UNBORN WORD of the day


Don’t be mum on motherhood
June 30, 2007, 11:39 pm
Filed under: Evangelium Vitae

“We have been sent. For us, being at the service of life is not a boast but rather a duty…We have been sent as a people. Everyone has an obligation to be at the service of life. This is a properly “ecclesial” responsibility, which requires concerted and generous action by all the members and by all sectors of the Christian community….Together we all sense our duty to preach the Gospel of life…” Pope John Paul II, The Gospel of Life, #79.



“…each individual has a very neat beginning — the moment of conception.”
June 29, 2007, 11:04 pm
Filed under: Quotes from Great Christians

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Earlier this month we had a quote from Dr. Jerome LeJeune entitled The Story of Tom Thumb. Here are two more quotes from Dr. LeJeune that were in an article published by the Knights of Columbus.

“Life has a very long history, but each individual has a very neat beginning — the moment of conception.”

“I see no difference between the early person that you were at conception and the late person you are now. You were, and are, a human being. It is hard to believe, although beyond any possible doubt, that the whole genetic information necessary and sufficient to build our body and even our brain, the most powerful problem-solving device, even able to analyze the laws of the universe, could be epitomized so that its material substratum could fit neatly on the point of a needle!” – World renowned geneticist, the late Dr. Jerome LeJeune



From Conception He embraced us with His redeeming love.
June 28, 2007, 9:28 pm
Filed under: Papal Quotes

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Look at the love of Jesus Christ – according to Pope Pius XII, He was loving us even at the first moment of His conception:

“But the knowledge and love of our Divine Redeemer, of which we were the object from the first moment of His Incarnation, exceed all that the human intellect can hope to grasp. For hardly was He conceived in the womb of the Mother of God, when He began to enjoy the beatific vision, and in that vision all the members of His Mystical Body were continually and unceasingly present to Him, and He embraced them with His redeeming love.”

Pope Pius XII
Mystici Corporis, The Mystical Body Of Christ And Our Union In It With Christ #75 June 29, 1943

When one sees this large crowd from the March for Life, one can almost picture Christ embracing them with His redeeming Love. Contrast the love that filled Christ’s heart when He was first conceived to the indifference of the world that wants to destroy newly conceived human beings soon after their conception for convenience and “research”. He embraced us with His redeeming Love, let us embrace these little ones with our love and commitment.



We live and move in the Incarnation
June 27, 2007, 10:53 pm
Filed under: John Paul II, Quotes from Great Christians, The Incarnation

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Father Frederick W. Faber was born in England, June 28, 1814. A famous convert to the Catholic faith – he wrote 150 hymns, the most famous being “Faith of Our Fathers”and “There’s A Wideness in God’s Mercy”. We are honoring him on his birthday because he has written extensively about Unborn Jesus and has tried to help us all appreciate those early months of the Incarnation. He wrote the following in his book entitled The Blessed Sacrament.

“The Incarnation is as much the world in which we live as the globe on which we tread, with its earth, air, fire and water, its sun, moon and stars, its animal, vegetable and mineral kingdoms. If we look at our souls, their present wants and eternal expectations, their life, strength, health and maladies, the Incarnation is as indispensable to them, and as indispensable every hour of the day, as the heat and cold, the air and light, are to our natural subsistence. We live and move in the Incarnation. We are what we are, through it. It covers us, underlies us, and is all around us. It is incessantly affecting us in almost numberless ways, both within and without. We cannot get beyond the reach of its blessed influence, even by disbelieving it or dishonoring it.”

Look at what John Paul II said:

” 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.”

Pope John Paul II
Dominum Et Vivificantem, The Holy Spirit in the Life of the Church and the World (#52)

Take heart all you who are trying to build a Culture of Life!



