Category Archives: Sacred Liturgy

Holy Family Feast

holyfamToday the liturgical calendar for the Traditional Latin Mass observes the Feast of the Holy Family. In addition to the important theological and liturgical considerations, this feast day is special to the members of the Saint Gregory Society because in 1986 we had a solemn Mass initiating the work of the Society.

Something to pray about:

Christ’s human family is made holy by his presence in its midst. The primary lesson of the feast of the Holy Family, as celebrated within Christmastide, lies here. Just as the incarnate only begotten Son of God makes his family holy, so he wants to make our families holy as well. This purpose fits with the whole economy of salvation by which he comes to share our humanity in order to accomplish something that is completely beyond our capacities, namely, that, sharing in his divinity, we become children of the Father. The feast of the Holy Family is not simply intended to present an example to be imitated or a model to be reproduced, but the possibility of Christ’s transforming grace made actual in our own families.  When approving the feast of the Holy Family, Pope Leo XIII wrote: “When a merciful God determined to complete the work of human reparation which the world had awaited throughout long ages, He so established and designed the whole, that from its very inception, it would show to the world the sublime pattern of a divinely constituted family. In this [Holy Family] all men should see the perfect example of domestic unity, and of all virtues and holiness” (Neminem Fugit, 14 June 1892, §1).

Archbishop J. Augustine DiNoia, O.P.
Vice President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei
Homily excerpt for the Feast of the Holy Family, 2016

Epiphany

EpiphanyIn the traditional form of our faith the Church celebrates the Epiphany on January 6th. The homage paid to the Holy Infant demonstrates that unbelievers, reading the signs given by God, point directly to Jesus as God-man, the promised Messiah, the King of Kings.

In a sermon Pope Saint Leo the Great taught:

“This is the day that David prophesied in the psalms, when he said: All the nations that you have brought into being will come and fall down in adoration in your presence, Lord, and glorify your name. Again, the Lord has made known his salvation; in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.

“This came to be fulfilled, as we know, from the time when the star beckoned the three wise men out of their distant country and led them to recognise and adore the King of heaven and earth. The obedience of the star calls us to imitate its humble service: to be servants, as best we can, of the grace that invites all men to find Christ.”

Saint Bonaventure reflects: “At the time of the Lord’s birth in Bethlehem of Judea, a star appeared to the Magi in the East, and its guiding light showed them the way to the humble King’s abode. Do not you yourself turn away from the brightness of this orient star that shows you the way, but rather, joining the holy kings, accept the testimony of the Jewish Scriptures concerning Christ and defeat Herod’s malice. With gold, frankincense, and myrrh, pay homage to Christ the King, truly God and truly human. In company with the first fruits of the Gentiles called to faith, adore, confess, and praise this humble God, who lies in a crib, and then, warned in a dream not to imitate Herod’s pride, return to your land in the footsteps of the humble Christ” (The Tree of Life, 6).

The image is a portion of a fresco, attributed to Giotto, c. 1315-20,  in the lower basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi.

Holy Name of Jesus

IHSToday, is the feast  of the Most Holy Name of Jesus. Historically, in 1721, Pope Innocent XIII implemented this feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus following upon the revelation of Scripture on the Holy Name, the consistent teaching of the Magisterium, preaching of the saints, like Saint Bernard, Saint Bernardin of Siena , and Saint Ignatius of Loyola.

Several points in Scripture come to mind:

Zechariah 10:21: “I will strengthen them in the Lord, and they shall walk in His Name, says the Lord.”

I John 3:23: “And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the Name of his Son Jesus Christ: and love one another, as He hath given commandment unto us.”

Revelation: 3:8: “I know your works. Behold, I have given you a door opened, which no man can shut: because you have little strength, and have kept my word, and have not denied My Name.”

The Introit for the Mass today gives us the key to understanding: In the name of Jesus let every knee bow of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth; and let every tongue confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father (Phil. 2:10-11). O Lord our Lord, how wonderful is thy name in the whole earth! (Ps. 8:2).

