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December 28 - Feast of the Holy Innocents
Women For Faith ^

Posted on 12/28/2003 11:55:21 AM PST by NYer


Feast of the Holy Innocents

December 28

Giotto di Bondone
No. 21 Scenes from the Life of Christ
Massacre of the Innocents
1304-06 -- Fresco
Cappella Scrovegni (Arena Chapel), Padua


Collect for the Feast of the Holy Innocents

O God, whose praise the martyred innocents did this day proclaim, not by speaking, but by dying: Destroy in us all the malice of sinfulness, that our lives may also proclaim thy faith, which our tongues profess. Through our Lord. Amen.

From the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy

The Feast of the Holy Innocents

113. Since the sixth century, on December 28, the Church has celebrated the memory of those children killed because of Herod's rage against Christ (cf. Mt 2:16-17). Liturgical tradition refers to them as the "Holy Innocents" and regards them as martyrs. Throughout the centuries Christian art, poetry and popular piety have enfolded the memory of the "tender flock of lambs"(125) with sentiments of tenderness and sympathy. These sentiments are also accompanied by a note of indignation against the violence with which they were taken from their mothers' arms and killed.

In our own times, children suffer innumerable forms of violence which threaten their lives, dignity and right to education. On this day, it is appropriate to recall the vast host of children not yet born who have been killed under the cover of laws permitting abortion, which is an abominable crime. Mindful of these specific problems, popular piety in many places has inspired acts of worship as well as displays of charity which provide assistance to pregnant mothers, encourage adoption and the promotion of the education of children.

As recorded in the gospel of Matthew (below), after the visit of the Magi, Herod, in rage and jealousy, slaughtered all the baby boys in Bethlehem and surrounding countryside in an attempt to destroy his perceived rival, the infant Messiah. These "innocents" are honored by the Church as martyrs.

Scripture Readings

1 John 1:5-2:2

This is the message we have heard from Him [Jesus Christ], and proclaim to you, that God is light; and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we say that we have fellowship with Him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not live according to the truth; but if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin in us, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us; but if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and His word is not in us.

My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin; but if any one does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He is the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.


Gospel - Matthew 2:13-18

Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you: for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy Him." And he rose and took the child and his mother by night, and departed to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, "Out of Egypt have I called my son."

Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, was in a furious rage, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:

"A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation:

Rachel weeping for her children;

she refused to be consoled because they were no more."

Note: Scripture readings are from the Revised Standard Version - Catholic Edition

TOPICS: Activism; Apologetics; Catholic; Current Events; Ecumenism; Evangelical Christian; General Discusssion; History; Mainline Protestant; Ministry/Outreach; Moral Issues; Orthodox Christian; Prayer; Religion & Culture; Religion & Politics; Theology; Worship
KEYWORDS: boys; feast; herod; martyrs
The Coventry Carol

This beautiful English lullaby carol originated in the Coventry Corpus Christi Mystery Plays performed in the 15th century. In a play called The Pageant of the Shearmen and Tailors, the women of Bethlehem sing this song just before Herod's soldiers come to slaughter their children. It tells the story of the murder of the Holy Innocents, and is sung on December 28, the feast of those tiny martyrs.

Lully, Lullay, thou little tiny child.
Bye, bye, lully, lullay.
Lullay thou little tiny child
Bye, bye, lully, lullay

O sisters, too, how may we do,
For to preserve this day;
This poor Youngling for whom we sing
Bye, bye lully, lullay

Herod the King, in his raging,
Charged he hath this day;
His men of might, in his own sight,
All young children to slay.

Then woe is me, poor child, for thee,
And ever mourn and say;
For thy parting neither say nor sing,
Bye, bye lully, lullay.

1 posted on 12/28/2003 11:55:22 AM PST by NYer
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To: american colleen; sinkspur; Lady In Blue; Salvation; Polycarp; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; ...
While the church today celebrates the Feast of the Holy Family, in the liturgical calendar, today is the Feast of the Holy Innocents. Please remember the victims of abortion in your prayers today.
2 posted on 12/28/2003 11:58:02 AM PST by NYer (Is Your Mass Valid?
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To: ahadams2; trad_anglican



Jeremiah 31:15-17; Psalm 124; Revelation 21:1-7; Matthew 2:13-18

by the Rev. Dr. Sheryl A. Kujawa

The Rev. Dr. Sheryl A. Kujawa is the program director, ministries with young people, at the Episcopal Church Center.

