Monday, December 28, 2009
Childermas / Feast of the Holy Innocents
St. Stephen is called the protomartyr, meaning first martyr, but today's feast day seems to call that into question.
I first read about today's feast day in Charles Dicken's "Hard Times" (which I only got to about p. 10 in... but I'm still doing good in that course) it's today (according to my Liturgy of the Hours book), and I found it a fascinating feast.
It is in commemoration of those Herod killed in his attempt to murder our Lord as a child.
"Then Herod perceiving that he was deluded by the wise men, was exceeding angry: and sending killed all the menchildren that were in Bethlehem, and in all the borders thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremias the prophet, saying: A voice in Rama was heard, lamentation and great mourning; Rachel bewailing her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not. But when Herod was dead, behold an angel of the Lord appeared in sleep to Joseph in Egypt, Saying: Arise, and take the child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel. For they are dead that sought the life of the child." - St. Matthew 2:16-20 (Douay-Rheims)
These children were considered martyrs for the kingdom by the Church, and commemorated on this feast day, and that seems to make alot of sense, they died in the efforts of slowing and presumably stopping Herod's quest to kill Jesus because he probably figured that he got him eventually. Herod's efforts to remove Jesus from history must make him Rudolf Bultmann's patron saint or something (German liberal biblical scholar who started 'the quest for the historical Jesus' *read* removing Jesus from history). Likewise all abortionists would look back to Herod in the same way, as every child they kill is made in the image and likeness of God, and so in a way, they too are seeking to kill Jesus (the same way the Nephillim did in Gen 4).
So in a lovely pseudo-evangelical altar call, I say: Pick a side today. Either commemorate those poor children - now robed in white as Christ's holy martyrs - and remember the sanctity of life, or neglect them as most did and try to remove Jesus from history and from your life as Herod did. ok, sermon over.
An interesting article with much more insight than I had is here: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07419a.htm
an interesting point I found was that the Alleluia and Gloria will not be sung in masses today, in mourning for these children.
"gloriosa in conspectu Domini mors sanctorum eius" - "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints" - Psalm 116:15 (Vulg. 115:15)