Virgen de la Esperanza-Our Lady of Expectation
Tuesday, April 28 is the feast day of St. Louis de Montfort. Here are a few quotes from him about Christ’s time in the womb.
God the Son came into her virginal womb as a new Adam into his earthly paradise, to take his delight there and produce hidden wonders of grace.
God-made-man found freedom in imprisoning himself in her womb. He displayed power in allowing himself to be borne by this young maiden. He found his glory and that of his Father in hiding his splendors from all creatures here below and revealing them only to Mary. He glorified his independence and his majesty in depending upon this lovable virgin in his conception, his birth, his presentation in the temple, and in the thirty years of his hidden life.
The Incarnation is the first mystery of Jesus Christ; it is the most hidden; and it is the most exalted and the least known. It was in this mystery that Jesus, in the womb of Mary and with her co- operation, chose all the elect. For this reason the saints called her womb, the throne-room of God’s mysteries
Our good Master stooped to enclose himself in the womb of the Blessed Virgin, a captive but loving slave, and to make himself subject to her for thirty years. As I said earlier, the human mind is bewildered when it reflects seriously upon this conduct of Incarnate Wisdom. He did not choose to give himself in a direct manner to the human race though he could easily have done so. He chose to come through the Virgin Mary. Thus he did not come into the world independently of others in the flower of his manhood, but he came as a frail little child dependent on the care and attention of his Mother.
From: Treatise on True Devotion To The Blessed Virgin
by St. Louis de Montfort
“We proclaim a God who became Incarnate. Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. This Jesus walked the way of every human person. That included taking that extraordinary journey into the first home of the whole human race, his Mothers womb. This new chemical concoction ensures there will be no room in the womb for millions for whom He came.”
From:‘Plan B’ for 17 year old girls: Equipping Children to Kill Children? By Deacon Keith Fournier
God’s Language of Harmony
by Sister M. Linus Coyle
I looked into the mind of God,
His Will residing in the Son.
I looked into the heart of Christ,
and saw His Will fulfilled.
I looked into the Will of God
and saw its breath of Love.
I looked into the depth of Love
so Spirit shadowed from above.
This led me to each human child
Where God’s glory-hopes of love are fed.
And then I knew God’s fatherhood
as cherished image of His Son;
for life within a mother’s womb
would share Life’s weaving loom
freedom to begin again
in YES to life from Him.
The breath of Love might cherish yet
A life Christ entering would become
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 dignity of each unborn child conceived in the image and likeness of God.
Father Richard Neuhaus, a great friend to the unborn died earlier this year. In 2008 he gave a memorable speech at the National Right to Life Convention. Here are a couple of excerpts from his speech.
At one point, he talks about the moment he knew that he was ‘recruited’ for the cause of the culture of life. My husband and I have often spoken about the fact that we both know the exact moment when we realized that this issue was more important than any other social issue of our time. We have even likened what happened to us as a type of conversion. Father Neuhaus speaks very eloquently about this moment.
“In that moment, I knew that I had been recruited to the cause of the culture of life. To be recruited to the cause of the culture of life is to be recruited for the duration; and there is no end in sight, except to the eyes of faith. Perhaps you, too, can specify such a moment when you knew you were recruited. At that moment you could have said, “Yes, it’s terrible that in this country alone 4,000 innocent children are killed every day, but then so many terrible things are happening in the world. Am I my infant brother’s keeper? Am I my infant sister’s keeper?” You could have said that, but you didn’t. You could have said, “Yes, the nation that I love is betraying its founding principles—that every human being is endowed by God with inalienable rights, including, and most foundationally, the right to life. But,” you could have said, “the Supreme Court has spoken and its word is the law of the land. What can I do about it?” You could have said that, but you didn’t. That horror, that betrayal, would not let you go. You knew, you knew there and then, that you were recruited to contend for the culture of life, and that you were recruited for the duration.”
Here is another excerpt from this speech that gave me great hope. I believe it describes the attitude of many pro-lifers and this is one of the reasons that I think that someday the rights of the unborn will be restored:
“We shall not weary, we shall not rest, until every unborn child is protected in law and welcomed in life. We shall not weary, we shall not rest, until all the elderly who have run life’s course are protected against despair and abandonment, protected by the rule of law and the bonds of love. We shall not weary, we shall not rest, until every young woman is given the help she needs to recognize the problem of pregnancy as the gift of life. We shall not weary, we shall not rest, as we stand guard at the entrance gates and the exit gates of life, and at every step along the way of life, bearing witness in word and deed to the dignity of the human person—of every human person.”
