Innocence is the recurring theme of the entire season of Christmas. Our Lady, who was conceived without any stain of Original and Actual Sin, was chosen from all eternity to be the New Eve, the Ark of the New Covenant, the Singular Vessel of Devotion, the Mystical Rose, the Tower of David, the House of Gold in which the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity would be made incarnate by the power of the Holy Ghost. The innocent Blessed Virgin of Nazareth was to have the singular privilege of conceiving and giving birth to the King of Innocence Himself, stripped of all of His royal prerogatives as He was wrapped in swaddling clothes as He lay in the bed of hay that lined the manger in the stable in the cradle in the cave in Bethlehem. The purity and innocence that was His from all eternity with His Co-Eternal Father radiated brilliantly from His Most Holy Face.
Each Baptized soul shares in the glory and beauty of that innocence of the newborn Babe of Innocence at the moment Original Sin is flooded out of its midst and replaced with the very inner life of the Blessed Trinity that is Sanctifying Grace. Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ became a humble Babe so that all babes could be regenerated in the laver of Baptism, providing them with all of the graces necessary to leave the world at the moment of their deaths as unspotted as they entered the Church in the Baptismal font.
Saint Paul wrote of the humility of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ's stripping Himself of his attachment to his royal prerogatives as the King of Kings to be born as a humble Babe in Bethlehem so as to redeem us by the shedding of every single drop of His Most Precious Blood on the wood of the Holy Cross:
Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man. He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross. For which cause God also hath exalted him, and hath given him a name which is above all names: That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth: And that every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2: 6-11)
The Innocent One Who had become Flesh in the tabernacle of the Virginal and Immaculate Womb of the Innocent handmaid of Nazareth was meant to pay back in the perfect human nature of Adam before the Fall from Grace in the Garden of Eden what was owed to Him in His Infinity as God: the debt of human sins. His time had been appointed from all eternity to be Good Friday. Although He could have redeemed us with the shedding of just one drop of His Most Precious Blood at the moment of His Circumcision eight days after His birth, Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ undertook His fearful Passion and Death on the wood of the Holy Cross so as to show us the depth of His love and the horror of our own sins. Try as others might to expedite the time of the Sacrifice of Himself to the Father in Spirit and in Truth on the gibbet of the Holy Cross, Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ's time had been affixed by the Father. Not even the great King Herod the Great, the puppet king placed over the Jews by Caesar Augustus, could use all of his bloody might to extinguish the life of the newborn Babe before His time.
Having heard from the Three Kings of the Orient that a new King of the Jews had been born in Bethlehem, the wicked Herod sought to crush out such a "rival" when he was but a defenseless child. Saint Joseph, the just and silent man of the House of David, was warned in a dream by Saint Gabriel the Archangel to take the Child and His Blessed Mother into Egypt until Herod had died, thus thwarting the tyrant's plans to kill the King of Kings before He was to fulfill the Father's Holy Will during His Passion and Death. Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ was thus forced to life as a refugee in a place of exile until He, like Moses before Him, was called out of Egypt to effect in due course the New and Eternal Passover by means of His Paschal Sacrifice, superceding the Old Covenant and the Old Passover forever.
Herod did not know any of this. Blinded by his violent rage, the ogre ordered the execution of all the male children two and under in Bethlehem in order to do away with the One Who had come to save his own immortal soul, Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. An unknown number of sons of mothers and fathers was killed. These little boys were killed because a wicked king was trying to kill the infant Jesus. They were killed because of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. They will killed in the place of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. They are thus truly martyrs for Christ even though they did not even know Him, no less had the ability to confess His Holy Name before men.
Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., noted this in The Liturgical Year:
The Daughters of Rachel wept over their little ones, and the land streamed with blood; but the Tyrant's policy can do no more; it cannot reach Jesus, and its whole plot ends in recruiting an immense army of Martyrs for heaven. These Children were not capable of knowing what an honour it was for them to be made victims for the sake of the Saviour of the world; but the very first instant after their immolation, all was revealed to them; they had gone through this world without knowing it; and now that they know it, they possess an infinitely better. God showed here the riches of his mercy; he asks of them but a momentary suffering, and that over, they wake up in Abraham's Bosom: no further trial awaits them, they are in spotless innocence, and the glory due to a soldier who died to save the life of his Prince belongs eternally to them.
