The Trinity with Mary and John the Baptist – detail from The Triumph of the Christian Faith fresco by Raphael – Stanzo della segnatura – Vatican
During Christmas season we meditate on the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem – but in fact, according to Cardinal Berulle (1575-1629), Our Lord had three births. In his book, Discourse on the State and Grandeurs of Jesus, he states:
“We find in the book of life three wondrous births of Jesus, who is the life of God and men. They are his birth in the womb of his Father in eternity, his birth in the womb of the Virgin in time, and his birth in the tomb to immortality.“
The words “Today I have begotten you” (Ps 2:7, Heb 1: 5) are associated with each of these births.
1. St. Paul in the first chapter of Hebrews (Heb 1: 5 ) applies these words to the eternal generation of the Son by the Father. Cardinal Berulle goes on to explain: ‘Through a clever use of words, the present is joined to the past, Today I have begotten you. This expresses him who is forever born and is forever being born and whose procession is such that it is without end or beginning.”
“In these last days, he spoke to us through a son, whom he made heir of all things and through whom he created the universe…For to which of the angels did God ever say: ‘You are my son; this day I have begotten you‘ “ (Hebrews 1:2,5)
2. Cardinal Berulle explains that this phrase found in Psalm 2 and Heb 1 is also used by the Church in its ‘office’ for Christmas day. This Christmas 2007, the Heb. 1 passage was the second reading for Christmas Day Mass (see above). Thus the Church applies these words to Christ’s birth in Bethlehem.
3. He then points out that: “Again Saint Paul guided by the same Spirit of God, …in Acts, chapter 13, presents this same text (Today I have begotten you) and applies it to the resurrection of the Son of God, which is a type of birth for Jesus into immortality.”
“We ourselves are proclaiming this good news to you that what God promised our ancestors he has brought to fulfillment for us, their children, by raising up Jesus, as it is written in the second psalm, ‘You are my son; this day I have begotten you.’ ” (Acts: 13:32-33)
Cardinal Berulle concludes:
“…God who is fecund and fertile in his works and in his words, wished that that this same memorable word be applied in the same spirit to these three different meanings, to these three states and mysteries of the eternal Word: to the mystery of his birth from his Father, to the mystery of his birth from his mother, and to the birth from the tomb, from which he is reborn like a phoenix to new life.”
This year the Vatican’s Nativity scene is in a huge house-like structure. Normally, the scene of Jesus’ birth is depicted in a traditional manger setting, but this time it’s a recreation of Joseph’s home in Nazareth. Perhaps by doing this the Holy Father wants to emphasize home and family.
Today, Sunday December 30 is the feast day of the Holy Family
“….I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named….” Ephesians 3:14-15
“If the Son of God had not come into our world we would not understand the Fatherhood of God, and if the Son of God had not been born into a family and lived so many years within His family we would not comprehend the full meaning of family life nor the compelling God‑given mission facing every family.
Adam and Eve, Mary and Joseph, indeed every married couple will together create a family culture, establish and develop its family “name”: identity, unique defining characteristics, emotional and intellectual traits, its own spirituality in relation to the Father in heaven. Discovering and building one’s family identity is a work in progress best attempted with a healthy focus on God, faith and devotion.
The First Christian Parents
Their family “name” or identity is hidden and will have to be discovered by a married couple, just as the unborn child too is hidden, and needs discovery by the parents. For around the child the family grows to become what it was destined to be. In the case of Joseph and Mary, their family was centered around Jesus Whom they learned to discover and love, day by day, even before He was born.
Many diverse consequences come in the wake of the revolutionary Incarnation of God ‑ a revolution of mercy. One of the major benefits was to the family as an institution, which was radically overhauled and strengthened from within, when this Divine Child entered into it. Redemption begins within the hidden recesses of Mary’s womb. Redemption begins in the family.”
From: Unborn Jesus Our Hope
In this painting by William Holman Hunt – The Triumph of the Innocents – The Innocents are seen with the Holy Family, in spirit, during the Family‘s Flight to Egypt. Today, we ask them to be with and pray for the unborn of our day.
