The Coventry Carol (English traditional), sung today to commemorate the Holy Innocents
Collect of the Day: December 28, the Holy Innocents:
We remember today, O God, the slaughter of the holy innocents of Bethlehem by King Herod. Receive, we pray, into the arms of your mercy all innocent victims; and by your great might frustrate the designs of evil tyrants and establish your rule of justice, love and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
One of your St Nick’s blogger’s favorite sites to read in the Episcopal blogosphere is “Padre Mickey’s Dance Party.” It’s a light-hearted look at all things Episcopal (with occasional appearances by various dog toys in epic productions). “Padre Mickey” and his wife, the lovely Mona, lived in Panama for years, and the blog was full of photos of events that took place in Parroquia San Cristobal, the parish of St Christopher where the good father and his spouse were based. Recently, they moved back to the States to accept a call to lead a parish in Watsonville, CA.
Father Michael Dresbach also regularly posts commentaries on saint’s days and feast days. Today being the Feast of the Holy Innocents, here is his meditation for the day.
According to the story in Matthew’s gospel, Herod ordered all the boys under two years old in Bethlehem to be slaughtered because he wanted to prevent the arrival of the Messiah. There are no accounts of this event in non-biblical literature of the time, and one would expect that such a traumatic event would appear somewhere; Flavius Josephus doesn’t mention it, and he spent some time on the abuses of Herod.
Whether Herod had children massacred or not, there are still many innocents being slaughtered here in our own time. Children die of starvation all over the planet, and innocent children die in the war zones our our world, especially in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, and Darfur. Innocent children die of abuse and neglect in developed nations and in developing nations. Innocent children die of neglect and abuse in the United States of America, too. Innocent children die every day on the streets of our cities. Innocent children were slaughtered in the shooting in Newtown just last week. The leaders of these nations are even more guilty than Herod, because we have actual proof of these atrocities taking place in our time.
There are a number of other sites with posts commemorating Holy Innocents today – again, as many former Holy Innocents Episcopal Church parishioners now attend St Nicholas, the feast day is meaningful any year, but more so this year. As a reminder, our choir will also sing the Coventry Carol on Sunday as an offertory.
Friday, December 28, 2012 — Christmas
The Holy Innocents
[Go to http://www.missionstclare.com/english/index.html for an online version of the Daily Office including today's scripture readings.]
Today’s Readings for the Daily Office
(Book of Common Prayer, p. 996)
Psalms 2, 26
Psalms 19, 126
The feast of the Holy Innocents feels particularly poignant this year coming so soon after the horrible events in Newtown, CT. Last Saturday my friend and parishioner David Lewis wrote with an additional detail about his six-year-old grandson Jesse’s death that day. Jesse tried to help other kids escape and was killed running into the line of fire. For his actions, he was recognized as a “First Responder” and given a “Commander in Chief” funeral — a motorcycle police escort, mounted police at the funeral home and at the burial and a full line of police standing at attention at the funeral home, the church and the gravesite.
Meanwhile, the whole world prays for Malala Yousafzai and other children oppressed by the evil violence of the Taliban. And for the children caught in the horrible violence in Syria and elsewhere.
The story of a beautiful icon of the Holy Innocents in Atlanta, GA:
In 2010, our rector Michael Sullivan commissioned Suzanne Zoole, a writer of iconography, to write a Holy Innocents’ icon. The icon features a village scene where the doors of the homes are open but they are dark inside, as if after a massacre. Instead of martyred children lying on the ground of the village square, the innocent rest in the arms of angels rising heavenward. The heavens are filled with golden stars indicating the resurrected life. At the center of the icon is the God-child Jesus with Mary and Joseph escaping to Egypt.
Morning Prayer from the Daily Office West: Holy Innocents 12.28.12 includes photos of two more innocents: the volunteer firefighters killed by a gunman who lay in wait for them after setting a fire. The site notes that many firefighters have come under fire in recent years by people wishing to commit suicide and take innocents with them.
Finally, your blogger would like to end by noting that our prayers for the mentally ill and their caregivers, counselors, and loved ones are always needed, as are prayers for those contemplating suicide, struggling with addiction, or in any kind of emotional or psychological distress.