Sometimes one reads traddy criticisms of the abolition of the title "The Circumcision" formerly attached to January 1. There may be a slight confusion here. But before I explain this, I would like to emphasise the importance of celebrating and teaching ... perhaps in Lent and Holy Week ... the profound significance of the Circumcision within the context of our Lord's complete Jewishness and his identification with the Jewish people. Perhaps I might be permitted a quick and waspish observation that the only picture I know of our Most Holy Redeemer where the artist has troubled to make him look unmistakably Hebrew is by Caravaggio.
The Mass texts of the Roman Church, for centuries, made no reference on January 1 to the Circumcision except in as far as the opening verses of S Luke Chapter 2 were an obvious choice for the Gospel. The whole Mass was about our Lady's Divine Maternity. The 1960s 'reformers' were guilty of many nastinesses, unmandated by the Council, often contrary to the Council; but all they did to January 1 was to give it the title which best fitted the immemorially ancient and exquisite texts of the Roman Church. If you don't trust me, here are the words of Gueranger.
"The holy Church of Rome used formerly to say two Masses on the first of January; one was for the Octave of Christmas Day, the other was in honour of Mary ... The Church celebrates today the august prerogative of this divine Maternity, which was conferred on a mere creature, and which made her the co-operatrix with Jesus in the great work of man's salvation ..."
And the great Benedictine writes another five superb pages on our Lady's Divine Maternity.
The sometimes rather mechanical biblicism of the Middle Ages led to the title of the Circumcision being given to this day. But, as a result of the admirable inertia in matters liturgical which has always been part of the Catholic instinct (some people nowadays invoke the phrase organic development), the actual Mass texts were left unchanged ...
... until Archbishop Cranmer got his hands on the Liturgy. As so often happened with the 'reformers', Cranmer behaved in impeccably 'late medieval' ways. So he borrowed from Mattins an Epistle from Romans 4, and composed this Collect:
Almyghtie God, whiche madest thy blessed sonne to be circumcised and obedyente to the law for man; Graunt us the true circumcision of thy spirite, that our hertes, and al our membres, being mortifyed from al worldly and carnal lustes, may in al thinges obey thy blessed wil; through etc..
Frankly, I am glad that the Ordinariate Missal sticks with the old Roman texts here, and ignores Cranmer. Since the poor old gentleman kept a wife secreted somewhere, I wonder how consistently he did mortifye al his membres. Or was Mrs C a merely titular wife whose purpose was to minister to Cranmer's self-understanding that he really was a world-class Reformer just like those enwifed Swiss and German chappies? (Calvin's sexuality has, of course, been a matter of debate, or do I mean gossip? Stigmaticus perfuga ...)
One good idea of the 1960s 'reformers': they introduced into the Divine Office for today the wonderful hymn of Prudentius Corde natus ex parentis ...