We have many reasons to be happy! Today is not only the first day of the year, it is also the Solemnity of Circumcision of Our Lord and the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God – our Lady’s greatest title. A solemnity is a feast day of the highest rank in the liturgical calendar of the Roman Rite, celebrating a mystery of faith (such as the Trinity, an event in the life of Jesus, or in this case, Jesus’ and our mother Mary). This feast is the octave of Christmas. In the modern Roman Calendar, only Christmas and Easter enjoy the privilege of an octave – an eight-day long observance.
“Mary, the all-holy ever-virgin Mother of God, is the masterwork of the mission of the Son and the Spirit in the fullness of time. For the first time in the plan of salvation and because his Spirit had prepared her, the Father found the dwelling place where his Son and his Spirit could dwell among men. In this sense the Church’s Tradition has often read the most beautiful texts on wisdom in relation to Mary. Mary is acclaimed and represented in the liturgy as the “Seat of Wisdom.” — Catechism of the Catholic Church 721.
Those who attended our Christmas Midnight Mass received an indulgence. Today, a plenary indulgence may be gained as well. What is an indulgence you ask? Indulgences have been a part of Catholic devotional life for centuries. They can be often misunderstood, but they are deeply rooted in Sacred Scripture and Church teaching. They should inspire us to live a more fruitful and holy life, thereby leading us to more intimate union with Christ and His Church. By an indulgence, God grants that through the prayer of the Church, the temporal penalty of sin owed to someone be eliminated. Participation in a prayer or action that has an indulgence attached to it brings about the necessary reconciliation without the suffering that would normally accompany it. The devotional and charitable practices that we undertake must be accompanied with the intention of making the needed reparation. Today the action is reciting or singing the hymn Veni Creator Spiritus on this first day of the year. This hymn is one of the most widely used hymns in the Church and is traditionally sung for beginnings of things, calling on the Holy Spirit before endeavoring something new. What a wonderful way to begin 2017!
Come, Holy Spirit, Creator blest,
and in our souls take up Thy rest;
come with Thy grace and heavenly aid
to fill the hearts which Thou hast made.
O comforter, to Thee we cry,
O heavenly gift of God Most High,
O fount of life and fire of love,
and sweet anointing from above.
Thou in Thy sevenfold gifts are known;
Thou, finger of God’s hand we own;
Thou, promise of the Father, Thou
Who dost the tongue with power imbue.
Kindle our sense from above,
and make our hearts o’erflow with love;
with patience firm and virtue high
the weakness of our flesh supply.
Far from us drive the foe we dread,
and grant us Thy peace instead;
so shall we not, with Thee for guide,
turn from the path of life aside.
Oh, may Thy grace on us bestow
the Father and the Son to know;
and Thee, through endless times confessed,
of both the eternal Spirit blest.
Now to the Father and the Son,
Who rose from death, be glory given,
with Thou, O Holy Comforter,
henceforth by all in earth and heaven. Amen.
God Blessing on your New Year!