Tuesday in the Octave of Christmas
FEAST OF THE HOLY INNOCENTS-CARD PLAYING DAY
Wisdom, Chapter 18, Verse 25
To these the destroyer yielded, these he FEARED; for this sole trial of anger sufficed.
The destroyer angel fears nothing, but the name of God inscribed on the doorposts of the Jews written in the blood of the lamb. At this does he stop his destruction, at this name the angel turns aside; at the name of He that is the angel of death yields.
The particular term "destroying angel" (malakh ha-mashhit) occurs twice in the Bible, in II Samuel 24:16 and its parallel, I Chronicles 21:15. Other allusions to this "destroyer" (mashhit), can be found in Exodus 12:23 and Isaiah 54:16. In the cultures of the ancient Near East, gods were believed to be responsible for death and destruction. The Bible, however, does not portray such a configuration. Instead, the destructive agents act according to God's instruction: they are His messengers and it is the Lord who initiates death and destruction. We will see that the Bible refers to the angelic forces of destruction in a way that negates the ideas of neighboring cultures.
The Plagues of Egypt
The destroying angel seems to be alluded to in the Bible's description of the slaying of the firstborn, where he is called ha-mashhit: for the Lord will pass over the door and not let the Destroyer enter and smite your home (Ex. 12:23). While is stated explicitly that the Lord passed through Egypt to smite the firstborn (Ex. 12:12–13), and the text of the Passover Haggadah expounds this to mean, "I and not an angel," verse 23 attests that the Lord was accompanied by the destroying angel, whose nature is to strike down all whom he encounters, unless – as here – the Lord restrains him. This seems to be the intention of the Mekhilta's comment on verse 22, None of you shall go outside the door of his house until morning: "This indicates that when the destroying angel is given permission to do harm, he does not distinguish between the righteous and the wicked." The Psalmist's account of the plagues of Egypt (Ps. 78:49) indicates that the plagues were inflicted by mishlahat malakhei ra'im – a band of deadly [lit. evil] angels. The talmudic sages used the term mishlahat to describe a band of destructive creatures, specifically a wolf pack. Kraus believes that this "band of evil angels" does not refer to the "destroying angel" (mashhit) associated with the last plague (Ex. 12:23), but to the demonic powers that the Lord dispatches with every affliction. It seems, then, that we must distinguish the "destroying angel," ha-mashhit, from the messengers of death who come to punish individuals only. By contrast, the Destroyer is sent by the Lord to kill multitudes through a plague. Unlike the deadly messengers, who bring both natural and premature death, the Destroyer inflicts only a premature, painful death. Still, this mashhit is controlled by God.
Another implicit allusion to the destroying angel can be found in For wrath [ketzef] has gone forth from the Lord: the plague has begun (Num. 17:11 [RSV 16:46]). Milgrom sees this wrath or anger as an independent entity, similar to the Destroyer that acts on behalf of the Lord. There are indeed several references to it in the Bible. Thus (Num. 1:53), The Levites, however, shall camp around the Tabernacle of the Pact, that the wrath [ketzef] may not strike the Israelite community. Similarly, the mandate continues, No outsider shall intrude upon you as you discharge the duties connected with the Shrine and the altar, that wrath [ketzef] may not again strike the Israelites (Num. 18:5). According to Rashi, this plague is spread by the Angel of Death, who is also known as "the Anger before the Lord with the authority to kill." In the Talmud, the Angel of Death (malakh ha-mavet) has assistants, one of whom is actually named Ketzef: "Rav Hisda said: 'They are: Fury, Anger and Wrath [Ketzef], Destroyer and Breaker and Annihilator'". Elsewhere, Ketzef is the name of an angel of destruction (Targum Yerushalmi, Numbers 17:11). He is also specifically noted as acting on behalf of God, not as an independent entity: Wrath [ketzef] has gone forth from the Lord (Num. 17:11). The Sages regarded the Destroyer as an amoral force that could be overcome only through sacrificial blood, incense, or some other ritual. However, these rituals were directed to God, not to the Destroyer himself. In the ancient Near East, incense was burned for the gods to placate them and still their anger. Egyptian reliefs depict Canaanite priests standing on a high place and offering incense to Pharaoh, who is massacring the inhabitants of a city. In both of the biblical stories about the Destroyer (the Tenth Plague and the threshing floor of Araunah), the plague is halted by a ritual act (placing blood on the doorpost, building an altar, burning incense), but it is God, not His messenger, who responds.
