Sunday, January 1, 2012

On the Feast of the Presentation

From Abbot Gueranger, O.S.B.
in the Liturgical Year

Our new-born King and Saviour is eight days old today; 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.  Today the Son of Man is to be circumcised; this first sacrifice of His innocent Flesh must honour the eighth day of His mortal life.  Today 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 party 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 (* The Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus is celebrated tomorrow, January 2nd!), 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 today 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 order to pays her tribute of homage to her who has given us our Emmanuel.  She consecrates to Mary, the first day after Christmas, that is December 26th, 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 27th.

But it is today 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, He 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.

Collect for the day's Mass:

O God, who by the fruitful Virginity of 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.

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