Memory is a faculty of the soul. The human memory has a great dignity about it, as part of our intellect – but it is driven, in a sense by the will, by the human heart. St Paul reminded his Christian friends in Philippi; “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Phil 4.8) So too, I am sure Paul would agree; remember these things!
A few years ago UnbornWordoftheday.com did a series of 6 posts reflecting on Mary’s memory of the early events of our Lord’s life; His unborn life within her initially, and then during His newborn period. [Links provided below.] As John Paul II said, “Mary is the memory of the Church.”
Similarly, each Pro-Life person is the memory of an enduring Culture of Life, that is born of the human soul first of all, but that is inspired and lifted up by revealed Christian faith as well. The eight point list St Paul gives us in Philippians is a superb guide to understanding – and recalling to mind – the wonderful Culture of Life that each Pro-Life person has witnessed and experienced. Our Respect-for-Life memory is in essence holy, going back long before the Roe vs. Wade decision of forty years ago. Likewise, the Pro-Life memory is sustained not only by human dignity, history and personal experience but, because it is holy in many respects, it is sustained too by Almighty God.
As Mary carried a germinating Credo of Christian faith within her heart – while carrying the Christ within her womb – so too each Pro-Life person carries within his/her heart a Culture of Life memory. Or rather you have been entrusted with this Gospel of Life, to carry it forward as a light; first as a light of memory to strengthen you in your own faith life, and secondly as a light to the nations to guide them back from the shipwrecked shoals of their culture of death, back to the Way that is: True, Honorable, Just, Pure, Lovely, Gracious, Excellent and Worthy of Praise.
Because human life is a gift from God and sacred, our Culture of Life memory is stronger than death and holy.
Filed under: Evangelium Vitae
AROUND THE WORLD AND THROUGH THE CENTURIES WITH THE UNBORN CHRIST CHILD
Mezquita Cathedral (Interior)
Virgin Mary ”of the Sign”
Fresco of Virgin Mary “of the Sign”: she is carrying Jesus in her womb. This mural is found in The Mezquita Cathedral of Cordoba, a Roman Catholic cathedral and former mosque, situated in the Andalusian city of Córdoba, Spain. Under the rule of Islam, it was built as the second-largest mosque in the world, and is perhaps the most accomplished monument of the Umayyad dynasty of Cordoba. After the Spanish Reconquista, it was transformed into a church, and some of the Islamic columns and arches were replaced by a basilica in early Baroque style. Today it houses the main church of the diocese of Cordoba in Spain.
“He, in her, carried on the blessed converse with His Father; there was never any separation between Mary and the Blessed Fruit of her womb, Jesus. She would come back to Him with all the more joy, and tell Him what she had been doing and saying…… When we think of Jesus praying for nine months to His Father, when we think of Mary’s nine months’ colloquy with Jesus, we begin to think that there is something wrong about our methods of prayer, that they need remodeling. Let us try to understand something of what His prayer was.” Mother St. Paul, Ortus Christi (London: Longmans, Green and Co. Ltd., 1921), 90 91.
Filed under: Evangelium Vitae
AROUND THE WORLD AND THROUGH THE CENTURIES WITH THE UNBORN CHRIST CHILD
Swiss National Museum - Zurich,Switzerland
Schwangere Maria – Pregnant Mary (Fragment of Altar wing)
Unborn Jesus (detail)
Fragment of an altar wing. Pregnant Mary in a blue dress with a white cape in front of a red background. In the body of Mary the unborn child Jesus is visible. Anonymous painter. Tempera on wood frame: pine wood. 1505. Origin: Cham (ZG), Field Chapel. Dimensions: height 81 cm, width 17.7 cm.
“This divine touch within from within – one can almost envision a Sistine Chapel-like ceiling painting of God, not the Father but the little unborn Son, straining forward and reaching out His tiny finger towards the inner heart of Mary – His mother can almost give shape to God’s way of touching each human heart from deep within.” Unborn Jesus Our Hope
For me personally, The Queenship of Mary is one of my favorite feast days of the 365 day Liturgical Year. I also like watching the Olympics. Let me explain.
Greece is the birthplace of the Olympics. Their origins go back before the time of Christ, and St. Paul, an educated Roman citizen knew that. So when Paul was writing to the Greek Christians in Corinth about the challenge of Christian living he felt it appropriate to speak about athletic competition:
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Well, I do not run aimlessly… (I Cor 9.24-26)
Years later, near the end of his life in a letter to Timothy, he stays with his athletic analogy, but the wreath is now a crown, and there is no longer just one winner:
“An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules…… I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.” ( II Tim 2.5, 4.7-8) Who loved the Lord’s “appearing” more than his mother? Like Paul she “fought the good fight…finished the race…kept the faith”!
