According to a recent survey, 30 percent of women under the age of twenty-five now identify as “LGBT.” That is, three in ten. To advise a young man not to take one as a girlfriend, would be moot.

The young people I know have been aging. Their elders have been aging along with them, and adjusting to changes in the world. Assigning some arbitrary boundary to “the young” — say, persons under twenty-five — I am more puzzled by the generation that begat them. The same people have become stranger. Backing up another generation, into my own quadrant, I am farther out to sea. So many who were “coming of age” half a century ago — perhaps as “hippies,” yet still clinging to bourgeois aspirations — now seem to have lived no lives at all. “We,” shall we call us, were never very sure what we wanted (a spouse? a home? a career? children, perhaps?) — and what we weren’t sure of was often kicked away. Now we have more money than we ever had; or less. But what we bought for whatever we had now seems frivolous, worthless.

And there is no looking down. The stilts we walked on are tottering.

To my reflections, “too dark” for some gentle readers, there are innumerable exceptions. I have friends from all generations, whom I find entirely adequate. Those “values” I was raised in, and those I came to embrace, have not disappeared. Among those younger, in the last fortnight or so, I have been in harmonious contact with several families in which I count six or more children; and since the Batflu at least, all of them home-schooled. In the main, these kids seem bright, alert, happy, promising; it is hard to imagine they will all screw up. Though a tiny minority, some will carry what their parents carried: Hope, in the Catholic, Christian sense. There will still be some women and men. “Others,” of course, are not reproducing.

But for the moment, I notice that these friends all agree that the world has gone mad, and that life requires them to fight with it; and sometimes even to hide.

One gets a glimpse of “Herod the Great” from Josephus, and other ancient sources. Rome’s client in Judaea, at the time of Christ’s birth, was megalomaniac, paranoid, sadistic, sanguinary. He was the model for an “oriental despot.” Macrobius said it was better to be Herod’s pig than his son, in light of the number he killed and how he killed them. Greeks, generally, Romans, and Jews, speak not well of him.

This is the man, in the Book of Matthew, who ordered the slaughter of all male children under the age of two, in Bethlehem and environs. He was looking for Jesus. Divinely warned, Mary and Joseph, with the infant Jesus, fled into Egypt. They returned when Herod had “passed on.”

In truth, there cannot have been more than a few dozen babies to kill, around Bethlehem; hardly worth mentioning, to the ancient historians. In addition to murdering, for instance, a wife and three sons, Herod ordered greater massacres whimsically; and taxed his surviving subjects into penury. The Wailing Wall in Jerusalem is a souvenir of his Second Temple; the Haram platform is essentially his peons’ work. Well, he created a lot of employment, building monuments to himself.

The Massacre of the Innocents is thus quite plausible. It would have been among Herod’s more modest “executive orders.” Children have often been thought expendable, as abortionists continue to think today; this was “just a few dead.” The efforts that anti-Biblical scholars have put into proving the whole thing “a myth,” suggests to me how desperate they are. Indeed, every scholar who denies Christ, also denies the veracity of this story.

Matthew invokes Rachel, weeping for her children — “and would not be comforted because they are not.” This echoes down the ages from so many Rachels.

These slaughtered children of Bethlehem are, in point of time, the first Christian martyrs. In Church liturgy they unambiguously died for Christ.

But to a modern, progressive mind, this is absolutely mindless. For if God is good, why did he allow such a thing to happen? Why does he allow massacres to this day, piled higher than Tamurlaine’s highest heap of skulls? Why has He allowed countless millions of abortions? Why did He not intervene in Herod’s “lifestyle options,” and why won’t He intervene in ours?

The Holy Innocents are a key to this mystery. Today we ask them to pray for us.