Feast of the Holy Innocents

He Who Loves the Innocent Icon, Unknown

The mystery of the innocents is that they are the victims. The divine eagle gathered them as booty to himself. The blow aimed by the tyrant at our Lord fell on them instead. They serve as a kind of guard of honor to the divine Child – and the militant dialogue between God and anti-God in which they are caught up earns them heaven.

But we have lost our awareness of that ceaseless duel. We so little realize that we have a share in the struggle that we ignore it completely. Yet no one can escape responsibility, and at any moment God, exercising sovereign power, may draw us into the thick of it.

So far as an adult is concerned this can only lead to salvation if the victim voluntarily accepts the combat and enters it on God’s side. But in the case of the innocents, the manger sealed their fate and was sacrifice enough. That is their mystery.

(from the Prison Meditations of Alfred Delp)

One comment

  1. This sent me back to the old Catholic Encyclopedia http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07419a.htm
    “The liturgical colour of the Roman Church is purple, not red, because these children were martyred at a time when they could not attain the beatific vision. But of compassion, as it were, towards the weeping mothers of Bethlehem, the Church omits at Mass both the Gloria and Alleluia; this custom, however, was unknown in the Churches of France and Germany. On the octave day, and also when the feast falls on a Sunday, the Roman Liturgy, prescribes the red colour, the Gloria, and the Alleluia. In England the feast was called “Childermas”.
    “. . . . In many churches in England, Germany, and France on the feast of St. Nicholas (6 December) a boy-bishop was elected, who officiated on the feast of St. Nicholas and of the Holy Innocents. He wore a mitre and other pontifical insignia, sang the collect, preached, and gave the blessing. He sat in the bishop’s chair whilst the choir-boys sang in the stalls of the canons. They directed the choir on these two days and had their solemn procession (Schmidt, “Thesaurus jur eccl.”, III, 67 sqq.; Kirchenlex., IV, 1400; P.L., CXLVII, 135).”

    I had not known (or had forgotten) these things. While we strain at gnats, they had “boy-bishops” presiding, preaching, and blessing.

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