The early Church knew very well that the Christian faith was demanding:
“Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us…” (Heb 12.1)
“Blessed is the man who endures trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1.12)
“And when the chief Shepherd is manifested you will obtain the unfading crown of glory.” (I Pet 5.4)
The crown awaiting each Christian is “imperishable”, a “crown of righteousness”, a “crown of life”, an “unfading crown of glory”. Mary’s crown is all this and more: “a crown of twelve stars…” (Rev 12.1). A tradition of Saints and scholars (including John Paul II; The Gospel of Life, #104) tells us it is Mary who is crowned in Revelations 12.
But every Christian crown will be gained by virtue of the Kingship of Jesus Christ. “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews?” the three wise men asked? What charge did Pilate bring against Jesus and have inscribed on the cross? “This is Jesus the King of the Jews.” The archangel Gabriel spoke to Mary about the kingship of her son. In the Book of Revelations we find references to Christ as King, and to His reign. Many Christians mistakenly think that Jesus is a king only in a symbolic sense, since he is not a political figure and we have evolved beyond monarchies. The Kingship of Jesus Christ is a spiritual truth which enlightens, a wonderful reality which we will enjoy in heaven.
We know a Queen through her ancestry and relationships, and we recognize her by her crown. As the Mother of Jesus Christ, Mary comes to her queenship supernaturally by the Will of God; as Mother. The “race” she ran is unparalleled in all human experience, and she excelled in every respect. For a succinct biblical presentation of her life see; Litany in Honor of Mary the First Christian.
“Christmas is the feast of man. A human being is born. He is one of the millions and millions of people who have been born, are being born and will be born on earth. A human being, one item in the vast range of statistics. It as not without reason that Jesus came into the world when a census ‘was being held, when a Roman emperor wanted to know the number of subjects in his territory. A human being is an object to be counted, something considered under the aspect of quantity, one of many millions. Yet at the same time he is a single being, unique and unrepeatable. If we celebrate with such solemnity the birth of Jesus, it is to bear witness that every human being (is) somebody unique and unrepeatable.” Urbi et Orbi Message of His Holiness John Paul II Christmas 1978
A MORNING OFFERING
O my Jesus, thank you for coming into this world as a man, for choosing to belong to the human race. Thank you for showing us the true worth of each person. As we celebrate your birth, may our respect for each human life increase.
Filed under: Biblical Reflections, Evangelium Vitae, Incarnation, The Incarnation, Unborn Jesus
Sometimes words such as ‘gift’ and ‘giving’ – like the word ‘love’ – seem over-used, employed too often and too superficially, thus inclined to have their true meaning and intent eroded. But to call the Incarnation a ‘gift from God’ is not only appropriate, it is almost understatement. Consider this observation by John Paul II:
“The conception and birth of Jesus Christ are in fact the greatest work accomplished by the Holy Spirit in the history of creation and salvation: the supreme grace – “the grace of union,” source of every other grace, as St. Thomas explains.” (# 50 The Holy Spirit in the Life of the Church and the World)
Here is a very rough paraphrase: The Incarnation of Jesus Christ is the supreme gift – given by God to humanity.
John Paul goes on to say of the Incarnation that it is the “source of every other grace” – and every other Divine gift. Later in the same document, John Paul elaborates on this concept further:
“Creation is thus completed by the Incarnation and since that moment is permeated by the powers of the Redemption, powers which fill humanity and all creation.” #52
As we approach Thanksgiving Day, we know that it is a day to thank God for His plenteous and overflowing gifts. What better place to begin our thanksgiving recollection than in Nazareth?
In the time of Christ there was a rather dismissive popular expression: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (Jn 1:46)
“Yes” we might respond, “All Good – ‘the supreme grace’ of God, the true ‘powers of the Redemption’ filling humanity to overflowing, ‘grace upon grace’, and enduring hope!”
Meister des Marienlebens Annunciation (Detail with Unborn Jesus)
This Sunday at Mass we heard a deep teaching of Jesus about forgiveness; Mt 18: 21-35. But look at how it all starts: “Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?”
This is a great question! Sure, some sophisticated know-it-alls may choose to dismiss Peter’s question and demean him, but to me this was a real and legitimate question to pose to the Lord. And of course, the answer was even better, much better!!
So today, Peter’s successor the Pope, and the Bishops as well, ask God many questions and listen attentively for His wonderful guiding responses. And the laity of course prays for our Pope and Bishops, to support them in their prayers and listening before God.