The destroying angel is explicitly mentioned twice in the Bible (II Sam. 24:16; I Chron. 21:15). In addition, there are several other passages in the Bible and rabbinic literature that refer to destructive supernatural forces. The idea of the destroying angel as an independent force, acting of its own accord, is foreign to the Hebrew Bible, which emphasizes that God is in control of these destructive forces so as to negate polytheistic beliefs. The angel can do nothing on its own initiative and must only act in compliance with the will of God. It is He alone who deals death and gives life
Feast of the Holy Innocents
THE account of the martyrdom of these children is given in the gospel of to-day. The Church justly honors them as martyrs, since they confessed Christ, if not by the mouth, yet by their death, which they suffered by reason of Herod s hatred against Christ.
The Introit of the Mass reads: “Out of the mouth of infants and suckling’s Thou hast perfected praise, because of Thy enemies, O Lord. O Lord, how admirable is Thy name in the whole earth.”
O God, Whose praise the martyred innocents confessed on this day not by speaking, but by dying mortify in us all the evils of vices, that our life also may confess by actions Thy faith, which our tongue proclaims.
EPISTLE. Apoc. xiv. 1-5.
In those days I beheld a Lamb standing upon Mount Sion, and with Him a hundred forty-four thousand having His name, and the name of His Father written on their fore heads. And I heard a voice from heaven, as the noise of many waters, and as the voice of great thunder: and the voice which I heard was as the voice of harpers, harping on their harps. And they sung as it were a new canticle, before the throne, and before the four living creatures, and the ancients: and no man could say the canticle, but those hundred forty-four thousand, who were purchased from the earth. These are they who were not defiled with women: for they are virgins. These follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. These were purchased from among men, the first fruits to God and to the Lamb: and in their mouth there was found no lie: for they are without spot before the throne of God.
GOSPEL. Matt. ii. 13-18.
At that time: An angel of the Lord appeared in sleep to Joseph, saying: Arise, and take the child and His Mother, and fly into Egypt: and be there until I shall tell thee: for it will come to pass that Herod will seek the child to destroy Him. Who arose, and took the child and His Mother by night, and retired into Egypt: and he was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which the Lord spoke by the prophet, saying: Out of Egypt have I called My Son. Then Herod perceiving that he was deluded by the Wise Men, was exceeding angry; and sending killed all the men-children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the borders thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the “Wise Men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremias the prophet, saying: A voice in Rama was heard, lamentation and great mourning; Rachel bewailing her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.
What persons are like Herod?
All those who destroy
children, in body or in soul; for example, unmanly men who are cruel to their
wives while with child, who strike them, incite them to anger, or terrify them;
heedless parents who neglect their little ones, who do not take pains to keep
them clean and healthy; those corrupt and godless women who destroy the fruit
of their shame either before or after birth, and while yet unbaptized. But more
cruel than all these, and even than Herod himself, are they who scandalize
little children by impure conversations, by indecent songs, by acts of impurity
in their presence, or by inciting them to the like; for thereby they plunge the
souls of the children into destruction.
In many religious communities, Innocents' Day was the traditional feast for the youngest members. In keeping with the upside-down spirit of Twelfth night, the youngest novice had the privilege of sitting at the first place or even of being abbot for a day. Feast of the Holy Innocents is a day for the younger members of the family or religious community. Some kind of "baby food" -- such as a hot cereal with sugar and cinnamon -- is generally served to them. In the family, the youngest member is also the "celebrity" of the day, especially if he is a baby. Customs like decorating the crib or blessing the baby are appropriate ways of observing the feast. Today, on the day in which little ones shed their blood for Christ, was the festival for choirboys and students.
