Monday, January 29, 2007

12/30/06: Holy Innocents

Perhaps the saddest day after Good Friday on the Church Calendar is the Remembrance of the Holy Innocents, which takes place on the Fourth Day of Christmastide. On this day, we remember and mourn that horrific terror of the killing of Jewish male children as ordered by King Herod.

As Saint Matthew's gospel, in the second chapter starting at the sixteenth verse, relates:

When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: "A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more."

The Collect in the 1928 Book of Common Prayer reads thus:

O Almighty God, who out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast ordained strength, and madest infants to glorify thee by their deaths; Mortify and kill all vices in us, and so strengthen us by thy grace, that by the innocency of our lives, and constancy of our faith even unto death, we may glorify thy Holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

On the occasions that I have visited the lovely San Luis Rey Mission in Oceanside, one of the original California Missions that remains an active parish to this day, I have found myself drawn to the cemetery. In a corner of the cemetery is a plot dedicated to children who died at birth, and on a wall is a huge plaque, dedicated to the Holy Innocents of our age, who have perished by abortion. I can't help to be touched by these sacred places, and I get a small inkling of the grief of the Rachels of this world, two thousand years ago and even now. And I also mourn for those who don't mourn, for those who have aborted their babies without thought and without remorse.

If you live in the San Diego area, stop by there sometime. Enjoy the gorgeous architecture, the amazing church, the wonderful history. Then stroll around through the cemetery and give a thought and a prayer for those Innocents who have perished, both 2000 years ago in Bethlehem as well as daily in our country and around the world.

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