My youngest daughter goes to a Catholic University on the east coast. I would not call this college a conservative Catholic institution. It is like many other Catholic institutions – some conservative and some liberal elements can be found there.
I also know quite a bit about health insurance – so a couple of years ago I went through the health care plan that this college provides for its students. It took some digging – wading through the paperwork online etc. but I was happily surprised that the health plan they offered did not cover contraceptives. In fact I was overjoyed by this fact.
Recently, as most of you have heard the Obama Administration (with the help of renegade Catholic Kathleen Sebilieus) has found a way to force Catholic institutions to cover contraceptives/many of which are also abortifacient – through the new health care legislation.
Our Bishops have asked us to pray and fast as well as to call our Legislators and other government officials to protest this attack on Catholics and the Catholic Church. Here is an article about this recent decision.
This is just one more way that this administration is attacking religious institutions and people. Here are a couple of other decisions that have been made by this administration that directly attacks Christians.
Feb. 2011 – The Obama administration rescinded most of a federal regulations designed to protect those who refuse to provide care they find objectionable on moral or religious grounds. Here is an article on this topic:
Another article on this decision at Life News. Obama Admin Weakens Protections for Pro-Life Medical Workers
September 2011 – “The Obama administration through the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) ceased funding for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) work with victims of sex slavery and trafficking. The USCCB had been granted this funding since 2006 and …A Washington Post investigation found that USCCB lost the grant competition despite having received higher scores of effectiveness than other grant competitors.” Why – because the USCCB did not refer those they helped to get abortion or contraception.
Here are 2 articles on this topic.
Finally I would recommend the following article that summarizes the attack by this adminstration on Catholics.
Isenheim Altarpiece (Mathis Grünewald, ca. 1515, oil on panel)
When Christ was born in Bethlehem, the angel of the Lord appeared in the sky over the nearby fields and addressed the shepherds: “…behold, I bring you good news of a great joy…”
When the three wise men finally saw the star of Bethlehem settle over the place where Christ and His parents were staying, “they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy”.
Three decades later, after the Last Supper and before they went to the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus spoke in veiled terms about His quickly approaching death and subsequent resurrection. He gave his beloved disciples an image to help them understand: “When a woman is in travail she has sorrow, because her hour has come; but when she is delivered of the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a child is born into the world” (Jn 16.21).
So the joy of the Resurrection is described by Jesus as being like the joy of bringing a newborn baby into the world! Perhaps, His mother had described to Him the joy she experienced when He was born. Perhaps Mary had told Him too, about the joyful message of the angel at Bethlehem and the joy of the three wise men.
The birth of a baby is an extraordinary event, one that changes many parents forever in a spiritual way as a bond of union forms naturally (and supernaturally) between parent and child. We might say that spiritual joy is a sign accompanying each child into this world, for all to experience with awe.
So too, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ!
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
A Chapel Dedication
Today the Mystical Body of Christ is enriched
And this Archdiocese made more fruitful
The Holy Spirit unleashed God’s bounteous gifts
To bolden Christ’s witnesses ever truthful.
A Church, exquisite in splendor, yet humble
Frail in human stature, enflamed by Heaven
Not burning as others might suppose, rather
A light on a hill, in a valley, for a Mission.
Incense smoke ascending, wafting throneward
By the breezes of prayer, and Dedication.
A quake felt thro’ and beyond the Church wall
A Grace quake tumbling out the doors to Creation.
Forty odd miles away it overswept me
This soothing tsunami of light and compassion
The Woman in her pangs of birth is enlivened
Her young scholar soldiers of Peace to fashion.
Good neighbors and great almsgivers did gather
With Aquinas and a saintly host on this day.
The founders had ardently desired fruition,
Of pleasing Him, to Whom true homage we pay.
George A. Peate
HOLY INFORMATION…TO INFORM THE CONSCIENCE…AND FORM THE HEART…
Just as feeding one’s body should not be an altogether haphazard exercise but needs to be self-regulated for one’s own good health and well being, so too one needs to look to nourishing sources for information. Not all information is equal – some is garbage-like and some is holy!
