Holy Innocents: Why "Martyrs"?


#1

My Jehovah’s Witness uncle has asked me how, logically, the Catholic Church can consider the Holy Innocents to be matyrs via “Baptism of Blodd.”

Obviously, one cannot be a martyr to a cause unless one wills it.

I don’t know how to answer him. What merit is it to die “in pace of Christ” if such a death is not itself willed or willingly accepted?

Anyone? :confused:


#2

[quote=Sacramentalist]My Jehovah’s Witness uncle has asked me how, logically, the Catholic Church can consider the Holy Innocents to be matyrs via “Baptism of Blodd.”

Obviously, one cannot be a martyr to a cause unless one wills it.

I don’t know how to answer him. What merit is it to die “in pace of Christ” if such a death is not itself willed or willingly accepted?

Anyone? :confused:
[/quote]

Your uncle is oversimplifying it. The definition of martyr is a bit more broad than simply to die willingly on behalf of Christ. This is the classic definition that we tend to use. Even though the Holy Innocents died long before him, St. Stephen is considered the “first martyr” by the Church based on the definition your uncle gives. By calling the Holy Innocents martyrs, though, we are using the more broad definition of one who is killed out of hatred directed at Christ, such as what Herod felt when he ordered this massacre. St. Thomas and St. Augustine write that God would not have allowed all of these children to be killed had he not been able to use the event for their good, and this is what we mean - that because their lives were taken on God’s behalf (whether they willed it or not), God used it for good and brought them into Heaven. He’s using what’s called the “equivocation fallacy”, which means to use a term that has more than one strict definition, but pretending it doesn’t in order to make a point. Hope this helps.


#3

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