Today, December 28th is the feast day of the Holy Innocents. Throughout history the Church has honored these little ones with great reverence. For instance in his Letter to Families, John Paul II quotes a poet from the 2nd century:
“In the liturgy of their Feast, which has its origins in the fifth century, the Church turns to the Holy Innocents, invoking them with the words of the poet Prudentius (c. 105) as ‘the flowers of the martyrs whom, at the very threshold of their lives, the persecutor of Christ cut down as the whirlwind does to roses still in bud’ “
St. Augustine (354-430) said of these Holy Innocents, that they are the “flowers of the martyrs” – “the first buds of the Church killed by the frost of persecution; they died not only for Christ but in His stead.”(St. Aug., Sermo 10us de sanctis)
The Venerable Bede (673-735) in A Hymn for Martyrs Sweetly Sing (translated by Joan Mason Neale) remembers these little martyrs.
1. A Hymn for Martyrs sweetly sing;
For Innocents your praises bring;
Of whom in tears was earth bereaved,
Whom heaven with songs of joy received…
4. After brief taste of earthly woe
Eternal triumph now they know;
For whom, by cruel torments rent,
A voice from Ramah was there sent.
5. And every tear is wiped away
By your dear Father’s hands for aye:
Death hath no power to hurt you more;
Your own is life’s eternal shore….
The following was taken from the Woman of Faith and Family
The Coventry Carol
This beautiful English lullaby carol originated in the Coventry Corpus Christi Mystery Plays performed in the 15th century. In a play called The Pageant of the Shearmen and Tailors, the women of Bethlehem sing this song just before Herod’s soldiers come to slaughter their children. It tells the story of the murder of the Holy Innocents, and is sung on December 28, the feast of those tiny martyrs.
Lully, Lullay, thou little tiny child.
Bye, bye, lully, lullay.
Lullay thou little tiny child
Bye, bye, lully, lullay
O sisters, too, how may we do,
For to preserve this day;
This poor Youngling for whom we sing
Bye, bye lully, lullay
Herod the King, in his raging,
Charged he hath this day;
His men of might, in his own sight,
All young children to slay.
Then woe is me, poor child, for thee,
And ever mourn and say;
For thy parting neither say nor sing,
Bye, bye lully, lullay.
Today many in the pro-life movement invoke these Holy Innocents to help protect the young of our day who are being slaughtered. Here is a quote from A Pro-Life Homily for the Feast of the Holy Innocents on the Priests for Life website.
“Jesus took on our human flesh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, was born for us at Bethlehem and died for us in Jerusalem so that our sins would be forgiven and we might have everlasting life. There is no sin too big that God is unable or unwilling to forgive if we repent and turn back to Him. Ask the Holy Innocents to intercede for us that we may bring about a renewed respect for human life in our society, to build a culture of life, protect the innocents in our day and comfort those who mourn.“
Filed under: Christmas
The plan for the life of Christ on earth, and for our salvation was, as St Paul says, “a plan for the fullness of time” (Eph 1:10). The birth of the Savior manifests this perfectly. But there is also a fullness in Christ Himself, as St John tells us in the prologue to his gospel: “And from his fullness have we all received, grace upon grace” (Jn 1:16). Surely His pregnant mother, Mary, received “grace upon grace” while carrying Unborn Jesus. And unborn John the Baptist received his full share of (Unborn) Christ’s Grace during Mary’s Visitation to her cousin Elizabeth (Lk 1:41-44).
At His birth Christ offers Himself as a gift to each person, and within this gift of Himself is contained an overflowing gift of Grace for each one of us. Figuratively speaking, we only need to go up to the newborn Christ and ask Him to give us our Christmas present of “grace upon grace”. It is ours to claim if we are Christ’s.
There are a 1,000 ways to understand the fullness of Christ and His gift of Grace for the Christian. In relation to the Church, St Paul refers to “the fullness of him who fills all in all” (Eph 1:23). So in the Grace of Christmas we find a hint of all the graces to follow – if we will follow.
Here is an incomplete summation of that plentitude of graces Christ offers you while He is yet “a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger” (Lk 2:12). The following lists are expressions of the Graces God wants to pour into our lives. From Bethlehem Christ pours forth an endless wave of gentleness in the manner of supernatural Grace towards each soul. The following lists are not legalistic counting, rather they point to the “countless” ways God reaches out to us, to bathe us in His embrace of Grace:
7 sacraments of the Church – all of which were instituted by Christ Himself – beginning with Baptism which incorporates us into this beautiful Life of Christ. Also, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders and Matrimony.
7 gifts of the Holy Spirit – Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety and Fear of the Lord (Isaiah 11:1-2).
