14th Century Wall Visitation
Today, Saturday March 31, 2008 is the Feast Day of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This Feast Day celebrates a great mystery of the Christian faith, one discussed by Blessed Teresa of Calcutta when she accepted her Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and also by John Paul II in his great encyclical letter the Gospel of Life. Yet perhaps many Christians have not fully grasped the beautiful message we discover over and over again in this wonderful event related by St Luke, the Evangelist of the Child Jesus (see Luke 1:39-56).
For past posts, more theologically oriented than today’s see:
Now Mary’s cousin Elizabeth was not only older than her but also surpassed her (according to the world’s standards) in the dignity of her position as the wife of a priest (Zechariah) who served at the Jerusalem Temple. Yet in the mystery of the Visitation, Elizabeth bows to Mary (and her unborn child Jesus): “…and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blesssed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” Elizabeth continues to bless Mary as “the mother of my Lord” and especially for her faith!
But we have another “match up” here. The older unborn baby – John – defers to or acknowledges, so to speak, the younger but greater unborn baby, Jesus. John leaps for joy at the approach of the Unborn Savior, but in a spiritual sense he kneels and worships the Unborn Christ Child. Three months later, just after John’s birth, the priest Zechariah (husband to Elizabeth and father to John) will sum things up quite simply: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people…” (Lk 1:68). Yes, Unborn Jesus, who is the Lord (according to Elizabeth and the Holy Spirit), has been visiting the home of Zechariah for three joyful months.
We too, like Unborn John, Elizabeth and Zechariah should worship Unborn Jesus and honor His mother Mary. We should also – along with all society and the medical and social service professions – show deference to all innocent unborn children, and their mothers, acknowledging the awesome dignity and reality of the hidden mystery of life, growing and maturing towards birth’s revelation.
Filed under: Sacred Heart
Today, Friday, May 30, 2008 is the Feast Day of The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus!
Speaking on behalf of God, the prophet Samuel described King David as “a man after his own heart”, that is, after God’s own heart (I Sam 13:14). St Paul refers to this also in a sermon in a synagogue at Antioch when he quotes the Lord: “I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will” (Act 13:22). Note the link here between God’s heart and God’s will, and David’s disposition to seek both of these.
Now we leap the chasm from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant, from David to his distant descendant Jesus, Son of David. One day, Jesus opened up the mystery of God’s heart and will to His disciples, knowing full well that His words would go out to all of us, that is, to the ends of the earth: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Mt 11:28-29).
What Jesus does here is he invites every human being to be a man or a woman after God’s own heart! And He describes God’s heart: “gentle and lowly” – nothing to be afraid of here, nothing to fear. And He makes a promise: “you will find rest for your souls” here, upon His Heart (as did the apostle John; Jn 13:23-25). If you labor and are heavy laden, then this is the way to follow the Lord, seek His heart and seek His will, as both David and John did.
He first spoke directly of this will from His mother’s womb, probably, as St Alphonsus de Ligouri contends at the first moment of His conception, that is, at the one cell stage of His human development:
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…’”
At the one cell stage of His life, Christ was focused upon the will of His Father and acknowledges that He has been given a body (and heart) to dedicate to the will of God!
‘Fantastic Ruins with Saint Augustine and the Child’ François de NOME,
about 1593 – after 1630
In a vision Saint Augustine saw a child trying to empty the sea into a hole dug in the sand; when Augustine told him that this was impossible, the child replied that Augustine was engaged on the equally impossible task of explaining the Trinity.
Many have assumed that the child St. Augustine saw in his vision was the Christ Child – Below is a beautiful passage on the Incarnation from a sermon given by St. Augustine:
“He by whom all things were made was made one of all things. The Son of God by the Father without a mother became the Son of man by a mother without a father. The Word Who is God before all time became flesh at the appointed time. The maker of the sun was made under the sun. He Who fills the world lays in a manger, great in the form of God but tiny in the form of a servant; this was in such a way that neither was His greatness diminished by His tininess, nor was His tininess overcome by His greatness.”(St. Augustine, Sermon 187)
Governor Sarah Palin is the current Governor of Alaska. She is pro-life and a member of Feminists for Life. She was told last December that the child she was carrying had Down Syndrome. On April 18 she gave birth to Trig Paxson Van Palin who is her fifth child.