Consider these words preached by Saint Bernard:

The sweet name of Jesus produces in us holy thoughts, fills the soul with noble sentiments, strengthens virtue, begets good works, and nourishes pure affections. All spiritual food leaves the soul dry, if it contain not that penetrating oil, the name Jesus. When you take your pen, write the name Jesus: if you write books, let the name of Jesus be contained in them, else they will possess no charm or attraction for me; you may speak, or you may reply, but if the name of Jesus sounds not from your lips, you are without unction and without charm. Jesus is honey in our mouth, light in our eyes, a flame in our heart. This name is the cure for all diseases of the soul. Are you troubled? think but of Jesus, speak but the name of Jesus, the clouds disperse, and peace descends anew from heaven. Have you fallen into sin? so that you fear death? invoke the name of Jesus, and you will soon feel life returning. No obduracy of the soul, no weakness, no coldness of heart can resist this holy name; there is no heart which will not soften and open in tears at this holy name. Are you surrounded by sorrow and danger? invoke the name of Jesus, and your fears will vanish. Never yet was human being in urgent need, and on the point of perishing, who invoked this help-giving name, and was not powerfully sustained. It was given us for the cure of all our ills; to soften the impetuosity of anger, to quench the fire of concupiscence, to conquer pride, to mitigate the pain of our wounds, to overcome the thirst of avarice, to quiet sensual passions, and the desires of low pleasures. If we call to our minds the name of Jesus, it brings before us His most meek and humble heart, and gives us a new knowledge of His most loving and tender compassion. The name of Jesus is the purest, and holiest, the noblest and most indulgent of names, the name of all blessings and of all virtues; it is the name of the God-Man, of sanctity itself. To think of Jesus is to think of the great, infinite God Who, having given us His life as an example, has also bestowed the necessary understanding, energy and assistance to enable us to follow and imitate Him, in our thoughts, inclinations, words and actions. If the name of Jesus reaches the depths of our heart, it leaves heavenly virtue there. We say, therefore, with our great master, St. Paul the Apostle: If any man love not our Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema (I Cor. 16:22).

Our devotional life can only be enhanced with the praying of the Litany of the Holy Name of Jesus.

The image used herewith is one you have seen in many churches, schools and retreat centers, on vestments, and other religious objects, the letters “IHS.” (Pope Francis’s coat of arms includes this seal and these letters.) These are the first three letters of Jesus’s name as it appears in Greek, the original language of the New Testament: Ἰησοῦς (Iesous.) IHΣΟΥΣ would be the capitalized form, so the iota, eta, and sigma are also capitalized in the abbreviation, the Latinate version of which is “IHS.”

Circumcision of Our Lord

Circumcision Fra Filippo LippiToday is the octave day of Christmas and the liturgical observance of the Lord receiving circumcision according to the Law of Moses. In the West, various saints and liturgical texts attest to this feast as being in existence early in our Church history. We know that the local Council of Tours (AD 567) prescribed this feast. By the eighth century the Byzantine Church put the Circumcision on the calendar.

In the Torah all Jewish males are required to follow this first legal observance. In sacred Scripture we read:

This is my covenant which you shall observe between me and you, and thy seed after thee: All the male-kind of you shall be circumcised. And you shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin, that it may be for a sign of the covenant between me and you. An infant of eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every manchild in your generations: he that is born in the house, as well as the bought servant, shall be circumcised (Genesis 17:10-12).

Scholars will speak of circumcision as a sacrament of the former dispensation; it is an Old Testament type for Catholic sacramentality. Following the line of thinking of Saint Hilary of Poiters, Jesus had no need for circumcision but that we need this act of conforming to the Law of God. Jesus was circumcised so that He might redeem those who were under the law. Thus, after the Incarnation, the Lord’s circumcision was the initial gesture that freed us from the Mosaic Law opening the door to sacrament of Baptism granting forgiveness of Original Sin, becoming adopted  sons and daughters of God, and becoming members of the Church (Cf. Gal. 4:5). The Lord demonstrates that Baptism is necessary for salvation. This physical act is the Lord’s first shedding of blood for the new covenant.

Also central to today’s Liturgy is Mary’s following of the Divine command to name her infant son, Jesus (meaning: God saves). The Archangel Gabriel specified the name of the Incarnate Word of God and Mary and Joseph follow what was revealed. Thus, we honor the Holy Name of Jesus (a fuller liturgical observance will be on January 3).

Let us pray. Almighty God, whose only-begotten Son on this day received bodily circumcision, lest He should break the law which He came to fulfil, purify your minds by spiritual circumcision from every allurement of vice, and pour into you his own blessing. Amen.