12 fruits of the Holy Spirit – Charity, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Generosity, Gentleness, Faithfulness, Modesty, Self-Control and Chastity (Gal 5:22-23 Vulgate trans.)
3 theological virtues – Faith, Hope and Charity (I Cor 13:13).
4 cardinal virtues - Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance (Wis 8:7 and numerous other scriptural references).
So the newborn Baby in the manger comes to offer us fullness of Life: “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (Jn 10:10).
“He was despised and rejected by men…” Isaiah 53:3
Joseph and Mary (and her unborn baby) approach the Inn at Bethlehem. Humanity is given yet another opportunity to shine, to welcome the poor and accept the pregnant woman in need. The door is shut in their faces. Their need goes unmet. Their prospects for this birth are not bright.
Yet overhead there is a star (Mt 2:2). In Heaven’s “off stage” stood “the angel of the Lord” and “a multitude of the heavenly host” (Lk 2:9-14) waiting impatiently, by Heaven’s standards. Humanity had fallen again in reaching out to God. But this time, God the Father would arrange a special reception for His Son. Beasts, angels and humans would be drawn to the manger in Bethlehem.
But for now, Joseph, Mary (and the Unborn Christ Child) are homeless. As Jesus would observe three decades later: “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head” (Mt 8:20). Joseph and Mary again exercise faith in Almighty God and trust in His Providential plan for their lives, even as they huddle together, looking this way and that, for some idea of where to go next.
The last day of Mary’s redemptive pregnancy is the first day of the rest of our salvation history. A revelation like no other is about to break upon humanity’s shoreline. A great manifestation is about to unfold on earth’s stage. From the hidden uncharted depths of the womb God will come to visit His people.
But not yet! Mary walks slowly, following Joseph’s lead. The sky is darkening now, but still there is that glimmer of a star on the horizon. At this point we can join our prayers with Mary and Joseph, for this Unborn Baby and all unborn babies.
JUST 1 MORE PRAYING DAYS ‘TIL CHRIST’S BIRTH!
Under the Old Covenant God made His promises to the people of Israel. Then they waited. The prophets gave inspired prophecies. The people of Israel waited. Even in our own lives, we pray and wait for answers to our prayers. Promises, prophecies, prayers all lead us to the Messiah, to the Savior.
The Church’s Liturgical Year is a marvelous cycle of anticipation, celebration and reflection, focused on the life of Christ yet sweeping us along with that Life, through His many experiences. Today we wait for the humble birth of that baby Divine. The world is dedicated to distracting us, the devil is intent on minimalizing Christmas so that we celebrate it with mere token gestures that will hollow and weaken within seconds or minutes of these dutiful acknowledgments.
How should we wait then? Now is the time to intensify our prayer. The 270 days of that hallowed pregnancy have almost run their course. The redemptive pregnancy is about to break into earthly Revelation. In those days, Mary and Joseph were anticipating eagerly and praying with heightened frequency. This is the pattern for the Christian. Advent, like pregnancy, is about waiting on the Lord and praying. If the waiting gets more intense, so too the praying!
Surely we are at that point now. Soon, Joseph and Mary (and the Unborn Child within her) will be turned away from the inn at Bethlehem, experiencing rejection like many unborn children today. Tension is mounting for Unborn Jesus (and unborn children today). Why must human society reject this trinity of strangers in need, sending them off to the house of the beasts; a darkened cave stable?
For our part, we can welcome them into our hearts. Waiting is transformed by praying into welcoming. We know what to do.
JUST 2 MORE PRAYING DAYS ‘TIL CHRIST’S BIRTH!
God has modeled our beginnings on the beginnings of His Son; and the tiny embryo … is infinitely precious in the mind of God, for such was once His Christ in the womb of Mary….
From all eternity the pattern of development of the embryonic Christ had been chosen as the pattern of development for all the sons of men. The Spirit was the architect of the flesh of Christ and is now the architect of the biological building which has its tender foundation on the mother’s placenta….
Over the waters of the amnion hovers the Spirit of God as once He hovered over the waters of the world in the primeval dawn of its creation. The love of God, the Spirit, breathes order … overshadowing with His wings the exquisite geometry of its growth.
Whole regiments of cells are marching at the whispered command of the Spirit; cells which are unconscious of the functions they will enjoy….
