Jesus Said

[Jesus said,] “Let the children come to me, do not hinder them.” (Mk 10:14; see also 1 Tim 2:4).

On Dec. 28, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Innocents, those children in Bethlehem whom Herod slaughtered in fear of the newborn King (see Mt 2:16-18). And every year, we are reminded to pray both for those children who die before being baptized and to ask their prayers for us and for our intentions.

Let me say that again.

We have a feast in the Church dedicated to celebrating children who died without Baptism, who did not have access to the Sacraments, and whom the Church treats as the first martyrs for Christ.

Now this is a profoundly consoling reality of our faith. Here we have in the Church’s own Liturgy evidence that children who die without Baptism not only may be saved, but have been saved.

We can and should recognize this as one of the great joys of Christmas, that even as the devil comes snapping at the heels of the Child born of the Woman to crush his head (see Gen 3:15), the salvation brought by the Child extends already to the victims of the devil’s wrath and murderous fear. Saint John Paul II taught us in his last book, Memory and Identity, that “[T]he limit imposed upon evil, of which man is both perpetrator and victim, is ultimately the Divine Mercy.” That limit was placed on evil even in the earliest time of the life of Jesus, the Divine Mercy Incarnate.

What a grace we have in the Feast of the Holy Innocents! What a gift!

And yet we need to remember that our faith and our prayers matter to the salvation of souls, even of the souls of the littlest children. Remember that the Church extends Baptism to infants whose parents promise to bring them up in the faith. The faith of the household is necessary in order to permit Baptism, but once it’s present, even the littlest members of that household may be baptized. As Christ was at liberty to do great wonders in the presence of great faith and, out of respect for free will, found Himself not at liberty to do great wonders where there was little faith, so we should assume the same holds true for the salvation of little, unbaptized children. We need to stand in the gap with our prayers and our faith to ensure the little children are free to come to Christ, even at the moment of their death.

Certainly the Holy Family must have been praying for the souls of the Holy Innocents. I am sure that the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph heard about the slaughter of the Holy Innocents at some point. After all, Mary was probably the source from whom the Gospel writers learned about Christ’s earliest days. They would have heard from her about the slaughter of the Innocents, indicating that she must have taken this tragedy to heart, as she took to heart all the mysteries that surrounded Jesus’ Incarnation. The Blessed Mother must certainly have prayed for those little children who died instead of her Son. Her faith and intercession certainly would have played a role in helping those little children home to Heaven.

Let us imitate her. If we know of little children who have died before Baptism, whether through the tragedy of miscarriage, the plague of abortion, or other causes, let us pray for them. Let us help the little children come to Jesus Christ. It’s a great work of mercy and a great way to gain the powerful love, intercession, and assistance of the littlest saints in Heaven. Let us include them in our daily Rosary for peace, and in our daily Divine Mercy Chaplet.

And let us also turn to them for intercession, asking these littlest Holy Souls to pray for us who struggle here below against the culture of death. Let us ask them for the conversion of heart of abortionists, all who take part in the iniquitous abortion industry, and all who contribute to perpetuating the culture of death. Let us ask the children who died young to pray for their parents, for those left behind. 

Let us ask the Holy Innocents and deceased children for their intercession for our own children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, neighbors, and for all children who are growing up in this wicked world of ours. The youngest among us need all the grace and assistance they can get to retain and grow in the faith. Let us lend them a helping hand and invite the deceased children to lend a hand, as well.

May God bless you, and the Holy Innocents pray for you.


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