Monday, December 28, 2009

Feast of the Holy Innocents

When [the Magi] had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Arise, take the young child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the child to destroy Him."

When he arose, he took the young child and His mother by night and departed into Egypt. He stayed there until the death of Herod, that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled, "Out of Egypt have I called My Son." When Herod realized that he had been made a fool of by the Magi, he became furious. He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years and under, in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the Magi.

Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the Prophet: "A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be consoled, for they were no more." ~~ Matt. 2:13-18

Today the Church honors the innocent children slaughtered at Herod's hand, the martyrs who died for Christ without even knowing of Him in this life. For a beautiful commentary, see today's reading at Universalis (scroll down to "A sermon of St Quodvultdeus.")

And today, I also think of the holy innocents killed each day through abortion. St. Quodvultdeus wrote

"You destroy those who are tiny in body because fear is destroying your heart. You imagine that if you accomplish your desire you can prolong your own life, though you are seeking to kill Life himself ..."

and in these few, powerful words reached the core of the issue. The issue, frighteningly often, is fear. Fear drives many women to abortion: fear of one's own failure, fear of the responsibility of parenthood, fear of financial, health or emotional problems, fear of the father of the baby (do you know how many abortions are coerced? See links such as this article at The Eliot Institute, but please be forewarned that it is difficult reading.)

A woman considering abortion might imagine that if she "accomplishes her desire" she can "prolong her own life" -- in other words, she believes the lie (as Herod did) that removing the child from the picture will solve the problem.

But the child -- like Jesus in Herod's life -- cannot simply be removed. Jesus is Life Himself. The child in the womb, so intimately connected to his mother (even to a mother who does not want to, or is afraid to, acknowledge the connection) is a connection to Life. Removing the child does violence not only to the innocent baby's body but to the mother's relationship with Life Himself. She becomes a modern-day Herod, driven by a fear that destroys her heart and her soul.

A post-abortive woman, if she doesn't come to see the reality of the act, reject it, and repent of it, will sink more and more deeply into a defense of it, to the point of irrationality. But, if she turns to God, to Life, He can and will restore her heart, her life and her connection to Him.

There is hope. There is healing. And all the saints in heaven, including the Holy Innocents, are praying for it.

For more on the aftermath of abortion, see the following links:

The Eliot Institute
Rachel's Vineyard
Hope After Abortion
The National Office of PostAbortion Reconciliation and Healing
Operation Outcry.

For a beautiful shrine dedicated to the unborn, see The Shrine of the Holy Innocents.


Finally, when I think of Holy Innocents, I also think of those babies lost through miscarriage, stillbirth, and sudden infant death. I think of every parent who has ever lost a child of any age, in any way.  So, today, I am praying for all the grieving parents of all holy innocents everywhere, children who have died too soon ... for all who, having been open to life, have suffered in seeing a life lost.

May you feel God's peace and comfort on this solemn but beautiful feast day.

May you feel the assurance that we will see our lost children again.


David Jackson said...

You might enjoy the poem in this article I published this morning.

God bless

Karen said...

So beautifully put, Karen. All of it. (((Hugs)))

Erin said...

This is beautiful. Thank you.