October is Respect Life month in the U.S. Catholic Church.
The worldwide Pro – Life Movement is an organic grassroots rising-up of people appalled that others would advocate the killing of unborn children. The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children - founded in England in 1966 was the first pro-life group in the world. This of course also points to the sad distinction that England was leading the way in the killing of unborn babies in the free world (communist countries already had legalized abortion).
In the U.S., the Right to Life League of Southern California, founded in 1969 due to the liberalization of abortion laws there, was the first pro-life group in the U.S.
It wasn’t too long afterwards that the Catholic Church in the U.S. began to develop its “Respect for Life” programs.
We see in each of these names a message and commitment to human life. There is no doubt that in the abortion debate the Pro-Life Movement has taken the (inspired) high moral ground. Our opponents in this life-death struggle have placed themselves on the side of killing and death although they try to characterize their terms of engagement otherwise. Our terms of engagement are: Pro human life, desiring to protect innocent human life*, emphasizing the right-to-life – which in the U.S. was called a “self-evident” truth and an unalienable right (Declaration of Independence) – and promoting respect for human life which points to the dignity of each human being (a concept that is integral to any positive and progressive view of human beings).
Of course God said it first and most emphatically: “I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life…” (Deut 30:19, and “Thou shall not kill.”)
In the 1990′s Pope John Paul II began pointing to yet another crucial distinction in our terms of engagement: a Culture of Life (as opposed to ‘culture of death’). This term, and the necessity of its realization, addresses the big picture and the long term view for humanity. He offers a cogent and prophetic explanation of the pro-life position in his ground-breaking, life-supporting document THE GOSPEL OF LIFE.
* Whereas the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth, (1959 United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child).
Filed under: Incarnation
Today, September 29 is the feast day of St. Michael, St. Raphael and St. Gabriel. Gabriel appears to Daniel, Zachariah and Mary in the Bible. Harriet Beacher Stowe in her book, Footsteps of the Master, points to another noteworthy quality found in Mary by comparing her and the Prophet Daniel’s reactions to this awe inspiring Angel, whose name means “man of God,” or “God has shown himself mighty.”
“There is in her whole character a singular poise and calmness. When the Angel of the Annunciation appeared to her she was not overcome by the presence of the spiritual being as Daniel was, who records that ‘he fell on his face and there was no strength in him.’
Mary, in calm and firm simplicity, looks the angel in the face, and ponders what the wonderful announcement may mean. When she finds that it really does mean that she, a poor lonely maiden, is the chosen woman of all the human race – the gainer of the crown of which every Jewish woman had dreamed for ages – she is still calm.”
I didn’t realize it before, but apparently there are two litanies to “Our Lady of Lourdes”. I would like to comment on a few lines from what is probably the older litany. There are actually three lines in sequence which read as follows:
Mother poor and without shelter, PRAY FOR US*
Mother who did bear along forgotten roads the fruit of thy womb, *
Who did find no other shelter for thy Son and thy God than a wild cave,
and no other cradle than a manger, *
It is the second line above which caught my attention, but it is placed in perspective by the lines immediately preceding and following it. The third line speaks about our Lord’s birth at Bethlehem, so the second line is probably referring to the days of Mary’s pregnancy and perhaps the period of time as she made her way there.
She carried her unborn baby Jesus “along forgotten roads” as all expectant mothers do. In her case, we think of the road from Nazareth to the hill country of Judea – probably to the town of Ain-Karim – where her cousin Elizabeth lived with her husband the priest Zechariah. This town is near Jerusalem so Mary would have probably gone to Jerusalem a number of times during her three month visit. Then she returned to Nazareth and spent another four or five months there. But occasionally she would be out on the nearby roads to visit someone or obtain some item.
Finally there is the journey to Bethlehem when Mary is perhaps in her eighth month of pregnancy. God Incarnate and unborn left His mark on the roads of Israel, vicariously through the footsteps of Mary as she did the Will of God. Later John the Baptist would “make straight in the desert a highway for our God” (Isa 40:3), preparing the way of the Lord. But, in her own way Mary tried to make His way comfortable and safe, bearing Him with love and devotion even before the day of His birth. “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of (her) who brings good news” (Isa 52:7).
