This post was going to be put up on 28 December, the Feast of the Holy Innocents, but the internet connection was so bad I got on to other things.
Some readers might be surprised at seeing “The Martyrdom of the Holy Innocents” as a mystery of the rosary, and doubly surprised to see it categorized under the mysteries of the Infancy of Jesus. O.K. An explanation is in order!
First of all, this is not an “official mystery” — that’s true, I admit that, accept that — but I thought I would include it in this series for pedagogical reasons. That’s all. Have patience with this hermit!
Secondly, we have to know that there have been other non-universally accepted mysteries of the rosary prayed since time immemorial. For instance, there are some orders of religious and umpteen zillion individuals who pray a “sixth decade” after the official mysteries (and followed, always, by the Litany of Loretto, always). Their rosaries sometimes reflect this, with not five, but six decades of beads. That mystery is “the Immaculate Conception of the ever Virgin Mother of God.” I love that. It’s not bad, not evil, not an attempt to scandalize, not an attack on devotion, piety, Tradition or even the tradition of the Church, nor is it an attempt to confuse the faithful and have them throw up their hands in frustration that the whole Church is sliding down into the place of wailing and grinding of teeth! Really! I emphasize this since some get nervous about anything and everything. But we just need to see that prayer, even if not absolutely “official”, is not evil. Saint Teresa of Avila and Saint John of the Cross would be the first to teach this, and in fact, did. God leads souls on many and diverse ways, as many as there are souls.
The “Infancy mysteries” were not promulgated in any official manner, as were the mysteries of light (which are quite specifically mysteries of the rosary designed for priests, but we’ll get to that later in the series). It was, however, again, Blessed John Paul II who ”used” these mysteries on various occasions, using the first three joyful mysteries, followed by 4. The Martyrdom of the Holy Innocents and 5. The Exile of the Holy Family into Egypt. I did not know this. It was a close friend in Rome, a Cardinal of Holy Mother Church, who explained all this to me years ago.
These two mysteries are not exactly joyful, but point to the permissive will of God. Our heavenly Father can and does draw great good out of real evil. He’s God. He knows how to do these things!
Think about it, are not these two mysteries, or, as a group, the Infancy mysteries, appropriate today, when there is such an attack on life, on the most helpless among us, by the most ferocious cowards, cowards like Herod and Archilaus? I think so. But I’m not making a bid of any kind. Just pointing out some things in the life of a newly beatified Roman Pontiff.
And… and… and… it’s not as if these mysteries did not take place in the life of our dear Lord! And… and… and… these are recounted by the Holy Spirit in the Sacred Scriptures, which He inspired. It is most appropriate, for instance, during prayer before the Most Blessed Sacrament, to humbly thank our Lord for the what He and His Holy Family suffered on our behalf during His younger years. If one were to recite, say, oh, ten Hail Marys during this reflection, I don’t think our Lord would be displeased! I write all this with a smile on my face and joy in my heart. Our Lord is so very good and so very kind. Of course He is most pleased with such humble thanksgiving.
Perhaps the 4th Infancy mystery, that of the Martyrdom of the Holy Innocents, will be especially appreciated by ministries which care for women who are so very lost after having had an abortion, helping them not to commit suicide, helping them to turn to Jesus. One such ministry I’ve heard a lot about is Rachel’s Vineyard. Rachel is mentioned in the Infancy Narratives of the Gospel, weeping for her children, who have been slaughtered, because they are no more.
In this particular post, I won’t go through a translation of the entire second chapter of Saint Matthew, which recounts the Martyrdom of the Holy Innocents and the Exile of the Holy Family into Egypt. Instead, I would just like to point out a few things in the promised rant style of this particular series of meditation of the rosary:
(1) Children are always the first to die when it comes to cowards, who are, in the first place, politicians like Herod, so afraid that he would be upstaged by a baby! Today, politicians not only promote, but force the abortion of untold millions of children each year. In China, women are simply ripped open with a knife, and their babies held before them as they both die, much like the pre-Guadalupe crowd gauged out the hearts of their victims, showing them their beating hearts as they died. Our vice-president (2011) thinks that that’s all very nice, the China bit: remember that little talk he gave to students over in China?
(2) The sacrifice of children is at the heart of all major religions. 1. There’s worship of Satan by today’s American pro-aborts. I think all the militantly active pro-aborts with whom I’ve spoken, at different times and in different place and in different years, told me verbatim that they worship a different god. 2. Kali, the blood goddess of the Hindus, received the sacrifice of untold numbers of children. 3. The Aztecs of years past. 4. Judaism, with the would-be sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham (more on that in a future series of posts), who is their Father in Faith for this reason. 5. Christianity, and, specifically, the Church founded by our Lord, the universal, that is, Catholic Church, which also looks to the would-be sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham as a type of the Messiah to come, Jesus, who would be worthy to be that sacrifice for our sins, a vicarious sacrifice. 6. Islam, whose central act of worship is child-sacrifice, for when they bow down to the ground, they are immitating Isaac in getting his head cut off in the would-be sacrifice of the Abraham’s son by Abraham (though for Islam it is all merely about bloodthirstiness, not about an immediate resurrection from the dead, as it is in the Old and New Testaments of Judeo-Catholic revelation. 7. Etc.
