Filed under: Biblical Reflections, How are we to honor Unborn Jesus, Mother of the Lord, Prayer
In the second chapter of Luke we are told on four different occasions how Mary (and Joseph) react and feel about words and events surrounding the birth, infancy and childhood of Jesus. Luke thus introduces us to the overlapping and harmonizing psychology and spirituality of Mary (and Joseph). This is instructive for the modern everyday Christian.
The angels appear to poor uneducated shepherds and entrust to them a proclamation for the entire world, for all time. The shepherds go down the hill and find the manger, and start recounting the words spoken to them about this Child; “all who heard it wondered”. Then the next verse, “But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Lk 2.19).
Eight days later, Mary and Joseph bring Jesus to the Temple. The holy man Simeon is inspired by the Holy Spirit to go to the Temple and speak to them about the Child. Luke specifically tells us that Joseph and Mary “marveled at what was said about him (the Child)” (Lk 2.33).
About twelve years later, Mary and Joseph bring the boy Jesus to Jerusalem for the Passover feast. Jesus becomes separated from them, and His parents seek “anxiously” for Him. After three days they find Him in the Temple and He was questioning and listening to the teachers. “All who heard him were amazed”. Luke then specifically says about Joseph and Mary; “And when they saw him they were astonished…” (Lk 2.48).
Luke continues to recount this story about the finding of the boy Jesus in the Temple, advises that they all returned to Nazareth and Jesus was obedient to His parents, then this; “…and Mary kept all these things in her heart” (Lk 2.51).
In the 2nd chapter of Luke’s Gospel we are given a glimpse into the spiritual and devotional life of Mary. (This follows up on the 1st chapter presentation of Mary’s Magnificat, which similarly offers a window into the soul of Mary.)
In the Manger and in Nazareth Mary ponders, contemplates in the depths of her heart. In the Temple Mary is awestruck; marveling with astonishment. Mary interiorizes the remarkable truths and teachings about Jesus Christ, she will learn from them, grow in them, mature through them.
Mary lives the Gospel events as no other could, as no other did. As John Paul II says of her, she is the “memory” of the Church, and indeed she will share these events and meanings with the Church in due course.
The Litany in Honor of Mary the First Christian summarizes the scriptural recounting of the numerous Gospel events lived and uniquely experienced by Mary in her lifelong relationship with her most beloved Son Jesus Christ.
Click here to order a free copy of Litany.
Filed under: Advent, Christmas, How are we to honor Unborn Jesus, Incarnation, Pro-life
Our Lady of Hope, is renowned for her beauty. The image is from the second half of the 16th century but later restorations (one by Castillo Lastrucci), added to it‘s beauty and unmistakable Sevillian style. The Virgin wears a green coat with sterling silver lining, highlighting her magnificent crown. All year – except Advent – Mary holds the infant Jesus with her left hand and arm.
Below the statue (see above photos), in front of the basket appears an oval ”O” iconographic detail of the Unborn Christ Child (reminiscent of the Advent “O” antiphons).
During Advent, the oval with the Unborn Christ is placed upon the Virgin, in front of her womb. (The infant Jesus is taken down from Mary’s left hand during Advent and placed in an ornate casing.) See photos below.
Then, on Christmas day the unborn Christ oval is returned to its place below the statue and the infant Jesus returned to Mary’s hand. These rituals give a unique charm to this statue and the Incarnation event.
Iglesia de San Martín de Tours de Sevilla
Filed under: Advent, Christmas, How are we to honor Unborn Jesus, Incarnation, Unborn Jesus
Over the last number of years, we have found over 100 images of Christ in Mary’s womb from around the world. Recently, we discovered that 2 of these images are part of an Advent Tradition that surprised us. The St. Phillip Neri Institute in Berlin has a wonderful statue that a friend of theirs carved for them. It is a copy of a miraculous statue of “Maria Gravida” that is in the Church of Maria Hilf Assumptio in Malta, Austria. This miraculous statue dates from around the 1400′s.
Below are a few views of the statue of Maria Gravida at St. Phillip Neri Institute in Germany
During Advent this Maria Gravida statue is placed on a pedestal in front of a blue curtain – behind the curtain is a Nativity scene. At Midnight on Christmas eve, the statue of Mary Pregnant is taken off the pedestal and the Nativity scene is unveiled.
We have also discovered a similar tradition for the statue of Our Lady of Divine Hope in the Iglesia de San Martín Sevilla in Spain which we will highlight in a future post.
Filed under: Biblical Reflections, How are we to honor Unborn Jesus, Papal Quotes, Pope Benedict XVI, The Incarnation
The 3 wise men honored Unborn Jesus from afar by seeking Him and searching for Him, passionately and diligently, and by rejoicing in anticipation (Mt 2:1-10).
