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.
28 Replies to “Pondering Abortion on the Feast of the Holy Innocents”
I wonder what the Holy Innocents do in Heaven since they died so young?
Fr Stuart has replied well, see below.
Gloria tibi Domine
Abortion is obviously a grave evil. But I think as we consider the Holy Innocents we need also to remember that infanticide is only the natural end to all sexual deviancy. The trail is unfortunately all too clear. Corrupted desires because of sin lead to either A.) pornography or B.) sex out of wedlock. This desire for pleasure divorced from real joy (i.e. marriage and childbirth) eventually leads to the mindset that children are a burden to this desire. Hence we have the proliferaion of contraception. Abortion is really just the most extreme form of contraception from what I can tell. I say this to say that while I have not (being male ultimately I cannot) had an abortion, I know there are desires within me which I have not yet conquered (though by God’s grace I endeavor too). In this way, I believe I have contributed to the culture of death and further, that until we all reform our ways and cast away the works of darkness, our stand against abortion is only masking a symptom rather than treating the problem. What do you think?
Thus says the Lord:
“A voice is heard in Ramah,
lamentation and bitter weeping.
Rachel is weeping for her children;
she refuses to be comforted for her children,
because they are no more.”
Yes there are many deep issues at the root of something so astonishingly awful as abortion. There has to be a lot of deep rooted sickness and darkness in a society where so many see little problem with killing an infant in the womb. Luckily there are many who still see how awful this is. But there have to be many sinful drives and distortions that a person or society must first suffer to lead them to the point where they think abortion could ever be “OK”
I find your observations very interesting and worthwhile. I have a question, though: Has it yet been decided (officially, theologically), that victims of abortion are infact martyrs and Holy Innocents? I am predisposed to accept that they are, but read a while ago that there was some debate on the issue amongst Catholic scholars and theologians which had not been resolved. Either way, they are innocent beings to be protected, prayed for and to – and may God give us His strength to end their persecution as soon as possible and bring about the fulfilment of His own wonderous plan.
I think Fr Stuart has answered this question well below.
So beautiful, thank you.
Who is singing?
The Group singing is Collegium Instrumentale Brugense
The Work in Michael Haydn’s Vesperae In F for Equal Voices, Soli and Orchestra
It is available at iTunes.
You might enjoy this reflection as well. Abortion truly hurts.
Thank you for this link. It is very good and well worth reading. I will keep it and blog on it near Jan 22.
Nick wrote, “I wonder what the Holy Innocents do in Heaven since they died so young?”
The answer is that, like the other saints, they adore God and pray for Nick, and for me, and for everyone still on the way. Any infant who dies after baptism but before attaining the use of reason and free will is in heavenly glory (see, for example, Pope Benedict XII’s constitution Benedictus Deus, 1336).
The International Theological Commission’s 2007 document on limbo says, “Taking account of the principle lex orandi, lex credendi, the Christian community notes that there is no mention of limbo in the liturgy. In fact, the liturgy contains a feast of the Holy Innocents, who are venerated as martyrs even though they were not baptized, because they were killed ‘on account of Christ.’”
The ITC says also, “Some of the infants who suffer and die do so as victims of violence. In their case we may readily refer to the example of the Holy Innocents and discern an analogy in the case of these infants to the baptism of blood which brings salvation. Albeit unknowingly, the Holy Innocents suffered and died on account of Christ; their murderers were seeking to kill the infant Jesus. Just as those who took the lives of the Holy Innocents were motivated by fear and selfishness, so the lives particularly of unborn babies today are often endangered by the fear or selfishness of others. In that sense they are in solidarity with the Holy Innocents.”
In one of his writings (I can’t put my finger on it now) Father Benedict Groeschel made the case that today’s victims of abortion are killed out of the same contempt for God that motivated Herod’s murderous campaign, and we should remember that the Second Vatican Council calls abortion an “unspeakable crime” and an “insult to the Creator” (Gaudium et spes, 27).
While it is not (yet) theologically certain that aborted children are baptized in their own blood, I hold that there is as good a case for this conclusion as for many things we firmly believe as Catholic Christians.
Thanks for this reply. I tend to think aborted children are saved by their suffering, in light of Jesus’ Passion and Death. But I could be wrong.
Thank you Msgr Pope for a thought provoking reflection.
As an African-American woman our community unfortunately suffers the most from this grave sin, but as you pointed out in your article, liberation is on the way. Why is satan trying to destroy us. God is up to something, if we will only allow is grace to fill our hearts. The best is yet to come. History does repeat itself.
Yes, God is up to something
The period that we have been in now, though, is and has been longer
than those of history that you mentioned.
