December 28, 2000
volume 11, no. 275

LITURGY for Thursday and Friday, December 28 and 29, 2000

Thursday, December 27, 2000

      First Reading: 1 John 1: 5-10; 2: 1-2
      Psalms: Psalm 124: 2-5, 7-8
      Gospel Reading: Matthew 2: 13-18

Feast of THE HOLY INNOCENTS, Martyrs

        This feast commemorates the slaughter of the holy innocent male babies who were killed in King Herod's lust to find and destroy the Child Jesus as related in Matthew 2: 13-18. Ever since the 5th Century this feast has been observed as stated by Saint Peter Chrysologus. It became a solemn feast in 1568, declared so by Pope Saint Pius V. Though legend has it that thousands were slaughtered, the actual figure was closer to only 20 infants; yet even one is too many. Though Saint Stephen is considered the first martyr of the Church, in truth these innocents were really the first martyrs for unwillingly or not, they were the first victims to die for Christ. They are the original martyrs who St. John writes about in Apocalypse/Revelation 7: 14 and 17 when one of the elders says, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation, and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb...and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes." The holy innocents today are the innocent babies of the 20th Century who have been aborted by their own mothers. Like the first holy innocents who were a figment of a threat to Herod, these modern day innocents also are slaughtered because they are a threat to the worldly ways of those who seek the culture of death over the Culture of Life.

Friday, December 29, 2000

    Friday December 29:
    Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas and
    Optional Feast of Saint Thomas Becket, Bishop and Martyr

    White vestments

      First Reading: 1 John 2: 12-17
      Psalms: Psalm 96: 1-3, 5-6
      Gospel Reading: Luke 2: 22-35

Optional Feast of Saint Thomas Becket, Bishop and Martyr

        Born in London, England around 1118, Saint Thomas Becket became a priest and bishop, studying law in Rome, Bologna and France and serving as chancelor under England's King Henry II. However his relationship with the king deteriorated when Thomas showed more allegiance to Rome than England regarding Church property and authority. Thomas' rival Bishop Foliot, bishop of London fueled the fires by plotting against him. This forced Becket to flee to France where he took up refuge there until returning six years later at the request of Pope Alexander III who needed the support of both the French king and Henry against the antipope Paschal III who had aligned with the emperor Frederick Barbarossa. Thomas returned, hoping to reconcile with the king and to bring to justice those who had been plotting against him and the Church, but his mission was cut short when Foliot schemed with Henry to silence Thomas in the cathedral. Friends of Thomas' knew something was afoot and wanted to barricade Thomas inside the cathedral for his own safety, but Thomas exclaimed, "I am ready to die for the name of Jesus in defense of the Church." When they entered at sunset on December 29, 1170 four of Henry's knights with Foliot lurking in the shadows, shouted out "Where be the traitor? Where be Thomas Becket?" Thomas boldly presented himself proclaiming, "Here I am. No traitor I be, but rather a priest of God ready to shed my blood for Him." With that the dastardly deed was done on the sanctuary steps of the cathedral leading to the altar of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Benedict. His death caused Alexander III to excommunicate Henry II and Foliot. But the king repented two years later and, thus Thomas' death reconciled the king of England with Holy Mother Church as well as reconciliation with France and established the church at Canterbury as Rome's. A year after Henry's public apology Alexander canonized Thomas as a great martyr of the Church.

December 28, 2000
volume 11, no. 275

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