Sunday, January 1, 2017

Veni Creator & the Octave of Christmas

Botticelli Uffizi 37.jpg
Our Lady of the Magnificat by Sandro Boticelli, 1481-1485AD.

Today is rather eventful: the Octave Day of Christmas, the Feast of the Circumcision of Our Lord, the Divine Maternity of Our Lady, and, of course, the Civil New Year -- the First day of the Year of Our Lord, 2017.  Finally, there is a plenary indulgence attached to the public recitation of the Veni Creator on this first day of the year.

Of course, today, while falling on a Sunday, is a Holy Day of Obligation, and, as such the Code of Canon Law of 1983 directs in Canon 1247: "On Sundays and other holy days of obligation, the faithful are obliged to participate in the Mass.  Moreover, they are to abstain from those works and affairs which hinder the worship to be rendered to God, the joy proper to the Lord’s day, or the suitable relaxation of mind and body."

Let us, then, note something about each of the multiples aspects of the day:
The Octave has a particular place in the liturgical calendar.  Old Catholic Encyclopedia: Octaves

It was on the eighth day after His Nativity that Our Lord, Jesus Christ, was Circumcised -- receiving His Holy Name, and first shedding His blood.  From my Baronius Press hand missal:
"In the Old Law, by the rite of Circumcision, every male Jew became a member and shared in the privileges and blessings of the chosen people of God.  A Jew who failed to be initiated by the ceremony was excluded.  Our Lord was Son of God by nature, and absolutely sinless, and therefore did not need adoption into the membership of God's children.  Yet, He submitted to the law."
We also pray, with St. Paul, that in the Name of Jesus every knee may bow, of those that are in Heaven, on Earth, and under the Earth, and every tongue confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father. (cf. Phil. 2:10)  It is that Holy Name, given at his Circumcision, that brings salvation!

You might note: Fisheaters: Feast of the Circumcision

On this day we recall the Divine Maternity of Our Lady -- Theotokos.  It is an opportune moment to recall the historical events surrounding the solemn definition of the Blessed Virgin as Mother of God.

Theotokos of Vladimir.

A thorough account of the Council that solemnly defined Our Lady as Mother of God can be found here: Old Catholic Encyclopedia: Council of Ephesus

St. Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death!


From the tomb of Pope Gregory XIII commemorating his introduction of the Gregorian Calendar.

Today marks the beginning of the Civil New Year in the Gregorian calendar, a calendar first promulgated by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582 that replaced the Julian Calendar. Not only did the Catholic world adopt this calendar with its different, more accurate, determination of leap years, but it also shift the date to offset the margin of error of the Julian Calendar, resulting in dropping 10 days from the calendar. This meant that 4 October 1582 was followed by 15 October 1582 with the days in between simply omitted!  In addition to the new date and manner of determining leap years, the new calendar also standardized the 1 January New Year.  It had been various other days -- 25 March, for instance, in the English-speaking world.

The Calendar for folks in the Catholic world when the Gregorian Calendar went into effect.
[By Asmdemon - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,]

Of course, the non-Catholic world took some time to adopt this more accurate calendar, owing to its papal origin. Somewhat famously, Great Britain and her colonies adopted it in 1752, along with the 1 January start to the year. Here 2 September 1752 was followed by 14 September 1752, as, by that time, 11 days were needed to correct the Julian Calendar error, instead of 10 (it would be 13 in 2017AD). Those English dates before the changeover that were reckoned by the Julian Calendar are referred to as O.S. "old style."

The root of the Julian Calendar error is this: it presumed that the year was 365.25 days long, meaning that a leap year every four years would account for the decimal places and keep the calendar year in sync with the actual solar year. As it happens, the year is more precisely 365.2422 days long, meaning that the seasons would slowly drift away from their calendar dates with the Julian Calendar -- for instance, by 1582, the Vernal Equinox was occurring on 11 March, rather than 21 March as is traditionally assumed. So, the new Gregorian Calendar restored the Equinox to its traditional date by dropping 10 days that October of 1582. It would try to remain accurate by modifying the reckoning of leap years: it would have a leap year every year divisible by 4, except those divisible by 100 (most years such as 1700AD are not leap years), but if divisible by 400, remaining a leap year (so 1600AD was a leap year). This is still a hair off, and some have suggested that we waive the leap year in 4000AD to fix the problem.

Finally, on this day, there is a plenary indulgence for chanting or praying Veni Creator, to mark the new Civil Year.  Cf., Enchiridion indulgentiarum

Latin text
English version

(this is a poem and not a precise literal translation of the Latin)
Veni, creator Spiritus
mentes tuorum visita,
imple superna gratia,
quae tu creasti pectora.
Come, Holy Ghost, Creator blest,
and in our hearts take up Thy rest;

come with Thy grace and heav'nly aid,
To fill the hearts which Thou hast made.

Qui diceris Paraclitus,
altissimi donum Dei,

fons vivus, ignis, caritas
et spiritalis unctio.

O Comforter, to Thee we cry,
Thou heav'nly gift of God most high,

Thou Fount of life, and Fire of love,
and sweet anointing from above.

Tu septiformis munere,
digitus paternae dexterae

tu rite promissum Patris
sermone ditans guttura.

O Finger of the hand divine,
the sevenfold gifts of grace are thine;

true promise of the Father thou,
who dost the tongue with power endow.

Accende lumen sensibus,
infunde amorem cordibus,
infirma nostri corporis,
virtute firmans perpeti.

Thy light to every sense impart,
and shed thy love in every heart;
thine own unfailing might supply
to strengthen our infirmity.
Hostem repellas longius
pacemque dones protinus;

ductore sic te praevio
vitemus omne noxium.

Drive far away our ghostly foe,
and thine abiding peace bestow;

if thou be our preventing Guide,
no evil can our steps betide.

Per te sciamus da Patrem
noscamus atque Filium,

te utriusque Spiritum
credamus omni tempore.

Praise we the Father and the Son
and Holy Spirit with them One;

and may the Son on us bestow
the gifts that from the Spirit flow.

Deo Patri sit gloria,
et Filio qui a mortuis

Surrexit, ac Paraclito,
in saeculorum saecula.


Here is the Chant of the Veni Creator:

Here is the Old Catholic Encyclopedia entry on the Veni CreatorOld Catholic Encyclopedia: Veni Creator

Merry Christmas & live well!

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