Indeed it is longer, perhaps bespeaking how deep and widespread our moral sickness is. The depravity of the first two slaughters involved only a few evil doers but this moral depravity involves huge numbers and the unprecedented fact that many consider the henious act to be justified. Clearly a very powerful deliverance will have to be worked. Until such time we must fight on and pray for the miraculous change of heart that is necessary.
In very simplistic terms, here’s my understanding of Satan, sin, God and love. If my thoughts are off target, or incorrect, I’d hope someone would correct them. That way I, and others continue to learn:)
Satan is the master of sin (he is defined by and through sin) while God is the master of love and likewise, he is defined by and through love. I think it’s fair to say that God and Satan do not like each other and do not work with together. They do not have a common goal. God does not make sin and the evil that results from it. We make sin through our choices. Basically, our sin is the result of Adam and Eve’s choice of eating the forbidden fruit. So, as I see it, Satan is not destroying us – we are destroying ourselves. As for “the best is yet to come”, I think you’re right on target. This life is only the dress rehearsal.
Indeed God did not make sin or death nor does he rejoice in the loss of any but rather desires that they turn to him and live.
The babies were, “killed” or products of an “abortion” procedure – these are planed parenthood euphemisms – ‘Kill’ like we do to a chicken when we feed it to our children! Abortion – a good clean and wonderful medical procedure that has saved many lives – but what do these words have to do with what they do to the innocent babies? There is only one word that is truth! These babies are MURDERED in cold blood and there is no more premeditated murder than this! The only way we can give dignity to these babies, who have been denied even burial, is to tell the world that they are human and not chickens and not medical abortions but innocent victims of evil intent – call it murder – not what the pro-murder people find politically correct!
Euphemisms become necessary it would seem when the need for denial of one’s true actions arises. Thank you for the reminder that this involves the murder of the innocent.
What a startling contrast between the violent images and the buoyant music.
Our faith’s duty is to witness: to see without blinking what is in front of our faces and what is beyond.
The contrast IS starling. I am mindful that only faith could cause such a contrast, a faith that says, I will bless the Lord at all times….
All of us who know the truth that Abortion is the murder of innocent babies, cannot keep from sharing the Good News to people who are ignorant or blinded by secular opinion. This issue is not about what we think abortion is, but rather what God has spoken through the prophets. When we think that we know more than God, then we fall into deep darkness and immorality becomes a deadly plague of our lifetime. Pray, Serve God and love one another and we will find that his grace is sufficient for LIFE to flourish. Put on Love and Trust and leave the rest to God.!!
“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?”
I believe you are absolutely right! It is an answer that could only come from God, in the face of this truly satanic evil. It involves the Church “claiming” these millions of innocent victims as “Companion Martyrs” of the first Holy Innocents. It is a response of infinite mercy, grace, pardon and peace – and a grace-filled moment of evangelisation and conversion, as you already suggest. But first the Church must act!
I believe this is quite possibly the most important issue in the Church – and in the world – today. Through it all will see that the Victory belongs to God, and not to satan.
To you Father, and to all who share my anguish at this terrible evil – I invite you to read the book “Mercy reigns”, available free from the Family of Divine Innocence, PO Box 676A Surbiton, Surrey, (UK) KT5 8WR. It is a 300-page theological presentation for the “Claiming” and also contains papers by respected theologians Fr Philippe Jobert, OSB, former Abbot of Solesmes, and Fr Francis Frost.
Not until I read this book did I begin to understand the profound meaning of the words “a little child shall lead them”.
May I also add that this book has been sent to all the bishops of the English-speaking world and has already received some very positive comments…
We travel to the abortion mill in Louisville , KY. Several weeks after Christmas the number of aborted babies goes way up. Its a crazy thing to witness. To see a mother walk into a mill, holding the hand of a 3 year old. A grandmother with her arms around her daughter escorting her inside to greet the evil. A husand or boyfriend , sometimes covering the girls head and eyes so she cannot hear or witness those praying. The profanity that comes frome ones mouth when one has succumbed to satan. I had an deathscort yelling at me and trying to cover my face with some type of cardboard . At one point I told him I loved him. He went ballastic, I saw his face change into a rage. He spat on me. The evil inside always seeps out. We have witnessed the deathscorts rituals before they open the doors. Using some sort of book they chant and …… well Iam not sure. It appears satanic. Several show the symptons of the occult. (this has been confirmed by a priest) . It is the front lines of evil . Sometimes I think if I could visually see, I would see the devils minions prowling around. But of course we come with our weapons of holy water and we begin our rosaries.
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