Feast of the Circumcision
His name was called Jesus, which was called by the angel, before He was conceived in the womb–LUKE ii. 21.
In the Old Law (Gen. xvii. 12), it was required that every male child should on the eighth day after his birth be circumcised, and thus admitted among God’s chosen people. The rite of circumcision in the Old Law corresponded to the Sacrament of Baptism in the New Law and was the means of remitting original sin. Our Lord, although free from every sin, submitted to this rite in order to show that He was a true Son of Abraham, to manifest respect and obedience to the established law, and to prove that He had a real human body. At the time of circumcision, a name was given to the child. Our Lord was called Jesus, which signified His office as Saviour. On this feast of the Circumcision, therefore, it is most appropriate that we should meditate on the first petition of the Lord’s prayer, “hallowed be thy name.”
I. The first petition of the Lord’s Prayer. 1. In the opening words of the Lord’s Prayer we ask that God’s name may be honored, which shows that God’s glory should be our chief desire. 2. This petition does not mean that God’s essential glory or perfection should be increased, nor that the honor given Him on earth should be equal to that shown Him in heaven.
II. The objects of this petition. We ask: 1. That we may praise God with our hearts and lips; 2. That those in error may be brought to recognize and revere His Church; 3. That sinners may be converted to His service; 4. That men may learn to refer all blessings to Him as to their author and source.
CONCLUSION. Our conduct should be in conformity with this petition, I. Catholics must not cause the name of God or of His Church to be profaned by their own evil words and actions. 2. On the contrary, by clean speech and good example, Catholics ought to excite others to exalt the name of God, to respect the faith of Christ, and to honor His Church. 3. Good resolutions for the New Year.
Catechism of the Council of Trent, Part IV
Hallowed be Thy Name
OBJECTS AND ORDER OF OUR PRAYERS
What should be the objects and the order of our prayers we learn from the Lord and Master of all; for as prayer is the envoy and interpreter of our wishes and desires, we then pray as we ought when the order of our prayers corresponds with that of their objects.
True charity admonishes us to love God with our whole heart and soul, for as He alone is the supreme good, He justly commands our particular and especial love; and this love, we cannot cherish towards Him unless we prefer His honor and glory to all created things. Whatever good we or others enjoy, whatever good man can name, is inferior to God, because emanating from Him who is the supreme good.
In order, therefore, that our prayers may proceed in due order, our divine Redeemer has placed this petition, which regards our chief good, at the head of the others, thus teaching us that before we pray for anything for our neighbor or ourselves, we should pray for those things which appertain to the glory of God, and make known to Him our wishes and desires for their accomplishment. Thus shall we remain in charity, which teaches us to love God more than ourselves, and to make those things which we desire for the sake of God the first, and what we desire for ourselves the next, object of our prayers.
OBJECT OF THIS PETITION AS IT REGARDS GOD
But as desires and petitions regard things which we lack, and as God, that is to say His divine nature, can receive no accession, nor can the Divinity adorned after an ineffable manner with all perfections admit of increase, the faithful are to understand that what we pray for to God regarding Himself belongs not to His intrinsic perfections, but to His external glory. We desire and pray that His name may be better known to the nations; that His kingdom may be extended; and that the number of His faithful servants may be every day increased,–three things, His name, His kingdom, and the number of His faithful servants, which regard not His essence, but His extrinsic glory.
WHAT WE SOLICIT IN THIS PETITION: FIRST
When we pray that the name of God may be hallowed, we mean that the sanctity and glory of His name may be increased; and here the pastor will inform his pious hearers that our Lord does not teach us to pray that it be hallowed on earth as it is in heaven, that is, in the same manner and with the same perfection, for this is impossible; but that it be hallowed through love, and from the inmost affection of the soul.
True, in itself His name requires not to be hallowed. “It is terrible and holy,”(1) even as He Himself is Holy; nothing can be added to the holiness which is His from eternity. Yet, as on earth, He is much less honored than He should be, and is even sometimes dishonored by impious oaths and blasphemous execrations, we therefore desire and pray that His name may be celebrated with praise, honor, and glory, as it is praised, honored, and glorified in heaven. We pray that His honor and glory may be so constantly in our hearts, in our souls, and on our lips, that we may glorify Him with all veneration, both internal and external, and, like the citizens of heaven, celebrate with all the energies of our being the praises of the holy and glorious God.
