Sunday, January 3, 2016

Crazy Christmas Calendar and the Holy Name of Jesus

The two holy days that are most annoying for me (in terms of their placement in the new liturgical calendar of the Church) are the feasts of the Epiphany and the Ascension. Moving those feasts to the nearest Sunday is just…well…diabolical, really. In particular, I struggle with this issue at this time of the year – the Christmas season – when I am not able to travel far afield to find a decent celebration of the feasts of the old calendar.

We can’t say whether the intentions of those who made the changes were anti-Church or anti-God, but the effects certainly would fit in with Satan’s plans. The rescheduling of those feasts (and others) diminishes and impoverishes our Catholic heritage.

This time of year is particularly annoying, because they also messed with the feast days in the Octave of Christmas. First, they shove the Holy Family in there where it should simply be the Sunday within the Octave. Then they rename the Octave day of Christmas, and instead of honoring and meditating on the meaning of the Circumcision of Our Lord, we instead have our attention focused on Mary, Mother of God. Now, I’m all for Marian feasts, and most of the time I am able to travel to an EF Mass for those. But why do you suppose they wanted to change the Circumcision of Our Lord? (A friend suggested that “all of a sudden, they got squeamish about male infantile genitalia”. Ha! It certainly seems so.) I saw a comment somewhere on FaceBook noting that it’s easier to write a homily about Mary than about circumcision. But there really is much to say about the Circumcision of Our Lord – why it was done, what it symbolizes for us, etc. Priests who read the old Divine Office probably have plenty of ideas for homilies on this particular feast.

The Sunday between the Circumcision and the Epiphany is, in the old calendar, the feast of The Most Holy Name of Jesus! Gone! Just like that! What more could Satan ask for?! We don’t keep this feast at all in the new calendar, except as an “optional memorial”. The Holy Name is tied up inextricably with the Circumcision, and St. Bernard of Clairvaux has no trouble finding something to say about it. In the 9th reading at Vigils last night, we hear from St. Bernard:

It is no wonder that it should be at His circumcision that the Name of Jesus (which is, being interpreted, Saviour) is given to the Child Who is born unto us, for it was then that He for the first time shed that sinless Blood Which is the mean whereby He hath chosen to work out our salvation. It is no matter for the speculation of Christians why the Lord Christ was pleased to be circumcised. He was circumcised for the same reason for which He was born, and for which He suffered. Neither one nor the other was for Himself, but all for the sake of the elect. He was not born in sin; He was not circumcised to separate Him from sin; neither did He die for sins of His own, but for ours. Which was so named of the Angel before He was conceived in the womb. The Angel indeed gave Him that title of Saviour, but not for the first time. Saviour is His Name from everlasting; He hath it of His own proper nature to save. This title He hath in Himself, not by the gift of anything that He hath made, be it man or Angel.

The passage from Philippians (2:5-11) has always stirred my soul.

For let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man, He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross. For which cause God also hath exalted him, and hath given him a name which is above all names: That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth: And that every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father.

Why should we not dedicate a feast day to the Holy Name of Jesus?!

At least the powers that be in the Church have not yet decreed that Christmas itself be moved to the nearest Sunday! I can take some comfort in that, I suppose.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me!

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