December 28, 2003
Sunday within the Octave of the NATIVITY
Feast of the Holy Innocents
vol 14, no. 41

"Rachel weeping for her children"   Matthew 2: 18

Just as Rachel wept, so also we weep today for the countless millions of unborn innocents who are slain in the womb, or never even given the chance to make it because of the 'convenience' of the morning-after pill and other tools of death to the body and soul. Woe to them at their reckoning.

    "The Church mourns for these innocents. But her heart is broken by the loss of her children who have been seduced into lives of sin by unbelievers and predators. By their Baptism they were raised by 'the adoption as sons' to another level of being - the supernatural level. Jesus wanted them to have the fullness of life and to find their way to Heaven. Unfortunately, like their Mother Eve, they give ear to the serpent who tells them, 'Taste of this sin; taste of that one! You shall not die, but you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.' And like the barren earth after the Fall, their lives bring forth the poisonous fruit of sin. 'For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is life everlasting in Christ Jesus our Lord' (Rom.6:23)."

      Editor's Note: In Father Louis Campbell's sermon for the Double of the Second Class Feast of the Holy Innocents on the Sunday within the Octave of Christmas, he shares with us the wisdom of Dom Prosper Gueranger and St. Augustine which can so rightly be applied to today's society when spiritual is so misunderstood and the flesh has been extolled so, knocking everything off kilter as satan dances on the skulls of the innocent and the guilty for St. Paul clearly illustrated what the wages of sin would lead to: DEATH, not just bodily death, but spiritual death, read eternal damnation. Father prays that in these desperate times when death has become a tool of convenience for the pleasures of the living, that God will raise up a St. Augustine to counter the charlatans who preach a false gospel. [bold and italics below are editor's emphasis.]

   Today the Feast of the Holy Innocents replaces the celebration of the Sunday within the Octave of Christmas. Dom Prosper Gueranger comments on the Feast:

    "Yes, God did for these Innocents, who were immolated on his Son's account, what he is doing every moment now by the sacrament of regeneration in the case of children who die before coming to the use of reason. We, who have been baptized by water, should be all the more ready to honor these Little Ones, who were baptized in their own blood, and thereby associated to all the mysteries of the Divine Infancy" (Dom Prosper Gueranger, The Liturgical Year, v.2).

    Normally the color violet is used for this feast, but red is used if the feast occurs on Sunday. We have additional reasons for wearing the color red. The Church cries out for the innocent who are lost through abortion like Rachel mourning her children: "A voice was heard in Rama; lamentation and great mourning: Rachel bewailing her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not" (Communion Verse). How brief their time in this world when they can be swept away, without so much as a pang of remorse, "the morning after" their conception. Yet, like the blood of Abel, their blood cries out to God from the earth. And God will hold accountable those modern day Herods who make abortion their business.

    The Church mourns for these innocents. But her heart is broken by the loss of her children who have been seduced into lives of sin by unbelievers and predators. By their Baptism they were raised by "the adoption as sons" to another level of being - the supernatural level. Jesus wanted them to have the fullness of life and to find their way to Heaven. Unfortunately, like their Mother Eve, they give ear to the serpent who tells them, "Taste of this sin; taste of that one! You shall not die, but you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil." And like the barren earth after the Fall, their lives bring forth the poisonous fruit of sin. "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is life everlasting in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom.6:23).

    The world delights in the things of the flesh - its thoughts are of the flesh, its language is of the flesh, its works are of the flesh, its end is death. It has no understanding of the things of the spirit. St. Paul says:

    "Now they who are according to the flesh mind the things of the flesh, but they who are according to the spirit mind the things of the spirit. For the inclination of the flesh is death, but the inclination of the spirit, life and peace. For the wisdom of the flesh is hostile to God, for it is not subject to the law of God, nor can it be. And they who are carnal cannot please God" (Rom.8:5-8).

    We must understand that by "flesh" and "spirit" St. Paul does not mean body and soul. Both body and soul were created by God. "Spirit" is the spiritual man. All his works are spiritual, even those of the body, unless they are sinful. To eat is spiritual, to procreate is spiritual, to play football is spiritual for the spiritual man. Everything he does, sin excepted, is of the spirit and merits a supernatural reward.

    "Flesh" is the carnal man, or the natural man, who is incapable of acting "in the spirit." Nothing that the natural man does is spiritual, and if he should perform good actions on the merely human level they do not merit a supernatural reward. St. Paul explains: "If I should distribute all my goods to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, yet do not have charity, it profits me nothing" (1Cor.13:3). Charity here presupposes the supernatural life.

    According to Manicheism, the ancient religion founded by the Persian Mani, matter, and everything material such as the human body, were thought to be evil, emanating from an evil divine principle. One had to escape the material and find the spiritual, which emanated from another divine principle, a good one. The greatest adversary of Manicheism was St. Augustine, who spent nine years with the Manicheans before his conversion.

    Today a new variety of Manicheism entraps many, especially among the young. They look upon the Church and her sacraments as unnecessary and seek "spirituality" in nature, in the stars and planets, in the convoking of spirits, which are actually demons. Witchcraft is on the rise among the young and vulnerable through the Harry Potter phenomenon. Who dares to defend them against the unbelievers and the predators? May God send us another Augustine!

    St. Paul warns: "Brethren, be imitators of me, and mark those who walk after the pattern you have in us. For many walk, of whom I have told you often and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is ruin. Their god is the belly, their glory is in their shame, they mind the things of earth. But our citizenship is in heaven from which also we eagerly await a Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ, who will refashion the body of our lowliness, conforming it to the body of his glory by exerting the power by which he is able also to subject all things to himself" (Phil.3:17-21).

    Dom Gueranger, quoting from the Greek Church, honors the Holy Innocents:

    "Most honored Innocents! The cry of your murder has ascended to the ears of the God of Sabaoth. Your blood was shed by the massacre, but ye are resting in Abraham's bosom, and by the power of the Infant Christ, your triumph over Herod's detested malice is eternal."

    St. Augustine in the readings of the Divine Office for the Feast says: "Blessed art thou, O Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, who suffered with patience the cruelty of King Herod, in the slaughter of the Innocents. O Bethlehem, found worthy to offer to God in a single sacrifice, a white-robed multitude of defenseless children! It is proper that we honor the birthday of these-that birthday when earth brought them forth to eternal life-that day more blessed then the one which brought them forth from their mothers' wombs. For they were raised to the dignity of eternal life almost before they had entered upon a temporal one."

    We pray with the Church: "O God, Whose praise the Innocents, Your martyrs, this day proclaimed not by speaking, but by dying, put to death in us all the wickedness of sin, so that your faith which our tongue professes may be proclaimed also by our life."

Father Louis J. Campbell


December 2003
vol 14, no. 41
"Qui legit, intelligat"
Father Louis Campbell's Sunday Sermons

CREDO & CULTURE on the Truths and Traditions of Holy Mother Church   FEATURES & ARTICLES in our op-ed section   DEVOTION & REFLECTION section   DAILY NEWS & INFORMATION   MAIN PAGE of the most current text issue