They died for Jesus' sake: therefore, their death was a real Martyrdom, and the Church calls them by the beautiful name of the Flowers of the Martyrs,because of their tender age and their innocence. Justly then does the ecclesiastical Cycle bring them before us to-day, immediately after the two valiant Champions of Christ, Stephen and John. the connection of these three Feasts is thus admirably explained by St. Bernard: "On St. Stephen, we have both the act and the desire of Martyrdom; in St. John, we have but the desire; in the Holy Innocents, we have but the act. . . . Will anyone doubt whether a crown was given to these Innocents? . . . If you ask me what merit could they have that God should crown them? let me ask you what was the fault for which Herod slew them? What! is the mercy of Jesus less than the cruelty of Herod? and whilst Herod could put these Babes to death, who had done him no injury, Jesus may not crown them for dying for Him?" (Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., The Liturgical Year.)
The Holy Innocents of Bethlehem suffered for Christ. Although countless millions of preborn children have been put to death in this country and around the world by means of chemical and surgical abortion since Leninist Russia instituted surgical child-killing on January 13, 1918, three months after the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima, those victims of the errors of Russia, which are the anti-Incarnational errors of Modernity in the world and Modernism in the Church, have notbeen put to death in the place of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
True, many of those who have participated in the slaughter of preborn babies have a consciously vicious hatred for Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and His Holy Church. That is not the same thing, however, as Herod's desire to kill Christ Himself and the mortal jeopardy to which the Holy Innocents of Bethlehem were thus exposed.
While we invoke the Holy Innocents to stop the shedding of innocent blood in this country and the world by praying for the conversion of all those who support this sin that cries out to Heaven for vengeance to the true Faith and for the proper consecration of Russia to Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart, it is wrong to equate the victims of the genocidal practice of chemical and surgical baby-killing with them, worse yet to state that the souls of aborted babies share in the shame martyrdom as the Holy Innocents themselves, which is precisely what the International Theological Commission did in its egregious The Hope ofSalvation for Infants Who Die Without Being Baptised, April 19, 2007, equating the fate of preborn babies with that of the Holy Innocents, thus distorting the meaning of the martyrdom of the children whose deaths we honor this very day within the Octave of Christmas.
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. Moreover, they are in solidarity with the Christ who said: “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40). How vital it is for the Church to proclaim the hope and generosity that are intrinsic to the Gospel and essential for the protection of life. (The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die Without Being Baptised.)
A presbyter attached to the conciliar structures, albeit in the "resist and recognize camp," as can be seen in his remarks, but who will not be otherwise identified wrote the following about eleven years ago now before:
The Holy Innocents died for Christ, and, as you say, in the place of Christ. Aborted babies do not die so that Christ may live, but so that their parents bent on evil may continue their works of death. The result of the sacrifice of the Holy Innocents is the will of God fulfilled in His only-begotten Son. The result of the slaughter in our midst is a furtherance of the reign of satan among us. The death of the Holy Innocents served the will of God; the death of aborted babies serves the will of selfish parents, greedy "doctors", and satan himself. It is hard to conceive of two more diametrically opposed realities.
It might be helpful also to add something about the wholesale re-definition of martyrdom being done by the modern Church even beyond the issue of abortion. There are those who wish to "canonize" various protestant heretics who died while proselytizing their errors abroad. Some wish to "canonize" the Catholics who die while spreading liberation theology. And, of course, there is the hideous spectacle of those who claim that Pope John Paul II was a "martyr" for the faith -- spending more than twenty-four years after the assassination attempt living the "oppression" of the papal palace, traveling around the world, receiving the accolades of the faithful and the enemies of the Faith alike, hobnobbing with the political elites on both sides of the Iron Curtain, and imposing his vision of the Council on the Church he re-made in his own image. This is all of a piece with those who misappropriate the Holy Innocents in their political and theological efforts to reshape the Church and her doctrines. . . .
