Electronic Prayer Book

The Holy Innocents Morning

 
 
 

Part 1. From the Divine Office

 

 

Opening

 

O Lord, open my lips.
And my mouth shall proclaim Your praise.

O God, come to my assistance,
O Lord, make haste to my help me.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be,
world without end. Amen.

Halleluia.

“Rachel Mourns Her Children”

Christmas Day

During this octave of Christmas the Church celebrates the memory of the small children of the neighbourhood of Bethlehem put to death by Herod. Sacrificed by a wicked monarch these innocent lives bear witness to Christ who was persecuted from the time of His birth by a world which would not receive Him. It is Christ Himself who is at stake in this mass-murder of the children; already the choice, for or against Him, is put clearly before men. But the persecutors are powerless, for Christ came to perform a work of salvation that nothing can prevent; when He fell into the hands of his enemies at the time chosen by God it was to redeem the world by His own Blood.

Our Christmas joy is tempered today by a feeling of sadness. Our thought goes principally to the glory of the children, of those innocent victims, whom she shows us, in heaven following the Lamb wherever He goes.

Vigil Morning Acclamations For Reflection

Celebrating the prophecies of our Messiah’s coming, His birth, and His return at the end of time.

 
 
  • These are they who have come out of the great tribulation, and have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb.
 
  • I saw under the altar of God the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God, and for the witness that they bore.
 
  • The Saints were singing a new song before the throne of God and of the Lamb; and the earth resounded with their voices.
 
 

From Psalm 5

 

Morning Prayer

 

 

Hearken to my words, O Lord, attend to my sighing.

Heed my cry for help, my King and my God!

For to thee, O Lord, do I pray; in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I offer you my prayers and I wait.

For you are not a God who delights in wickedness, nor may the wicked abide with you; the arrogant may not stand in your presence…

But I, by your abundant kindness, will enter your house, I will bow down towards your holy temple in reverence before you, O Lord.

Lead me in your justice, because of my enemies; make your way straight before me.

 

 

For there is no sincerity in their speech; their heart devises treachery; their throat is an ugly sepulchre; they flatter with their tongues.

Punish them, O God, let them fail in their plans: cast them out because of their many crimes, for they are rebellious against you.

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice, let them be glad forever.

And do protect them and let them rejoice in you, who love your name.

For you do bless the just man, O Lord: with your benevolence, as with a shield you do surround him…

 

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.

As it was in the beginning is, was and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

 

Reading — St. Luke 2: 1 — 14

 

At that time, there went forth a decree from Caesar Augustas that a census of the whole world should be taken. This first census took place while Cyrinus was governor of Syria. And all were going, each to his own town, to register. And Joseph also went from Galilee out of the town of Nazareth into Judea to the town of David, which is called Bethlehem — because he was of the house of David — to register, together with Mary his espoused wife, who was with child. And it came to pass while they were there, that the days for her to be delivered were fulfilled. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were shepherds in the same district living in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold an angel of the Lord stood by them and the glory of God shone round about them, and they feared exceedingly. And the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which shall be to all the people; for today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you, who is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign to you: you shall find an Infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger”. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men of goodwill”.

A sermon of St. Augustine, Bishop.

Today, dearest brethren, we celebrate the birthday of those children who were slaughtered, as the Gospel tells us, by that exceedingly cruel king, Herod. Let the earth therefore, rejoice and the Church exalt — she, the fruitful mother of so many heavenly champions and of such glorious virtues. Never, in fact, would that impious tyrant have been able to benefit these children by the sweetest kindness as much as he has done by his hatred. For, as today’s feast reveals, in the measure with which malice in all its fury was poured out upon the holy children, did heaven’s blessing stream down upon them.

Blessed are you, Bethlehem in the land of Juda! You suffered the inhumanity of King Herod in the murder of your babies and therefore have become worthy to offer to the Lord a pure host of infants. In full right do we celebrate the heavenly birthday of these children whom the world caused to be born unto an eternally blessed life rather than that from their mothers’ womb, for they attained the grace of everlasting life before the enjoyment of the present.

The precious death of any martyr deserves high praise because of his heroic confession; the death of these children is precious in the sight of God because of the beatitude they gained so quickly. For already at the beginning of their lives they pass on. The end of the present life is for them the beginning of glory. These, then, whom Herod’s cruelty tore as sucklings from their mothers’ bosom, are justly hailed as “infant Martyr flowers”; they were the Church’s first blossoms, matured by the frost of persecution during the cold winter of unbelief.

 
 

Alternative Readings

 
Old Testament The Gospels Epistles of St. Paul Other Epistles
 
 

Hymn as a Prayer

     

The uneasy tyrant is told of the coming King of kings to rule over the people of Israel and to ascend the throne of David.

Beside himself at the news, he cries out, “He is here to take my place. I am dethroned. Guards, go, sword in hand, and drench the cradles with the babies’ blood”.

 

Of what avail is so great an outrage? How does this monstrous wickedness benefit Herod? Though so many were put to death, yet one, Christ escapes unharmed.

Glory be to You, Jesus, born of the Virgin; and glory be to the Father and the loving Spirit, through endless ages. Amen.

     
 
     
 
 

Zackary’s Hymn of Praise — St. Luke 1: 68 — 79

 

St. Luke records (Luke 1: 67) that the father of John the Baptist, eight days after the birth of his son, “filled with the Holy Spirit”, uttered this prophecy, which has remained a daily prayer for Christians.

 
 
 
Antiphon

I saw the Lamb standing upon Mount Sion, and with him a hundred and forty four thousand having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads.

   
       

 

       

Blessed be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has visited and wrought redemption for his people,

And has raised up a horn # of salvation for us in the house of David his servant,

As he promised through the mouths of his holy ones the prophets from of old;

Salvation from our enemies and from the hands of all our foes

He has fulfilled his kindness to all our fathers and been mindful of his holy covenant

In the Oath to Abraham our father, by which he swore to grant us

That, delivered from the hands of our enemies, we should serve him without fear.

In holiness and justice before him all our days. —

 

And you, O child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,

To give his people knowledge of salvation through forgiveness of their sins,

Because of the compassionate kindness of our God with which the Orient from on high will visit us,

To shine on those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.

 

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end.
Amen.

       
 

# “Horn of salvation.”

Horn refers originally to the power of an ox. It came to be applied to people and here, to the royal saving power of the messiah.

 
Antiphon

I saw the Lamb standing upon Mount Sion, and with him a hundred and forty four thousand having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads.

 
 

The Lord’s Prayer

 
 

Traditional

Our Father who art in heaven
Hallowed be thy name
Thy kingdom come
Thy will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
And forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive those who trespass against us;
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.

Amen.

 

Contemporary

Our Father, in heaven,
Hallowed be Your Name,
Your Kingdom come,
Your will be done,
On earth as in heaven,
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial,
and deliver us from evil.

Amen.

 

Prayer

 
 

O God, Whose praise the martyred Innocents on this day confessed, not by speaking, but by dying, destroy all the evils of sin in us, that our life may also proclaim in deeds, Your faith which our tongues profess. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.

 

Closing

   
 

V. Our help is in the Name of the Lord.

R. Who made heaven and earth.

   

May the all powerful and merciful
Lord, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
bless and preserve us.

Amen.

 

Part 2. Devotions Throughout Christmastide | Part 3. The Angelus

Part 4. Prayers For Protection