For Mary, for all pregnant women – and for all unborn babies – all these roads lead to Bethlehem.
Filed under: Medical/Bioethical Issues
Two days ago we had a post on Blessed Herman, a saintly man who overcame severe physical limitations to accomplish great things. Today, approximately 90% of children who are diagnosed prenatally with disabilities are aborted.
Madeline Nugent has written a book called My Child, My Gift: A Positive Response to Serious Prenatal Diagnosis. It will be published in 2008 by New City Press. This book was written to support women who have or have had a diagnosis for a child who has a disability. Click here to find out more about this book.
Her website also has a DISCUSSION FORUM . This is an interactive forum where you may dialog with others who have experienced or who are experiencing serious prenatal diagnosis.
Here is why Madeline wrote the book:
‘Because Joseph was diagnosed in utero with anencephaly, My Child, My Gift was written. Joseph was born on his due date and lived four days of love in his parents’ arms.’
Joseph is the grandson of JoAnn McOsker, founder of Catholics for Life. When her daughter Maria went for her prenatal ultrasound, doctors diagnosed that Joseph had anencephaly. They gave Maria a book on “deciding what to do.” All but about three of the 119 pages in this book were about terminating a pregnancy.
She told her mother JoAnn that she could not even read the book. JoAnn, knowing that Madeline Nugent was an author, phoned her and asked her to write a book to tell women how to bring their children to birth in the face of an adverse diagnosis. That book is My Child, My Gift: A Positive Response to Serious Prenatal Diagnosis.
This looks to be a great and helpful book that offers guidance and help to women through these nine months and beyond.
The Virgin Adoring the Sleeping Christ Child by Sandro Botticelli
The unique St. John Eudes wrote many diverse prayers during his lifetime demonstrating his desire to offer every action of each day to God in a special and meaningful way. This is reflected in prayers such as this:
“O Jesus, I offer Thee the rest I am about to take, in honor of the eternal rest Thou dost enjoy in the bosom of Thy Father, and in honor of the sleep and temporal rest Thou didst take in the bosom of Thy Mother, as well as during Thy whole life on earth.”
His reference to the “bosom of Thy Mother”, is an endearing term for the womb of Mary as we see in the following instruction he gave elsewhere to retreatants:
“Your retreat ought to be made with these chief ends in view: 1. To continue and honor the various retreats of Jesus, for example, His retreat from all eternity in the bosom of His Father; His retreat for nine months in the bosom of His Mother…”
During his times of rest, sleep and even retreat John Eudes was reminded of Unborn Jesus within Mary’s womb. As he instructs us above, we can honor these acts of Jesus to the extent that we join ourselves to Him with these mysteries of His Presence in mind.
Quotes taken from: St. John Eudes, C.J.M., The Life and the Kingdom of Jesus in Christian Souls
Today, Tuesday, September 25, 2007 is the feast day of Blessed Herman (1013-1054). He was born with many medical problems: cleft palate, cerebral palsy, and spina bifida. During his lifetime he was known as Blessed Herman the Cripple. Father Robert F. McNamara on his website, Saints Alive, calls him Blessed Herman the Disabled.
He was a remarkable man. Despite his daunting physical limitations he studied and wrote on astronomy, theology, math, history, poetry, Arabic, Greek, and Latin. He also built musical and astronomical equipment. He was considered a genius in his time. He wrote prayers and hymns – the most notable being the Salve Regina (Hail Holy Queen).
Father McNamara in his article on Blessed Herman the Disabled comments on the great meaning of Herman’s life with this closing insight:
“In his own day, the heroic cripple who achieved learning and holiness was called ‘The Wonder of His Age’.
In our day, many voices say that people with disabilities should be phased out of existence. Which were the Dark Ages, then or now!”
Filed under: Pro-life
As many of you know this site is dedicated to honoring the unborn Christ Child and promoting the Gospel of Life. So sometimes when you visit our blog we will have a quote about Christ’s time in the womb or the Gospel of Life or a post about another pro-life topic – we usually try to make it positive and/or inspirational .