St Paul told the Ephesians: “…walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.” Eph 5:8-10
And he told the Phillipians also: “…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
Our nation needs an informed electorate! But not informed with trivia, distorted half-truths, smooth-as-silk lies, compromised data, tainted journalism and all the other attempts to manipulate voters. The foregoing produces unformed/deformed consciences.
The voter with an unformed conscience considers unborn children as unimportant.
Seek that information that truly enlightens the intellect, enkindles the conscience and ignites the heart…
As one of the greatest men of the twentieth century said: “Our intelligence is not just an abstract machine; it is also incarnate and the heart is as important as the faculty of reason, or precisely reason is nothing without the heart”. Dr. Jerome Lejeune
The truth sets the heart free. A properly informed conscience will love the unborn child!
Pope Benedict has inaugurated “The Year of St Paul”, beginning on June 29, 2008, at the first Vespers of the traditional Church Feast of Saints Peter and Paul. Last night I watched some of the liturgical celebrations live from the Vatican (on EWTN) to usher in this extraordinary Pauline year of grace.
In keeping with the spirit of this special day, we offer the following short quote from UNBORN JESUS OUR HOPE concerning the mystical nature of Mary’s pregnancy and words from Paul (and Peter) which help to throw light on it:
“She is the first Christian missionary. She carries the Christ across the land from this town to that. But He dwells within her ‑ within and beneath her heart. The mystery of this particular heart‑to‑Heart, body‑to‑Body communion between mother and Child, Christian and Christ, is impossible to fathom. Many years later both Saints Peter and Paul described their own sense of oneness with Christ in words that may help us in our appreciation of Mary’s experience. Reflecting on his own personal identification with Christ’s death on the cross, St. Paul would say; “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me…” (Gal 2:20).
But what of Mary’s intimate identification with our Lord’s Incarnation, the singular experience of Mary’s maternity? Her sentiments may have resembled those of St. Paul; paraphrasing now: “I have been conceived with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me…” And as each day passed, did she not sense that she was becoming, as St. Peter would later say, a partaker “of the divine nature” (II Pet 1:4)? No other human soul has experienced the wonder and grace of this mystical passage from youthful human simplicity into the eternal mystery of mothering God! Words fail us here: ” Christ is all, and in all” (Col 3:11).”
Every Christian must discover for himself or herself, and repeatedly, just how “Christ is all, and in all” for him and for her. In a unique way, during her nine month pregnancy, Mary must have pondered within her heart – in an archetypical manner – the Incarnational mystery that “Christ is all, and in all”. He certainly was “all and in all” in her! Following baptism and the onset of the life of God within each Christian soul, it is true on the spiritual level – a mystical truth and reality grasped and taught well by St Paul – that “Christ is all, and in all”! And just as the pregnant Mary saw intimate signs of Christ’s life within her own and desired to live well her nine months for Him, so too today’s Christian recognizes personal signs of Christ’s life within his or her heart and must strive to live well all his or her days for Christ.
In our last post, we highlighted Catholic composer, Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992). As we pointed out 2008 is the centenary of his birth and he is being honored all over the world with concerts and symposiums. We went on to highlight one of his works: Vingt Regards sur l’enfant Jésus (“Twenty Gazes/Contemplations of the Infant Jesus”) and in particular one composition, ‘Premiere Communion de la Vierge‘. (No. 11, “Virgin’s First Communion”).