“Why did the Magi set off from afar to go to Bethlehem? The answer has to do with the mystery of the “star” which they saw “in the East” and which they recognized as the star of the “King of the Jews”, that is to say, the sign of the birth of the Messiah (cf. Mt 2: 2).” Pope Benedict XVI, Friday, 19 August 2005
“What amazes us each time when we listen to these words of the Magi is that they prostrated themselves before a simple baby in his mother’s arms, not in the setting of a royal palace but, on the contrary, in the poverty of a stable in Bethlehem (cf. Mt 2: 11).” Pope Benedict XVI, Saturday, 6 January 2007
Like the Magi, let us recognize that Christ came into the world as an unborn baby and a child. The Vatican Council in Gaudium et Spes points out ”For by His incarnation the Son of God has united Himself in some fashion with every man”. We honor our unborn and child King when we teach respect for each unborn child and pregnant mother by our example. As they fell down and worshipped – we should approach these little ones and their mothers with awe and respect no matter where we find them. As they offered gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the Christ child, we should offer our love, support, and financial assistance as needed.
Filed under: Adoption, How are we to honor Unborn Jesus, Incarnation, Papal Quotes
After the dream (Mt. 1:20-24) Joseph honored Unborn Jesus by welcoming Him and His mother into his home, by his obedience to the angel of the Lord, his doing God’s will, and especially by loving Unborn Jesus as his own Son (Mt 1:.24).
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
“Today, I want to direct our gaze toward the figure of St. Joseph… The one who gives the most importance to the putative 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
“Joseph’s adoption of Jesus is effected in the two acts with which the account (Mt 1:24 25) closes, and which are in fact its most essential elements. ‘He took his wife…. And he called his name Jesus.” Cardinal Danielou, The Infancy Narratives
“During the nine months the accumulation of grace upon him must have been beyond our powers of calculation. The company of Mary, the atmosphere of Jesus, the continual presence of the Incarnate God, and the fact of his own life being nothing but a series of ministries to the unborn Word, must have lifted him far above all other saints, and perchance all angels too….Our Lord’s Birth, and the sight of His Face, must have been to him like another sanctification.” From Bethlehem by Father Faber
On this mosaic Joseph is depicted as taking the Virgin Mary to his home. This is one of the world famous mosaic depictions of Chora museum.
It pleased God to bring the beauty of human adoption into the heart of the Incarnation mystery. St. Joseph is a model for all those in the pro-life movement. He took unborn Jesus and Mary into his heart and life. He took care of them, saved them from disgrace and even death, supported them and helped them find shelter. Father Faber talks about the grace Joseph received in this ministry – think of all of the graces you receive in your ministry to the unborn and their mothers.
Filed under: Biblical Reflections, How are we to honor Unborn Jesus, Pro-life, The Incarnation
Elizabeth honored Unborn Jesus by recognizing Him and then blessing Him and His mother (Lk 1:42-43,45). Zechariah honored Unborn Jesus by blessing Him, testifying to Him and rejoicing in His mission of Salvation (Lk 1:67-79). Elizabeth & Zechariah together honored Unborn Jesus by welcoming Him and His mother into their home for three months (Lk 1:56).
“…And we must not forget the head of the household, Zachary. He, at any rate after the birth of his son, knew the secret too, for he spoke in his song of praise of the “Orient from on High (which) hath visited us.” (St Luke i. 78.) He had been ‘unable to speak,’ but Mary with her Son had been sojourning in his house, with the result that his doubts had all disappeared, and that he under stood already something of the ‘joy and gladness’ which Gabriel had promised should be his…”
We like Elizabeth and Zechariah should welcome Unborn Jesus with joy and faith – opening our hearts to the graces he wishes to give us. Our attitude towards all mothers and their unborn babies should also be open and joyous – we should welcome them into our lives and help them in their needs.
Filed under: How are we to honor Unborn Jesus, Incarnation, Saints, The Incarnation
Unborn John honored Unborn Jesus by expressing joy at His Presence (Lk 1:44).
“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. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.’ ” Luke 1: 41-44.
“John was ‘filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb’ by Christ himself, whom the Virgin Mary had just conceived by the Holy Spirit. Mary’s visitation to Elizabeth thus became a visit from God to his people.” Catechism of the Catholic Church, Article 8, 717.
“… He (John) inaugurates the Gospel, already from his mother’s womb welcomes the coming of Christ, and rejoices in being “the friend of the bridegroom”, whom he points out as ‘the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world’.” Catechism of the Catholic Church, Article 3, 523.
We can honor Unborn Jesus by our recognition of Christ’s love for the unborn and our joy in His incarnation as an unborn baby. We can also honor Unborn Jesus when we share the pro-life message joyfully and give witness to the sanctity of each unborn child made in the image and likeness of our Unborn Lord.