Since, we do a lot with quotes, I thought today I would highlight some other websites that are dedicated to pro-life quotes.
First there is another blog called:
Priests for Life website has a page called:
Stories, Anecdotes, and Inspiring Quotes
Here is a place you can find Pro-life quotes from Mother Teresa:
Pro Life Quotes Archive Right to Life New Zealand
Celebrity quotes on Abortion and Life
USCCB Pro-life Activities Selected quotes from
Filed under: Poems
Still hidden, still unknown as yet
within the heart and soul of Mary
was the Father’s plan of life for her,
His wondrous mystery,
a covenant of love
embedded in it’s hope-filled promise
of a regenerative power within her womb,
HIS plan for her,
all that she was meant to be for all of us,
Mother of the WORD made flesh,
so that from her body – her blood
The Son’s humanity might claim His own.
Then it was you, O Gabriel, angel sent by God,
as messenger of God’s redemptive love,
entrusted with calling forth
in humble praise and love
a handmaid’s “YES”
that she might choose
the overshadowing, whispering breeze
of the Spirit’s power to become Theotokos
“Mother of the Word” – God’s Son
O Gabriel, plead with God for us that we
become like you a messenger
to draw forth from:
those we meet,
those we live with,
those we care for,
all that has been planned for them.
Help us seek, help us find, help us nurture,
gently praise our God for those
sometimes never understood,
sometimes temperamental talents;
God given, created gene of life,
to call forth, open up, identify their hopes,
their attitudes, and unite ourselves with all
that embodies God’s Will for them in Christ.
“Glorify the Lord with me,
Together let us extol His Name.”
by: Sister M. Linus Coyle Jan. 2006
Sister M. Linus Coyle belongs to the order of the Sisters of the Presentation. She receives our e-newsletter and sent us this beautiful poem/reflection on the Archangel Gabriel. Tomorrow September 23 is the feast day of St. Linus. I wanted to wish Sister Linus a happy and holy day on her patron saint’s feast day. We have featured one of her beautiful poem/reflections before entitled The Annunciation.
Today is the feastday of St. Matthew. St Matthew (Apostle and Evangelist) is the author of the first Gospel. It is in the Gospel of Matthew that we have the most complete account of St. Joseph’s calling to be the adoptive father of Jesus.
Here is a quote from Pope Benedict’s Angelus address on 12/18/2005:
“In these days of Advent, the liturgy invites us to contemplate in a special way the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, who lived with a unique intensity the time of waiting and preparation for the birth of Jesus. Today, I want to direct our gaze toward the figure of St. Joseph… The one who gives the most importance to the adoptive father of Jesus is the Evangelist Matthew, emphasizing that thanks to him, the Child was legally introduced into the lineage of David fulfilling the Scriptures, in which the Messiah was prophesied as the ‘son of David’.”
It seems that adoption was part of God’s plan: Here is an excerpt from Unborn Jesus Our Hope:
“From a legal and social point of view, Joseph would be recognized as the father of the baby Jesus. According to the Israelite understanding of marriage in those days, a child conceived during the time of betrothal was a “legitimate” child, and the reputations of both mother and child were thus protected. “Joseph’s adoption of Jesus is effected in the two acts with which the account (Mt 1:24 25) closes, and which are in fact its most essential elements. ‘He took his wife…. And he called his name Jesus.’” (Jean Cardinal Daniélou, The Infancy Narratives) This constitutes a turning point in the life of Unborn Jesus. His earthly father reaches out to Him, figuratively embracing Him with wholehearted acceptance.