“God imbued with our likeness”* St. Cyril of Alexandria
June 26, 2007, 9:49 pm
Filed under: Fathers of the Church

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Today June 27 is the Feast day of St. Cyril of Alexandria

St. Cyril of Alexandria was an eloquent and outspoken defender of Mary as the Mother of God at the Council of Ephesus in 431. At one time He wrote “That anyone could doubt the right of the Holy Virgin to be called Mother of God fills me with astonishment. Surely she must be the Mother of God if our Lord Jesus Christ is God and she gave birth to him.”

Below are some excerpts from a famous homily (Homily 4) delivered by St. Cyril when he was presiding over the Council of Ephesus in 431 A.D.:

“Hail Mary, seat of Him who in no place can be contained. In your womb you contained the Only Begotten Word of God…”

“Hail Mary, Mother of God, for whom John, yet still in his natural womb, jumped for joy and adored the luminary of eternal light.”

“Hail to You, who in your holy and virginal womb have enclosed the Immense and the Incomprehensible.”

*We took our heading for today’s post from the following quote from Cyril:

“Christ, as I have said, was also God in his humanity, permitting human nature to use its laws while nonetheless conserving also the purity of divinity. For in this way and in no other is God to be understood both what was born by nature, and those things which the virgin mother produced not only of flesh and blood in the same way that other mothers do, but (the flesh and blood) of the Lord and of God imbued with our likeness.” Paschal Homilies, No. 17:2 MG 77, 776



St. Josemaria Escriva (1902-1975)
June 25, 2007, 11:26 pm
Filed under: Quotes from Great Christians

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Today June 26 is the Feast Day of St. Josemaria Escriva.

St Josemaria Escriva was asked a question by a social worker during one of the many talks he gave around the world. She wanted to know how to talk to the poor women who came to her as a social worker and as a Catholic when they were distressed after becoming pregnant – she wanted advice about what to say to them.

His responded in part: “Tell them they should be proud of the confidence God has in them, giving a baby to the world who is a child of God even while still in the womb. So, they should not be dismayed. No, they should give thanks to God for making them instruments of such a marvelous thing, an extraordinary miracle, this participation in the creative power of God. “

He went on to tell them the true story about a wise Chinese doctor whom he knew. This man worked in a very poor area. A woman came to him (a non-Christian) who was distressed because she was pregnant with her ninth child. She told him she wanted an abortion because there was not enough food to feed this child. He told her he could not kill her child but then he had an idea and asked her about her oldest child. She told him about her oldest child – a son. He pointed out quite logically that if having enough food was the problem it was this son who ate the most – a Solomon-like leading comment- No, she said he’s my child I could never harm one of my children. He then, gently pointed out that the one in her womb was also one of her children.



Bishop Vaughan – A man to remember (1927-2000)
June 24, 2007, 9:52 pm
Filed under: Inspirational Pro-life leaders, Quotes from Great Christians

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Today June 25, 2007 is the memorial of the death of a truly inspirational man, Bishop Austin Vaughan. My husband and I were inspired by Bishop Vaughan’s witness as a Bishop and as a pro-life leader.

John Burger in his tribute to Bishop Vaughan writes: “In December 1987 Bishop Vaughan received an invitation to join Operation Rescue, which had just begun its nonviolent protests aimed at shutting down abortion clinics.

He did not respond immediately, but, after a virtual blackout of the abortion debate during the 1988 presidential primary campaign in New York, he decided that he had to do something to make abortion an issue for voters and candidates. Along with New York Giants star Mark Bavaro and 500 others, he was arrested at an upper East Side Manhattan abortion clinic in May 1988. He went on to be arrested at least eight other times in Dobbs Ferry, Albany, Amherst, N.Y., Pennsylvania and Texas, as well as the Netherlands and Belgium. He served prison sentences of up to 10 days for the actions.”

Father Frank Pavone writes about Bishop Vaughan’s decision to be involved in these rescues:

“I have never broken the law. I have never been arrested. Yet I often think of Bishop Austin Vaughan, auxiliary bishop of New York, who in the last years of his life of faithful service to the Church, was arrested and imprisoned many times for rescuing unborn babies. He saw what Christians were doing across the country as they peacefully blocked the doors of abortion mills to put their bodies between the babies and the instruments of death. Then one day he looked at his episcopal ring, and realized that the three figures on it — St. Peter, St. Paul, and the Lord Jesus — had all been arrested and imprisoned! He no longer hesitated to do so too, if it was the price to pay for saving lives.”