We Shall Not Weary, We Shall Not Rest By Richard John Neuhaus
In the temporal order we say that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.
In the spiritual order we can say that the truest path between two events in the Plan of Salvation is simply the will of God.
This can be demonstrated in the life of Jesus Christ. Let’s consider the Incarnation and the Resurrection. When Christ came into the world – according to the Letter to the Hebrews – He said:
“Sacrifices and offerings thou hast not desired,
but a body hast thou prepared for me;
in burnt offerings and sin offerings thou has 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
St. Alphonsus de Ligouri, a Doctor of the Church, says Christ spoke these words at the first moment of His conception. The Church has traditionally believed this also and links this scripture passage to the Feast Day of the Annunciation/Incarnation on March 25 (nine months before Christmas Day).
Christ spoke often – directly and indirectly – about doing the Father’s will. For example, it is incorporated for all time into the Lord’s Prayer: “Thy will be done”.
But in Gethsemane He re-dedicated Himself to it – three times: “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.” (Mt 26:39,42,44). The prayer in Gethsemane was a holy point of reckoning, for humanity in general, and for the humanity of Our Lord in particular. Jesus Christ – fully God and fully man – not only adhered to the will of God, in fact, He bowed down to it and fastened His human will to it by the bloody sweat of His brow (Lk 22:44).
For one of the soldiers presiding at the crucifixion, the shortest distance between him and the Savior’s Heart was a spear – which he didn’t hesitate to thrust. For us that distance can be traveled in prayer – which we shouldn’t hesitate to offer.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that the Resurrection of Christ is the “fulfillment in accordance with God’s eternal plan” of His Incarnation (CCC#653). The true distance from the Incarnation to the Resurrection is the Will of God; a Merciful Will of Love poured out lavishly upon the human situation; cause for great joy!
“Taking up St. John’s expression, “The Word became flesh”, the Church calls “Incarnation” the fact that the Son of God assumed a human nature in order to accomplish our salvation in it.” Catechism of the Catholic Church 461
“Christ’s Resurrection is closely linked to the Incarnation of God’s Son, and is its fulfillment in accordance with God’s eternal plan.” Catechism of the Catholic Church 653
Today, during the Stations of the Cross , Pope Benedict prayed this prayer at the Seventh Station.
“We have faith, Lord, but not enough. Help us to have more. May we never question or mock serious things in life like a cynic. Allow us not to drift into the desert of godlessness. Enable us to perceive you in the gentle breeze, see you in street corners, love you in the unborn child.
God, enable us to understand that on Tabor or Calvary, your Son is the Lord. Robed or stripped of his garments, he is the Saviour of the world. Make us attentive to his quiet presences: in his “word”, in tabernacles, shrines, humble places, simple persons, the life of the poor, laughter of children, whispering pines, rolling hills, the tiniest living cell, the smallest atom, and the distant galaxies.
May we watch with wonder as he walks on the waters of the Rhine and the Nile and the Tanganyika.”
You may have never heard of Blessed Juliana of Cornillon (Juliana of Liege), 1192 -1258. She was an Augustinian nun who was the first promoter of a feast day in honor of the Blessed Sacrament. She has been recognized as the person primarily responsible for the introduction of the Corpus Christi feast day during the middle ages. According to Acta Sanctorum, she had a unique and extraordinary devotion. She said the Magnificat (Lk 1:46-55) nine times a day; once for each month that Our Lord spent in the womb of His mother. (The Magnificat was proclaimed by Mary while she was pregnant.) One can not help but see the beautiful connection here in Juliana’s spiritual life between her devotion to the Body of Christ in the womb and the Body of Christ upon the altar.
Which leads us to the second woman: Mary the Mother of Jesus. In his encyclical letter ECCLESIA DE EUCHARISTIA, On the Eucharist in Its Relationship to the Church, John Paul II discusses Mary and the Eucharist:
“In a certain sense Mary lived her Eucharistic faith even before the institution of the Eucharist, by the very fact that she offered her virginal womb for the Incarnation of God’s Word. The Eucharist, while commemorating the passion and resurrection, is also in continuity with the incarnation. At the Annunciation Mary conceived the Son of God in the physical reality of his body and blood, thus anticipating within herself what to some degree happens sacramentally in every believer who receives, under the signs of bread and wine, the Lord’s body and blood.”