We pray that as the blessed spirits in heaven praise and glorify God with one mind and one accord, mankind may do the same; that all men may embrace the religion of Christ, and, dedicating themselves unreservedly to God, may believe that He is the fountain, of all holiness, and that there is nothing pure or holy that does not emanate from the holiness of His divine name. According to the Apostle, the Church is cleansed ” by the laver of water in the word of life,”(2) meaning by ” the word of life ” the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, in which we are baptized and sanctified.
As, then, for those on whom His name is not invoked there can exist no expiation, no purity, no integrity, we desire and pray that mankind, emerging from the darkness of infidelity and illumined by the rays of the divine light, may confess the power of His name; that seeking in Him true sanctity, and receiving by His grace the sacrament of baptism, in the name of the holy and undivided Trinity, they may arrive at perfect holiness.
Our prayers and petitions also regard those who have forfeited the purity of baptism and sullied the robe of innocence, thus introducing again into their unhappy souls the foul spirit that before possessed them. We desire, and beseech God, that in them also may His name be hallowed; that, entering into themselves and returning to the paths of true wisdom, they may recover, through the sacrament of penance, their lost holiness, and become pure and holy temples in which God may dwell.
We also pray that God would shed His light on the minds of all, to enable them to see that every good and perfect gift, “coming down from the Father of lights,”(3) proceeds from His bounty, and to refer to Him temperance, justice, life, salvation. In a word, we pray that all external blessings of soul and body which regard life and salvation may be referred to Him whose hands, as the Church proclaims, shower down every blessing on the world. Does the sun by his light, do the other heavenly bodies by the harmony of their motions, minister to man? Is life maintained by the respiration of that pure air which surrounds us? Are all living creatures supported by that profusion of fruits and of vegetable productions with which the earth is enriched and diversified? Do we enjoy the blessings of peace and tranquillity through the agency of the civil magistrate? All these and innumerable other blessings we receive from the infinite goodness of God. Nay, those causes which philosophers term “secondary” we should consider as instruments wonderfully adapted to our use, by which the hand of God distributes to us His blessings and showers them upon us with liberal profusion.
But the principal object to which this petition refers is that all recognize and revere the Spouse of Christ, our most holy mother the Church, in whom alone is that copious and perennial fountain which cleanses and effaces the stains of sin; from whom we receive all the sacraments of salvation and sanctification, which are, as it were, so many celestial channels conveying to us the fertilizing dew which sanctifies the soul; to whom alone, and to those whom she embraces and fosters in her maternal bosom, belongs the invocation of that divine Name which alone, under heaven, is given to men, whereby they can be saved.(4)
The pastor will urge with peculiar emphasis that it is the part of a dutiful child not only to pray for his Father in word, but in deed and in work to endeavor to afford a bright example of the sanctification of His holy name. Would to God that there were none who, while they pray daily for the sanctification of the name of God, violate and profane it, as far as on them depends, by their conduct; who are sometimes the guilty cause why God Himself is blasphemed; and of whom the Apostle has said, “The name of God through you is blasphemed among the Gentiles,”(5) and Ezekiel: “They entered among the nations whither they went, they profaned my holy name, when it was said of them: This is the people of the Lord, and they are come forth out of his land.”(6) Their lives and morals are the standard by which the unlettered multitude judge of religion itself and of its founder: to live, therefore, according to its rules, and to regulate their words and actions according to its maxims, is to give others an edifying example, by which they will be powerfully stimulated to praise, honor, and glorify the name of our Father who is in heaven. To excite others to the praise and exaltation of the divine name is an obligation which our Lord Himself has imposed on us: “So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven”;(7) and the prince of the Apostles says: “Having your conversation good among the Gentiles that by the good works, which they shall behold in you they may glorify God in the day of visitation.”(8)