Mary honored Unborn Jesus by accepting wholeheartedly the Plan and invitation of God to be mother to the Messiah/Savior and by then loving Him (Lk 1:38).
“In all these days, my gaze has necessarily focused on this depiction of the Annunciation of Mary (see above). What fascinated me is this: the Archangel Gabriel holds a scroll in his hand, which I believe is the symbol of Scripture, of the Word of God. And Mary is kneeling within the scroll; that is, she lives her whole life in the Word of God. It is as though she were steeped in the Word. Thus, all her thoughts, her will and her actions are imbued with and formed by the Word.
Since she herself dwells in the Word, she can also become the new “Dwelling Place” of the Word in the world.”
“The Virgin is involved with Jesus and she is the only one in the whole world involved with Jesus. Thus she is the only one in the whole world adoring the mystery of the Incarnation, which was brought about on earth for the earth but unknown to the earth. She is the only one adoring Jesus. The more that she is the only one captivated by such a great subject, the greater is her involvement. She is devoted to it with all her faculties. All her senses are brought to bear on it, for it is a tangible mystery and tangible within her. All her senses should pay homage to her God made tangible for human nature. Her whole mind is concentrated on it. And the Spirit of Jesus, which enlivens this little divinized body, enlivens the spirit and body of the Virgin as well, through grace, love and a holy, gentle influence.”
Cardinal Berulle (1575-1629) – writing about Mary’s attitude in the hours and days after the Annunciation.
We can imitate Mary in honoring Unborn Jesus by living his word and welcoming Him into our lives and by loving Him with our whole heart, mind and will. We also honor Unborn Jesus when we welcome unborn children into our world by our witness to their sacredness and by giving loving help to their mothers.
Filed under: Biblical Reflections, How are we to honor Unborn Jesus, Pro-life, Unborn Jesus
The Annunciation by Nicolas Poussin
How did the Archangel Gabriel honor unborn Jesus:
The Archangel Gabriel honors Unborn Jesus through the profound reverence with which he announces His entrance into the world (Lk 1:5-17, 26-38).
Gabriel was sent to a nobody, who had next to nothing, and who lived in the middle of nowhere. Or so it would seem. And he came to her and said, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” Why would an angel show such reverence towards a human being? Why would Gabriel, whom the bible tells us stands “in the presence of God” (Lk.1:19), speak in this way? He himself answers the question: because she had “found favor with God” (Lk.1:30).
He also honors Unborn Jesus by the respect and adoration he shows the Unborn Word of God.
Like Gabriel we too can worship the Unborn Christ Child and show great reverence to his mother. We can also honor Unborn Jesus by the respect and reverence we give to each unborn baby made in His image and likeness and by the love and support we give to their mothers.
Filed under: Biblical Reflections, How are we to honor Unborn Jesus, Pro-life, Quotes from Great Christians, Unborn Jesus
Meeting of Mary and Elisabeth by Marx Reichlich, Austrian painter (b. 1460, Salzburg, d. 1520, Salzburg) Alte Pinakothek, Munich
Sunday was the feast of the birth of St. John the Baptist. In honor of St. John we are posting a short series entitled:
How are we to honor Unborn Jesus (and all unborn babies made in his image and likeness)?
There are countless ways to honor Christ Unborn. But one way to consider this question is to reflect on the eight people and one angel mentioned in the Gospels as particularly honoring Jesus during His 9 months in the womb. These 9 are: the Archangel Gabriel, Mary, Unborn John the Baptist, Elizabeth and Zechariah (John’s parents), Joseph and finally the 3 wise men.
We would like to start with 2 quotes about unborn John who stands in the place of all unborn babies – who in a sense is every unborn baby.
Cardinal Bérulle (1575 – 1629) wrote extensively on the Unborn Christ Child. Here he reflects on the Visitation when the unborn John the Baptist leaps with joy:
“God has become a child, and so he wants first to be known and adored by a child, and this is one of the first emanations of the childhood of God, manifesting himself to the universe. God is a child, the world ignores, heaven adores, and a child is the first person in the universe to recognize and adore him, and he does so by the homage and secret operation of God himself, who wants to act upon children. He wants to honor himself as child by giving the first knowledge of himself to a child in the world, making him his prophet in the universe. Thus the Infant-God is recognized and manifested, not by and angel, but by a child. So his first prophet is a child, just as shortly his first martyrs will be children.”
Bishop Austin Vaughan (1927-2000), Auxiliary Bishop of New York, who was arrested many times for peacefully praying and protesting in front of abortion facilities, wrote an article called “The Catholic Duty to be Pro-Life” in which he reflected:
“It is not an accident, I think, that in the Scriptures the first person, after Mary, who adored Jesus when he came into the world was St. John the Baptist…The second person who ever worshipped Jesus after Mary was an unborn baby and I think God made it that way to tell us in our day and age the worth and importance of every individual right from the very beginning of life.”