This composition represents the Virgin on her knees, worshipping the unborn Jesus within her. Because Messiaen wanted his listeners to be aware of his inspirations and how he constructed various passages, he wrote extensive program notes, which appear as prefaces to his scores or as liner notes for recordings of his music. Here is what Messiaen wrote about the Virgin’s First Communion:
“11. Première communion de la Vierge [First Communion of the Virgin]. A tableau in which the Virgin is shown kneeling, bowed down in the night-a luminous halo around her womb. Eyes closed, she adores the fruit hidden within her. This comes between the Annunciation and the Nativity: it is the first and greatest of all communions. Theme of God, gentle scrolls, in stalactites, in an inner embrace. (Recall of the theme of La Vierge l’Enfant from my Nativity du Seigneur for organ, 1935). Magnificat more enthusiastic. Special chords and durations of two and two in which the weighty pulsations represent the heartbeats of the Infant in the breast of his mother. Disappearance of the Theme of God. After the Annunciation, Mary adores Jesus within her…my God, my son, my Magnificat!-my love without the sound of words.”
These notes with explanations for all 20 gazes/compositions in Vingt Regards sur l’enfant Jésus can be found here. If you wish to purchase recordings of his songs or a book on his life here is a link to Amazon. We must mention that he is a modern composer and if you don’t like modern classical music – his compositions may not be your cup of tea.
Olivier Messiaen (December 10, 1908 – April 27, 1992) was a devout French Catholic composer. This year marks the centenary of Olivier Messiaen’s birth. From June 20-24 2008 the MESSIAEN 2008 INTERNATIONAL CENTENARY CONFERENCE is being held in Birmingham, England. Another conference entitled ‘Olivier Messiaen: The Musician as Theologian’ will be held at Southern Methodist University/Dallas, September 25-26, 2008 Among the many Messiaen concerts/series around the world is another being held in England this year, the Philharmonia Orchestra Messiaen Celebrations (February 4 – October 23 ) and one in Chicago at the University of Chicago: 2008 MESSIAEN FESTIVAL October 2-11 Ten Concerts.
One of the reasons that we are highlighting Olivier Messiaen during the centenary of his birth is because of Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant-Jésus, a collection of pieces for solo piano. The French title translates “Twenty gazes/contemplations on the infant Jesus”. It is considered to be one of the greatest piano works of the twentieth century, and the summit of Messiaen’s keyboard writing. The idea of les regards, the spiritual gazes, came from the devotional book Le Christ dans ses Mystères by the Irish-Belgian Benedictine abbot Dom Columba Marmion.
The gaze is a profound moment of passionate contemplation, spiritual communication and two-way recognition: an exchange, to use one of Marmion’s favorite words, in which love and knowledge passed in both directions between God and humanity.
Some of Messiaen’s ‘gazes’ on the Infant Jesus include: Gaze of the Father, Gaze of the Star, The Exchange, Gaze of the Son upon the Son (click here to see all of the pieces)…the piece that touches on our blog’s theme is: ‘Premiere Communion de la Vierge’. (No. 11, “Virgin’s First Communion”) and represents the Virgin on her knees, worshiping the unborn Jesus within her.
Messiaen used his talents to praise God and share through his music his profound enthusiasm for the Truths of his Catholic faith. Many of his pieces were explicitly Catholic: Twenty glances upon the Infant Jesus, Hymn to the Holy Sacrament, The Lord’s Nativity, Three Small Liturgies of the Divine Presence, and the opera St. Francis of Assisi just to name a few.
In an article in the New York Times, Anthony Tommasini writes:
“The dimension of Messiaen’s music that may most set it apart derives from his spiritual life. His faith was innocent, not intellectual. As a child he loved the plays of Shakespeare, especially their “super-fairy-tale” aspects, he said. In the stories of the Catholic faith, as he told Mr. Samuel, he found the “attraction of the marvelous” he had coveted in Shakespeare, but “multiplied a hundredfold, a thousandfold.” For him the Christian stories were not theatrical fiction but true. Messiaen espoused a theology of glory, transcendence and eternity. Religious subjects permeate his works, though not the Passion and Crucifixion of Jesus. His embrace of the wondrousness of faith is reflected in the essence of his compositions.”
Our next post will feature Olivier Messaien’s personal notes explaining the “Virgin’s First Communion” with a link where to purchase this recording. We will also have a link to all his personal notes for Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant-Jésus ( “Twenty gazes/ contemplations on the infant Jesus” ).