This is the announcement that the family made after Trig’s birth:
“Trig is beautiful and already adored by us. We knew through early testing he would face special challenges, and we feel privileged that God would entrust us with this gift and allow us unspeakable joy as he entered our lives.”
Governor Palin also said about Trig:
“I’m looking at him right now, and I see perfection,” Palin said. “Yeah, he has an extra chromosome. I keep thinking, in our world, what is normal and what is perfect?”
What a beautiful pro-life example when you consider that at least 80% of children with disabilities are aborted in this country.
Another pro-life politician who recently had a baby with Down syndrome is Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rogers. U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a Washington state Republican, has just celebrated the first birthday of her son Cole, her first child, who was born with Down syndrome. She is busy campaigning for a third term, and Cole often travels with her between Washington, D.C., and the Pacific Northwest.
Here is what she says about her son:
“Cole opened my eyes to the pain and trouble a lot of families endure,” Rodgers said. “He’s allowed me to see people and circumstance more deeply, and the generosity of people.”
“It’s in human nature to focus on the negative, on what the person can’t do. In our mind, we are focused on what he can do, what he will be able to do and do very well.”
She is also spearheading a new Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus:
“It’s the goal of the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus to allow every child with Down syndrome to reach their full potential. We’ll work to raise expectations and improve education, make it easier for people with Down syndrome to find jobs, and promote funding and research for effective treatments and therapies,” McMorris Rodgers said.
In an article entitled, Getting to Know John McCain, Karl Rove writes about Cindy and John McCain’s decision to adopt a child from one of Mother Teresa’s orphanages.
“…in 1991 Cindy McCain was visiting Mother Teresa’s orphanage in Bangladesh when a dying infant was thrust into her hands. The orphanage could not provide the medical care needed to save her life, so Mrs. McCain brought the child home to America with her. She was met at the airport by her husband, who asked what all this was about.
Mrs. McCain replied that the child desperately needed surgery and years of rehabilitation. “I hope she can stay with us,” she told her husband. Mr. McCain agreed. Today that child is their teenage daughter Bridget.
I was aware of this story. What I did not know, and what I learned from Doris, is that there was a second infant Mrs. McCain brought back. She ended up being adopted by a young McCain aide and his wife.
“We were called at midnight by Cindy,” Wes Gullett remembers, and “five days later we met our new daughter Nicki at the L.A. airport wearing the only clothing Cindy could find on the trip back, a 7-Up T-shirt she bought in the Bangkok airport.” Today, Nicki is a high school sophomore. Mr. Gullett told me, “I never saw a hospital bill” for her care.”
A few things not mentioned in Karl Rove’s article about Cindy McCain is that after earning a Masters in Special Education at the University of Southern California she became a special needs teacher. She has also founded and supported many very worthy charities including American Voluntary Medical Team (AVMT) which brought emergency medical relief to countries all over the world. Another organization she founded is the Hensley Family Foundation, which donates monies towards children’s programs in Arizona and nationally. And she has been a longtime active volunteer in an organization called Operation Smile, a nonprofit organization that has been repairing child and young adult cleft palates and cleft lips in countries around the globe.
Original Unity of Man and Woman
“Catechesis on the Book of Genesis”
FAMILIARIS CONSORTIO 1981
ADDRESS OF THE HOLY FATHER
TO THE MEMBERS OF THE JOHN PAUL II INSTITUTE
FOR STUDIES ON MARRIAGE AND FAMILY 2001
“The union of love, based on matrimony between a man and a woman, which makes up the family, represents a good for all society that can not be substituted by, confused with, or compared to other types of unions.”
The good news is that there is a group in California that has collected enough signatures to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot this November to overturn this ruling by the California Supreme Court. Of course, they need our help. Here is a link to an article about the current status of this proposed ballot initiative:
California court may not have the last word on marriage
by Maggie Gallagher | 16 May 2008
To see how you can help – go directly to this group’s website:
Filed under: Pro-life
One great way to spread the pro-life message is through advertising. With this in mind I thought I would highlight some interesting pro-life ads.
When I was at the March for Life someone from Canada told me about the above ad. This Canadian ad was rejected by some cities in Canada as too controversial. Incredible!
