Feast of the Holy Innocents ~ Br. Brent Whetstone, OPI

icon-of-the-holy-innocents

In the name of The Father, and of The Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Lully, lullay, thou little tiny child,
Bye bye, lully, lullay.
Lully, lullay, thou little tiny child,
Bye bye, lully, lullay.

O sisters too, how may we do
For to preserve this day
This poor youngling for whom we sing,
“Bye bye, lully, lullay”?

 Herod the king, in his raging,
Chargèd he hath this day
His men of might in his own sight
All young children to slay.

 That woe is me, poor child, for thee
And ever mourn and may
For thy parting neither say nor sing,
                           “Bye bye, lully, lullay.” * (Link below)

These haunting words come from a song called the Coventry Carol. The “Coventry Carol” is an English Christmas carol dating from the 16th century. The carol was traditionally performed in Coventry in England as part of a mystery play called The Pageant of the Shearmen and Tailors. The play depicts the Christmas story from chapter two in the Gospel of Matthew: the carol itself refers to the Massacre of the Innocents, in which Herod ordered all male infants under the age of two in Bethlehem to be killed, and takes the form of a lullaby sung by mothers of the doomed children.

Now here we are on the fourth day of Christmas. In the midst of a time of happiness and joy and celebration and family and friends. A time where we forget about all the negativity in the world and celebrate the things that we have, and yet on our liturgical calendar we have a reminder of a great tragedy that occurred around the time of the birth of our Lord.

This tragedy sets the stage for what will become a common theme in Christianity, and that is the persecution of the Church.  Today we set aside our celebrations to pause and pray and to remember those who have come before us and who have faced persecution for their belief in Christ and for those who are currently part of the persecuted Church.

According to a recent CNN report, 2015 was the most violent year for Christian persecution in modern history. More than 7,100 Christians were killed for their faith; that is up 3,000 from the previous year, and this year alone, according to Open Door, a watchdog organization that follows Christians persecution worldwide, in 2016 there were 322 Christians killed each month.  In addition to the loss of life, each month there were 214 churches and Christian-owned properties destroyed; there were 722 acts of violence committed on Christians, ranging from abductions to rape. That is each month.

It is hard for us to imagine in the United States what it is like for our brothers and sisters who are in predominately Muslim countries where a majority of this persecution occurs. We have the opportunity to attend church on Sunday, usually without fear of anything happening to us or our loved ones, we can safely walk the streets and not worry about being harassed because of our faith. But our brothers and sisters are not so fortunate.

I believe that today we are called to remember those who are part of the persecuted church.  I think that it is important to leave you with a few ideas on what you can do to help our brothers and sisters who are facing this persecution.

First we must understand that we are called to support our brothers and sisters. In Saint Paul’s First letter to the church at Corinth he says that, “we are one body. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”  We must support organizations that help our brothers and sisters in these areas of persecution.

Second, we must bring awareness to the fact that the persecuted church does, in fact, exist. Talk to your friends and family and church leaders and see what you can collectively do together to support our brothers and sisters, especially in the Middle East.

Finally and most importantly, we must pray. Make prayer for the persecuted church part of your daily devotion. There is power in prayer and by praying and putting your faith into action.  With prayer we can see miracles take place as we saw in November, when the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Qaraqosh celebrated its first mass in two years.

This is what we are called to do as Christians, to take action and to pray. To always remember the persecuted who have come before us and the persecuted who part of the Church today.

Let us pray:

O God, whom the Holy Innocents confessed and proclaimed on this day, not by speaking but by dying, grant, we pray, that the faith in your which we confess with our lips may also speak through our manner of life. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QIvH5GdY4JE

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s