Bishop Vaughan was also known for his tireless defense of the faith. For instance, after Pope Paul VI issued his encyclical letter Humanae Vitae, many voices both outside and sadly inside the Church spoke out against him and this teaching. Bishop Vaughan was one of a small group of Theologians who frequently defended Pope Paul and this teaching. There were numerous other instances of his strong defense of the faith.

Here are three links to help us remember this kind man whose favorite saying was “Whatever God Sends” and who lived by this motto: “To Jesus through Mary”.

A tribute by John Burger

The Catholic duty to be Prolife by Bishop Vaughan

An Assessment of Present Day Catechesis by Bishop Vaughan

We received the following note from Kathy Reilly: Fr. Thomas Morrette has begun the cause for his canonization, but you know how slow things like this can go. It is our hope to obtain letters of testimony from people who knew him, worked with him and were imprisoned with him. He truly was a saintly man of the clothe, a saint who humbly walked among us.

She gave us an address that you can write to for prayer cards – I’m sure you could send any testimonies that you might have to this address too:

Bishop Vaughan Prayer Cards
11 J Street
Schenectady, NY 12305-1133



BIRTH OF JOHN THE BAPTIST: 3 PUZZLING QUESTIONS!
June 23, 2007, 11:58 pm
Filed under: Quotes from Great Christians

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Today, Sunday, June 24th is the Solemnity of the Nativity of John the Baptist.

Q1. Were Mary and her unborn baby, Jesus, present at the birth of John the Baptist?
Q2. Why does the Church celebrate John’s birth on June 24th rather than June 25th (the latter date would be exactly 6 months before the Lord’s birth on Dec. 25th)?
Q3. John’s father Zechariah was unable to speak, but could he hear?

A1. Since this is the most important question of the three we will devote the most time to this first one. (And some source info. will be listed at the end of this post.) When one consults both Catholic and Protestant Bible Commentaries there is not universal agreement on the answer, however a strong majority in my survey either state clearly that Mary stayed for the birth or remain silent about it as opposed to actually taking the negative position. The possible confusion relates to the positioning of verses 56 and 57 in Luke 1. Here’s what two Catholic commentaries say: a.) “Luke stylistically closes the scene; Mary must have remained longer, in order to be of service at the birth of John the Baptist”, b.) “Lk rounds off one theme before passing on to another. Consequently, it does not follow that Mary had departed before the birth of John”. *

Here’s how one Catholic mother and author answered: “No one is sure, they say, if she stayed for the birth of St. John. I am amazed. So is every mother I know. Let the scholars haggle over it if they will; of course she stayed…” (Mary Reed Newland)*

In his book The World’s First Love, Archbishop Fulton Sheen talks about Mary being present at three births – listing first the birth of John the Baptist. (Chp. 3) In their book The Gospel Story, Ronald Knox and Ronald Cox make the following observation about the scene eight days after the birth of John when he is being named: “This scene is most vivid if we recall that the Messias himself was present there, in his mother’s womb”. (Chp. 1)

Finally, it has long been believed that it was Mary who told Luke about all the events occurring in the first two chapters of Luke (directly or indirectly as the source).

A2. In the fifth century A.D. the Feast of Christmas was established on December 25th, (exactly nine months, to the day, after the March 25th feast of the Annunciation). Gabriel told Mary that Elizabeth was in her sixth month of pregnancy. So 3 months after March 25th brings us to June 25th. But according to Francis Weiser, S.J., we celebrate on the 24th because of “…the Roman way of counting, which proceeded backward from the calends (first day) of the succeeding month. Christmas was ‘the eighth day before the Kalends of January’ (Octavo Kalendas Januarii). Consequently, Saint John’s nativity was put on the ‘eighth day before the Kalends of July.’ However, since June has only thirty days, in our way of counting the feast falls on June 24”.