Of course the pro-abortion side wants everyone to imagine that the child is just a tissue. The above ad addresses that fallacy in a somewhat humorous way.
Here is an ad from a group (Prolife Across America) that specializes in thought provoking pro-life billboards. Click here to see more.
Feminists for life have some thought provoking ads for magazines. Click here to view more ads.
At the March for Life I got to meet a wonderful couple, Maureen & Michael Nuzzi, who started an organization called Truthbooth. “The mission of the “Truth Booth” is to educate the public on the pre-natal development of the child in the womb using ultrasound video footage presented through an unmanned kiosk” (usually at malls).
Finally, one of the challenges to pro-life ads is rejection. Here is a cartoon about this:
Since the early 70′s in the U.S., Canada and many other countries – there have been a lot of creative pro-life ads developed. Sadly, many of them were rejected by the pro-abortion slanted media. We want to salute all of those pro-lifers who have created and continue to get create pro-life messages through print, media, video, radio and billboard ads.
Filed under: Poems
A Child My Choice
By Robert Southwell (1561-1595)*
Let folly praise that fancy loves, I praise and love
Whose heart no thought, whose tongue no word,
whose hand no deed defiled.
I praise Him most, I love Him best, all praise and
love is His;
While Him I love, in Him I live, and cannot live
Love’s sweetest mark, laud’s highest theme, man’s
most desired light,
To love Him life, to leave Him death, to live in Him
He mine by gift, I His by debt, thus each to other
First friend He was, best friend He is, all times will
try Him true.
Though young, yet wise; though small, yet strong;
though man, yet God He is:
As wise, He knows; as strong, He can; as God, He
loves to bless.
His knowledge rules, His strength defends, His love
doth cherish all;
His birth our joy, His life our light, His death our
end of thrall.
Alas! He weeps, He sighs, He pants, yet do His
Out of His tears, His sighs and throbs, doth bud a
Almighty Babe, whose tender arms can force all
foes to fly,
Correct my faults, protect my life, direct me when I
*Father Robert Southwell, Poet, Jesuit, martyr; born at Horsham, Norfolk, England, in 1561; hanged at Tyburn, 21 February, 1595. He was imprisoned for being a Catholic priest in England at first in Topcliffe’s house, where he was repeatedly put to the torture in the vain hope of extracting evidence about other priests. Later he was transferred to the Tower of London. It is thought that much of his poetry, none of which was published during his lifetime, was written in prison. On the 10th of February 1595 he was tried before the King’s Bench on the charge of treason, and was hanged at Tyburn.
When the culture you live in respects and promotes human life will you even notice? Here are 10 “society-wide” signs to look for in a “Culture of Life”:
- Humble respect towards God, Source and Creator of human life and the beautiful universe we inhabit and the recognition that life is a gift to be cherished.
- Awe and respect for the origin of individual human life, that is, respect for the integrity of procreation and the incipient new life of the human embryo.
- Thoughtful respect for the sacred character of maternity and the right to life of the unborn child – particularly characterized by a medical profession that treats both mother and unborn child as “patients” and refuses to advocate the killing of a “patient”.
- Respect for all people with disabilities, and especially children with disabilities, such that the medical profession and other “caring professions” treat unborn and newborn children with disabilities as patients deserving of professional care and human compassion – not problems to be eliminated.
- That adoption is understood and appreciated as a life-giving, life-nurturing option for the individual child and for the well-being of society as a whole.
- Profound respect for the dignity of the elderly infirm and those who are dying along with corresponding compassionate care and services.
- Respect and societal support for the covenant/sacrament of marriage between a man and a woman.
- Respect and practical support for the institution of the family, sometimes called the “domestic church”, and even a “preferential option” for all children from infancy to adolescence.
- A genuine appreciation within Christianity, for that “childlike spirituality” so strongly encouraged by Jesus.
- A society that is known for an attitude of acceptance, forgiveness, compassion and understanding towards all, and particularly towards the poor, the sick, the weak and the marginalized.