Sermon Notes

At the last General Convention (1994), resolution B017a was passed calling for "the Feast of the Holy Innocents or another appropriate date be observed as a time of prayer for children at risk and remembrance of those who have been victims of violence ..." Congregations interested in observing the feast have an opportunity during the Christmas season to pray for the urgent needs of children within the church and in the wider society. Along with the National Observance of Children's Sabbaths in October, sponsored through the Children's Defense Fund, and Anglican Youth Sunday in November, the Feast of the Holy Innocents is an opportunity for congregations to focus community worship on the needs and concerns of those under the age of eighteen.

Resolution B017a also urged congregations to commit financial resources to ministries with children. The offering for the day may be designated for a local ministry, or for the Thunder Child project of the Presiding Bishop's Fund for World Relief (x5153) or the Anglican Childcare Fund (x5224). During this season -- a time for some of conspicuous consumption - - an offering suggests one way congregation can assist the many children who constitute the majority of the world's poor.

Those interested in utilizing Children's Sabbath or Anglican Youth Sunday materials for planning worship for the Feast of the Holy Innocents can contact the Youth Ministries Office, 815 Second Avenue, New York, New York 10016; 800/334-7626, ext. 5217, 5176. A limited amount of those materials for 1996 are still available. Prayers and litanies suitable for use on the Feast of the Holy Innocents are also in Marian Wright Edelman's recent collection, entitled Guide My Feet: Prayers and Meditations on Loving and Working for Children, and available in many bookstores.

The story of the flight into Egypt that is a portion of the reading from the Gospel according to Matthew, has also been used to reflect on the plight of refugees and other displaced persons, most of whom are women and children. The United Nations has set aside 1997 as a year to focus on the needs of refugees and displaced persons. Congregations interested in study on these issues could look to the Feast of the Holy Innocents as a way to begin this emphasis through a common worship experience. For more information on Episcopal Refugee and Migration Ministries contact Richard Parkins at the Episcopal Church Center (x5216).

In the lectionary readings for the day, the prophet Jeremiah's account of Rachel weeping for her children has been borrowed for the bittersweet Feast of the Holy Innocents. For Christians, Rachel became a symbol of all Jewish women bewailing the death of their infants at the hands of Herod's soldiers. Ramah was a small town north of Jerusalem where the earliest traditions place Rachel's tomb. Here Rachel is crying out from her grave over the deaths of her "children." Rachel, the wife of Jacob, was the mother of Joseph and Benjamin and the grandmother of Ephraim and Manasseh. The affliction of the northern kingdom, symbolized in this instance by Rachel's mourning, is a frequent theme in Jeremiah.

In the reading from Revelation we have a vision of the new Jerusalem as predicted by the prophet Isaiah. In this vision all creation is renewed and freed from pain and sorrow by the glory of God.

The passage from the Gospel according to Matthew recounts the story of the flight into Egypt by Jesus, Mary and Joseph, as well as the massacre under Herod's order of all children in the vicinity of Bethlehem. The fact that Herod chose to kill all children under two years of age reminds us of the time that must have passed between Jesus' birth and the arrival of the magi in Matthew's scheme. Matthew's free way of quoting scripture shows in his version of Rachel's lament which follows neither the masoretic text nor the Septuagint.

--"Selected Sermon"

--Return to "Worship That Works"

3 posted on 12/28/2003 12:03:16 PM PST by NYer (Is Your Mass Valid?
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To: drstevej

Holy Innocents MM (RM)

1st century; feast day in the Eastern Church is December 29.

"O martyrs, young and fresh as flowers,
Your day was in its morning hours
When Christ was sought and your were found
Like rain-strewn petals on the ground."
--Prudentius, Salvete, flores martyrum

Herod the son of Antipater was designated procurator of Judea by Julius Caesar and king under Augustus Caesar. He ruled from 47 BC to 2 AD, and was therefore king when Jesus was born.

Herod assumed the title 'the Great.' Yet his was fanatically determined to stamp out any messianic threat to his throne. When he learned from the three Magi who had come to worship the infant Jesus that 'a ruler shall come from Bethlehem who will govern my people Israel,' he decided to kill the child. The Magi, warned in a dream not to tell Herod where to find Jesus, returned to the East by a different way (Matt. 2:1-12). In his rage King Herod decreed that every male child under two years old in Bethlehem and that region should be killed (Matt. 2:16-18).

Only because Joseph had been warned by a dream that this would happen and accordingly fled with his wife and Jesus to Egypt was the Savior spared (Matt. 2:13-15). The other innocent children were put to the sword. This is one of the seven sorrows of Mary: to realize the hatred others would have of her Son and Lord; to understand that saving her own baby led to the death of others.

The Holy Innocents were of the same land and same age as the little Jesus, nearly 18 months. Some were walking, their legs too far apart. They were beginning to say papa and mama. They were beautiful--each one more beautiful than the other. It was the flower of Bethlehem, these children who already were making their mothers smile.