A3. The only reason this is a question is because of Lk 1:62: “And they made signs to his father (Zechariah), inquiring what he would have him called.” There are two schools of thought. But nowhere does it state that Zechariah could not hear. Rev. L.C. Fillion, S.S. points out that the Angel Gabriel had only threatened Zechariah with loss of speech and when he is “cured” the Gospel only states that “his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed”, further he suggests that when someone is signing to you (because he can’t speak) you may be inclined to respond in kind (even if he can hear).*

* Q1. a.) Jerome Biblical Commentary b.) A New Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture. Also, the IVP Bible Background Commentary, New Testament and Halley’s Bible Handbook, New Revised Ed. Zondervan, 1965.
Newland: The Year and Our Children, P.J. Kenedy & Sons, NY, 1956.
Q2. Fr. Weiser, S.J., Handbook of Christian Feasts and Customs, Harcourt, Brace & Co., NY, 1958.
Q3. Fillion: The Life of Christ, Herder Book Co., St. Louis, 1940.



Ho Hum! How Ordinary!
June 22, 2007, 10:38 pm
Filed under: Quotes from Great Christians

 

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“Yes, it certainly seemed that God wanted to give the world the impression that it is ordinary for Him to be born of a human creature. Well, that is a fact. God did mean it to be the ordinary thing, for it is His will that Christ shall be born in every human being’s life and not, as a rule, through extraordinary things, but through the ordinary daily life and the human love that people give to one another.”

The Reed of God by Caryll Houselander

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Peace begins in the womb
June 21, 2007, 10:00 pm
Filed under: Quotes from Great Christians

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I really liked this slogan – if you click on it you can go to Feminists For Life where you can buy bumper stickers etc. with this slogan on them.

The slogan reminded me of what Mother Teresa said in her Nobel Lecture when she won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.

“… I feel the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a direct war, a direct killing – direct murder by the mother herself. And we read in the Scripture, for God says very clearly: Even if a mother could forget her child – I will not forget you – I have carved you in the palm of my hand. We are carved in the palm of His hand, so close to Him that unborn child has been carved in the hand of God. And that is what strikes me most, the beginning of that sentence, that even if a mother could forget something impossible – but even if she could forget – I will not forget you. And today the greatest means – the greatest destroyer of peace is abortion.”



AT THE ONE-CELL STAGE – CHRIST GIVES “HIS FIRST SERMON”
June 20, 2007, 11:41 pm
Filed under: The Incarnation

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The Gospel reading today, Thursday 6-21-07, is Mt 6:7-15 which recounts the famous scene when Jesus teaches His disciples the Lord’s Prayer. Let us focus on seven words from this prayer: “thy Kingdom come, thy will be done”. How might these majestic words relate to the Unborn Christ at the one-cell stage of his earthly life?

First, the Angel Gabriel explains to Mary that her Son will receive the “throne of his father David”, will reign over “the house of Jacob for ever” and that “of his kingdom there will be no end” (Lk 1:32-33). So, just prior to her “fiat” and her conceiving, she realizes her Son will be king. In fact, at the moment of His conception He is Lord and King!

Secondly, immediately at His conception He speaks a prayer of consecration to God the Father and says: “Lo, I have come to do thy will, O God”. (The whole prayer is found in Hebrews 10:5-7.) St. Ignatius of Loyola tells us that these words were uttered “from the first moment of His conception”, at the one-cell stage. (These verses from Hebrews are featured during the Mass on March 25th for the feast of the Annunciation.) To see extended commentaries on Hebrew 10:5-7 click here)

So, just before His conception the Angel makes three references to His Divine Kingship and at the moment of His conception He Himself says that He has “come to do thy will, O God”. The seven words which He teaches His disciples to address to God are linked to His coming into the world! In fact, His immediate prayer to the Father upon entering the world is like a Mission Statement for His Life.

