Posted by: fvbcdm | May 28, 2023

The Solemnity of Pentecost (28 May 2023)

Today we celebrate the great Solemnity of Pentecost.  It commemorates the day when, ten days after His Ascension into Heaven, our Divine Lord sent the Holy Spirit upon the infant Church and into the hearts of its individual members, and, as is always the case with our liturgical celebrations, the greatness of that great event is repeated for us in our world today.  Thus, those who celebrate the feast of Pentecost each year with devotion and sincere prayer receive graces similar to what the Apostles and Disciples received in that Upper Room in Jerusalem so long ago.

In that beautiful, old, venerable hymn called a sequence that we use in the Liturgy at Pentecost, we ask the Holy Spirit to “melt the frozen, warm the chill.”  Let us think about those words today.  Love has always been seen as warm.  We use words like ardor and fervor to indicate the warmth of love.  Ardor comes from a Latin word meaning “to burn.”  Fervor also comes from the Latin, it means “to boil,” like hot water.  A living body is warm.  A corpse is cold.  So we speak of the warmth of love, the coldness of indifference or hatred.

You might remember that when Dante wrote his classic, “The Divine Comedy,” he has Virgil leading Dante down the various passageways of Hell until they come to the very bottom, where Satan is eternally imprisoned.  And in what condition does Dante find the Prince of Devils?  He finds Him lying, bound on the surface of a frozen lake, suffering eternally from terrible cold.  This symbolizes His total lack of love of God and of the other angels and mankind.

So we ask the Spirit to “melt the frozen, warm the chill.”  Let’s apply that prayer to ourselves.  Do we treat some people with coldness?  indifference? hatred? lack of forgiveness if they have offended us or if we think they have offended us?  Do we close our hearts to some for one reason or another?  Do we fail to take seriously what we say in the “Our Father”—“forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”?  If our hearts are to be temples of the Holy Spirit, they must be warm with love. If they are cold, hostile, contemptuous of others, vindictive, that is a sure sign that we have made it impossible for the Spirit of the Living God to take up residence within our being. Thank you for seeking God’s truth.  God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  Father Brown composed this message some years ago. Please pray for the souls of the faithful departed, including Father Brown

Posted by: fvbcdm | April 15, 2023

Easter Saturday (15 Apr 2023)

This Sunday, the Sunday immediately following Easter Sunday, has been proclaimed to be the Sunday of Divine Mercy. Why? Because the gospel for this Sunday recalls the appearance of the risen Christ to his apostles and his conferring upon them the power to forgive sins.

We must always remember that Jesus came into this world to reopen the gates of heaven to the human race. Access to eternal life with God had been lost because of the sin of our first parents and then the subsequent sins of us, their offspring. But the whole reason why God created the human race was to share with us his goodness, love, and joy. He would certainly not have allowed human sin totally to wreck his tremendous plan of love. So God the Father, in consultation with the Son and the Spirit, sent the Son into the world as a human being so that he could represent this human race of ours, and suffer, die, and then rise again to bring about the salvation of humanity.

On Good Friday, we contemplated our Divine Lord dying on the cross. His last words were, “It is finished . . . Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Then he died. His death was redemptive and opened the gates of paradise for those deserving of it. So when he reappeared to his apostles and disciples after his resurrection, he immediately placed at their disposal and ours the benefits which he won for us by his cross and resurrection.

“Peace be with you,” he said to them. This peace of Christ is the harmony between God and man, made possible by Jesus our mediator. Then he breathed on them (in the ancient languages “breath” and “spirit” were thought of as being the same thing). And when he did this he said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit (the divine Breath of God); whose sins you forgive are forgiven; whose sins you retain are retained.” Forgiveness, pardon, and mercy are the prizes that Jesus has won by his terrible death and glorious resurrection. He springs out of the tomb and brings these tremendous gifts to us; they are made available in and through his Church and its ministers. Every time a priest or bishop hears sacramental confessions and gives absolution to the penitent sinner, he is dispensing the Mercy of God to that person. Jesus wants to forgive us even more than we want to be forgiven. It is his greatest joy to be able to reconcile us with our heavenly Father. That is why we call him our Savior, Redeemer, Mediator, and High Priest. All these titles are basically synonymous: they mean that Christ brings us back to God after we had been alienated.