A few years ago I was quite surprised when I re-read the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, issued by Vatican Council II. There was a reference that appeared several times which was at once surprising but very profound and beautiful:
“Guiding the Church in the way of all truth (cf. Jn 16:13) and unifying her in communion and in the works of ministry, he bestows upon her varied hierarchic and charismatic gifts, and in this way directs her; and he adorns her with his fruits (cf. Eph 4:11-12; I Cor 12:4; Gal 5:22).” LG #4 Hierarchic gifts – given to the apostles and their successors for the good of the Church!
Which brings us back to Peter. It is critical to ask God the right questions, to persevere in prayer seeking the truth. Our Popes and Bishops do this. (No they haven’t been perfect – just human, but generally with wonderful results.) A great testimony to this reality of the Church’s life is the solid defense given by the Church on behalf of unborn children.
From the 1st century A.D., when the Didache states: “You shall not put a child to death by abortion nor kill it once it is born…”, to Vatican II (Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes, #51), to The Gospel of Life (Evangelium Vitae, written by John Paul II), the Church has been guided by the Holy Spirit to teach soundly on respect for human life, right from the moment of conception.
But this guidance came through prayer, asking God the right questions, like Peter did 2,000 years ago, and like Benedict XVI and his fellow Bishops do today. Last Advent, 2010, Pope Benedict introduced a profound new tradition on the eve of the first Sunday of Advent; he celebrated a Vigil for the Unborn, linking it to Advent when we contemplate Christ in the womb, about to born. Surely this too was the fruit of prayer, of seeking God’s inspiration and guidance. Thanks be to God!
Filed under: Evangelium Vitae
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.
In the Gospel of Life (Evangelium Vitae), John Paul II presents a powerful and prophetic teaching in defense of human life. Nowhere is this more evident than in Section 57 of the encyclical. Could the following be anything but an infallible and definitive teaching?
“Therefore, by the authority which Christ conferred upon Peter and his Successors, and in communion with the Bishops of the Catholic Church, I confirm that the direct and voluntary killing of an innocent human being is always gravely immoral. This doctrine, based upon that unwritten law which man, in the light of reason, finds in his own heart (cf. Rom 2:14-15), is reaffirmed by Sacred Scripture, transmitted by the Tradition of the Church and taught by the ordinary and universal Magisterium. ” (Footnote 51: LG 25) Evangelium Vitae, 57
The footnote references the Vatican II document, Lumen Gentium, point 25. Point 25 talks about Papal Infallibility.
See also Section 58 of The Gospel of Life below which elaborates on this strong teaching in Section 57.
“The deliberate decision to deprive an innocent human being of his life is always morally evil and can never be licit either as an end in itself or as a means to a good end. It is in fact a grave act of disobedience to the moral law, and indeed to God himself, the author and guarantor of that law; it contradicts the fundamental virtues of justice and charity. “Nothing and no one can in any way permit the killing of an innocent human being, whether a fetus or an embryo, an infant or an adult, an old person, or one suffering from an incurable disease, or a person who is dying. Furthermore, no one is permitted to ask for this act of killing, either for himself or herself or for another person entrusted to his or her care, nor can he or she consent to it, either explicitly or implicitly. Nor can any authority legitimately recommend or permit such an action“. Evangelium Vitae, 58
Filed under: Advent, Biblical Reflections, Evangelium Vitae, Saints, Unborn Jesus
Our Lady of Hope
This beautiful statue can be purchased at Mother Angelica’s gift shop – click here for more information
St. Bonaventure wrote a small treatise called Bring Forth Christ: Five Feasts of the Child Jesus.
The First Feast: How Christ Jesus, The Son Of God, May Be Conceived Spiritually By A Devout Soul is a beautiful meditation on the Annunciation and Visitation. To read the entire chapter click below
Here are 2 quotes from this chapter.
“Once a devout soul has been touched or moved by the hope of heavenly bliss, the fear of eternal punishment or the weariness of living long in this vale of tears (Ps. 83:7), it is visited by fresh inspirations, set alight with holy desires and taken up with godly thoughts. When at length it has rejected and despised previous imperfections and former desires for worldly things, and has resolved to lead a new life by the gracious kindness of the Father of lights from whom is every good endowment and every perfect gift (Jas. 1:17), it conceives mystically by the gift of grace.”
