….Of course, for decades now, the Church in the United States has seen in the Holy Innocents the forerunners of the millions of babies slaughtered through legalized abortion in this country since 1973. As we have protested against this monstrosity and blight on our national character, have we not all witnessed the fear and rage of those ensnared in the culture of death? But why such rage? The vast majority of pro-lifers offer a kindly protest. The rage is born of insecurity, no doubt, because – deep-down – everyone knows the truth of what is happening in the abortion clinics and everyone knows – deep-down – that Our Lord was right in asserting that “the truth will set you free” (Jn 8:32). Dr. Bernard Nathanson came to the right conclusion, after years of aborting thousands of children, bringing him to produce the very appropriately-titled film,The Silent Scream.
The Church in our country – especially the hierarchy – have made numerous mistakes in the post-Vatican II era, however, the one area in which the Church shines is in her unrelenting pro-life witness and action. People forget that ours was a lone voice in the immediate wake of Roe v. Wade. In fact, the pro-abortionists used our solitary witness to press the anti-Catholic button, hoping to make the issue appear as a uniquely Catholic issue, as documented by Dr. Nathanson. While we rejoice in Evangelicals getting onboard with us, truth compels us to note that they were late arrivals.
This counter-cultural stance has been powerfully aided by our Catholic school system, which has provided strength and youthfulness to the pro-life movement. A few days after the 2010 March for Life in Washington, D. C., a journalist in favor of “abortion rights” wrote an article in the Washington Post (also strongly pro-abortion) noting that he was “expecting to write about [the March’s] irrelevance,” however, he indicated: “I was especially struck by the large number of young people among the tens of thousands at the march.” He highlighted the fact that the vast majority came from Catholic schools who “were taught from an early age to oppose abortion.” The piece ended up being remarkably fair and even positive….
Europeans are stunned by the vitality of the pro-life movement in America; most of them have given up on the cause a long time ago. Abortion is still a lively and hotly contested dimension of American politics, as was on clear display in the shameful confirmation hearings of Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Most interesting of all is that young people, perhaps realizing that they themselves could have been aborted or impressed by what science tells us about life in the womb, are among the most pro-life of all. This past year has seen a bumper-crop of pro-life legislation across the country, with much more sure to follow if the Supreme Court moves in the direction most suppose will happen in the Dobbs case.
….Cardinal Newman would rhapsodize on our little saints, preaching on this feast in 1833 thus:
The longer we live in the world, and the further removed we are from the feelings and remembrances of childhood (and especially if removed from the sight of children), the more reason we have to recollect our Lord’s impressive action and word, when He called a little child unto Him, and set him in the midst of His disciples, and said, “Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of Heaven. Whosoever, therefore, shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of Heaven.” And in order to remind us of this our Saviour’s judgment, the Church, like a careful teacher, calls us back year by year upon this day from the bustle and fever of the world. She takes advantage of the Massacre of the Innocents recorded in St. Matthew’s Gospel, to bring before us a truth which else we might think little of; to sober our wishes and hopes of this world, our high ambitious thoughts, or our anxious fears, jealousies, and cares, by the picture of the purity, peace, and contentment which are the characteristics of little children. (The Mind of Little Children, PPS 2:6)
All you Holy Innocents, although speechless in life, pray now that the witness of our lives will always match the words of our lips.
The above comes from a Dec. 28 story in Catholic World Report by Father Peter Stravinskas, an expanded version of an essay that was first posted at CWR in 2018.