It is in God's time, not satan's or ours, when and how the immolation of Jesus was to occur. The idea that aborted babies go to Heaven is akin to saying that gossip is an act of piety so long as the information offered is true. The test is, as always, according to the direction of Jesus: judge the tree by its fruit.
The Catholic concept of authentic martyrdom for Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and Saviour Jesus Christ as He has revealed Himself through His true Church has been under attack in the past fifty-sixyears just as much as almost every other aspect of the Faith that has been handed down to us from the Apostles.
Indeed, we need to pray to the Holy Innocents that those in the counterfeit church of conciliarism who attack the Faith will be converted to the true Faith before they die and admit and abjure their errors publicly. For the plain fact of the matter that efforts to change everything about the Faith (the nature of truth, the nature of the Church, false ecumenism, the Mass, the Rosary, Limbo, martyrdom, seeking converts to the Faith, religious liberty, the separation of Church and State) has only made it more possible for the Herods of the world to attack the Faith with a fury that can come only from Hell itself.
Thus it is that our focus this day should be on the fact that a political potentate was intent on retaining his own power at all costs, including crushing out theInfant Jesus, reminding us of the great efforts that have been waged from the Pentecost Sunday to our own day to stamp out the Catholic Faith.
Whether it was the hatred of the Holy Name of Jesus exhibited by the Sanhedrin, or the perverse cruelty of the Roman Emperors and their minions, or the mockery of the philosophes and artistes of the Renaissance, or the desire of the Protestant Revolutionaries to live lives of impurity or to engage in the wanton pursuit of wealth with impunity unto eternity, or the efforts to stamp out the Social Reign of Christ the King in Central Europe, Scandinavia, and England immediately thereafter, or the rise of Freemasonry, or the anti-Incarnational thrust of the American Revolution and Constitution, or the violence of the French Revolution, or the attacks upon the Church led by the leaders of the Risorgimento in Italy, or the Kulturkampf of Otto von Bismarck in Germany, or the delusional beliefs of Woodrow Wilson (and Wilson's support for the attacks upon thousands upon thousands of Catholics in Mexico) and his cohorts that world peace could be guaranteed by an international organization, or the demonic fury of Bolshevism and Nazism and Maoism and Castroism, or the capitalist desire to engineer a corporate/economic structure that obliterates Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and His Social Teaching from the consciousness of man, each of the efforts to attack Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and His Holy Church throughout her history has the same diabolical roots as the attack that Herod the Great launched against the Holy Innocents two millennia ago. The slaughter of the unborn in our own day, as horrific as it is and as deserving as it is of our prayerful attention and solid Catholic action founded in Total Consecration to Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, is but one symptom of the larger warfare that the Herods of Modernity and their enablers in the counterfeit church of conciliarism have been waging against Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and Saviour Jesus Christ and His Holy Church.
Father Benedict Baur, O.S.B. elucidated on the simple truth that persecution is "characteristic of true Christianity:"
Christ, indeed, has enemies. "He was in the world, . . . and the world knew him not" (John 1: 10). "Behold this child is set for the fall and for the resurrection of many in Israel" (Luke 2: 34). The enemy (Herod) already lurks in nearby Jerusalem. He is determined to destroy the child and orders the brutal murder of the children of Bethlehem and its environs. Wherever Christ is reproduced, in HIs Person, in HIs teaching, in His spirit and His Commandments, in HIs Church, and especially in His holy members, He finds contradiction and hatred. "If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you" (John 15: 20). Persecution is characteristic of true Christianity; it is the mark of the Church and of the true Christian: "If you had been of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you" (John 15: 19).