The relationship between Joseph and Unborn Jesus becomes very real. Fr. Faber states that Joseph was “part of the scheme of redemption” and “assists God in keeping the mystery of the Incarnation a secret”. (Rev. Frederick W. Faber, C.O., D.D., The Blessed Sacrament) Joseph begins a secret “adoption” process while Jesus is yet an unborn child (“he took his wife” and her unborn child) and then the process is later completed with Joseph’s naming of the child after birth and registering the child in Bethlehem during the census. Jesus needed to be accepted into a family, adopted into a family, and there existed a vacuum until that day when Joseph stepped forward in obedient faith to lovingly accept his son: “Joseph is the one whom God chose to be the ‘overseer of the Lord’s birth’, the one who has the responsibility to look after the Son of God’s ‘ordained’ entry into the world, in accordance with divine dispositions and human laws.” (Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Guardian of the Redeemer)
Last spring I had the privilege of hearing Father Frank Pavone speak. Of course, for years I had heard about Father Pavone – after hearing him speak I realized that his reputation was well earned. I found him to be one of the most convincing, balanced and dynamic pro-life speakers that I had ever heard. During his presentation he mentioned another talk that he sometimes gave entitled: Twelve Reasons the Pro-Life Movement is Winning. That really intrigued me!
I couldn’t find this 12 point list on his website so I did a google search and came up with two sources to put together this list (it may not be exactly his list but I think it is close).
Twelve Reasons the Pro-life Movement is Winning
1. A high percentage of young people are getting involved in the Pro-Life movement. (…and they realize that it could have been them!).
2. More and more women who have abortions are standing up and saying, “I regret my abortion!” (And the more abortions there are, the more women are standing up against what they have done.)
3. Researchers are coming up with more and more evidence that abortion as a supposed “benefit” to women does more harm than good.
4. Fewer and fewer doctors will perform abortions. (Ask the pro-choice doctors if they themselves will perform the abortion!).
5. In which directions are the conversions going? There is a society of former abortionists who used to use their skills to kill babies and now are seeking healing while some speak up against what they used to do. Where is the society of former Pro-Lifers who are now abortionists?
6. More people are voting pro-life than ever before. The number of people for which abortion (pro-life) is a deciding factor in voting is increasing.
7. Opinion polls are moving in the pro-life direction –no matter what age group or category you look at there is a trend that bodes well for the pro-life movement.
8. More laws have been passed on the state level to curtail abortion in the last dozen years.
9. Half of the abortion mills have closed in the past dozen years. There are now more pro-life resource centers across the country than abortion mills.
10. The U. S. Supreme court is moving in the Pro-life direction.
11. No lie can live forever – the truth always prevails. Abortion destroys itself – the more it is exposed – the more people see that it doesn’t help humanity or society.
12. Jesus has already won the battle over the kingdom of death!
Of course, Father Pavone fleshes out these points – giving statistics, evidence and examples. I would like to add that Father Pavone and his wonderful organization along with all of the other great Pro-life groups and individuals around the world are to be thanked for their great efforts on behalf of the unborn.
Filed under: Quotes from Great Christians
Here are two quotes about the life of God within:
“When a woman is carrying a child she develops a certain instinct of self defense. It is not selfishness; it is not egoism. It is an absorption into the life within, a folding of self like a little tent around the child’s frailty, a God like instinct to cherish, and some day to bring forth, the life. A closing upon it like the petals of a flower closing upon the dew that shines in its heart. This is precisely the attitude we must have to Christ, the Life within us, in the Advent of our contemplation.”
From The Reed of God by Caryll Houselander
“Man will not consent to drive away the money changers from the temple of his soul, until he realizes that it is the Holy of Holies – not a house of traffic, but in very truth the house of God.”
From How to Pray Always by Raoul Plus, S. J.
Filed under: Biblical Reflections, Quotes from Great Christians, Religion
Today September 17 is the feastday of St. Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621). He was a Jesuit and a Doctor of the Church. Here is a beautiful quote from him about the obedience of the infant Christ.
“In the first place, the obedience of Christ to His Father began with His Conception and continued uninterruptedly to His Death. The life of our Lord Jesus Christ was one perpetual act of obedience. The Soul of Christ from the moment of its creation enjoyed the exercise of its free will, was full of grace and wisdom, and consequently, even when enclosed in His Mother’s womb, was capable of practicing the virtue of obedience.
