One of the great blessings we have as Catholics is that Christmas is not just one day and the Liturgical Calendar shows us that the Season of Christmas continues until the Baptism of the Lord (inclusive) – roughly 15-20 days after 25 December.
… a gift of love wrapped in human flesh and
tied securely with the strong promises of God.
… angelic music in the form of a carol
and oratorio with a celestial descant.
… “glory to God,” “good will to man,”
and “joy to the world.”
… “peace on earth” for those who accept it
and live in unity with God’s will.
… a man on duty tending sheep, or machine,
who senses the upward call and stops to worship.
… a tall green tree which serves as festive altar
for any household which discovers the true meaning behind it all.
… a ringing bell calling a distraught humanity
to gladness and hope.
… a glowing hearth gently placed
in the winter of man’s loneliness.
… an altar to which man can bring his heartache for comfort,
his lostness for guidance and his sin for forgiveness.
… the sparkle of anticipation and the steady light of faith
in the eyes of a little child as he hears the old, old story.
… the shining star of hope in the sky of all mankind.
… more than words can tell,
for it is a matter for the heart to receive, believe and understand
Thought for the Day – 28 December – The Feast of the Holy Innocents – The 4th Octave Day of Christmas
An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt and remain there till I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt… Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, was in a furious rage and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region, who were two years old or under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the wise men….Matthew 2:13-18
We call martyrs those saints who chose to give their lives for Jesus Christ. These innocent children also gave their lives but they didn’t choose to . They were chosen for martyrdom. For centuries innocent lives have been taken and people can’t help asking ‘why?’ The suffering of innocent children is still a scandal for our human hearts. That happened during WWII in a concentration camp. The Nazi guards decided one day to hang a child in front of thousands of prisoners in formation. Elie Wiesel, who writes the story, explains that the child was so light that he hanged, struggling to gasp, for more than half an hour. ‘Where is God now?’ asked one of those prisoners forced to contemplate the suffering of the child. “Behind me,” writes Wiesel, “I heard the same man asking: ‘For God’s sake, where is God?’ And from within me, I heard a voice answer- ‘Where is He? This is where – hanging here from this gallows…’”
God’s agony didn’t finish on Calvary. When innocent children cry, God mixes His Tears with theirs, when they bleed, God’s Heart bleeds with them. If they ask you ‘where is God?’, tell them that God is on Calvary still, dying every day in the womb of some mothers, He is the Victim of famines, of epidemics, of wars, of abuses, of bullying, of mafias, of trafficking, of abandonment, of persecution, of terrorism, of injustice of any kind. God is still in agony in the suffering of innocents.
But we are with you, Mary, Mother of all Innocents, helping Jesus to bear His Cross, comforting Him with our prayer and reminding Him with our love that all that He suffers for us is worthwhile, and asking God for the end of all this injustice.
Fr George Boronat M.D. S.T.D is a Catholic priest from the Prelature of Opus Dei,
working in the Archdiocese of Southwark in London.
Quote of the Day – 28 December – The Feast of the Holy Innocents – The 4th Octave Day of Christmas
”The precious death of any martyr deserves high praise because of his heroic confession; the death of these children is precious in the sight of God because of the beatitude they gained so quickly. For already, at the beginning of their lives, they pass on. The end of the present life is for them the beginning of glory.”
St Augustine (354-430) Father & Doctor of the Church
One Minute Reflection – 28 December – The Feast of the Holy Innocents – The 4th Octave Day of Christmas
We praise you, O God, we acclaim you as Lord; the white-robed army of martyrs praise you. (from the Te Deum)
REFLECTION – “These then, whom Herod’s cruelty tore as sucklings from their mothers’ bosom, are justly hailed as “infant martyr flowers”; they were the Church’s first blossoms, matured by the frost of persecution during the cold winter of unbelief.”… St Augustine (354-430) Father & Doctor of the Church
PRAYER – O God, whom the Holy Innocents confessed and proclaimed on this day, not by speaking but by dying, grant, we pray, that the faith in You which we confess with our lips may also speak through our manner of life. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Holy Innocents Pray for us! amen
Our Morning Offering – 28 December – The Feast of the Holy Innocents – The 4th Octave Day of Christmas. When you think about the slaughter of these innocent children and the continuing slaughter of the unborn through the horrors of abortion, it becomes clear that they come from the same supreme act of selfishness. Even though Herod heard the message coming from the prophets of his own people, he had no desire to align his heart with the purposes of God.
A Prayer for Life
By St Pope John Paul II (1920-2005)
bright dawn of the new world,
Mother of the living,
to you do we entrust the cause of life.
Look down, O Mother,
upon the vast numbers of babies
not allowed to be born,
of the poor whose lives are made difficult,
of men and women
who are victims of brutal violence,
of the elderly and the sick killed
by indifference or out of misguided mercy.
Grant that all who believe in your Son
may proclaim the Gospel of life
with honesty and love to the people of our time.
Obtain for them the grace to accept that Gospel
as a gift ever new,
the joy of celebrating it with gratitude
throughout their lives
and the courage to bear witness to it resolutely,
in order to build,
together with all people of good will,
the civilization of truth and love,
to the praise and glory of God,
the Creator and lover of life.