So the building progresses; so the windows of the senses are built; so the pattern of the embryonic Christ is followed. For the Spirit is the architect of His own Temple….
The Father creates. The Son is the Model. The Spirit is the Architect.
…. The unborn hands are clasped by the hands of the embryonic Christ.
At term the infant will have eyes like the eyes of the infant Christ, senses like the senses of Christ; ears, nose, the same humanity, the same reflexes.
From Neuroses and Sacraments by Alan Keenan, O.F.M.
Published by Sheed & Ward, 1950
JUST 4 MORE PRAYING DAYS ‘TIL CHRIST’S BIRTH!
On one occasion, when Jesus was preaching the Gospel message as an adult, he encountered a lack of faith. He looked up to heaven and called out: “I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will” (Mt 11:25 26). This time, he did not employ children but babies to illustrate His point. Jesus Himself points towards infancy.
Saint Josemaria Escriva once quipped in reference to “spiritual childhood”: “Be little, very little. Don’t be more than two years old, three at the most.” This half serious, half playful advice is thought provoking. There almost seems to be a progression here that suggests we not only become like children, but especially like “little” children, if not outright babies! And if trusting dependence upon God our Father is baby like, then why not become as trusting as unborn babies?
Unborn Jesus was content to dwell serenely within the womb of His mother for nine months, trusting in God the Father and relying on both for His needs. In this He serves as an example for us. (Just as thirty years later He slept quietly in a boat during a turbulent and terrifying storm, so these two images show us how Jesus trusted God the Father during the everyday events of life, as unborn baby and adult.) This trusting attitude was tied to His complete confidence in the will of God the Father.
Unborn Jesus had been entrusted to His mother as every other unborn child is. Truly, in every unborn child within the womb we witness the epitome of entrusting one life to another. And every unborn child should enjoy complete security and peace within the womb of his or her mother, just as Jesus did. As Pope John Paul II observed, “The God of the Covenant has entrusted the life of every individual to his or her fellow human beings, brothers and sisters, according to the law of reciprocity in giving and receiving, of self giving and the acceptance of others. In the fullness of time, by taking flesh and giving his life for us, the Son of God showed what heights and depths this law of reciprocity can reach.”
JUST 5 MORE PRAYING DAYS ‘TIL CHRIST’S BIRTH!
As Jesus nears Bethlehem we can contemplate His life within Mary’s womb. Pride was the great sin of our first parents – but right at the beginning, in the womb, Jesus shows us the way of humility.
“We cannot contemplate this stage of Our Lord s life without being struck first of all by the humility and self-abasement of it, by the way in which in some sense He annihilated Himself that He might do His Father’s Will. St. Paul says : “He emptied Himself…. being made in the likeness of men” (Phil. 11.7) . He stripped Himself, robbed Himself of all that He possessed: Semetipsum exinanivit.
We know that Mary, His created Home, was chaste and pure, that no breath of sin had ever touched her, that the Holy Spirit Himself had overshadowed her and had undertaken the preparation and the adornment of the earthly Tabernacle of the Word ; but pure and holy though she was, Mary was only a creature and He was the Creator. He was God and she was one of the human race. His place was on the highest throne of Heaven and yet “He abhorred not the Virgin s womb” but there lived hidden from the sight of all, like any other infant and yet wholly unlike, because He had full possession of His faculties and intelligence.
In the manger He will be seen, and so will be loved, pitied and worshiped ; there will be many consolations which will go far to lessen and soften His humiliations, but here, He is alone, hidden ; His very existence not even suspected. He has annihilated Him self, made Himself nothing. He could have taken our nature, had He so wished, without all these humiliations ; why then did He despise not the Virgin’s womb?
Because this is to be His principle all through His life, He will love “unto the end”. He will leave nothing undone that He could possibly do. He came to do His Father’s Will and He will do it thoroughly. He will bear all the humiliations because He wants to be my Model and to teach me that there is only one way of learning humility.”
Mother St. Paul, Ortus Christi
JUST 6 MORE PRAYING DAYS ‘TIL CHRIST’S BIRTH!
Imagine you are a scoundrel. C’mon…we are all scoundrels sometimes, even if just for a few minutes at a time.
Well anyway, imagine that there was a scoundrel who lived in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago. A scoundrel who had a conscience…and his conscience bothered him a lot. This winter he was particularly nasty. One night an angel appeared to him in a dream and said to him “Go out to Bethlehem tomorrow night to the fields where the sheep graze and someone will speak to you there. They will direct you to a cave and God will meet you there.”