But wait, this is the mission statement for every life: “Lo, I have come to do thy will, O God”. This is the intuitive spiritual orientation of every human being, at least initially- that there is an All Holy God and that we should seek and do His will in our lives. Therefore, at the one-cell stage of His earthly life the Unborn Christ, who was King, submits – figuratively He bows down in submission to the Father – and He teaches us how to live our lives.



Patience = Eternity + 9 months + 30 years
June 19, 2007, 9:31 pm
Filed under: Quotes from Great Christians

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Here is a quote about the patience of Christ from Mother St. Paul’s book Ortus Christi (published in 1921) .

“Patience is a twofold grace, that of waiting and that of suffering, both are a great aid to zeal. The Eternal Word’s zeal for the salvation of men had existed in all its perfection and all its fullness from all eternity, yet think how long He waited! When the conditions were changed and He had at length become incarnate, He still waited patiently for nine months, and after that He waited for thirty years! This was zeal, zeal in its perfection. Is my zeal tempered with patience?”

Yesterday Caryll Houselander was quoted reflecting on “the habit of Advent”. Part of this “habit” is living the virtue of patience. Through the decades the pro-life movement has had to be patient while trying to promote a Culture of Life. Many disappointments, trials and setbacks have been experienced. Those who are pro-life must persevere and patiently trust in God.



Caryll Houselander on “The Habit of Advent”
June 18, 2007, 10:24 pm
Filed under: Quotes from Great Christians

Caryll Houselander (1901-1954) wrote the following reflections in the early/mid 1940’s.

“We live in an age of impatience, an age which in everything, from learning the ABC to industry, tries to cut out and do away with the natural season of growth. That is why so much in our life is abortive. We ought to let everything grow in us, as Christ grew in Mary….. No man should ever make anything except in the spirit in which a woman bears a child, in the spirit in which Christ was formed in Mary’s womb, in the love with which God created the world.”

“In this contemplation there is great virtue in practicing patience in small things until the habit of Advent returns to us.”

Caryll Houselander
The Reed Of God



John Paul II: Be unconditionally, actively and unreservedly pro-life
June 17, 2007, 9:51 pm
Filed under: Evangelium Vitae

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In Evangelum Vitae (The Gospel of Life) John Paul II is not afraid to use the term pro-life – in fact he calls us to be unconditionally, actively and unreservedly pro-life:

“This situation, with its lights and shadows, ought to make us all fully aware that we are facing an enormous and dramatic clash between good and evil, death and life, the “culture of death” and the “culture of life”. We find ourselves not only “faced with” but necessarily “in the midst of” this conflict: we are all involved and we all share in it, with the inescapable responsibility of choosing to be unconditionally pro-life.” (#29)

“The Gospel of life is for the whole of human society. To be actively pro-life is to contribute to the renewal of society through the promotion of the common good. It is impossible to further the common good without acknowledging and defending the right to life, upon which all the other inalienable rights of individuals are founded and from which they develop. A society lacks solid foundations when, on the one hand, it asserts values such as the dignity of the person, justice and peace, but then, on the other hand, radically acts to the contrary by allowing or tolerating a variety of ways in which human life is devalued and violated, especially where it is weak or marginalized. Only respect for life can be the foundation and guarantee of the most precious and essential goods of society, such as democracy and peace.” (#101)

“Nor can it be denied that the mass media are often implicated in this conspiracy, by lending credit to that culture which presents recourse to contraception, sterilization, abortion and even euthanasia as a mark of progress and a victory of freedom, while depicting as enemies of freedom and progress those positions which are unreservedly pro-life.” (#17)

Since the 1970’s many have conscientiously tried to depict people who are pro-life as radical right-wing zealots who are insensitive and out of touch with mainstream society. The media has catered to this and promoted this concept. It is a false and degrading caricature. As a consequence, many people with pro-life beliefs are reluctant to call themselves “pro-life”.  But in his landmark encyclical, The Gospel of Life, John Paul II was not afraid to use the term pro-life, rather he embraced it and identified the term pro-life with the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ.