Filed under: Religion
While I live in southern California, yesterday I was in Phoenix, AZ and so on the second Sunday of Easter I went to St. Mary’s Basilica to 9:00 a.m. Mass. During this Mass they baptized three little babies; two boys and a girl. The baptism fount was located in the center of this old beautiful church, and after the three little babies had been baptized the priest led the families in a procession back down to the front of the church. Here’s what really struck me. The three fathers lifted the little babies up in the air, in front of them and elevated above their heads. The babies, in their little white baptismal gowns looked like royalty of some type – all that was missing was a little pillow for them to be seated on as they processed majestically down the center aisle of the church. One father was particularly tall and his baby was raised higher than everyone else in the church, all eyes were on this little one as the child seemed to bob up and down floating through the air towards the front of the church.
The church was honoring these children, newly received into the church, like royalty. It reminded me of St. Peter’s words about the Church: “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people” (I Pet 2:9). There they were, three tiny ambassadors for Christ and His Kingdom! The church broke into jubilant applause!!!
Let’s connect some Lenten dots by way of scriptural reflection and trace a sinister sequence of attempts to kill the Son of God, the Word of God – a connecting of black dots, each meant to end the sentence of the Word’s life on earth! Some spontaneous, others devilishly devised.
- First, and probably the most vicious of all - the crucifixion excepted – is Herod’s concerted effort to destroy the tiny newborn baby Jesus! We are all familiar with the story. The angel of the Lord warned Joseph: “…flee to Egypt …for Herod is about to search for the child to destroy Him” (Mt 2:13). Herod’s plans reach a rancid fruition just after Joseph flees by night with Mary and the newborn Jesus. Herod is “in a furious rage” and ordered the killing of “all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under” (Mt 2:16). These were the “Holy Innocents” killed in the very place of Jesus, because Herod suspected that each one of them might be the newborn King of the Jews. Each of these babies is an innocent martyr – a baby alter Christi. And there was mourning, the first attempt upon His life.
We know now that Herod helped inspire the paranoid “Planned Parenthood” mentality so common today, and that if he had had the opportunity to have Unborn Jesus aborted he would have done so instantly! Unborn Jesus, like any “unwanted” unborn baby, represents a threat to the status quo.
- We now fast forward about thirty years to the outset of our Lord’s public ministry. After Jesus was baptized by John, the Holy Spirit led Him out into the wilderness where He fasted for forty days. At the end of this period, the devil came to Him and tempted Jesus three times. The third deceitful temptation was a direct attempt upon the life of Jesus by the devil. They were on the pinnacle of the Temple in Jerusalem and the devil challenged Jesus: “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here…” (Lk 4:9-12). Christ does not succumb and the devil leaves Him, but Luke observes “he departed from Him until an opportune time”. The second attempt upon His life.
- A little later Jesus returned to His hometown of Nazareth and went to the synagogue on the sabbath. He read a messianic prophesy from Isaiah and then explained that the text was being fulfilled in their midst. As he continued to speak the crowd became disenchanted: “…all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. And they rose up and put Him out of the city, and led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down headlong. But passing threw the midst of them He went away” (Lk 4:28-30). The third attempt upon His life.
- One day, during the third year of His public ministry, Jesus was in the Temple in Jerusalem teaching, when things grew controversial. Surprisingly, He got into a debate with “the Jews who had believed in Him” (Jn 8:31). Finally, Jesus says to them: “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” What did the Jews “who had believed in Him” do (along with others who didn’t believe in Him)? “So they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple” (Jn 8:57-59). The fourth attempt upon His life.
- Finally, it was wintertime, the feast of the Dedication and Jesus was in the Temple in Jerusalem at a spot called the portico of Solomon (Jn 10:22-23). He is challenged by the people and He gives a short answer, ending with: “I and the Father are one”. We read: “The Jews took up stones again to stone Him” (Jn 10:31, also 11:7-8), He speaks again, then they try to arrest Him but He “escaped from their hands” (10:39). The fifth attempt upon His life.