(3) God, the Father of Mercies, won’t hesitate to show His goodness and kindness, even though this will mean untold suffereing and misery! This doesn’t mean He is cruel. It just means that He is respecting, in this world, the consequences of sin which we ourselves have chosen in original and any personal sin. If Incarnate Goodness and Kindness is shown to us in Christ Jesus, the Father’s only begotten Son, we, in our sin, go berzerk, thinking this goodness and kindness to be an incrimination of our lack of goodness and kindness, instead of an invitation to be truly good and kind by the grace of God. So, what do we do in our sin: we put to death goodness and kindness, crucifying Him, and, in this case of the martyrdom of the Holy Innocents, killing off the image of that goodness and kindness in children, whether unborn or just born or as infants. Our Heavenly Father knows that we go berzerk. That’s not going to stop Him from showing us goodness and kindness. Some will accept that goodness and kindness. That the little ones of Bethlehem and the surrounding villages had to be slaughtered in an attempt to kill of Goodness and Kindness Incarnate was necessary. However, that doesn’t mean that these children are annihilated.
(4) Women who have had an abortion are not abandoned by our Lord. They also can and do[!] find healing, though, in this world, refusing to be consoled, since “they are no more.” There is no sin that is too great for our Lord to forgive. If there were such a sin, we would be God, wouldn’t we? For we would then be more powerful than God. No. Instead, He is good and kind. He knows that killing our children is what we do in our fallen human nature. He knows that this is the reverse of being His image, which He created us to be. Knowing this, He sent His only Son to take on what we deserve, death, so as to have the right in all justice to have mercy on us. God can and does forgive: “Father, forgive them!” is what our demanded on the Cross! Yes, women who repent of their abortions can and do[!] find forgiveness and downright enthusiastic friendship with our Lord both in this life and the life to come. That they “refuse to be consoled” is one of those things from which our Lord draws great good. Women who have had an abortion note other children who would be the same age as their own children had they not been aborted. This can go on for a lifetime. HOWEVER, this is not an invitation to get depressed and go into despair. Instead, it is an opportunity to calmly pray for the conversion of women about to have an abortion or who have had an abortion. It is an opportunity to pray for the conversion of abortionists and for politicians. We are enjoined to pray for our rulers, that we might have peace upon the earth. I’m guessing that most of such prayer goes up before the throne of God, like a pleasing incense, as sent by women who have repented of their abortions and who are now friends with our Lord Jesus, who, by His grace, has claimed them for a heavenly eternity. Very awesome, that.
(5) The Holy Innocents have, for time immemorial, been hailed as martyrs by Holy Mother Church. For some reason, this makes some of the less intellectual of the “Traditionalist” (but not at all understanding of Tradition or even tradition) crowd go, again — what’s that word? — berzerk. “They’re not baptised, not even by blood, for they had no choice in the matter!” Sigh. Our Lord came to save us. “To such belongs the kingdom of heaven” is what HE said about those children before Him. Baptism is a positive command. It is to be done only if it is possible. For instance, going to Mass on Sunday is a grave obligation, but if one is in traction in the hospital, one is not committing a sin by not going to Mass! This is different from a negative command, such as Do not murder the innocent. There is no good reason ever to murder the innocent. Our Lord’s Sacrifice is way more than sufficient to claim these children as His own. “But this destroys the missionary impetus of the Church!” it is said. No. It doesn’t. For those who can be evangelized, we must always be in great anguish until they are evangelized. We want to share the greatest love in our lives with others, do we not? That impetus is not destroyed just because Jesus loves children, is it? Nope. Holy Mother Church hails these children as martyrs, who are now in heaven, great saints. Really! I think that that’s just so wonderful. Our Lord is just so good and just so kind. The celebration of martyrdom is a celebration, however distressing it might be: “And she refused to be consoled.” The thing about this world is that we can both be in distress and in great interior joy simultaneously.
(6) Don’t think that the Holy Family didn’t pray for those families whose babies were killed in an attempt to kill Jesus. Imagine their thoughts all the way to Egypt and for all those years of exile. But that’s another meditation on the 5th Infancy mystery!
(7) O.K. I apologize, almost. That was a rant with a tinge of reactionary silliness in favor of those who are way too narrowminded about the beauty of prayer, to melt their hearts just a bit, to set them off guard, to encourage them to be taken by our Lord in prayer in this way and that at the most unexpected times, in the most unexpected ways. That’s alright. Yes, our Lord is just so good and so kind with each of us.