Martyrology - 1st January
The morrow is the Octave of the Birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, upon the which day is commemorated His Circumcision.
Upon the same 1st day of January, were born into the better life:
At Rome, the holy martyr Almachius, who was slain by gladiators (about the year 404) at the command of Alpius, prefect of the city, because he said: "This is the Octave of the Lord's Birth, cease from your idolatrous superstitions, and your unclean sacrifices." Likewise at Rome, upon the Appian Way, thirty holy soldiers who were crowned with martyrdom, under the Emperor Diocletian.
Likewise at Rome, the holy virgin Martina, who was put to diverse torments, under the Emperor Alexander, and at length gained the crown of martyrdom by the sword, whose feast we keep upon the 30th day of the month of January.
At Spoleto, in the time of the Emperor Antonine, the holy martyr, the priest Concordius. He was first cudgelled, then racked, and afterwards suffered imprisonment wherein he was comforted by a visit of angels, and at length was delivered from this life by the sword.
On the same day, the holy martyr Magnus.
At Caesarea, in Cappadocia, the burial of the holy Basil, bishop of Caesarea (in the year 379), whose feast we keep upon the 14th day of June. Which is the day whereon he was ordained a bishop.
In Africa, blessed Fulgentius, bishop of the Church of Ruspa (in the year 508), who at the time of the persecution under the Vandals, suffered much at the hands of the Arians because of his Catholic faith, and his eminent teaching. He was exiled to Sardinia (in the year 510); but was at length (in the year 523) allowed to return to his own church, where (in the year 533) he died a holy death, famous for his life and his words.
At Chieti, in Abruzzo Citeriore, holy Justin, bishop of that city, famous for the holiness of his life, and for the miracles worked through him (in the year 543).
At the monastery of St. Claude, upon the Jura Mountains, in the country of Lyon, holy (4th) Eugendus, Abbot (of Condat), whose life was illustrious for his graces and miracles (in the year 510).
At Senlis (in the year 1049), holy Odilo, (6th) Abbot of Cluny (elected in the year 994), who first commanded that in his monasteries a commemoration of all the faithful departed should be made upon the first day after the festival of All Saints, the which custom the Universal Church hath since approved by adopting it.
At Monte Senario, in Tuscany, the blessed confessor Bonfiglio, one of the seven founders of the order of servants of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to whom he was devoted and by whom he was suddenly called away to heaven (in the year 1262).
At Alexandria (in the year 470), the burial of the holy virgin Euphrosyne, who shone in her nunnery as a great light by the power of her self-denial and her miracles.
And elsewhere many other Holy Martyrs, Confessors and Holy virgins.
R. Thanks be to God
"And after eight days were accomplished that the Child should be circumcised, His name was called Jesus, which was called by the angel be fore He was conceived in the womb."
The Gospel according to St. Luke, ii. 21.
Meditations - January 1st: The Circumcision
Summary of the Morrow’s Meditation
We will consider tomorrow in our meditation the circumcision of Our Lord, First, as a mystery of love; Second, as a mystery of mortification. We will then make the resolution: First, to commence the new year in a spirit of love towards Jesus Christ, and to perform all our actions with a very determined intention of pleasing Him; Second, cheerfully to suffer for love of Him all the crosses sent us by Providence, and to offer Him as New Year's gifts some special acts of mortification. Our spiritual nosegay shall be the words of the Scriptures ''Behold I make all things new" (Apoc. xxi. 5).
Meditation for the Morning
Let us adore Jesus Christ, granting us a new year in which to labour for our salvation, but at the same time without promising to let us see the end of it, so that we may always watch vigilantly. Let us thank Him for presenting to our Piety, at the beginning of this year, the mystery of the Circumcision, as being eminently suited to make us begin it holily.
The Circumcision of Our Lord is a Mystery of Love
Hardly eight days had passed since His birth, when the Divine Infant, impatient to make His blood flow in order to wash away our sins and purify our stains, said, not with His lips, for He kept them mute, but from the bottom of His heart : "And I have a baptism, where with I am to be baptized, and how am I straitened until it be accomplished" (Luke xii. 50.) In the ardour to suffer for us which consumes Him, He submits to be placed beneath the knife of circumcision ; the incision is made, and the blood flows, the blood of which a single drop would have sufficed to expiate the sins of a thousand worlds, and yet on the first effusion of which He looks as being but the first-fruits and the engagement of the more abundant effusion which He will make on Calvary. O Jesus! when Thou givest me so touching a proof of Thy love, could I be as ice towards Thee, or love Thee only with an idle love, luke-warm and without energy? No! it is not possible. I will then begin to love Thee with a wholly new love; with a practical love which will give life to all my works; with a strong love which nothing will repel; for nothing costs us aught when we love, or, if it costs us something, we rejoice to suffer.
The Circumcision of Our Lord is a Mystery of Mortification.
This mystery preaches to us at once mortification in our enjoyments, in our self-love, and in our attachments. From the first moment of His descent into the crib, the Child Jesus preached this doctrine to us by His little body trembling with cold and stretched upon straw; but today the lesson is a great deal more severe, for the suffering is for more cruel. The knife of the circumcision tears His flesh and makes His blood to flow. Would it be possible for Him to speak more eloquently to the world that we can only be saved by suffering, that unhappy are those who enjoy, blessed those who suffer; that at least we ought cheerfully to bear all the crosses Providence sends us, suffer without complaining the severity of the seasons, and the contrarieties received from our neighbour, and exterior or interior troubles, and the violence which sometimes the accomplishment of duty imposes on us? At least we ought not any longer to refuse in any degree or in any manner to endure discomfort. and suffering; we ought not to be constantly seeking our own ease with a delicacy little worthy of a Christian soul.
Second. The mystery of the Circumcision preaches to us the sacrifice of self-will; for the Incarnate Word, by causing Himself to be circumcised, imprinted on His body the character of a slave and of a sinner: the character of a slave because it was the practice of the master to impress on the body of his slaves a mark which made their dependence and their servitude recognizable; the character of a sinner, because it recalled to mind that original sin was propagated by way of generation; that in this way the Jews were all born sinners; whence it followed that the witnesses of the ceremony could say of the Child God : Behold a slave, behold a sinner I What a humiliation for a God ! Who after that could desire to be esteemed and honoured? to be ambitious for glory and reputation?
Third. The mystery of the Circumcision, preaches to us the sacrifice of our attachments, that sacrifice which St. Paul calls the circumcision of the heart, and which is the great object of Christian morals. This circumcision of the heart has been substituted by the Gospel for the circumcision of the flesh: it consists in the retrenchment of all the ties which draw us towards the earth, towards the flesh and the senses ; towards that egotistical me, a monstrous mixture of self-love and its caprices, of the temper and its brusqueness, of the character and its fits of anger, of idleness and its negligence, of our judgment and its foolhardiness. It is in this that true virtue consists, much more than in exercises of piety and frequentation of the sacraments, good and holy things as they doubtless are, but only as means for attracting grace, which gives courage to take in our hands the knife of mortification, to make the incision down to the quick, into the bad strata which all of us bear within ourselves.
Resolutions and spiritual nosegay as above.