The Psalmist speaking in the Person of Christ says: “In the head of the book it is written of Me that I should do Thy will. O My God, I have desired it, and Thy law in the midst of My Heart.” (Psalm 40: 8, 9). These words may be thus simplified: ” In the head of the book”–that is from the beginning to the end of the inspired writings of Scripture–it is shown that I was chosen and sent into the world “to do Thy will. O My God, I have desired it,” and freely accepted it. I have placed “Thy law,” Thy commandment, Thy desire, “in the midst of My Heart,” to ponder upon it constantly, to obey it accurately and promptly.
The very words of Christ Himself mean the same. “My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, that I may perfect His work.” (John 4:34). For as a man does not take food now and again and at distant intervals during life, but daily eats and takes a pleasure in it, so Christ our Lord was intent upon being obedient to His Father every day of His life. It was His joy and His pleasure.
“I came down from Heaven not to do My own will, but the will of Him that sent Me.” (John 6:38).
And again. “He that sent Me is with Me, and He hath not left Me alone; for I do always the things that please Him.”( John 8:29)
And since obedience is the most excellent of all sacrifices, as Samuel told Saul, (1 Kings 15:22) so every action which Christ performed during His life was a sacrifice most pleasing to the Divine Majesty.
The first prerogative then of our Lord’s obedience is that it lasted from the moment of His Conception to His Death upon the Cross.“
From The Seven Words on the Cross by St. Robert Bellermine
The Flight into Egypt, by Vittore Carpaccio (1450- 1525)
Today, Saturday, September 15, 2007 is the feast day of Our Lady of Sorrows. Mary had many sorrows besides the Passion and death of her dear Son and Savior. In fact, Church tradition refers to The Seven Sorrows of Mary (the first three of which involve the Child Jesus).
Let’s consider here The Second Sorrow of Mary – The Flight Into Egypt (Mt 2:13-23). More specifically, let us go back in time to the first year of Jesus’ life after His birth in Bethlehem. We recall that an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him to flee from Bethlehem, with Mary and Jesus, to Egypt, because “Herod is about to search for the child to destroy him”.
It is likely that news from Jerusalem and Judea eventually trickled down into Egypt via trading caravans and other means. Therefore, Mary and Joseph probably learned of the slaughter of the Holy Innocents sometime during their first year in Egypt. One can almost imagine Joseph and Mary sitting in a marketplace in some unknown town in Egypt where a caravan from Israel has been detained for a period of time. Perhaps it is evening, and Mary is holding the baby Jesus in her arms while Joseph stands nearby. They are listening to news from Israel when suddenly their correspondent shows a look of dismay and recounts what Herod had done in Bethlehem – killing the male children under two years of age.
Mary’s heart is torn as she gasps in horror, realizing that it was her own baby that was the intended innocent for slaughter but that others took His place. Perhaps she turns to Joseph to give him baby Jesus so that she can hurry away and cry alone somewhere. Or maybe she instinctively grows tense, tightening her embrace of the little baby in her arms , reflexively protecting Him from evil men like Herod. Grief stricken, she goes off and weeps, her soul pierced through (Lk 2:33-35):
“A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they were no more.” Mt 2:17-18
And today also, when Mary hears of what we are doing to our unborn children does she not share anew in the weeping of Rachel? Let us join with Mary too in praying for Rachel.
Filed under: Poems
The Christ-child lay on Mary’s lap,
His hair was like a light.
(O weary, weary were the world,
But here is all aright.)
The Christ-child lay on Mary’s breast,
His hair was like a star.
(O stern and cunning are the kings,
But here the true hearts are.)
The Christ-child lay on Mary’s heart,
His hair was like a fire.
(O weary, weary is the world,
But here the world’s desire.)
The Christ-child stood at Mary’s knee,
His hair was like a crown.
And all the flowers looked up at Him,
And all the stars looked down.
Filed under: Fathers of the Church
Today, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2007 is the feast day of St. John Chrysostom (died 407 A.D.). He was famous for his eloquent preaching. In those early centuries of the Church various forms of Gnosticism ebbed and flowed throughout the known world. Part of the Gnostic message claimed that Christ did not have a real physical body like you and I. The early Church battled this heresy for centuries. In the following excerpt from one of John’s homilies on the Gospel of Matthew, we see John defending the Church’s understanding of Jesus Christ as fully God and fully man.