The number killed under Herod's order has often been exaggerated. Commentators has estimated that there were perhaps between six and 25 male children under the age of two who would have been found around Bethlehem at that time. Yet Herod's savagery has become a deep historical memory. He later had his own son murdered, so that Augustus Caesar allegedly said, "Better to be Herod's pig than Herod's son."

It is the custom in Bethlehem for Christian children to gather in the church of the Nativity every afternoon and sing a hymn in memory of the 'flowers of martyrdom,' who bore witness to the Messiah whom they did not know. The feast of the Holy Innocents has been kept in the West from the 4th century: They are considered to be martyrs because they not only died for Christ but instead of Christ. In Jerome's martyrology they are called "the holy babes and sucklings"; in the Calendar of Carthage, simply "the infants." Their relics are claimed by English and French churches.

In this feast the Church honors all who die in a state of innocence and consoles parents of dead children with the conviction that these also will share the glory of the infant companions of Jesus (Attwater, Bentley, Encyclopedia, Farmer).

ACKNOWLEDGMENT: This article appeares on the award winning website "Saints of the Day"sponsored by Saint Patrick's Catholic Church of Washington DC. E-mail:

4 posted on 12/28/2003 12:16:54 PM PST by NYer (Is Your Mass Valid?
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To: NYer
Thanks for posting this. I will link it to the Mass thread for further reference.

God bless!
5 posted on 12/28/2003 5:21:31 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: NYer
Celebrated this year on December 21.
6 posted on 12/28/2003 5:39:49 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: NYer
In reciting the Christmas story, we don’t usually hear about the Holy Innocents as the Church calls them. These are the children whose lives were unwittingly given to save the Christ Child.

The Bible tells us that when the wise men went to Jerusalem, they inquired about the child who had been born King of the Jews. When Herod heard about this, he summoned them and asked them about this child. He told them that when they found Him, to let him know so that he, too, could go and worship this child. However, when Herod realized that the wise men were not going to return with the news he sought, he plotted to kill Christ. He sent his troops to the town of Bethlehem with orders to murder every male child under the age of two. Herod did not want any competition and he saw the Christ Child as just that. So by having all these children slaughtered, he figured that surely this child would be among them and his problem would be solved. God knew Herod’s mind, however, and forewarned St. Joseph in a dream to take the child and His mother, Mary and escape to Egypt, which they did. Jesus was not among the children killed, but these children lost their lives because of Him, and for that reason, the Church honors them as martyrs.
7 posted on 12/28/2003 5:49:17 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: All

The Holy Innocents
The feast of the Holy Innocents does not only honor the children who died that day, but all children whose lives have been taken. The feast of the Holy Innocents does primarily concentrate on those who died because of Herod’s jealousy and rage but at the same time, we celebrate the fact that Herod did not succeed in his plan to murder the Christ Child.

Prayer: Lord, we pray now for all the little souls whose lives have been aborted because of pride, selfishness or fear. Please dear Lord, we pray for an end to the heinous crime of abortion, especially partial-birth abortion and any method or medication that ends the lives of these innocent children. Please, Father, remove the scales from the eyes of those who do not see that this is murder, and forgive us, Father, for this evil. Amen

Go back to the Today's Saint



8 posted on 12/28/2003 5:50:49 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: All

Prayer for the Helpless Unborn

            Heavenly Father, in your love for us,
            protect against the wickedness of the
            devil, those helpless little ones to
            whom you have give the gift of life.

            Touch with pity the hearts of those
            women pregnant in our world today
            who are not thinking of motherhood.

            Help them to see that the child they
            carry is made in your image- as well
            as theirs- made for eternal life.

            Dispel their fear and selfishness and
            give them tur womanly hearts to love
            their babies and give them birth and
            all the needed care that a mother
            alone can give.

            We ask this through Jesus Christ,
            your Son, our Lord, who lives and
            reigns in the Holy Spirit, one God,
            forever and ever.


9 posted on 01/01/2004 1:43:44 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: NYer

BTTT on December 28, 2004.

Please remember all the innocent children who die each day through abortion.

10 posted on 12/28/2004 6:52:45 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: NYer

11 posted on 12/28/2004 7:32:43 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: NYer; father_elijah; nickcarraway; SMEDLEYBUTLER; Siobhan; Lady In Blue; attagirl; ...
Saint/Feast of the Day Ping!

Please notify me via FReepmail if you would like to be added to or taken off the Saint/Feast of the Day Ping List.

12 posted on 12/28/2004 7:53:24 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: NYer; sinkspur; GirlShortstop; Salvation; Maeve; Siobhan; tiki; SuziQ; Mr. Thorne; Tribune7; ...