- We are all familiar with the sixth and final attempt upon our Lord’s life; His bloody Passion and crucifixion atop Golgotha! Jesus was targeted from infancy through adulthood. From the devil to His own countrymen, from political leaders to religious leaders, His innocence and authoritative teaching was difficult for sinners to bear. So too today, the innocence of the unborn baby and the “word” each would speak, is attacked by a self-absorbed hypocritical world that falsely champions human rights while daily plotting the deaths of the weakest among us.
Today, Friday, November 2nd is All Souls Day, and the Psalm for today’s Mass is the one and only Psalm 23. My childhood was not very religious, but my grade two class did memorize Psalm 23 (King James Version, KJV). It left a formative and lasting impression upon my little eight year old mind. I would suggest to parents and teachers alike that this is one of the best religious passages for a child to memorize.
While only six verses in length, it is chock full of positive and healthy images for the childlike. Let’s look at a few (KJV) verses:
“The Lord is my shepherd” – this suggests a one-on-one relationship of simple dependency. But the shepherd is the one who CARES ‘for’ the sheep and ‘about’ the sheep.
He leads me “beside the still waters” and “makes me to lie down in green pastures”. For the childlike mind these are calm and peaceful images of a little innocent sheep being cared for.
“He restoreth my soul” – now we drift into the spiritual ever so gently. The child might wonder what is “my soul” and he is left with a beautiful image to guide his questioning.
“He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake”. Perhaps this is now stretching the child’s moral framework, but that is a good thing. God, my shepherd is leading me somewhere “for His name’s sake”. There is a purpose behind His leading, it is not aimless, it is for my good (whatever that might be).
Even in a dark valley (“the valley of the shadow of death”) He is with me so I need not be afraid. He even comforts me.
He prepares a meal for me and pours mysterious oil upon my head. These are profound images that the child can ponder without fully understanding them. That is a good thing. The child doesn’t need to understand all of this like some dumbed-down cartoon. The child can be left wondering about such mysterious images.
“Goodness and mercy shall follow me” all through my life “and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” – that is, His door is open and He invites me into His house. The Shepherd’s house is a place of safety, refuge and hope for me.
We do not think about God in simple childlike ways often enough. There are passages and stories in the Bible that are especially poignant for children (and the childlike). Let’s cherish them and pass them on.
October 7th is traditionally the feast day of Our Lady of the Rosary. Following are a few comments about the “Hail Mary” prayer repeated throughout the rosary.
On our website we have the words to the “Hail Mary” prayer visually formatted to demonstrate the simple reality that the prayer is Christ-centered. At the center of the prayer is one word: JESUS. But it is introduced with these words: “Blessed is the fruit of thy womb…Jesus”. These words, taken from the Gospel of Luke (Lk 1:42), are the words Elizabeth speaks to Mary immediately after her unborn baby John the Baptist leaps in her womb due to the arrival and Presence of Unborn Jesus (in Mary’s womb).
The entire “Hail Mary” prayer revolves around Unborn Jesus! Yet, the prayer, like the life of Jesus, is expansive and inclusive, that is, it points to all of the other realities and experiences of Jesus during His life on this earth. His birth, childhood, public ministry, Passion and death, resurrection, ascension into Heaven are all naturally drawn into the simple message of this prayer: “Blessed is the fruit of thy womb JESUS!”
The word JESUS, is perhaps subtle in this prayer, subtle like an unborn baby in the early months of pregnancy. But the other words of the prayer are anchored by this one word. Like spokes emanating outward from the hub of a wheel, the words of the “Hail Mary” go outward from their quiet centerpoint, the word, the Person: JESUS.
And this is precisely the way Mary would want it. Her comment many years later at Cana “Do whatever He tells you” (Jn 2:5) is comparable to the famous comment by John the Baptist: “He must increase, but I must decrease” (Jn 3:30). Mary does not compete for our attention; no, she simply loves her child, the fruit of her womb, and offers Him, to you, in His meekness, His vulnerability, not as Eve offered forbidden fruit, but lovingly as the one necessary fruit for your salvation and happiness. You can reach out to her and accept this fruit: her baby JESUS, her savior JESUS.
