Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Feast of the Holy Innocents

Feast (1969 Calendar): December 28
Double of the II Class (1955 Calendar): December 28

Besides the 4th Day in the Octave of Christmas, today is also the Feast Day of the Holy Innocents. Today in times past was also a Holy Day of Obligation.

Matthew 2:13-18 (Douay Rheims):
And after they were departed, behold 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.
From the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy:
Since the sixth century, on December 28, the Church has celebrated the memory of those children killed because of Herod's rage against Christ (cf. Mt 2:16-17). Liturgical tradition refers to them as the "Holy Innocents" and regards them as martyrs. Throughout the centuries Christian art, poetry and popular piety have enfolded the memory of the "tender flock of lambs"(125) with sentiments of tenderness and sympathy. These sentiments are also accompanied by a note of indignation against the violence with which they were taken from their mothers' arms and killed.

In our own times, children suffer innumerable forms of violence which threaten their lives, dignity and right to education. On this day, it is appropriate to recall the vast host of children not yet born who have been killed under the cover of laws permitting abortion, which is an abominable crime. Mindful of these specific problems, popular piety in many places has inspired acts of worship as well as displays of charity which provide assistance to pregnant mothers, encourage adoption and the promotion of the education of children.
Traditional Mass (1962 Rubrics) said on December 28, 2018, at the St. Mary's Oratory in Rockford.

The following is an explanation of today's feastday with the pre-1955 traditions. The main differences between the pre-1955 liturgy for the Holy Innocents and the one used in the 1962 Missal is that the vestments are purple before 1955 and the gradual and alleluia are omitted today:
Holy Innocents or "Childermas Day" is celebrated on December 28. The Gospel tells the story simply. "Herod sent and slew all the boys in Bethlehem who were two years old or under." He had intended to include the Son of God among the murdered babies. To recall the grief of their mothers the Church wears purple today. In Mass she hushes her joyous Gloria in Excelsis and the Alleluias. And yet there is joy in her services. Children sing with the choirs in the great cathedrals; and in ancient times other functions were given to them — hence the name "Childermas" or Children's Mass.  
The feast of the Holy Innocents is an excellent time for parents to inaugurate the custom of blessing their children. From the Ritual comes the form which we use on solemn occasions, such as First Communion. But all parents need to do is to sign a cross on the child's forehead with the right thumb dipped in holy water and say: May God bless you, and may He be the Guardian of your heart and mind — the Father, + Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Source: Catholic Culture 
Holy Innocents Day As A Day of Penance?

At some point in the past, at least in one place, there was a fast and abstinence from flesh meat and foods cooked in fats on Holy Innocents Day. Cardinal Schuster and Fr. Lasance mention the fast, which would seem appropriate in honor of the children who were martyred on this day. This is a worthwhile optional practice we may want to do as well, and we can offer up this penance for the souls of the unborn.

Reminder to Pray for the Unborn:

Today we remember the brutal murder of those little martyrs. Yet, today we still have the same assault on the little ones among us - the unborn. Please pray for the unborn today that we might all respect such small lives. Today is a great day to begin a novena for the unborn. This is even more important than ever since the souls of aborted children do not enter Heaven. Unlike the Holy Innocents who died before Baptism was made necessary for salvation by the command of Christ, today's children (born and unborn) must be baptized.


O God, Whose praise the martyred Innocents on this day confessed, not by speaking, but by dying: destroy in us all the evils of sin, that our life also may proclaim by deeds Thy faith which our tongue professes. Through our Lord.

Prayer Source: 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal


The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the Extraordinary Form celebrated on the Feast of the Holy Innocents, Dec 28, 2007, by Fr. Jason Vidrine at Our Lady of Wisdom Church on the UL Campus in Lafayette, LA

2 comment(s):

del_button December 28, 2005 at 1:37 PM
Anonymous said...

I'll join.

del_button December 28, 2005 at 4:04 PM
Barb Szyszkiewicz said...

I'm in. I have also posted the invitation to this novena on my blog.

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