“Now, with Mary, the soul begins to climb the hill country (cf. Luke 1: 39) because after this conception earthly things lose their attraction, and the soul longs for heavenly and eternal things. The soul begins to flee the company of those with minds set on earthly things (Phil. 3:19) and desires the friendship of those with hearts set on heavenly things. It begins to take care of Elizabeth, that is, to look to those who are enlightened by divine wisdom and ardently inflamed by love.”
These next chapters (or feasts) all pertain to the Christmas season so we will cover each of them in the days to come.
The Second Feast: How The Son of God Is Born Spiritually In A Devout Soul
The Third Feast: How The Infant Jesus Is Named Spiritually By A Devout Soul
The Fourth Feast: How The Son Of God Is Sought and Adored Spiritually With The Magi, By The Devout Soul
The Fifth Feast: How The Son Of God Is Presented In The Temple By A Devout Soul
Filed under: Advent, Evangelium Vitae, Pope Benedict XVI, Prayer, Pro-life
Mary Kept All These Things and Pondered Them in Her Heart by Robert Anning Bell from Mary, The Mother of Jesus (Alice Meynell)
On the eve of the first Sunday of Advent – Saturday evening, November 27, 2010 – the Pope will lead a VIGIL FOR NASCENT HUMAN LIFE at St. Peter’s in Rome, and he has asked the world’s Bishops and priests to do the same in their own dioceses and parishes.
The Pope describes the intention of the Vigil as follows:
“The time of preparation for Holy Christmas is a favorable moment to invoke Divine protection over each human being called to existence, also as thanksgiving to God for the gift of life received from our parents.”
Americans please note the appropriate theme of thanksgiving which also relates to the national holiday weekend.
The call for this worldwide Vigil by our Pope is a breakthrough of momentous proportions for many reasons. But one not so obvious reason is that the Church tends to lean on her traditions, perhaps at times being slow to implement brand new ones. The Church has stood prophetically, time and again, for respect for human life from conception to natural death. But the Church has been slow to turn her coordinated worldwide liturgical prayer directly at the worldwide scourge of abortion. No longer!
Benedict’s Pro – Life Prayer Vigil is to prayer, what John Paul II’s encycylical Evangelium Vitae “The Gospel of Life” is to teaching. Our U.S. Chairman for the Catholic Bishops Committee on Pro – Life Activities, Cardinal DiNardo, says this Papal request is “unprecedented” – but that is an understatement.
By making this worldwide Vigil an Advent event, the Pope has now linked in our Catholic Christian consciousness the concept of the solidarity between Unborn Jesus and all unborn children. There is no turning back now!
Christians understand Jesus Christ as the answer and solution to our questions and problems. And He is that – the Way, the Truth and the Life for every human person.
But Pope Paul VI once made a telling observation: “Christ’s coming into the world creates for us the problem and duty of knowing Him” (General Audience, 12/28/66). In fact, the Pope said that knowing Christ is our “first duty”…that “we must set out to seek Christ…to study whatever we can know about Him.” He then directs our attention to the Gospel.
Thirty years later, John Paul II spoke about the Gospel of Life as consisting “in the proclamation of the very person of Jesus”, and that “Through the words, the actions and the very person of Jesus, man is given the possibility of ‘knowing’ the complete truth concerning the value of human life” (Evangelium Vitae, #29).
Here we are, in the midst of a ‘culture of death’ and we can see why Christ’s coming into the world is a sort of “problem”…. He is the fullness of Life and a champion of human rights and human life both – hence a champion of the human right to life! This message is not welcome in a ‘culture of death’. Christ’s message is part of who He is. So, in knowing Jesus Christ we come to know the fullness of human life and, as John Paul II says, we come to know “the complete truth concerning” human life.
For Christians, Christ is a problem if we love mammon more than God (Lk 16:13) or if we neglect prayer and the spiritual truths about life. It does seem to be a daily challenge to put Christ first in our lives. There is also a tendency for us all to superficially embrace our faith in Christ and falter in the demands of our faith.
Paul VI speaks of a spirit in the world promoting “systematic incertitude” and “systematic doubt and criticism”. This is precisely the anti-faith pseudo tolerance that is widespread today, which ‘tolerates’ the killing of unborn children while musing on the uncertainties of life and meaning in life. In Christ we find a great Truth, a Truth with certainty about the value of human life, a Truth that is compelling and problem-solving by nature. Christ’s Church has the duty to know Christ and His Truth, and is committed to hold on to this rock-solid Truth.
The strong manly apostle, St. Paul, had a tender side to him and revealed it, from time to time, to his “children in the faith”. For example, in letters to the churches of Corinth and Philippi, he speaks about writing to them with tears (II Cor 2:4. Phil 3:18). But one of his better known quotes advises: “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Rom 12:15).