Taken from Pope John Paul II’s 1995 encyclical, “The Gospel of Life” (www.vatican.va)
Saints of the Day – Feast of the Holy Innocents – 28 December – 4th Day of the Christmas Octave – Patronages – • against ambition•against jealousy• altar servers•babies•children• children’s choir• choir boys• foundlings• students. The Massacre of the Innocents is the biblical account of infanticide by Herod the Great, the Roman-appointed King of the Jews. According to the Gospel of Matthew, Herod ordered the execution of all young male children in the vicinity of Bethlehem, so as to avoid the loss of his throne to a newborn King of the Jews whose birth had been announced to him by the Magi. In typical Matthean style, it is understood as the fulfilment of an Old Testament prophecy:
Then was fulfilled that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet, saying, A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted because her children are no more.’
The number of infants killed is not stated. The Holy Innocents, although Jewish, have been claimed as martyrs for Christianity and the Feast of the Holy Innocents has long been celebrated.
Taken from THE LITURGICAL YEAR, Christmas II, by Abbot Dom Guéranger. 1 A.D.
THE feast of the beloved Disciple, St John is followed by that of the Holy Innocents. The Crib of Jesus, where we have already met and venerated the Prince of Martyrs and the Eagle of Patmos, has today standing round it a lovely choir of little Children, clad in snow-white robes and holding green branches in their hands. The Divine Babe smiles upon them: He is their King and these Innocents are smiling upon the Church of God. Courage and Fidelity first led us to the Crib; Innocence now comes and bids us tarry there.
Herod intended to include the Son of God amongst the murdered Babes of Bethlehem. The Daughters of Rachel wept over their little ones and the land streamed with blood but the Tyrant’s policy can do no more, it cannot reach Jesus and its whole plot ends in recruiting an immense army of Martyrs for Heaven. These Children were not capable of knowing what an honour it was for them to be made victims for the sake of the Saviour of the world but the very first instant after their immolation, all was revealed to them, they had gone through this world without knowing it and now that they know it, they possess an infinitely better. God showed here the riches of His mercy, He asks of them but a momentary suffering and that over, they wake up in Abraham’s Bosom, no further trial awaits them, they are in spotless innocence and the glory due to a soldier who died to save the life of his Prince belongs eternally to them.
They died for Jesus’ sake, therefore, their death was a real Martyrdom and the Church calls them by the beautiful name of the Flowers of the Martyrs because of their tender age and their innocence. Justly then does the ecclesiastical Cycle bring them before us today, immediately after the two valiant Champions of Christ, Stephen and John. The connection of these three Feasts is thus admirably explained by St Bernard- “In St Stephen, we have both the act and the desire of Martyrdom; in St John, we have but the desire; in the Holy Innocents, we have but the act. . . . Will anyone doubt whether a crown was given to these Innocents?. . . If you ask me what merit could they have that God should crown them? Let me ask you what was the fault for which Herod slew them? What! is the mercy of Jesus less than the cruelty of Herod and whilst Herod could put these Babes to death, who had done him no injury, Jesus may not crown them for dying for Him?”
Stephen, therefore, is a Martyr by a Martyrdom of which men can judge, for he gave this evident proof of his sufferings being felt and accepted, that, at the very moment of his death, his solicitude both for his own soul and for those of his persecutors increased; the pangs of his bodily passion were less intense than the affection of his soul’s compassion, which made him weep more for their sins than for his own wounds. John was a Martyr, by a Martyrdom which only Angels could see, for the proofs of his sacrifice being spiritual, only spiritual creatures could ken them. But the Innocents were Martyrs, to none other eye save Thine, O God! Man could find no merit, Angel could find no merit, the extraordinary prerogative of Thy grace is the more boldly brought out. From the mouth of the Infants and the Sucklings Thou hast perfected praise. The praise the Angels give Thee is- Glory be to God in the highest and peace on earth to men of good will it is a magnificent praise, but I make bold to say that it is not perfect till He cometh Who will say: “Suffer little Children to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of Heaven.”
Holy Innocents (Feast) – – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pgd8awppW8I
St Anthony of Lérins
St Caesarius of Armenia
BL Claudia Weinhardt
St Domitian the Deacon
St Domnio of Rome
St Gowan of Wales
Bl Gregory of Cahors
Bl Hryhorii Khomyshyn
St Iolande of Rome
Bl Johannes Riedgasser
Bl Nicolas Mello
Bl Otto of Heidelberg
SiSt mon the Myroblite
St Theonas of Alexandria
St Theodore of Tabenna
St Troadius of Pontus
20,000 Martyrs of Nicomedia: 20,000 Christians who were murdered during in 303 in Nicomedia, Bithynia (modern Izmit, Turkey) during the persecutions of Diocletian. Many of them were killed en masse when they were ordered, during Christmas Mass, to sacrifice to idols; when they refused, they were locked in the churches and the buildings burned around them. We know some details of a few of them, but most are known only to God. The names we have are – Agape, Anthimos, Domna, Domna, Dorotheus, Esmaragdus, Eugene, Euthymius, Glykerios, Gorgonius, Hilary, Indes, Mardonius, Mardonius, Maximus, Migdonius, Migdonus, Peter, Peter, Theophila, Theophilus and Zeno. 303 in Nicomedia, Bithynia (modern Izmit, Turkey).
Martyrs of Africa – (3 saints): Three Christians murdered together in Africa for their faith. The only details to survive are their names – Castor, Rogatian and Victor.