The next night he fearfully does as the angel commanded him, not sure if he would even live another day. He was terrified of meeting God face to face. The hours go by and he distracts himself making small talk with the local shepherds. It gets colder. Suddenly:
“An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, ‘Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths 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 with whom he is pleased!’” (Luke 2:9-14)
They hurry towards the caves and find one aglow with soft light. They gather ‘round the entrance to the cave, the scoundrel hanging back in the shadows. No one is speaking. The scoundrel gets up his nerve and quietly moves forward into the light. He sees a man half kneeling, half crouching forward, and beside him a woman who is kneeling in prayer. ‘Where is God and where is the baby?’ he wonders. He moves closer, and suddenly he sees the baby lying there in the manger. He is given an inspiration; that God and the baby are One! The baby turns His head slightly and looks up at the scoundrel. Then in the depths of his soul the scoundrel hears the words: “Your sins are forgiven. Go in peace.”
Most of the words spoken that Silent Night were spoken in the depths of souls.
JUST 7 MORE PRAYING DAYS ‘TIL CHRIST’S BIRTH!
Filed under: Advent
Joy was the hallmark of St. John the Baptist’s first meeting with the Lord at the Visitation (Luke 1:39-45). Since Mary had kept her secret to herself, the unborn John was the first human being to bear witness to the Messiah! Why did God choose an unborn baby? Indeed, and why not? No physical human eyes whether adult’s or child’s could have seen the one week old Unborn Jesus. And how did unborn John bear witness? With a joyful leap!
“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. …For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.” Luke 1:41-44
There are many ways to preach the Gospel. The sheer joy and leap of this unborn baby is like the first Gospel sermon ever preached. John in his mother’s womb teaches us that, even without words, joy is a great way to introduce Christ to others. Let us spread joy: a joyful smile, a pleasant word, a cheerful disposition, a happy meeting, a merry gathering and even, if need be, a joyful leap. During the Advent and Christmas season we can imitate John and introduce others to Christ through our joy.
JUST 8 MORE PRAYING DAYS ‘TIL CHRIST’S BIRTH!
Filed under: Christmas
Happy Holidays:Merry Christmas!
In recent years many organizations have pointed out that different chain stores have banned the words Merry Christmas and instead have replaced them with the bland and ‘inoffensive?’ Happy Holidays. My mother-in-law, Mrs. Mary Peate sent us another letter – she has noticed that this is a pattern in her local paper too. Whenever they can they use the words Happy Holidays to replace Merry Christmas. She wants to start a movement , “Let’s all say Merry Christmas – not Happy Holidays”. Here’s what Mary wrote:
Let’s all Rally Round the wassail bowl and raise our cups in a Christmas salute to those hard-working pressured types at the Burlington Free Press who write the headlines in that paper. Lets toast them for their earnest, dedicated, and always successful efforts to avoid using the word Christmas, even when the story is about Christmas.
You can see the fruits of their labors in the first section of the December 3rd edition. On the Front page we read: Pomerleau Holiday Party Celebrates Families. I bet the invitation issued by Mr. Pomerleau called it a Christmas Party. I understand that Mr. & Mrs. Claus were at the party too. I have no doubt they responded to the invitation with ‘we would be delighted to come to your Christmas Party Mr. Pomerleau’.
On the front page of Section B we see the heading; Colchester Celebrates Holiday Season With Song. Reading that I thought, “Bet the songs they sang were Christmas songs and carols. Especially since the caption below the picture states, ‘Dozens of people turn out for the annual Christmas tree lighting and caroling at the Colchester meeting house afterward’.
Since when has Christmas become a dirty word? Was it when the campaign began a few years back when people were urged to say, ‘Happy Holidays’ instead of ‘Merry Christmas’? If so it must have been one individual who started it all, in that case I intend to take it on myself to start a campaign to bring back Merry Christmas. Even the stores we go to to buy our Christmas presents wish us Happy Holidays. Do those words convey the same warmth as do Merry Christmas called out cheerily as people have been doing for decade after decade. Why change a good thing? I intend to be a pest about this business this year.
So, MERRY CHRISTMAS to you and yours. I hope you have a lovely time; stay in a good frame of mind; visit the crèche; say a prayer; sing Happy Birthday to Jesus; show off your pipes singing a Christmas Carol.