Back in the 1930s, Our Lord appeared to the Polish nun, Saint Faustina. He instructed her to have a painting made of him in the form in which he appeared to her, and below the image were to be the words: Jesus, I trust in you. Let us make that our constant prayer, our constant reminder that only Christ can lead us safely through this life into eternal joy. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  Father Brown composed this message some years ago. Please pray for the souls of the faithful departed, including Father Brown

Posted by: fvbcdm | April 9, 2023

Catholic Message for Easter Sunday (9 Apr 2023)

Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday are, in a sense, one great Christian festival.  On Holy Saturday, those who love Our Lord heave a sigh of relief that his sufferings are over and he is resting in the tomb, on the divinely-instituted day of rest—the Sabbath.  As God the Creator rested on the first Saturday after creating the world, so God the Redeemer rested in the tomb on that Saturday after redeeming the world by his death on the cross.  We say, in the Apostles Creed, “He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.  He descended into hell—or, as a better translation has it, he descended to the dead—On the third day he rose again.  What does it mean that “he descended into hell”?  That is an English translation of the Latin term “ad inferos,” meaning “to the lower world.”  The soul of Our Lord did not go to the hell of the condemned, but rather to those who died in God’s grace before Jesus did. They awaited there the moment of his salvation. All the holy patriarchs, prophets, and virtuous people who lived from the time of the original sin until that day when Jesus died on the cross—all were eagerly awaiting his redemption. Now, he goes to announce to them that their waiting is over and very soon they will be with him in heaven. So soon, in fact, that when he spoke to the good thief on the cross beside his own, he said, “THIS DAY, you will be with me in Paradise.”

Then the day of rest ended with the setting of the sun that Saturday night. Not only did the sun set upon one day, but upon the Old Testament; it rose to the New Testament of the resurrected Christ. Imagine the joy that Saint Joseph, who would have been among those who waited, experienced when Our Lord came to bring the good news. And then let us try to imagine the immense happiness that flooded the immaculate heart of Our Lady when the newly-risen Christ came to her on that first Easter morning. The first annunciation had caused her to be deeply disturbed, as Saint Luke’s gospel tells us. The archangel has to reassure her: “Mary, do not be afraid.”  But this time, there is no disturbance, no need for reassurance.  This ineffably beautiful son of hers whom she literally adores for he is God, is the most thrilling thing she has ever seen as he stands before her and, no doubt, embraces her in all the glory of his new life.  She is transformed into one exultant cry: “Alleluia”!

Let us unite ourselves with the joy of the Mother of God as she, and we, celebrate the resurrection of Our Savior into the new life which he shares with us. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  Father Brown composed this message some years ago. Please pray for the souls of the faithful departed, including Father Brown.

Posted by: fvbcdm | April 8, 2023

Good Friday (7 Apr 2023)

When we read the four accounts of Our Lord’s crucifixion according to the four evangelists — Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John — we find that they report seven statements made by Jesus while hanging in agony on the cross. Saints Matthew and Mark report only one: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” In and of itself, it seems to be a cry of despair, of deep depression and distress. It certainly is a cry of distress, but not of despair at all.  It is the opening line of the 22nd psalm, with which all devout Jews were totally familiar since the psalms were their principal prayer-book. If you read the entire psalm which is implied by Our Lord’s quoting the first line, you will find an almost photographic image of Christ dying in agony on the cross, but it ends in a great affirmation of hope and love of God: “God reigns, the ruler of nations! And my soul will live for him . . . men will proclaim the Lord to generations still to come, his righteousness to a people yet unborn.” So we do have Our Lord crying out in deep suffering but certainly not in despair of his Father’s love and support.

Saint Luke reports three of the “seven last words of Christ” as they are called. Jesus says, probably as they are nailing him to the cross and causing him indescribable pain:  “Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.” These men are visiting terrible suffering upon him, and Jesus is praying for their forgiveness and salvation.  After all, it is for them as well as for all others that he is undergoing this terrible ordeal. (And for us, too; let us never forget that.) Then, when the thief crucified next to Our Lord says to Jesus: “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom,” Our Lord answers with the most sublime and sovereign assurance: “This day you will be with me in Paradise.” Not at all the cry of a despairing man, but rather the statement of total confidence in the magnificently successful outcome of that which Jesus is accomplishing on the cross. And then finally, Saint Luke tells us that when Our Lord chose to bring his saving sufferings to a close, he prayed his last loving prayer to his Father: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” In eternity, the Word — the Son — is begotten by the Father.  In time, he receives his human spirit or soul from the Father.  Now, the Word gives this human soul of his back into the Father’s keeping until it is reunited with his body a few hours later at the moment of the resurrection. And by his own deliberate choice, he dies.