Christ has many witnesses: the prophets, the angels, John the Baptist, the shepherds, the star, the wise men of the East, the Holy Innocents. All these are willing and joyful witnesses of the Savior. Through their untimely death and the ceaseless wail of their distracted mothers, the Holy Innocents of Bethlehem proclaim far and wide the birth of Him whom Herod sought to ill. Of them Christ has said: "You shall be witnesses unto Me" (Acts 1: 8). One must with with Christ or against Him. One must be a witness to Him or an enemy to Him. There can be no neutrality in the service of Christ.
Happy were the children of Bethlehem who were privileged to offer their lives for the persecuted and despised Savior. They belong now to the multitude of the elect who have "His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads. . . . And they sung, as it were, a new canticle before the throne and before the four living creatures. . . . These were purchased from among men, the first fruits to God and to the Lamb And in their mouth there was found no lie; for they are without spot before the throne of God" (Epistle--for the Mass on the Feast of the Holy Innocents.)
The devil could have conferred upon the Holy Innocents no greater favor than that accomplished by his hatred of them. To live, to suffer, and to die for Christ and His cause, is not a loss, but a privilege. "he that hateth his life in this world, keepth it unto life eternal. If any man minister to Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there also shall My minister be" (John 12: 25 f.).
In the Offertory of the Mass the Holy Innocents represent us. As Mass we bring forward all that we are nd have--our life, our body and soul, and all our goods--and offer them freely in witness to the divinity of Christ. We are indeed privileged to thus offer ourselves for Christ; for through this offering and through the union of our life with His, we shall be freed from slavery of sin and the flesh. For this reason we rejoice with the Holy Innocents in the Offertory prayer: "Our soul hath been delivered as a sparrow out of the snare of the fowlers. The snare is broken, and we are delivered."
"A voice in Rama was heard, lamentation and great mourning; Rachel bewailing her children, and would not be comforted because they are not" (Communion Prayer for the Mass on the Feasts of the Holy Innocents). These children, however, now live and have communion with the glorified Christ. We, too, shall share this divine life if we share in His passion. (Father Benedict Baur, O.S.B., The Light of the World, B. Herder Book Company, 1954, pp. 107-109.)
Yes, there can be no neutrality in the service of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. None. At any time. There is no naturalistic, philosophical, ideological, programmatic, religiously indifferentist, inter-denominational or nondenominational way to ameliorate a single, solitary problem in this world.
We need Christ the King, for whom the Holy Innocents we honor today gave up their lives, and His Holy Church. There is no middle ground at all.
The readings in Matins for today's Divine Office includes a reflection of this feast written by Saint Augustine of Hippo:
Dearly beloved brethren, today we keep the birthday of those children, who, as we are informed by the Gospel, were massacred by the savage King Herod. Therefore let earth rejoice with exceeding joy, for she is the mother of these heavenly soldiers, and of this numerous host. The love of the vile Herod could never have crowned these blessed ones as hath his hatred. For the Church testifieth by this holy solemnity, that whereas iniquity did specially abound against these little saints, so much the more were heavenly blessings poured out upon them.
Blessed art thou, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah, which hast suffered the cruelty of King Herod in the slaughter of thy children; who art found worthy to offer at once to God a whole white-robed army of guileless martyrs! Surely, it is well to keep their birth-day, even that blessed birthday which gave them from earth to heaven, more blessed than the day that brought them out of their mother's womb. Scarcely had they entered on the life that now is, when they obtained that glorious life which is to come.
We praise the death of other martyrs because it was the crowning act of an undaunted and persistent testimony; but these were crowned at once. He That maketh an end to this present life, gave to them at its very gates that eternal blessedness which we hope for at its close. They whom the wickedness of Herod tore from their mothers' breasts are rightfully called the flowers of martyrdom; hardly had these buds of the Church shown their heads above the soil, in the winter of unbelief, when the frost of persecution nipped them. (From Saint Augustine’s Tenth Sermon on the Saints, Matins, The Divine Office, Feast of the Holy Innocents.)
No, there can be no compromises with evil. Evil must be opposed and denounced to the point of shedding our blood in defense of the Way, the Truth, and the Life Himself, Our Blessed Lord and Saviour esus Christ.