Today is the feastday of St. Matthew. St Matthew (Apostle and Evangelist) is the author of the first Gospel. It is in the Gospel of Matthew that we have the most complete account of St. Joseph’s calling to be the adoptive father of Jesus.
Here is a quote from Pope Benedict’s Angelus address on 12/18/2005:
“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’.”
It seems that adoption was part of God’s plan: Here is an excerpt from Unborn Jesus Our Hope:
“From a legal and social point of view, Joseph would be recognized as the father of the baby Jesus. According to the Israelite understanding of marriage in those days, a child conceived during the time of betrothal was a “legitimate” child, and the reputations of both mother and child were thus protected. “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.’” (Jean Cardinal Daniélou, The Infancy Narratives) This constitutes a turning point in the life of Unborn Jesus. His earthly father reaches out to Him, figuratively embracing Him with wholehearted acceptance.
The relationship between Joseph and Unborn Jesus becomes very real. Fr. Faber states that Joseph was “part of the scheme of redemption” and “assists God in keeping the mystery of the Incarnation a secret”. (Rev. Frederick W. Faber, C.O., D.D., The Blessed Sacrament) Joseph begins a secret “adoption” process while Jesus is yet an unborn child (“he took his wife” and her unborn child) and then the process is later completed with Joseph’s naming of the child after birth and registering the child in Bethlehem during the census. Jesus needed to be accepted into a family, adopted into a family, and there existed a vacuum until that day when Joseph stepped forward in obedient faith to lovingly accept his son: “Joseph is the one whom God chose to be the ‘overseer of the Lord’s birth’, the one who has the responsibility to look after the Son of God’s ‘ordained’ entry into the world, in accordance with divine dispositions and human laws.” (Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Guardian of the Redeemer)
Last spring I had the privilege of hearing Father Frank Pavone speak. Of course, for years I had heard about Father Pavone – after hearing him speak I realized that his reputation was well earned. I found him to be one of the most convincing, balanced and dynamic pro-life speakers that I had ever heard. During his presentation he mentioned another talk that he sometimes gave entitled: Twelve Reasons the Pro-Life Movement is Winning. That really intrigued me!
I couldn’t find this 12 point list on his website so I did a google search and came up with two sources to put together this list (it may not be exactly his list but I think it is close).
Twelve Reasons the Pro-life Movement is Winning
1. A high percentage of young people are getting involved in the Pro-Life movement. (…and they realize that it could have been them!).
2. More and more women who have abortions are standing up and saying, “I regret my abortion!” (And the more abortions there are, the more women are standing up against what they have done.)
3. Researchers are coming up with more and more evidence that abortion as a supposed “benefit” to women does more harm than good.
4. Fewer and fewer doctors will perform abortions. (Ask the pro-choice doctors if they themselves will perform the abortion!).
5. In which directions are the conversions going? There is a society of former abortionists who used to use their skills to kill babies and now are seeking healing while some speak up against what they used to do. Where is the society of former Pro-Lifers who are now abortionists?
6. More people are voting pro-life than ever before. The number of people for which abortion (pro-life) is a deciding factor in voting is increasing.
7. Opinion polls are moving in the pro-life direction –no matter what age group or category you look at there is a trend that bodes well for the pro-life movement.
8. More laws have been passed on the state level to curtail abortion in the last dozen years.
9. Half of the abortion mills have closed in the past dozen years. There are now more pro-life resource centers across the country than abortion mills.
10. The U. S. Supreme court is moving in the Pro-life direction.
11. No lie can live forever – the truth always prevails. Abortion destroys itself – the more it is exposed – the more people see that it doesn’t help humanity or society.
12. Jesus has already won the battle over the kingdom of death!
Of course, Father Pavone fleshes out these points – giving statistics, evidence and examples. I would like to add that Father Pavone and his wonderful organization along with all of the other great Pro-life groups and individuals around the world are to be thanked for their great efforts on behalf of the unborn.