Then Saint John, too, reports three utterances of Our Savior from the pulpit of the cross.  Looking down at those standing at the foot of the cross, Jesus sees his Virgin Mother and his beloved apostle, Saint John. To make provision for his mother until her assumption into heaven, Our Lord says to her, “Woman, behold your son.” And to Saint John: “Behold your mother.” Devout Christians from that time until now have seen in this giving of John to Mary and Mary to John more than just an arrangement between those two whom Jesus loved so much. Saint John represents the entire human race at the foot of the cross, and Jesus says to him and to us:  Behold your mother, and to her:  behold your sons and daughters. He is in the act of saving the world and making all of us his children by grace and adoption.  And thus, he wants us to have this incomparable mother of his to be ours, too.  She becomes the Mother of the Church, the Mother of all the Living.

Then Saint John tells us that Jesus said, “I thirst.”  This is to fulfill scripture, as John says. He probably had in mind the 22nd psalm which Jesus had quoted earlier. Describing his terrible torture of thirst, the psalmist says: “My palate is drier than a potsherd and my tongue is stuck to my jaw.”  And in their vicious cruelty, his executioners give him vinegar to drink.

He has come to the end of his great mission, the purpose for which he came into our world, and he gasped and choked out his very last words:  “It is finished.” His atonement for our sins has been accomplished. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  Father Brown composed this message some years ago. Please pray for the souls of the faithful departed, including Father Brown.

Posted by: fvbcdm | April 6, 2023

Holy Thursday (6 Apr 2023)

Holy Thursday is always a very special day for us priests, since it is the anniversary of Our Lord’s institution of the Holy Eucharist and the sacrament of Holy Orders — the two sacraments which give to us our identity and purpose as Catholic priests.

Satan, who has been so active in the past forty or so years in his attacks upon the Church, has sown the seeds of doubt in the value of the Eucharist. And doubt, of course, leads to neglect, to abuse, and then to loss of faith and the loss of human souls. Nothing could please Satan more. If statistics can be believed, many Catholics nowadays claim to believe that the Eucharist is only a symbol of Christ, and thus they deny the Real Presence and the fact that any substantial change takes place in the bread and the wine when the words of consecration are spoken over them.

If the Holy Eucharist is merely symbolic, why bother attending Mass? If I believed that it is only symbolic, I would never have become a priest; I would not continue in my priesthood now, and I would give up my Catholic faith since the Eucharist is the very heart of Catholicism.

But, fortunately for all of us, the Holy Eucharist is not merely symbolic. It is very real. “This is my body,” Jesus assures us. “This is the cup of my blood.” That remains profoundly true, despite the errors of many today, despite the falling away from the Catholic faith on the part of many, despite the way some people dress and behave in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament and despite the fact that they often receive it in the state of serious sin, thus committing the grave sin of sacrilege.

Be all that as it may, Our Divine Lord, on the night before he died, instituted the Holy Eucharist and gave to his apostles and their successors the fullness of the priesthood so that they could bring the Eucharist into being among his people until the end of time. One of those apostles was Saint Peter, the rock upon which Christ built his church. That church will last forever, and will continue to make Christ present among his people in the Eucharist until the end of time. You and I have the great advantage of believing that, and of receiving the Eucharist with deep faith, devotion, and gratitude all our lives. Join me in celebrating these two great sacraments on this very special day when we observe Christ’s precious gifts to us.  Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  Father Brown composed this message some years ago. Please pray for the souls of the faithful departed, including Father Brown.

Posted by: fvbcdm | April 2, 2023

Catholic Message for the Palm Sunday (2 Apr 2023) 

On the Sunday morning after the dinner party given for Jesus in Bethany, He entered the Holy City of Jerusalem in a distinctly unique way.  First, he sent some of his apostles to borrow a donkey from an acquaintance. This must have struck them as odd; they had entered Jerusalem many times together, but probably never on a donkey, so that He can ride into the city. They had gone into Jerusalem many time before, always on foot. Why the donkey now? But even before getting into the city, they had to cross the brow of the Mount of Olives, a hill to the east of the city, to contemplate the beautiful view of the Holy City, gleaming in the morning sunshine of a fine spring day. They were Jews; this was their capital city. But more than that, this was their HOLY city where God dwelt with His people. The temple stood there in its glory, proclaiming to the whole world the sovereignty of the Jewish God Yahweh. They paused there to contemplate the scene; it made them proud and happy.  All but Jesus, that is.  He wept and said, “Oh, Jerusalem, if only you had realized your opportunity! I would have gathered you to myself as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you rejected me. And therefore, you will be destroyed, with not one stone left upon another.” 