Archbishop Fulton Sheen, was born on May 08, 1895. Here is what he wrote about the Visitaion:
“One of the most beautiful moments in history was that when pregnancy met pregnancy ‑ when child bearers became the first heralds of the King of Kings. All pagan religions begin with the teachings of adults, but Christianity begins with the birth of a Child. From that day to this, Christians have ever been the defenders of the family and the love of generation.“
“If we ever sat down to write out what we would expect the Infinite God to do, certainly the last thing we would expect would be to see him imprisoned in a carnal ciborium for nine months; and the next to last thing we would expect is that the ‘greatest man ever born of a woman’ while yet in his mother’s womb, would salute the yet imprisoned God-man. But this is precisely what took place in the Visitation.”
Archbishop Fulton Sheen, Ph.D., D.D., The World’s First Love (Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1956), 31.
Hands of Elizabeth welcomes the yet unborn Jesus (IHS) into her home
Stained glass window from
BLESSED SACRAMENT CHAPEL
St. Edmunds College Canberra
How does God receive one’s intimate Christian prayer? If one prays simply: “Jesus I adore You”, how does the Lord view such a prayer? Or if one prays: “Jesus please protect the unborn children in my community who are at risk today”, what does the Lord do with such a simple prayer?
Doesn’t the Lord appreciate simplicity and heartfelt intimacy such as this?
And what if we whisper an intimate prayer to the Lord that He doesn’t hear from others, that is somewhat unusual, yet sincere and heartfelt, what does He do with such a prayer?
For example: “Unborn Jesus I adore You!” Or “Unborn Jesus please have pity upon the unborn children in my community who are at risk today”.
Is it possible that a prayer that is so different in its simplicity and intimacy could be perceived by God as something like a rare flower? Might it be that God especially cherishes one’s unique heartfelt expression of one’s love of Him or one’s petition to Him?
Let’s find out!
Kelly Clark had an interesting post concerning the recent discussion in the news about pro-abortion politicians receiving communion. Her title was: Bishops: I know you were busy with the Papal visit and all but Communion is…serious
We thought the following quotes and links would contribute to the ongoing discussion:
The following two quotes are taken from a memorandum sent by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, in his capacity as Prefect for the Sacred Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, in June 2004 to Cardinal Theodore McCarrick (who at that time was exercising leadership in the U. S. Conference of Bishops concerning matters of domestic policy). The memorandum is entitled Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion – General Principles:
“Regarding the grave sin of abortion or euthanasia, when a person’s formal cooperation becomes manifest (understood, in the case of a Catholic politician, as his consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws), his Pastor should meet with him, instructing him about the Church’s teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself for Holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin, and warning him that he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist.”
“Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.”
In Sacramentum Caritatis an Apostolic Exhortation issued by Pope Benedict on February 22, 2007 we find this:
“Here it is important to consider what the Synod Fathers described as Eucharistic consistency, … Evidently, this is true for all the baptized, yet it is especially incumbent upon those who, by virtue of their social or political position, must make decisions regarding fundamental values, such as respect for human life, its defense from conception to natural death, the family built upon marriage between a man and a woman, the freedom to educate one’s children and the promotion of the common good in all its forms (230). These values are not negotiable. Consequently, Catholic politicians and legislators, conscious of their grave responsibility before society, must feel particularly bound, on the basis of a properly formed conscience, to introduce and support laws inspired by values grounded in human nature (231). There is an objective connection here with the Eucharist (cf. 1 Cor 11:27-29). Bishops are bound to reaffirm constantly these values as part of their responsibility to the flock entrusted to them (232).”
Bishop Rene Henry Gracida, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, in an essay entitled A Twelve Step Program for Bishops said:
“If the Penal Canons of the Code are now to be dusted off and brought out of the cupboard within which they have lain dormant for almost half-a-century, it is because the balm of mercy and discretion of measure have failed to heal the growing infection of error and scandal inside the Church and the genocide increasing daily in the world around us. The time for half-measures and fear of reprisal, loss of position, temporal advantage, or career opportunity is over – the time for action in now.”
To bring into focus the application of canon law to this topic, we highly recommend the recent scholarly article by Archbishop Raymond L. Burke entitled The Discipline Regarding the Denial of Holy Communion to Those Obstinately Persevering in Manifest Grave Sin (Periodica De Re Canonica, Vol. 96, 2007) and the interview with Archbishop Burke conducted by Barbara Kralis entitled: Archbishop Raymond L. Burke, the new ‘John Fisher’ by Barbara Kralis August 5, 2004.