The Holy Innocents
HEROD, who was reigning in Judea at the time of the birth of Our Saviour, having heard that the Wise Men had come from the East to Jerusalem in search of the King of the Jews, was troubled. He called together the chief priests, and learning that Christ was to be born in Bethlehem, he told the Wise Men: "When you have found Him, bring me word again, that I also may come and adore Him." But God having warned them in a dream not to return, they went back to their homes another way. St. Joseph, too, was ordered in his sleep to "take the Child and His Mother and fly into Egypt." When Herod found that the Wise Men did not return, he was furious, and ordered that every male child in Bethlehem and its vicinity of the age of two and under should be slain. These innocent victims were the flowers and the first-fruits of His martyrs, and triumphed over the world, without having ever known it or experienced its dangers.
Reflection. —How few perhaps of these children, if they had lived, would have escaped the dangers of the world! What snares, what sins, what miseries were they preserved from! So we often lament as misfortunes many accidents which in the designs of Heaven are the greatest mercies. you!
Lives Of The Saints By Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. Edition www.globalgrey.co.uk
Prayers and Reading for Today’s MASS
Introit • Ps. 8, 3
Out of the mouth of infants and of sucklings, O God, Thou hast perfected praise because of Thine enemies. Ps. 8, 2. O Lord, our Lord, how admirable is Thy name in the whole earth. Glory be …
O God, Whose praise the martyred innocents did this day proclaim, not by speaking, but by dying, do to death in us all the malice of sinfulness, that our lives may also proclaim Thy faith, which our tongues profess. Through our Lord.
Epistle • John 14, 1-5
Lesson from the Epistle of blessed Paul the Apostle.
In those days I saw upon mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty-four thousand, having his name, and the name of his Father, written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, as the noise of many waters, and as the voice of great thunder; and the voice which I heard, was as the voice of harpers, harping on their harps. And they sung as it were a new canticle, before the throne, and before the four living creatures, and the ancients; and no man could say the canticle, but those hundred forty-four thousand, who were purchased from the earth. These are they who were not defiled with women: for they are virgins. These follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were purchased from among men, the firstfruits 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.
Gradual • Ps. 123, 7, 8
Our soul hath been delivered as a sparrow out of the snare of the fowlers. The snare is broken, and we are delivered; our help is in the name of the Lord, Who hath made heaven and earth.
Alleluia, alleluia. Ps. 112, 1. Praise the Lord, ye children, praise the name of the Lord. Alleluia.
Gospel • Matt. 2, 13-18
Continuation of the Holy Gospel According to St. Matthew.
[The offerings of the wise men: the flight into Egypt: the massacre of the Innocents.]
At that time an angel of the Lord appeared in sleep to Joseph, saying: Arise, and take the child and his mother, and fly into Egypt: and be there until I shall tell thee. For it will come to pass that Herod will seek the child to destroy him. Who arose, and took the child and his mother by night, and retired into Egypt: and he was there until the death of Herod: That it might be fulfilled which the Lord spoke by the prophet, saying: Out of Egypt have I called my son.
Then Herod perceiving that he was deluded by the wise men, was exceeding angry; and sending killed all the men children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the borders thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremias the prophet, saying: A voice in Rama was heard, lamentation and great mourning; Rachel bewailing her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.
Offertory • Ps. 123, 7
Our soul hath been delivered as a sparrow out of the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken, and we are delivered.
Let not the gracious prayer of Thy saints fail us, O Lord, both to render our offerings acceptable to Thee and ever to obtain Thy pardon for us. Through our Lord.
Communion • Matt. 2, 18
A voice in Rama was heard, lamentation and mourning: Rachel bewailing her children: and would not be comforted because they are not.
May the votive gifts, O Lord, of which we have partaken, through the intercession of the Saints gain for us help, both for this life and life eternal. Through our Lord.