Having said this, he went flip-flopping down the steep Mount of Olives, across Kidron brook, which was probably dry and up into the city. Then something unusual thing happened.  People gave Jesus a royal welcome, probably because he had recently raised Lazarus from the dead. They stripped branches from the trees and put them in His path.  They even laid articles of clothing along the road, in their simple attempt at a red-carpet treatment. And they shouted “Hosanna to the Son of David.” That would be equivalent to their saying “Hooray for the promised Savior.”  And then, “Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord.” When His enemies heard the shouting, they said to Him, “You hear what they are shouting?  Make them stop.” That is, make them stop using Messianic titles in reference to you. Jesus answered very powerfully: if they were to stop, the very stones would cry out.  When Christ enters Jerusalem to die there for the salvation of the world, He must be acclaimed and welcomed, even by stones, if human voices will not acclaim Him. 

The reason why Jesus chose to enter the city on a donkey was to fulfil the prophecy of Zecariah who foretold that the Savior would come riding upon a donkey, the symbol of humility because poor people used donkeys, and the symbol of peace, since donkeys are no good in battle, being as slow, small, and unresponsive to human command as they are.  So the Savior—poor, humble, and a man of peace, comes to this Holy City, accepts the Messianic titles of the Crowds and prepares for His death in less than a week.  The people gave Our Lord the red-carpet treatment by strewing branches of trees and even articles of their clothing in the streets before Him. And so do we celebrate Palm Sunday by way of welcoming our Savior into our lives, coming as He is to accomplish our salvation.  Thank you for seeking God’s truth.  God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P. 

Note:  Father Brown composed this message some years ago. Please pray for the souls of the faithful departed, including Father Brown. 

Posted by: fvbcdm | March 20, 2023

The Solemnity of Saint Joseph (20 Mar 2023)

We penetrate more deeply into the holy season of Lent and will soon be celebrating in our liturgies the great events of Our Lord’s suffering, death, and resurrection.  But before that occurs, we have one last joyful solemnity to brighten the dark days of Jesus’s passion, and that is the Solemnity of St. Joseph.

I’m afraid that Saint Joseph is more-or-less forgotten among contemporary Catholics. That’s a great pity, because his example and his intercession are very powerful means of sanctity.  A number of the later saints have had great devotion to him, which is quite natural when you consider his place in salvation history.

We know little of Saint Joseph’s origins except that Saint Matthew tells us in his gospel that Joseph was of the tribe of Judah and the house of David, and that his father was a man named Jacob — not the third of the great patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but a much later person named for him.  Both Saints Matthew and Luke tell us that Joseph had been engaged to Mary, the young maiden of Nazareth, but that before they were actually married, she had conceived Our Divine Lord by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit.  Not knowing this, and realizing that his fiancee was pregnant, Joseph was at a loss as to what to do.  He decided that the best way out of this dilemma was simply to break off the engagement without bringing any legal charges against his fiancee, of whom he could not suspect any sinful behavior, but whose child was not his.  At this point, God steps into the picture, assures Joseph that Mary is carrying the Son of God, and that Joseph was indeed to marry her and give to the child a legal name and identity. Saint Matthew tells us that although they had not had intercourse, Our Lady gives birth to her son.  And Saint Luke reports her as saying to the angel of the annunciation: How can this be, for I do not know man?  From these scriptural statements, and under the guidance of the Spirit, the Church has always taught the perpetual virginity of Our Lady and the celibacy of the pair during the entire course of their marriage.

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph lived together in the peace and holiness of their Nazareth home for at least the 13 years until Our Lord was 12 years old and we find Our Lady and Saint Joseph searching for him on a trip to Jerusalem when he remained in the city without telling them.  We are not sure when Saint Joseph died, but surely before Our Lord’s crucifixion, since Jesus entrusted his mother to Saint John while hanging on the cross.  In any case, Saint Joseph was closer to Jesus and Mary than any other human being on earth, and is the patron of the universal church, since he governed the holy family in Nazareth, and of a happy death, since he presumably died in the presence of Jesus and Mary.  Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  Father Brown composed this message some years ago.  Please pray for the souls of the faithful departed, including Father Brown.