Thank whoever gives you a gift sincerely, enthusiastically and gratefully. Just think of what went into the process it had to take to find its way from the gifters hand to your hand: Earning the funds to pay for it; deciding what to buy; going out and getting it; wrapping it; and delivering it to you. This year being a tough one for everyone, a little gratitude would be all the more welcome.
And you kids with a Christmas tree in your living room, thank your mom and dad for all the hard work, time, and talent they put into making Christmas day a good one that you’ll remember and maybe will wax nostalgically about when you’re an adult. Don’t let those so-called politically correct freaks spoil your fun or your Christmas. Have a Merry one!
JUST 10 MORE PRAYING DAYS ‘TIL CHRIST’S BIRTH!
Filed under: Advent
In those days Mary arose and went with hast into the hill country, to a city of Judah. Luke 1:39
After receiving the Angel’s message Mary set out on a three to four day journey to visit her cousin Elizabeth. We are not told whether relatives or friends accompanied her. Perhaps she traveled with a caravan heading towards Jerusalem. But if she was traveling in a group for all or part of the journey, we will assume that she was not doing a lot of talking.
Rather she had hours upon hours to ponder in her heart all that had happened to her and the message that had been delivered to her. In the quiet of her thoughts and prayers a stream of realization flowed swiftly, carrying her along, and almost overflowing its banks. Father Faber presents the scene: “Like a new pulse of impetuous gladness, the Babe in Mary’s Bosom drives her forth. With swift step, as if the precipitate gracefulness of her walk were the outward sign of her inward joy, and she were beating time with her body to the music that was so jubilant within….”
Advent is a time to rediscover the joy of Christ’s coming into the world as our Savior. Like Mary let us capture moments of interior silence (even in days filled with activity). Let us ponder these things in our hearts to once again rediscover their true meaning.
God gives us this time of Advent to participate in Mary’s joy – the joy she felt when she found herself expecting the long awaited Messiah. For we too are expecting His joy and a renewal of His love at Christmas. Advent is a time to rediscover the saving power of the infant Christ born so long ago in Bethlehem – a time to regroup within ourselves and rediscover His presence in our souls.
JUST 12 MORE PRAYING DAYS ‘TIL CHRIST’S BIRTH!
Filed under: Advent
Today December 12th is the feastday of Our Lady of Guadalupe. It is not surprising that her feastday comes in this time of Advent because Our Lady of Guadalupe is truly the perfect Advent image.
Father Frank Pavone points out that “In the image, Our Lady is pregnant, carrying the Son of God in her womb. Her head is bowed in homage, indicating that she is not the Goddess, but rather the one who bears and at the same time worships the one true God.” Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Pro-life Movement
We know she was with child in this image because she wears a black belt which was the Aztec Maternity Belt.
On January 23, 1999 in a homily at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe John Paul II called the “Basilica of Guadalupe, the Marian heart of America”.
He went on to say:
“The Apostle Paul teaches us that in the fullness of time God sent his Son, born of a woman, to redeem us from sin and to make us his sons and daughters. Accordingly, we are no longer servants but children and heirs of God (cf. Gal 4:4-7).
Therefore, the Church must proclaim the Gospel of life and speak out with prophetic force against the culture of death. May the Continent of Hope also be the Continent of Life!
This is our cry: life with dignity for all! For all who have been conceived in their mother’s womb, for street children, for Guadalupe! To you we present this countless multitude of the faithful praying to God in America. You who have penetrated their hearts, visit and comfort the homes, parishes and Dioceses of the whole continent.
Grant that Christian families may exemplarily raise their children in the Church’s faith and in love of the Gospel, so that they will be the seed of apostolic vocations. Turn your gaze today upon young people and encourage them to walk with Jesus Christ.
O Lady and Mother of America!”
JUST 13 MORE PRAYING DAYS ‘TIL CHRIST’S BIRTH!
Our Lord’s first words ‑ uttered from the womb ‑ are not recorded in any of the Gospels, but in the book of Hebrews. The first act of Jesus Christ after His Incarnation is a prayer offering Himself and His human body to the Father:
Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,
“Sacrifices and offerings thou hast not desired,
but a body hast thou prepared for me;
in burnt offerings and sin offerings
thou hast taken no pleasure.
