The Holy Innocents

With nothing but the angel’s words as confirmation of her condition, she hastened toward her cousin’s house to see if the impossible had indeed come to pass.

It had. Amazingly, inexplicably, the devout old woman positively glowed as she regarded her much younger kin, at once gratified and awestruck at the hidden miracles that rested, like solitary secrets, beneath their hearts. Solitary, that is, until their eyes met and the blessing poured forth. “Blessed are you among women  . . .”

That moment of happiness was to be short lived. A few months later, a terrified couple and their infant son fled in the dead of night, their ears filled with the screams of bereaved parents whose children had died violently and needlessly at the hands of Herod’s soldiers. Innocence lost. Evil had won . . . almost.

From Hebrews 10.

When Christ came into the world, he said:

“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,

but a body you prepared for me;

in holocausts and sin offerings you took no delight.

Then I said, ‘As is written of me in the scroll,

behold, I come to do your will, O God.'”


The God who did not desire the “sacrifice and offering” of ritualized slaughter, was willing to relinquish something infinitely more precious out of divine love. Even when evil retaliated, it could not prevail. The darker the sky, the brighter the star. The deeper the longing, the greater the joy.


The spiritual life is not a shining walkway of gossamer and velvet. It’s more like the underside of an intricate cross-stitch, darks interspersed with brights and jewel tones. Tiny lines criss-crossing great swaths of linen replete with tiny holes. As the Master Weaver spins and tugs the strands, we cannot see the final design from our vantage point. The best we can do is undo the snarls, admire flashes of beauty . . . and wait eagerly for the moment when at least we will see the complete design.


Heavenly Father, your children need you,

Huddled all alone in the dark,

longing for the light.

Do not forsake us, do not abandon us.

You are all we need. Oh, how we need you now.


Heidi Hess Saxton, new Editorial Director at Ascension Press,  is the author of Raising Up Mommy and My Big Book of Catholic Bible Stories. Heidi blogs at A Rosary for my GPS, an online resource for mothers of adopted, fostered, and special needs children. She and her husband foster-adopted their two children in 2002.

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