+ Today the Church celebrates those children who were killed in Bethlehem and the surrounding area by order of King Herod. This fulfilled the words of the Prophet Jeremiah:
“In Ramah is heard the sound of sobbing,
Rachel mourns for her children,
she refuses to be consoled
for her children—they are no more!”
+ These innocent victims gave testimony to the Messiah and Redeemer, not by their words, but by shedding their blood.
+ Honored as martyrs by the Early Church, they have been remembered since the first century.
+ In his beautiful “Hymn for Epiphany,” the poet Prudentius praises the Innocents as “sweet flowers of martyrdom / cut down in life’s bright dawning hour,” and as playing, in their simplicity, by God’s altar with the crowns and martyrs’ palms that are their reward.
For prayer and reflection
“The innocents were slaughtered as infants for Christ;
spotless, they follow the Lamb
and sing for ever: Glory to you, O Lord.”
—Entrance antiphon for the Feast of the Holy Innocents
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,
God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.