I know yesterday I wrote that I was taking a week and a half off from posting. That was a true statement – until I realized today is a Feast Day near and dear to my heart, and perhaps one of my favorite all year!
Today, the Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Innocents. Before my son was born, I didn’t even know anything about the Holy Innocents. In fact, I had never before given thought to the little boys Herod slaughtered in the search for the Baby Jesus. The hundreds of little souls, from babies to age two, who were killed in the hopes that one of them was “The King of the Jews.” To think I went almost thirty years without having ever given them a thought – and hadn’t bothered to think of the grieving mothers and fathers … those left behind…
A couple years ago, I was apologizing to a chaplain for my son’s antics in the chapel. He chuckled, looked at me kindly, and asked, “You think the Holy Innocents are sitting up in their pews in heaven all reverent, hands folded, singing sweet songs? No! I bet they are up there, rolling their halos on the ground, slamming kneelers on the ground, and causing all sorts of chaos!” This chaplain was inspirational in encouraging me to continue bringing my son to Mass, encouraged him on the altar during Adoration, and encouraged me to teach my son that the chapel is his second home.
Because it is, as should it be for everyone!
I won’t pretend our family has been blessed with the most welcoming priests my children’s entire lives, because we haven’t. But, that’s a story for another time.
Today’s feast day, however, celebrates the Littlest of the Littles!
All parents know, children rarely perform on cue. They are the masters of improvisation, and they know how to command attention. Those little boys killed during the massacre of Herod were no different. Those sweet, angelic, headstrong little boys, whose mothers and fathers were unable to keep their boys safe during a turbulent time, became little martyrs, whose only crimes were learning to take their first wobbly steps, perhaps say their first words, and to bring joy and love into their parents’ world.
May we all not gloss over the part of the story where Herod murdered them – and, instead, take a moment to reflect upon their sacrifice, and the sacrifice of their parents.
For, their deaths were not in vain.
Their sacrifice should shed light on the littlest of our society – and remind us to hold our babies close, to care for our children, to love them, and to protect them at all costs.
All children, regardless of age, deserve that honor.
Today, I encourage all of us to hug our little ones a little tighter (no matter how big they have gotten), a little longer, and with a little more reflection on how fleeting life can be for all of us.
And, keep in mind how God Himself, takes us under His protection and will not abandon us.
May we all remember the Holy Innocents…
…and the Blessed Innocence that continues in their wake!