The 11th of February is the anniversary of two interesting events as far as we Catholics are concerned.

On February 11, 1858, Our Blessed Mother appeared to a 14-year-old peasant girl named Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes, in the Pyrenees mountains in southwestern France. It was the first of eighteen apparitions, during which she and the enraptured teenager recited the Rosary together (the beautiful lady in the grotto where the apparitions occurred recited the Our Father’s and Glory Be’s, and then listened with obvious delight as the child recited the Hail Mary’s.) The beautiful lady, whose identity wasn’t yet known, told Bernadette that she wanted processions to come to the spot, that she wanted a chapel built there, and then she instructed Bernadette to drink from the spring and wash there. When she mentioned “the spring,” Our Lady pointed to a spot on the riverbank where Bernadette was kneeling. There was no visible spring there, so Bernadette went to the river thinking that that was what the beautiful young woman meant. “No; not the river. The spring,” the Lady said and again pointed to a spot where no water was to be seen. So Bernadette began to dig with her hands into the soil. The small hole that she dug filled with water which began to flow. It is flowing to this day. And that water, although frequently analyzed and found to be perfectly ordinary mountain spring water, has been the occasion of a number of miraculous cures.

On the feast of the Annunciation, March 25, the lady finally answered Bernadette’s question, repeated several times because of the request of her family, friends, and even the parish priest. She said, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” Bernadette didn’t know what that meant.  Just four years earlier, Pope Blessed Pius IX had defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of Jesus. Now, this entrancingly beautiful young woman in the grotto was telling Bernadette and the world that she was that immaculately conceived mother of our Redeemer. Lourdes has become the greatest and most popular shrine in the Catholic world, attracting millions annually who go there to worship Our Divine Lord, the son of the immaculate virgin, to venerate her, to form processions, pray the rosary, and drink from the spring water and wash there.

Then, on February 11, 1929, the Lateran Treaty was signed by representatives of the Italian government and Pope Pius XI bringing into existence a tiny new nation, but of immense importance. The new nation is called Vatican City State; it is located within the city of Rome, but is an independent country ruled by the Pope. It importance is due to the fact that between 1860 and 1870, the emerging nation of Italy robbed the Church of its territories in the Italian peninsula so as to incorporate them into the newly unified nation of Italy. In protest against this gross injustice, the Pope withdrew into the walls of the Vatican and refused to recognize the legitimacy of the state of Italy. The Italian people, most of whom were and are Catholic, were caught in the conflict between their Church and their nation. This unhappy situation lasted for some sixty years, until the Pope proposed to Mussolini, the premier of Italy, the solution that has proven to be so successful. The Church now recognizes the legitimacy of Italy; the little enclave around Saint Peter’s basilica on the west bank of the Tiber in Rome is an independent country of which the Pope is sole ruler, and the two nations recognize each other’s rights and territories.

Most of us think that Vatican City State has existed for centuries, as long as the ancient buildings which are treasure-houses of art, have been there. But the little independent country is only [94] years old this year, and has proven to be a great success of diplomacy and political justice. Thank you for seeking God’s truth.  God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  This Message was composed some years ago.

Posted by: fvbcdm | January 8, 2023

The Solemnity of the Epiphany (8 Jan 2023) 

When Christmas and New Year’s Day fall on Sundays, unusual things happen to the religious calendar.  And therefore, today which is Sunday, January 8th, is the solemnity of the Epiphany; tomorrow, Monday, January 9th, the feast of the Baptism of Our Lord, and then on Tuesday we go back to the ordinary time of the Church year which we haven’t experienced since November 26th.   