“Nor think that thou hast learnt all, by hearing “of the Spirit;” nay, for we are ignorant of many things, even when we have learnt this; as, for instance, how the Infinite is in a womb, how He that contains all things is carried, as unborn, by a woman; how the Virgin bears, and continues a virgin. How, I pray thee, did the Spirit frame that Temple? how did He take not all the flesh from the womb, but a part thereof, and increased it, and fashioned it?
For that He did come forth of the Virgin’s flesh, He hath declared by speaking of “that which was conceived in her;” (Mt 1:20) and Paul, by saying, “made of a woman;” (Gal 4:4) whereby he stops the mouths of them that say, Christ came among us as through some conduit. For, if this were so, what need of the womb? If this were so, He hath nothing in common with us, but that flesh is of some other kind, and not of the mass which belongs to us. How then was He of the root of Jesse? How was He a rod? how Son of man? how was Mary His mother? how was He of David’s seed? how did he “take the form of a servant?” (Phil 2:7) how “was the Word made flesh?”(Jn 1:14) and how saith Paul to the Romans, “Of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is God over all?”(Rom 9:5)
Therefore that He was of us, and of our substance, and of the Virgin’s womb, is manifest from these things, and from others beside; but how, is not also manifest. Do not either thou then inquire; but receive what is revealed, and be not curious about what is kept secret.”
Homilies on the Gospel of Matthew Homily IV Matthew 1, 17
The following beautiful and poetic reflection about Jesus is taken from St. Francis de Sales book On the love of God.
“He took a loving quiet in us, yea even with some suspension of his senses, in his mother’s womb and in his infancy.
And he of whom it is so frequently
written: I live, saith the Lord; could afterwards have said according to His apostle’s language:
I live, now not I, but man liveth in me.
To me to live is man, and to die for man is gain.
My life is hidden with man in God.
He who dwelt in himself dwells now in us, and
He who was living from all eternity in the bosom of his Eternal Father becomes mortal in the (womb) of his temporal Mother;
He who lived eternally by his own divine life, lived with a human life,
He who from eternity had been only God,
shall be for all eternity man too:
So has the love of man ravished God, and drawn him into an ecstasy!”
When I read this I think how much Jesus identifies with all of us and how much He loves the little unborn and newborn babies. After all: “He took a loving quiet in us, yea even…in his mother’s womb.”
Filed under: Pope Benedict XVI
In a homily on September 8, 2007, Pope Benedict made this startling remark:
“Europe has become child-poor: we want everything for ourselves, and place little trust in the future. Yet the earth will be deprived of a future only when the forces of the human heart and of reason illuminated by the heart are extinguished – when the face of God no longer shines upon the earth. Where God is, there is the future.“
“Rather, I wish to act as an advocate for a profoundly human need, speaking out on behalf of those unborn children who have no voice. In doing so, I do not close my eyes to the difficulties and the conflicts which many women are experiencing, and I realize that the credibility of what we say also depends on what the Church herself is doing to help women in trouble.
In this context, then, I appeal to political leaders not to allow children to be considered as a form of illness, nor to abolish in practice your legal system’s acknowledgment that abortion is wrong. I say this out of a concern for humanity. But that is only one side of this disturbing problem. The other is the need to do everything possible to make European countries once again open to welcoming children. Encourage young married couple to establish new families and to become mothers and fathers! You will not only assist them, but you will benefit society as a whole. I also decisively support you in your political efforts to favour conditions enabling young couples to raise children. Yet all this will be pointless, unless we can succeed in creating once again in our countries a climate of joy and confidence in life, a climate in which children are not seen as a burden, but rather as a gift for all.“
Following are some articles that give statistics on birth trends and children in Europe an elsewhere in the world. (While I don’t always agree with the analysis given in some of these articles – I have linked to them to show that those on all sides of the spectrum agree that there is a dramatic decrease in birth-rates, especially in Western nations) One website even stated: We read things like the fact that the current fertility rate in 15 European nations is so low, that the United Nations has decided it is “unprecedented in human history.”