Monday, December 28, 2009

Feast of the Holy Innocents: Prayer for Unborn

Today is the Feast of the Holy Innocents. It is held in honor of those children who were slaughtered by Herod once he learned of the imminent birth of the new King. As is wont to happen with rulers, his utmost goal was self-preservation of his station. For this, he is known to have even killed his own son on an occasion separate from the one commemorated today.

In doing so, he was not unusual from rulers of his age, or for that matter of any age. Indeed, his actions parallel the actions of the Pharaoh in Egypt. Such cold ruthlessness has been the means through which the stability of power has been maintained throughout history. We are fortunate to live in a society where the phrase "politics is a bloodsport" is a metaphor.

The commonality of his actions, however, in no way excuse them. Indeed, they remind us of the necessity to work for justice even when it is not convenient, and that ends can never justify means. There is never a justification for the senseless slaughter of innocent human life.

The Church has proclaimed as much throughout her long history. In the text of the Didache -- a document whose contents are from the first and second centuries -- we find condemnations of practices which were also quite common at the time, as well as common in our own time. Among these we see condemnations of abortion and infanticide. The latter was at the time at least as popular as the former.

On this day, the Church reminds us to pray for all the innocents who have been slaughtered for convenience or expedience. In our day, this is especially for victims of abortion. Moreover, she calls for a conversion of this world, especially those who may have committed this crime, to an ethic of life.

The following prayer from Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers is praiseworthy for keeping this day in remembrance of the victims of abortion.

Lord God,
ever caring and gentle,
we commit to your love these little ones,
quickened to life for so short a time.
Enfold them in your love.

We pray for all responsible for the death of these children.
Give them the gift of true repentance,
and comfort them with a full portion of your mercy.

Heavenly Father,
transform our selfishness and sin
and make us turn to your love.
Help us to embrace the Gospel of life
to repudiate sin, selfishness, and death,
and to live only as your children.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

The root of all sin, we could say, is making ourselves into God. It is claiming that we have power over God, and power over our neighbor. Jesus has shown us that if we wish to see heaven, we must serve rather than be served, and we must become like little children. In meditating on this feast, it is a reminder to me to rededicate myself as God's child. I hope this may be helpful to anyone else out there

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