Mary, Holy Mother of God
The Circumcision of Our Lord

The Octave Day of Christmas
Holy Day of Obligation
and Octave of the Nativity

The Feast of the Holy Name
St Basil the Great, Bishop of Cæsarea

Hymn. Felix dies quam proprio.
O Blessed Day, when first was poured
The precious blood of Christ our Lord!
O blessed day, when so began
His travail in redeeming man!

Scarce entered on our life of woe,
His infant blood for us doth flow!
Whilst yet he suckles at the breast,
Atoning love he thus confessed!

From heaven come, and willingly,
Man's sacrificial Lamb is he!
The Son of God, quick to fulfil
Each mandate of his Father's will!

Beneath the knife see Mary's Child,
God's Innocent! man's Undefiled!
For sinners he would ransom pay,
For lawless man the Law obey!

Grant circumcision, Lord, within;
Cut from our hearts the love of sin!
That we thy likeness true may bear,
Carve deep thy Name and image there!
  Amen.


Troparion (Tone 1)

Enthroned on high with the Eternal Father and Your divine Spirit,
O Jesus, You willed to be born on earth of the unwedded handmaid, your Mother.
Therefore You were circumcised as an eight-day old Child.
Glory to Your most gracious counsel;
Glory to Your dispensation;
Glory to Your condescension, O only Lover of mankind.

Kontakion (Tone 3)

The Lord of all accepts to be circumcised,
Thus, as He is good, excises the sins of mortal men.
Today He grants the world salvation,
While light-bearing Basil, high priest of our Creator,
Rejoices in heaven as a divine initiate of Christ.


Heirs are we of a great mystery; the womb of her that knew not man is become the temple of the Godhead; he, of a Virgin incarnate, suffereth no defilement; * all the nations shall gather, saying: Glory be to thee O Lord.


SS Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen

ALMIGHTY God, whose servants Basil and Gregory proclaimed the mystery of thy Word made flesh, that thy Church might be built up in wisdom and strength: grant that we, through their prayers, and rejoicing in the Lord's presence among us, may with them be brought to know the power of thine unending love; through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

The Circumcision of Christ occurred on the Octave Day of his birth, and that event in His life has long been celebrated in the liturgy of the Church on Jan 1st, although the Calendar has sometimes named the day The Feast of the Circumcision and at other times has named it simply the Octave of Christmas. In the East, Jan 1st is observed both as The Feast of the Circumcision of Our Lord as well as the Feast Day of St. Basil the Great, Bishop of Cæsarea. In the major reform of the General Roman Calendar of the Latin Church in 1969, Jan 1st was named the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, retaining Luke's description of the Circumcision as the Gospel reading, and the Feast of St Basil was moved to Jan 2nd. This change did not apply to the Eastern Churches, which celebrate the Synaxis of the Holy Mother of God on Dec 26th. In the Episcopal Church 1979 prayer book revision, The Feast of the Circumcision on Jan 1st was renamed The Feast of the Holy Name, but following the 1662 Prayer Book, the Anglican Church in Canada celebrates the Holy Name on 7 Aug and together with the Church of England, which has eliminated Holy Name Day, observe 1 Jan as the Feast of the Circumcision. The 1549 Collect for the Circumcision is taken from a Gregorian episcopal blessing for the Octave Day of Christmas. In the General Roman Calendar, the Feast of the Holy Name was restored in 2002 as an optional memorial on Jan 3rd. The Anglican Ordinariates follow the General Roman Calendar. In traditional Western Usage, the Feast of St Basil occurs on June 14th and remains there in the Roman Catholic Extraordinary Form and for Anglicans outside the Catholic Church.

The holy icon above recognizes the Eastern observance on the same day of both the Circumcision of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and the Feast of St Basil. It is by the hand of Father John Matusiak many years ago when he was dean of Saint Mary Orthodox Cathedral in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where the icon is currently housed. St Basil the Great is depicted above the Circumcision. The icon may be reproduced as long as proper credit is given.


First Reading Numbers 6:22-27
The LORD said to Moses, "Say to Aaron and his sons, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them,
    The LORD bless you and keep you:
    The LORD make his face to shine upon
            you, and be gracious to you:
    The LORD lift up his countenance upon
            you, and give you peace.
"So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them."
Second Reading Galatians 4:4-7
Brethren: When the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" So through God you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then an heir.
Gospel Luke 2:16-21
The shepherds went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it they made known the saying which had been told them concerning this child; and all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.