Saturday, December 28, 2013

Honoring the Holy Innocents

Today we honor the small boys of Bethlehem slain by King Herod in his attempt to kill the infant Son of God and "newborn King." The Gospel tells the story simply: "Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men" (Matthew 2:16). We honor these boys by having in mind all the children who are killed every day all around the world and praying both for the living, that they be kept from all abuse, neglect, murder, and abandonment, and for those already in the grip of death, that they may be welcomed into the Lord's face without hindrance, wearing robes of white.

The practice of praying for and asking God to bless children should also be very redemptive and edifying for the childlover and part of our daily devotions, but especially on this most sad occasion as we remember and honor all the children martyred in their innocence. If you see any child today (or any day), make it a practice to say at least "God, bless this child." You can also say this prayer below, or any heartfelt prayer of blessing for children: 
Let us pray. O Lord Jesus Christ, once You embraced and placed Your hands upon the little children who came to You and said: "Suffer not the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven, and their angels always see the face of my Father!" Look now with fatherly eyes on the innocence of your children, and bless them this day. In Your grace and goodness let them advance continually, longing for You, loving You, fearing You, keeping Your commandments. Then they will surely come to their destined home, through You, Savior of the world. Who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen. 
We become better Christians, better childlovers, and better people when we pray for children. If you know any children (young friends perhaps), you can also say this prayer to ask God to bless them, or any heartfelt prayer of blessing:
O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, Who begotten in eternity yet willed to he born in time as a child; Who loves the innocence of childhood and lovingly embraced and blessed the little children who were brought to You: anticipate the needs of [this child/these children] with Your tender blessings, and grant that no evil may corrupt [his/her/their] mind, but that advancing in age, in wisdom, and in grace, [he/she/they] may live so as to please You always. You Who live and reign with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen. 
A small treasury of prayers for children is being compiled here. Suggest one!

Grace and peace be to you, and to all the little children.

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