Filed under: Biblical Reflections, Quotes from Great Christians, Religion
Today September 17 is the feastday of St. Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621). He was a Jesuit and a Doctor of the Church. Here is a beautiful quote from him about the obedience of the infant Christ.
“In the first place, the obedience of Christ to His Father began with His Conception and continued uninterruptedly to His Death. The life of our Lord Jesus Christ was one perpetual act of obedience. The Soul of Christ from the moment of its creation enjoyed the exercise of its free will, was full of grace and wisdom, and consequently, even when enclosed in His Mother’s womb, was capable of practicing the virtue of obedience.
The Psalmist speaking in the Person of Christ says: “In the head of the book it is written of Me that I should do Thy will. O My God, I have desired it, and Thy law in the midst of My Heart.” (Psalm 40: 8, 9). These words may be thus simplified: ” In the head of the book”–that is from the beginning to the end of the inspired writings of Scripture–it is shown that I was chosen and sent into the world “to do Thy will. O My God, I have desired it,” and freely accepted it. I have placed “Thy law,” Thy commandment, Thy desire, “in the midst of My Heart,” to ponder upon it constantly, to obey it accurately and promptly.
The very words of Christ Himself mean the same. “My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, that I may perfect His work.” (John 4:34). For as a man does not take food now and again and at distant intervals during life, but daily eats and takes a pleasure in it, so Christ our Lord was intent upon being obedient to His Father every day of His life. It was His joy and His pleasure.
“I came down from Heaven not to do My own will, but the will of Him that sent Me.” (John 6:38).
And again. “He that sent Me is with Me, and He hath not left Me alone; for I do always the things that please Him.”( John 8:29)
And since obedience is the most excellent of all sacrifices, as Samuel told Saul, (1 Kings 15:22) so every action which Christ performed during His life was a sacrifice most pleasing to the Divine Majesty.
The first prerogative then of our Lord’s obedience is that it lasted from the moment of His Conception to His Death upon the Cross.“
From The Seven Words on the Cross by St. Robert Bellermine
The Flight into Egypt, by Vittore Carpaccio (1450- 1525)
Today, Saturday, September 15, 2007 is the feast day of Our Lady of Sorrows. Mary had many sorrows besides the Passion and death of her dear Son and Savior. In fact, Church tradition refers to The Seven Sorrows of Mary (the first three of which involve the Child Jesus).
Let’s consider here The Second Sorrow of Mary – The Flight Into Egypt (Mt 2:13-23). More specifically, let us go back in time to the first year of Jesus’ life after His birth in Bethlehem. We recall that an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him to flee from Bethlehem, with Mary and Jesus, to Egypt, because “Herod is about to search for the child to destroy him”.
It is likely that news from Jerusalem and Judea eventually trickled down into Egypt via trading caravans and other means. Therefore, Mary and Joseph probably learned of the slaughter of the Holy Innocents sometime during their first year in Egypt. One can almost imagine Joseph and Mary sitting in a marketplace in some unknown town in Egypt where a caravan from Israel has been detained for a period of time. Perhaps it is evening, and Mary is holding the baby Jesus in her arms while Joseph stands nearby. They are listening to news from Israel when suddenly their correspondent shows a look of dismay and recounts what Herod had done in Bethlehem – killing the male children under two years of age.
Mary’s heart is torn as she gasps in horror, realizing that it was her own baby that was the intended innocent for slaughter but that others took His place. Perhaps she turns to Joseph to give him baby Jesus so that she can hurry away and cry alone somewhere. Or maybe she instinctively grows tense, tightening her embrace of the little baby in her arms , reflexively protecting Him from evil men like Herod. Grief stricken, she goes off and weeps, her soul pierced through (Lk 2:33-35):
“A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they were no more.” Mt 2:17-18
And today also, when Mary hears of what we are doing to our unborn children does she not share anew in the weeping of Rachel? Let us join with Mary too in praying for Rachel.