UNBORN WORD of the day

June 23, 2007, 11:58 pm
Filed under: Quotes from Great Christians


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




“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



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


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.”

June 20, 2007, 11:41 pm
Filed under: The Incarnation


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


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


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.