Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!
Feast of the Holy Innocents—28 December AD 2014

Ordinary of the Mass
Mass of the Holy Innocents

The Holy Inniocents-Giotto de Bondone
Giotto de Bondone:  The Holy Innocents

“A voice in Rama was heard, lamentation and great mourning;
Rachel bewailing her children, and would not be comforted,
because they are no longer.”

With the possible exception of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ, it is hard to think of a more barbaric passage in the Gospels than the slaughter of the Holy Innocents.  King Herod was a thoroughly ambitious man, with no scruples at all about killing those who stood in his way.  History records that he killed even his own family members.  The Emperor Augustus is said to have joked that it was “safer to be Herod's pig than to be Herod's son.”[2]

We don't have any details about the number of infants murdered. The Church has always venerated them as martyrs, as their slaughter gave Jesus, Mary, and Joseph time to escape to Egypt.  It is fitting to think of the Holy Innocents as patron saints against all of the threats to human life.  Perhaps we can benefit from the horror of their story

Probably, we should consider original sin to be the first sin against human life--it reduced blissful immortality to painful and troubled mortality.  But even if we ignore original sin, we see the very first murder take place just outside the Garden of Eden.[3]

All of the sins against life are mentioned in the Old Testament, with most being in the very first book, the book of Genesis. That is to say that God has revealed His serious displeasure with those who would abuse human life.  But even those who are not Christians or Jews are capable of knowing the sacredness of life through the power of their natural reasoning.  Man is capable of knowing what Thomas Jefferson called “the laws of Nature and Nature's God.” Philosophers refer to this as the Natural Moral Law.

Men and women are endowed by God with “human nature.” It is what makes them humans, and not cats, dogs, or oak trees.  Human nature is perfected by virtue.  Virtue makes a man more authentically human—makes him what God has designed him to be.  Vice, on the other hand, damages and destroys him, making him less authentically human, and less than what he was designed to be.

How does man know virtue from vice?  How does he know what is good and what is evil if he doesn’t have the benefit of divine revelation?  He examines what it is in his nature that makes him specifically human.

He knows, for example that humans have a will governed by their intellect.  (Philosophers say that man is “the rational animal.)  Clearly, anything that would reduce the control of the intellect over the will would be a violation of his nature, and would diminish him as a human being.  Consequently, he avoids drug use, excessive alcohol, bursts of anger, and even thing as seemingly innocuous as frivolous entertainments and escape literature.

Man knows that he is created either male or female, and wherever man and women appear different, they are really complimentary.  And that virtually all of those complimentary differences enable them to produce and nurture children.  Apparently, “Nature’s God” has given them romantic urges to bind a man to a woman permanently for that purpose.

Man knows that, by his nature, he is a social being.  Beyond his immediate family unit, it is beneficial to associate with other men and women to accomplish things that cannot be done alone.  This he recognizes the need to care for those around him—to offer mutual aid and assistance, as well as performing the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.  He recognizes that some forms of behavior are incompatible with society (and therefore with human nature).  No society works well in which people are free to kill, cheat, beat, steal and lie to one another—no society can even survive if it fails to reproduce itself and to nurture its children.

Man recognizes that his rational mind gives him great power—he is capable of causing great conflict and destruction.  He must be judicious in things like self-defense, war, and use of the earth’s resources.

If man is the “rational animal,” he must be careful not to use his intellect to be a rationalizing animal!  Particularly in the modern world, all sorts of rationalizing goes on to justify vice in place of virtue.

The chief rationalization is modern man’s claim that he has evolved into something different from the man created by “Nature’s God.”  He might agree that many centuries ago marriage had to be the permanent union of a man and a woman—but the passage of time has changed man so that other arrangements are possible (or even desirable).

He may agree that man must act according to his human nature, but then claim that each person is free to have his own understanding of what they nature requires.  These are the people who do not believe that objective truth is possible, and that we must “dialogue” about  reality and morality.  They want to be free to practice their vices, even if you want to practice virtue.

We should react with horror to the massacre of the Holy Innocents!  We should react with horror to the scourging and death of our Lord by crucifixion!  We should react with similar horror whenever we hear about those sins against human life.  Murder, unjust war, sodomy, birth prevention, abortion, “mercy” killing, and so on—whether we find them condemned in the Bible, or recognize them to violate authentic human nature.

As we offer Holy Mass today, we can seek the intercession of these poor children—now saints in heaven—to combat all of these sins against life.  Indeed, every day in Holy Mass, we offer the Sacrifice of Christ’s body and blood, and we should seek the same intercession, and also God’s mercy on our shameless society.


“O God, Whose praise the martyred innocents did this day proclaim,
not by speaking, but by dying—put to death in us all the malice of sinfulness,
that our lives may also proclaim Thy faith, which our tongues profess.”


[1]   Matthew ii:18

[2]     “Melius est Herodis porcum esse quam filium.”  Macrobius, Saturnalia 2.4.11*.html

[4]   Collect of the Feast of the Holy Innocents


Dei via est íntegra
Our Lady of the Rosary, 144 North Federal Highway (US#1), Deerfield Beach, Florida 33441  954+428-2428
Authentic  Catholic Mass, Doctrine, and Moral Teaching -- Don't do without them -- 
Don't accept one without the others!