“As a result, there is a profound analogy between the Fiat which Mary said in reply to the angel, and the Amen which every believer says when receiving the body of the Lord. Mary was asked to believe that the One whom she conceived “through the Holy Spirit” was “the Son of God” (Lk 1:30-35). In continuity with the Virgin’s faith, in the Eucharistic mystery we are asked to believe that the same Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Mary, becomes present in his full humanity and divinity under the signs of bread and wine.”
“Blessed is she who believed” (Lk 1:45). Mary also anticipated, in the mystery of the incarnation, the Church’s Eucharistic faith. When, at the Visitation, she bore in her womb the Word made flesh, she became in some way a “tabernacle” – the first “tabernacle” in history – in which the Son of God, still invisible to our human gaze, allowed himself to be adored by Elizabeth, radiating his light as it were through the eyes and the voice of Mary. And is not the enraptured gaze of Mary as she contemplated the face of the newborn Christ and cradled him in her arms that unparalleled model of love which should inspire us every time we receive Eucharistic communion?”(#55)
“The Eucharist has been given to us so that our life, like that of Mary, may become completely a Magnificat!” (#58)
Our last post gave reflections by John Paul II on his “Gospel of Life” Encyclical, 5 years after its issuance. Here are more of those reflections, taken from the second half of his discourse. John Paul II called for an APOSTOLATE OF LIFE:
“An authentic apostolate of life cannot be simply delegated to specific movements, however praiseworthy, that work in the sociopolitical field. It must be an integral part of the Church’s pastoral ministry, whose task is to proclaim the ‘Gospel of Life’. For this to be effective, it is important to set up educational programs, as well as services and special structures for guidance and support.”
“…it should be given practical expression by offering services that will enable anyone in trouble to find the necessary help.”
“…efforts should be made so that these services become a ‘sign’ and a message.”
“Just as the community needs places of worship, it should sense the need to organize, especially at the diocesan level, educational and operational services to support human life, services that will be the fruit of charity and a sign of vitality.”
“…accompanied by the changing of mentalities and morals on a vast scale, in an extensive and visible way. In this area the Church will spare no effort nor can she accept negligence or guilty silence.”
“I turn in particular to those young people…may they be the first agents and beneficiaries of the work that will be done in the context of the apostolate of life.”
“May every person of good will feel called to play an active part in this great cause. May he be sustained by the conviction that every step taken in defending the right to life and its concrete advancement is a step towards peace and civilization.”
UNBORNWORDoftheday Comments on John Paul II’s reflections: John Paul called for “an authentic apostolate of life” that he said “must be an integral part of the Church’s pastoral ministry”. He describes this apostolate of life in terms of education, services and structures that will present a sign and deliver a message borne of charity, all “in defending the right to life and its concrete advancement”. It seems to us that the Pope was envisioning a New form of comprehensive Pastoral Outreach for the 21st century. A New pastoral ministry combining education and services “especially at the diocesan level” which would “support human life”. This seems to be a radical challenge from John Paul the Great to “every person of good will”. Are we up to it? Are we willing? Remember his sobering warning: “…the Church will spare no effort nor can she accept negligence or guilty silence”.
At a Vatican symposium in early 2000 commemorating the 5th anniversary of his prophetic “Gospel of Life” Encyclical Letter , John Paul made some interesting comments about the document (Latin title is: Evangelium Vitae). Here are two of those comments.
“I started from a vision of hope for humanity’s future.”
“…a document which I consider central to the whole Magisterium of my Pontificate and in thematic continuity with the Encyclical Humanae Vitae of Pope Paul VI of venerable memory.”
John Paul also gives the following two facts about the Gospel of Life:
- “The persistent difficulty which this message encounters in a world marked by serious signs of violence and decadence.”
- “The unchanging validity of this message and also the possibility of it being accepted in a society where the community of believers, with the concerned involvement of people of good will, courageously and unitedly express its commitment.”
John Paul then called the Encyclical’s message: “a reference point for civil salvation”.
In our next post we will present Part II of this reflection & John Paul’s expectation for ACTION by all of us!