St. Joseph, Shadow of the Heavenly Father
June 16, 2007, 6:41 pm
Filed under: Adoption, Quotes from Great Christians

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St. Joseph Shadow of the Father

Painting by Fr. William McNichols

Happy Father’s Day – June 17

St. Joseph is a model for all fathers but in a special way for those fathers who adopt. Here are three quotes from Father Faber to describe St. Joseph:

“He stood to Jesus visibly in the place of the Eternal Father”

“Shadow of the heavenly Father.”

“Meek and gentle, blameless and loving, as St. Joseph was, it is not possible to think of him without extreme awe, because of that shadow of identity with the Eternal Father which belongs to him, and hides him from our sight even while it presents him to our faith.”

St. Joesph adopted Jesus when He was still an unborn baby! All adoptive parents – and especially adoptive fathers – have a special connection with St. Joseph. St. Joseph gave Jesus a place in society, he took care of him and in a special way was ‘the shadow of the Heavenly Father” for Him. God has asked you fathers who adopt to be His sheltering shadow, to stand in His place for those children who need fathers. Happy Father’s Day to all you loving fathers who see in St. Joseph a model for fatherhood.



Unborn Jesus and His Mother: A communion of two hearts
June 15, 2007, 8:23 pm
Filed under: Unborn Jesus

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The Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary – June 16

The following excerpt from the book Unborn Jesus Our Hope discusses the relationship between Unborn Jesus and His mother.

Even the physical movements of her Son within her womb, which she could feel, and later even partly observe from without, were as signs of the more profound spiritual and intellectual movements of the soul of Jesus. For His part, Jesus too was experiencing the sense of touch as He would touch the inner wall of Mary’s uterus via the thin veil of the amniotic sac. 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. There was a continuous exchange between mother and Child, not only on the physical level but at every level…

In this particular mother Child exchange it was the Child Jesus who was the dominant participant, and His mother was the frequent recipient to the extent that Mary’s life was a reflection, a magnification of the hidden, unborn Divine Life within her.



The Heart of Jesus – before birth
June 14, 2007, 10:15 pm
Filed under: Sacred Heart

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The Feast of the Sacred Heart – June 15

“This love inflamed His Heart from the first moment of His conception until His last breath and, since His resurrection, has not ceased nor will ever cease doing so.”
St. Peter Julian Eymard, S.S.S. The Real Presence

The first distinctive parts of His Body to be formed would have been the heart and head. At three weeks they were primitively functional, but by six weeks their form is clearly distinctive. Pope Pius XII has stated that from the moment of Our Lord’s conception. “The adorable Heart of Jesus Christ began to beat with a love at once human and divine after the Virgin Mary generously pronounced Her “Fiat”.” Pope Pius XII, “On Devotion To The Sacred Heart Of Jesus” (Haurietis Aquas), 63. The Love of God Incarnate did not wait for a physical human organ to join its urgent surging beat for love of us! But certainly once the physical human organ was in place it too, in perfect unison, took up this pulse of eternal love.

And so we picture the unborn baby Jesus within His mother’s womb, skin almost transparent in these early weeks of human life, and His Heart, not yet hidden by a thicker, more developed skin, but visible, actually throbbing, pulsing with divine love for us! This is the miniature reservoir of that one commodity that could purchase the salvation of the entire human race, the blood of God Himself! This Precious Blood is separate and different from His mother’s. A small delicate vial of heavenly medicine. It is a tiny Heart, but proportionately compared to the rest of its body, during the first and second months it measures up to nine times the size of the adult heart. Appropriately, the Heart of Unborn Jesus (and His head) dominated His Body: for the Incarnation is about God’s Love for us.

Not only was the Heart of Unborn Jesus proportionally large in physical size, but like that of all unborn infants it beat at a much faster rate than the adult heart (roughly twice as fast) as if to leave no doubt as to its quickening desires and designs towards the human family.

Surely Unborn Jesus had – and has – a special place in His most tiny hidden heart for today’s vulnerable unborn children.

Excerpts from Unborn Jesus Our Hope