Prayer to the Little Souls

Holy Innocents,
little martyrs
ripped from your mother's womb,
you who were formed
to be loved and cared for,
to grow into a child of God
walking the face of the earth,
but instead
became witnesses
of selfishness,
of the culture of death,
of human unwillingness
to even consider you human
lest you interfere
with the life of the ones
who most should have loved you,
O little souls,
safe now in the loving arms
of our Blessed Mother,
where no one will hurt you again,
Pray for us.

Pray that we will
have the courage to speak up
when we would have been silent
on the sanctity of life.

Pray for us
that we will not let the fine words
and smooth talking of those who would lead us
down the dark paths
in the name of fairness
confuse us about what really matters.

Pray for us
to know the culture of death
and have the heart
to stand up for right
and God and truth.

Pray for us,
and mothers faced with crisis
that the right person
will speak the right word
say the right thing,
pray the right prayer
and she will save her child
from the evil of those who would take its life.

O little souls,
pray for us that we might use well
the gift of life
that was denied you,
for the glory of our Lord,
now and forever,

Susan E. Stone, 2004

13 posted on 12/28/2004 8:20:27 AM PST by Knitting A Conundrum (Act Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly With God Micah 6:8)
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To: Knitting A Conundrum


14 posted on 12/28/2004 8:23:24 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: NYer

Blessed be God forever!

15 posted on 12/28/2004 9:00:58 AM PST by franky (Pray for the souls of the faithful departed. Pray for our own souls to receive the grace of a happy)
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To: Salvation

16 posted on 12/28/2004 11:21:57 AM PST by Smartass (BUSH & CHENEY to 2008 Si vis pacem, para bellum - Por el dedo de Dios se escribió)
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To: Smartass

Beautiful! Says it all.

17 posted on 12/28/2004 7:08:05 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: All

What is the celebration of Childermas?


Childermas is also known as Holy Innocents’ Day. This day remembers King Herod’s slaughter of infants in his fanatical search for the baby Jesus. His plan was foiled, however, and thus the tradition of this being a day for children to play tricks on their elders. In Western Europe and Mexico, Childermas is similar to April Fool’s Day observed on April 1 in the United States


Family Scripture Reading and Reflection


As a family, read the Gospel from today’s Liturgy celebrating the feast of the Holy Innocents, martyrs. Find this in the Gospel of Matthew 2:13-18.


Talk about images that members of your family has seen —in the newspaper, magazines, on television, which show children and families in pain. Is there anyone in your own neighborhood to whom you can reach out?


Our Family’s Response: A Search for Children and Families in Need


Do your own search as a family for small children who are in need of the basics of life —food, clothing and shelter. Contact a local shelter or food pantry to see what supplies your family might help to provide.


Here are several ideas for reaching out to children and families:


þ     Collect whatever local service groups and agencies need. Contact these agencies to see what kind of resources they need; for example, shelters, soup kitchens and food banks almost always have a need for canned goods and perishables. Family shelters need essentials such as sheets, blankets, towels, new underwear, shoes, socks, t-shirts, pajamas, toothbrushes, toothpaste, diapers, baby-wipes, baby shampoo.

þ     Create school kits. Include notebooks, pencils, pens, markers, crayons, calculators, rulers, erasers, pencil sharpeners.

þ     Create a fun pack for a pre-school age child. Include crayons, play-doh, fingerpaints, chalk, bubbles, and homemade finger puppets.

þ     Make a birthday or holiday special by creating a birthday box. As a family, decide what you think should be included in the child’s birthday box. Be creative and remember, your efforts mean someone will be able to celebrate a special day which otherwise would go unnoticed!


Does your family love dessert? So do families at the local soup kitchen. Donate ice-cream sandwiches or cones, or provide the fixings for a make-your-own sundae bar. Recruit neighborhood families or friends and spend a morning baking cookies and decorating them!

18 posted on 12/28/2004 10:55:53 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: NYer

December 28, Feast of the Holy Innocents

The Holy Innocents saved the Child Jesus from death by King Herod by the shedding of their own blood. The Holy Innocents are the special patrons of small children, who can please the Christ Child by being obedient and helpful to parents, and by sharing their toys and loving their siblings and playmates.

The feast of the Holy Innocents is an excellent time for parents to inaugurate the custom of blessing their children. From the Ritual comes the form which we use on solemn occasions, such as First Communion. But parents can simply sign a cross on the child's forehead with the right thumb dipped in holy water and say: May God bless you, and may He be the Guardian of your heart and mind—the Father, + Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

19 posted on 12/28/2006 9:20:42 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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