We know well that Holy Innocents continue to be killed in our world through abortion. The Feast of the Holy Innocents is an often over-looked feast on the Church’s Calendar coming is the busy week of the Christmas Octave. And yet there is something very astonishing and even dangerous to consider on this feast.
I’ll explain what I mean by dangerous in a moment. But for now consider some biblical facts with me.
- When God was drawing close to liberating his chosen people from slavery in Egypt there occurred the order to murder of the all the baby boys among the Hebrews. It is almost as though Satan sensed that God was up to something good and Satan raged through Pharaoh in murderous anger and fear. Thankfully the actual numbers were reduced since the Egyptian midwives engaged in civil disobedience, refusing to allow the practice to continue.
- At the time of Jesus, when God was preparing to liberate his People from sin, there also occured the murder of innocent baby boys. Here too it was almost as though the Devil sensed that God was up to something good and he once again raged, this time through Herod in murderous anger and fear. Thankfully too this infanticide also ended at some point.
- Notice the pattern. When God prepared a great liberation the Devil went after the babies. In our time, on a scale as never before, the Devil is going after our babies in murderous anger and fear. What is he afraid of? Is God planning something big in the near future? Is there a great liberation at hand? Is there a great advancement of evangelization and conversion in the offing? We can only speculate. But patterns are patterns and Scripture has a way of repeating its patterns and echoing down through the centuries.
Why is this a dangerous reflection? Because I want to make it clear that abortion, the killing of the innocents in our age, is NOT and never can be considered something good, or a “positive sign.” Such a speculation as this might cause some to wrongly conclude that abortion is part of God’s plan or something we should see “positively.” We should not. It must be fought. It is of Satan. I want to conclude by reminding you that the great liberation that followed the past infanticides did not occur until AFTER those murderous rages were stopped. Hence, to follow the pattern established in Scripture and to see a potentially great and liberating act of God we must first see an end to the slaughter. Work and pray to end abortion. May the Holy Innocents pray for us!
I put the following video together to honor these young martyrs. The musical setting is by Michael Haydn of the hymn for the Feast of the Holy Innocents: Salvete Flores Martyrum – It is from his Vesperae In F for Equal Voices, Soli and Orchestra. The singers are the The Group singing is Collegium Instrumentale Brugense. This music is available at iTunes. The Latin text of this ancient hymn is quite beautiful. I produce here the Latin text followed by a fairly literal translation. I would like to call your attention to the second verse and a very charming detail. That verse described these young, two year old martyrs and holding palm branches (the symbol of martyrdom) but as they hold them they play with them, in the way a young child will often fiddle with palm branches in Church. Beautiful and so very human!
Salvete flores martyrum, – Hail Martyr Flowers
quos lucis ipso in limine – On the very threshold of the dawn (of life)
Christi insecutor sustulit – Christ’s persecutor destroyed (you)
ceu turbo nascentes rosas. – like the whirlwind does the budding roses.
Vos prima Christi victima, – You Christ’s firstfruits
grex immolatorum tener, – A flock of tender sacrificial victims
aram sub ipsam simplices – right up by the very altar
palma et coronis luditis. – now play with your palms and crowns
Iesu, tibi sit gloria, – Jesus to you be glory
qui natus es de Virgine, – who were born of the Virgin
cum Patre et almo Spiritu, – with the Father and loving Spirit
in sempiterna saecula. Amen. – unto to eternal ages. Amen.