The slaughter of the preborn today will never be ended by any kind of naturalistic means. This slaughter, which exists under cover of law precisely because of the overthrow of the Social Reign of Christ the King wrought by the Protestant Revolt and institutionalized by Judeo-Masonry and a related host of naturalistic ideologies that exalt the religiously indifferentist civil state, will be ended only as a result of the conversion of men and their nations to the true Church as a result of the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, one of the chief fruits of which will be the restoration of the Social Reign of Christ the King.
In the midst of the continued assaults against Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and His Holy Church, much of which is being waged by ravenous wolves in shepherds' clothing in the conciliar structures, we must ask the Holy Innocents to intercede for us, so that the wedding garment of grace that was placed on our bodies following our Baptism will be cleansed of all stain of sin (and the punishments due them) by bathing constantly in the Most Precious Blood of the spotless Lamb of God Who taketh away the sins of the world, the Lamb of God for whom they themselves shed their own innocent blood. May we stand up to the Herods of our own day, defending the rights of Christ the King of His Most Blessed Mother, who is the Immaculata, and defending the inviolability of all innocent human life with the same vigor that we defend the integrity of the doctrines of the Holy Faith and adhere to the purity of the worship offered God in the Mass He Himself taught the Apostles to offer before He Ascended to the Father's right hand in glory.
As we still surround the Crib of the Baby Jesus with our acts of love and praise, especially by means of His Most Blessed Mother's Holy Rosary, may we make our own this prayer of Dom Prosper Gueranger that he offered to the Holy Innocents of the City of David, Bethlehem:
Flowers of the Martyrs! we confide in your intercession, and beseech you, by the reward so gratuitously conferred on you, to be mindful of us your brethren, who are struggling amidst the dangers of this sinful world. We too desire to receive those same Palms and Crowns which you have won, but with such innocence and simplicity that the Church says you played with them: whereas we have to fight hard and long for them., and are so often on the point of losing them for ever! the God that has glorified you is our last end as truly as he is yours; in him alone can our hearts find their rest; pray for us, that we may possess him for all eternity.
Pray for us, that we may obtain child-like simplicity of heart, whence comes that unreserved confidence in God which leads man to the perfect accomplishment of his holy will. May we bear the cross with patience when he sends it, and desire nothing but his holly will. You gazed upon the murderers who broke your gentle sleep, and you found nothing to make you fear; the bright sword they held over your cradle had but the look of a toy with which you asked to play; death stared you in the face, and you smiled on him. May we imitate you, and be meek and graceful in the trials that come to us; making them our martyrdom by the quiet endurance of our courage, and the conformity of our will with that of our Sovereign Lord and Master, who only gives the cross that he may give the crown. May we never object to or hate the instruments he uses wherewith to try us; may no harshness nor injustice nor pain ever quench the fire of our charity, not any event ever deprive us of that peace without which our souls live not to God.
And lastly, O ye innocent Lambs, slain for Jesus, and following him whithersoever he goeth, because ye are pure, pray for us to the Lamb of God, that he permit us to come to him in Bethlehem, and, like you, fix our dwelling there, for it is the abode of love and innocence. Speak for us to Mary, a Mother more compassionate than Rachel; tell her that we are her children, and your brethren. She that compassionated your momentary sufferings will pity us and help us in our long years of temptation, pain and sorrow. (Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., The Liturgical Year.)
In a special way, let us call upon the Holy Innocents today to pray for the innocence of the Innocent Lamb who took upon Himself the guilt of us all to help us to be wholly innocent at all times and in all things unto the point of our dying breaths as we pray as many Rosaries each day as our states in life permit.
Vivat Christus Rex! Viva Cristo Rey!
Our Lady, Mother of God, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, pray for us.
Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.
Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.
Saint John the Evangelist, pray for us.
Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Gabriel the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Raphael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saints Joachim and Anne, pray for us.
Saints Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, pray for us
The Holy Innocents, pray for us.