THE FEAST OF THE HOLY INNOCENTS
By the Holy Innocents, who are honored as martyrs today by the Catholic Church, we understand them to be those infants who, by the command of King Herod, were put to death so that the new-born King of the Jews might be deprived of life.
During Christmas the Church celebrates the memory of the small children of the neighborhood of
Bethlehem put to death by Herod. Sacrificed by a wicked monarch, these innocent lives bear witness to Christ who was persecuted from the time of His birth by a world which would not receive Him. It is Christ Himself who is at stake in this mass-murder of the children; already the choice, for or against Him, is put clearly before men. But the persecutors are powerless, for Christ came to perform a work of salvation that nothing can prevent; when He fell into the hands of His enemies at the time chosen by God it was to redeem the world by His own Blood.
Hymn: Salvete Flores
All Hail! ye infant Martyr flowers,
Cut off in life's first dawning hours:
As rosebuds snapt in temptest strife,
When Herod sought your Saviors life.
You, tender flock of lambs, we sing,
First victims slain for Christ your King:
Beside the very altar, gay
With palms and crowns, ye seem to play.
All honor, laud, and glory be,
O Jesu, Virgin-born, to Thee;
All glory, as is ever meet,
To Father and to Paraclete.
Our Christmas joy is tempered today by a feeling of sadness, but the Church looks principally to the glory of the children, these innocent victims, whom God shows us in heaven following the Lamb wherever He goes.