The word “epiphany” comes from the Greek meaning “manifestation,” and refers to the multiple manifestations of Our Divine Lord in his human nature to the world.  If you will study the history of this Solemnity of Epiphany, you’ll find that it is older than Christmas itself since it was universally celebrated before the celebration of Our Lord’s birth became widespread.  You will also find that the Epiphany has three elements: the coming of the Magi to the infant Christ in Bethlehem; the Baptism of Our Lord in the Jordan River by Saint John the Baptist, and the beginning of Our Lord’s miracles when he changed water into wine at the wedding feast in Cana, a town in Galilee near Nazareth.   We know that our Lord’s baptism and the beginning of his public life took place when he was about thirty years old, whereas the coming of the magi occurred when he was just a baby.  How did these three events get grouped together in one celebration of “manifestation,” spanning such a long period?  It is because God our Father wanted to show to the entire world this divine son of his who was and is called “Jesus of Nazareth.”  When the pagan, non-Jewish magi were led by a miraculous star to Bethlehem, they represented their own pagan, Gentile world being brought to acknowledge Christ.  When the voice of God the Father and the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove bore witness to Our Lord in the Jordan River, Jesus was manifested to his own Jewish people who were disciples of Saint John the Baptist.  And then, shortly after that, when Our Lord turned water into wine, we are told that his own twelve apostles saw what was happening and they came to believe in him.  They were Jews, but they were destined to preach to the entire world, Jew and Gentile alike.  Therefore their faith in Jesus was essential. 

Another very important element of the Epiphany is this: of the three events which we celebrate, two of them have very close connections with Our Blessed Mother.  The magi find the infant Christ WITH MARY HIS MOTHER.  Saint Matthew didn’t have to include those words in his gospel, but he did.  The miraculous star led them to where they would find the newborn King of the Jews WITH MARY HIS MOTHER.  Thus Our Lady is seen to be the patroness of the manifestation of her divine Son to the world.  And then, when she and Our Lord and his apostles had been invited to the wedding feast at Cana, it is she, with a woman’s and mother’s concern, notices a problem, and says quietly to Our Lord, “They have no wine.”  What she really means is “Do something to save this bride and groom and their families the embarrassment of running out of refreshment at their reception.” And as we know, our Lord does something stupendous: he produces between 120 and 180 gallons of wine—far more than a small-town wedding feast could need, especially after the guests had already drunk what had been provided. In scripture, wine is often used as a symbol for joy and gladness.  Thus in addition to the simply historical fact of the water-to-wine story, we have Our Lady using her influence over Our Lord to provide a GREAT DEAL of joy and happiness in the context of human love and marriage. 

At the beginning of his public life, Our Lord turns water into wine.  At its end, he changes wine into his own blood, as he continues to do every day at Mass, giving us endless cause for happiness and joy.     Thank you for seeking God’s truth.  God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P. 

Note:  This Message was composed some years ago. 

Posted by: fvbcdm | January 1, 2023

The Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God (1 Jan 2023) 

I come this morning to wish you a blessed new year as the world begins this year of [2023]. It is somewhat odd to reflect that during the space of just about 50 years, the Church has celebrated the first of January under three different aspects.  For centuries, it was called the feast of the Circumcision of Our Lord.  Then it began to be called the Octave Day of Christmas.  And now, it is the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God. 

The celebration of the Circumcision of Jesus carries with it a great deal of meaning. First of all, it means that Our Lord is a Jew, since the Jewish law requires that baby boys be circumcised on the eighth day of their lives to begin their observance of the law of Moses.  It was in most cases the first time that their blood was shed since circumcision is a surgical procedure.  And in the case of Our Lord, it is very meaningful since he came into the world to save humankind with his own precious Blood. Then, that day was the time when the boy was officially given his name, as we do at Baptism. Both Our Lady and Saint Joseph were told by God in no uncertain terms that this baby miraculously conceived by Our Lady and adopted by her husband, Saint Joseph, was to be called “Jesus.” The name means in Hebrew “God is savior.” Thus when the infant Christ is eight days old, he becomes a member of God’s chosen people, his blood is shed for the first time and foreshadows his sufferings and death on the cross, and his divinely chosen name is given to him whereby he becomes Jesus, God-is-savior. 

Today we begin the new year in the most Holy Name of Jesus, our Jewish Messiah and Savior. And because he is both man and God, we celebrate his holy mother as the Mother of God.  It is a title which for the first years of the Church was the source of controversy. How could any human being be the mother of God?  But eventually the dispute was laid to rest by the infallible declaration of the Church: she IS the Mother of God, and that profound title was incorporated into the Hail Mary:  Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners. 

So again, I wish you a blessed new year; I invoke the Holy Name of Jesus upon you and those you love, and ask that you venerate the Mother of God, and that she in turn pray for you to her divine Son who is God.  Thank you for seeking God’s truth.  God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P. 

Note:  This Message was composed some years ago. 

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