Feast of the Holy Innocents - Day Four
The Holy Innocents saved the Child Jesus from death by King Herod by the shedding of their own blood. The Holy Innocents are the special patrons of small children, who can please the Christ Child by being obedient and helpful to parents, and by sharing their toys and loving their siblings and playmates.
The feast of the Holy Innocents is an excellent time for parents to inaugurate the custom of blessing their children. From the Ritual comes the form which we use on solemn occasions, such as First Communion. But parents can simply sign a cross on the child's forehead with the right thumb dipped in holy water and say: May God bless you, and may He be the Guardian of your heart and mind—the Father, + Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
O Lord, Jesus Christ, Who didst embrace and lay thy hands upon the little children when they came to thee, and didst say to them: "Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs, and their angels always see the face of my Father," — look with a Father's eye upon the innocence of these children and their parents' devotion, and bless them this day through our ministry. By thy grace and goodness let them make progress in desiring thee, loving thee, fearing thee, obeying thy commandments — thus coming to their destined home, through thee, Savior of the world, Who with the Father and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, God, forever and ever. Amen.
Today I will ask the Lord to bless all
my seven children! (Claire, Christopher, Candace, Dara, Rachel, Nicole and
Vincent) Also my stepchildren! (Kelly, Ryan and Nathan)
Four Calling Birds
Today in the song the 12 days of Christmas the 4th day we sing of the Four Calling Birds which represent the four gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. During the upcoming year it would make a worthy project to read them all. These gospels will help us to be persons of courage.
Read: Read today about the Holy Innocents who were put to death by King Herod.
Reflect: The observances of the Christmas season illuminate many key themes for the faithful. Meditate today on this one:
"The sacredness of human life and the wonderful event that is every birth, since the Word of life came amongst men and was made visible through his birth of the Virgin Mary (see 1 Jn 1:2)."
Pray the Rosary for life today.
Act: Add an intercession for life that has particular meaning for your family to the mealtime blessing today.
Card Playing Day
The holiday season has come and gone, and the end of the year is in sight. You know what you need to do now? That’s right, you need to sit back and play out a few rounds of solitaire, or maybe get the family together for a night of Texas Hold’em, Slap Jack, or War. Whatever your pleasure, Card Playing Day is a chance to wind down from all the kerfuffle of the season by engaging in a card game or three. Playing cards are thought to have first been introduced to the world in China before spreading across the globe to India, Persia, and ultimately every corner of this… sphere. Ok, so that corner thing never has made sense, unless you’re talking about a rectangular playing card, which thankfully we are! A whole pack of them in fact. Playing cards have always been the last bastion of entertainment in inclement weather, and thus were a favorite of the winter holidays. After all, before the invention of television and electricity, what was one to do when you’d heard all of Uncle Joe’s story, and couldn’t possibly bring yourself to lay your eyes on another dog-eared novel? That’s right, you play cards! There are numerous games that exist in the world, hundreds from every culture imaginable. Some games are unique to a particular region, or at least distinct to it (Like Baccarat) or can be found in variations all over the world while clearly being recognizable (like poker). Others still involve the use of playing boards as a utility in keeping track of points, such as cribbage. Card Playing Day is an opportunity and excuse to return to this age-old form of entertainment, and to spend a little time alone, or connecting with your family.
How to celebrate Card Playing Day
Well, the simplest way to celebrate Card Playing Day is, of course, to participate in the aforementioned past-time! However, if you’re really looking to make an experience out of Card Playing Day, you may consider trying to learn a variation of a game you already know, or even learning a completely new card game altogether. There’re countless games out there you can learn, and if the game you know has lost its appeal, it’s time to learn another one! We also suggest getting out there and investing in a new deck of cards, there are limitless variations on style and theme, and a new deck can make a new game even more fun!
· Read-Theodore Dresser’s (died today 1945) writer of “Sister Carrie” a Novel about the killing of childlike innocence.
Tuesday: Litany of St. Michael the Archangel
Goffine’s Devout Instructions, 1896