honor and memory when they were obviously not in reception of the Sacrament of Baptism which is necessary for salvation. Let's look a little at the background here, and then you'll quickly come to your own (Catholic) answer or conclusion.
We know that Our Lord was persecuted by men even as an infant (in the womb). Herod, in an effort to thwart the work and mission of the King of the Jews, (yes, Herod worried about job security!) commanded that the children of Bethlehem and vicinity (up to two years old) should be executed and killed. This relates directly to the prophecy of Jeremiah. The Communion verse for the Mass of the Holy Innocents (taken from Matthew 2:18): "A voice in Rama was heard, lamentation and great mourning: Rachel bewailing her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not." You recall perhaps that an angel had already warned St. Joseph to take the Child Jesus and His Mother to Egypt and remain there for awhile.
The Holy Innocents did not receive a "baptism of blood" as some would maintain, for the most obvious reason: baptism was not at that time necessary for salvation. The Holy Innocents died under the old law.
Baptism became necessary for salvation with the promulgation of the Holy Gospel and foundation of the Roman Catholic Church (the Church of the New Law) on Pentecost Sunday.
Since the foundation of the Church and promulgation of the Gospel, baptism
is now necessary for salvation.
Let this feast of the Holy Innocents, which we celebrated so soon after the wonderful joy of Christmas, remind us each that we must accept afflictions and problems in life. While you or I might not be called to shed our blood for Jesus, we must willingly resign ourselves to accept every trial in life, great and small. We must be thankful that we who are Catholic have the Cross in our lives: the Cross is frequently for us a tender sign of His great love, but also
a means to chastise us a bit. We should not be "in love" with this life so much!
I hope that you each keep the spirit of the Christ-Child and His martyred little brothers in your hearts.
Pray for those poor children and adults who do not know Jesus and His Church; pity the poor innocents today who do not become children of Jesus through baptism; pity the poor parents who shut Jesus and His Church out of their lives.