Then I said, “Lo, I have come to do Thy will, O God,’
as it is written of me in the roll of the book.” (Heb 10:5‑7) (see link on sidebar for further explanation)
These words (foretold in Psalm 40) ‑ are the only words known to be spoken by Unborn Jesus (or by any unborn child for that matter). Pope Paul VI referred to this prayer as “the fundamental offering that the Incarnate Word made to the Father when He entered the world”. The point here is that this prayer was not offered prior to the Incarnation but rather after it had occurred.
In her book Ortus Christi, Mother St. Paul links this fundamental offering of Christ to our prayer.
“What was the essence of His prayer (during those nine months)? What was it which lay behind all? It was the intention. And what was that? We have meditated on it many times: “Behold I come to do Thy Will O my God.”
Naturally there are many different ways of doing that Will, and many different degrees in the perfection with which it is done; and that is why we are quite safe in picturing to ourselves Jesus in the womb of His mother forgetting no single detail; or perhaps a truer picture would be a union with His Father so perfect that there was no need to talk about what was so evident.
Now let us apply this to myself and I will find that instead of being discouraging , it is most encouraging, instead of making my prayers harder it will make them far easier.
What is the intention in my prayers? Is it not to please God and to do His Will? …Now let me see how this works out in practice. I pay a visit to our Lord, perhaps I am too tired to think about Him, I may even sleep in His Presence; perhaps I am so busy that I find it impossible to keep away distracting thoughts…the time is up and I go, thinking, perhaps, what is the good of paying Him a visit like that?
There is great good even in that visit which all the same might have been so much more perfect. What was my intention in paying it? Certainly to please Him. Then I have pleased Him. It was a pleasure to Him to see me come in and sit with Him, even though I was occupied with my own concerns most of the time. We are too much taken up with asking how we say our prayers, but the important question is why do we say them.
To go and sit in His presence because He is lonely or because I am tired and I would rather sit with Him than anyone else is prayer even if I say nothing. What God is doing for me is of far more importance to my soul than what I am doing for God; and all the time that I am there, whether I am thinking of Him or not, He is impressing His image on my soul…”
JUST 14 MORE PRAYING DAYS ‘TIL CHRIST’S BIRTH!
(POSTED WITH PERMISSION FROM THE ARTIST*)
Throughout human history there has only been one redemptive pregnancy. Eve’s first pregnancy, with Cain, was a prototypical pregnancy, but was not a redemptive pregnancy. When Abraham’s wife Sarah was pregnant with Isaac it was a pregnancy of promise and destiny, but not redemptive. When famous mothers or mothers of famous children were pregnant their pregnancies were perhaps remarkable or noteworthy, but not redemptive. And when your mother was pregnant with you, it was a very special pregnancy, but not redemptive. Only the pregnancy of Mary of Nazareth was, in every sense of the word, Redemptive: a pregnancy which Christians can discover by faith, and in our present age must discover.
Right from the start, and providentially so, the Incarnation and the redemptive pregnancy of Mary the mother of Unborn Jesus are filled with hope from on high. A hushed whisper of hope for undeserving humanity. Hope for every family. Hope for every mother. Hope for every unborn child.
Many unborn children today have few friends. Enter Unborn
Jesus, the best friend of each unborn child. Now that the unborn are fiercely persecuted and disdained, the first unborn child comes to be identified with them completely, in every possible way. And He calls out to the Church to be discovered, understood and loved. Does God love unborn children? Unborn Jesus answered that question for nine months and forever.
JUST 15 MORE PRAYING DAYS ‘TIL CHRIST’S BIRTH!
*We would like to thank Gary Cangemi for permitting us to use his wonderful cartoon.
Filed under: Mother of the Lord
Saint Anne conceiving the Virgin Mary
Douai, Musée de la Chartreuse
Yesterday, December 8th was the feastday of the Immaculate Conception (Mary’s conception within the womb of her mother St. Anne). We want to thank Dan Engler for sending the above painting to us representing this wondrous mystery of our faith. Below is a quote from Cardinal Berulle describing God’s miraculous involvement in Mary’s life.
“He happily preserved her from all offense, He adorns her with all grace. He makes her worthy of carrying him and receiving him into the world. He comes into her as into his tabernacle. He rests for nine moths in her as on his throne. He comes to us through her.” Cardinal Berulle, Vie de Jesus.
JUST 16 MORE PRAYING DAYS ‘TIL CHRIST’S BIRTH!