Christ Himself is the model for this. St. John the Evangelist describes a very emotional scene following the death of Lazarus, when Mary the sister of Lazarus falls on the ground weeping before Jesus, and her friends and neighbors are around her weeping as well. John tells us that Jesus “was deeply moved in spirit and troubled”. Then He asks where the body is laid, and when the people say “Lord, come and see” – Jesus breaks down and weeps. We are told that this is the shortest verse in the entire Bible: “Jesus wept” (Jn11:35).
Over the past few decades, billions of tears have been shed for unborn children. We can speculate that mothers have been the primary source of these rivers of tears simply because they are so close to unborn children, their lives more sensitized to tinier lives hidden within their bodies, their hearts listening for soft heartbeats signaling life close by.
Back in the early 1970’s, as the Pro – Life movement was quickening, there was a powerful photograph of a tiny unborn child removed as a result of an ectopic pregnancy – my recollection is that the people referred to it as “the teardrop baby”. The doctor who took the photo spoke about the remarkable effect this tiny unfortunate “unborn” child had on those present. But the image of an “unborn” baby naturally formed into a teardrop stopped people in their tracks.
Doctors tell us that unborn children feel pain (Watch Me Grow, by Professor Stuart Campbell, M.D., 2004). This is, of course, to state the obvious. 3D ultrasounds show unborn babies grimacing. Do they cry also?
Christ died for us, and no doubt He also shed tears during His Passion for us. In his Letter to the Galatians St. Paul speaks of “the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20). In effect, St. Paul is saying that Christ ‘died for me’. We can all say this with confidence. Likewise, each of us can say ‘Christ shed a tear for me’. Which also brings us back to the unborn children – Christ shed a tear for each unborn child and loves each one personally.
Divine tears and human tears are a part of our lives now. The tear Christ shed for me is His tear of Hope for me. Because a great sign of the New Jerusalem is that God Himself will be with us and “He will wipe away every tear from (our) eyes” (Rev 21:3-4).
Filed under: Adoption, Advent, Biblical Reflections, Evangelium Vitae, Unborn Jesus
Tis the Season of ‘The Gospel of Life’
The Dream of St. Joseph (with unborn Christ Child) by Francisco Rizi (1608-1685)
My mother was betrothed to Joseph the carpenter, but he was unsure of what to do about me. Here is a picture of him sleeping and an angel of the Lord explaining everything to him in a dream. You can see my mother and I in the background. Joseph awoke from the dream and adopted me while I was still an unborn baby! (Mt 1:18-25)
In Joseph’s midnight angelic revelation John Paul II sees Joseph’s “personal Annunciation” and the moment of his “Divine election….His place in the history of salvation is defined”. The Pope, continuing his observations, points out that the response of Joseph was exemplary: “’When Joseph woke from sleep ‑ we read in Matthew ‑ he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him’ (Mt 1:24). In these few words there is everything. The whole description of Joseph’s life and the full characteristic of his holiness: ‘He did’. Joseph, the one we know from the Gospel, is a man of action.”
Pope John Paul II, General Audience, March 19, 1980
“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’.”
Pope Benedict, Angelus address, December 18, 2005
It pleased God to bring the beauty of human adoption into the heart of the Incarnation mystery. Adoption is a noble institution and has been a major theme of the Pro-Life message, but it was God’s idea and He relayed it to us. So we can find here another experience of solidarity, that is, a solidarity between God the Father and adoptive parents – His blessing upon their commitment to embrace a little one and, like Joseph, raise the child to the best of their abilities to fullness of life.
“They are a sharing in the mystery of the Cross, in which Jesus reveals the value of every person, and how life attains its fullness in the sincere gift of self. Over and above such outstanding moments, there is an everyday heroism, made up of gestures of sharing, big or small, which build up an authentic culture of life….
Part of this daily heroism is also the silent but effective and eloquent witness of all those ‘brave mothers who devote themselves to their own family without reserve, who suffer in giving birth to their children and who are ready to make any effort, to face any sacrifice, in order to pass on to them the best of themselves’.
In living out their mission “these heroic women do not always find support in the world around them. On the contrary, the cultural models frequently promoted and broadcast by the media do not encourage motherhood. In the name of progress and modernity the values of fidelity, chastity, sacrifice, to which a host of Christian wives and mothers have borne and continue to bear outstanding witness, are presented as obsolete …
We thank you, heroic mothers, for your invincible love!
We thank you for your intrepid trust in God and in his love.
We thank you for the sacrifice of your life …”
From: The Gospel of Life, Section 86
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!