UNBORN WORD of the day


nine months to pray that unborn children are winners in the election
February 14, 2008, 1:18 am
Filed under: Prayer, Pro-life

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The election this November will address many serious issues – probably the most important of these is the abortion issue.

The election is roughly nine months from now. And during the next nine months we can remind ourselves often of the plight of the unborn and pray for their rights .

Nine months, of course, symbolizes for pro-lifers that sacred period ordained by God for each unborn child to grow and develop according to the plan of God.

Let us pray that unborn children will be the real winners in this election – that is that their rights will become better understood and more fully protected through the political (and judicial) process.

During the next nine months we can show solidarity for the unborn in various ways – particularly by surrounding them with our love and praying fervently for their rights during this election cycle.

Happy St. Valentine’s feast day!



Signs of Hope
February 13, 2008, 12:18 am
Filed under: Evangelium Vitae, Pro-life

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“You have come to the sprinkled blood” (cf. Heb 12: 22, 24): signs of hope and invitation to commitment.

Here are a few quotes from the Gospel of Life where John Paul II reminds us to have hope:

“The blood of Christ, while it reveals the grandeur of the Father’s love, shows how precious man is in God’s eyes and how priceless the value of his life….”

“It is from the blood of Christ that all draw the strength to commit themselves to promoting life. It is precisely this blood that is the most powerful source of hope, indeed it is the foundation of the absolute certitude that in God’s plan life will be victorious. ‘And death shall be no more’, exclaims the powerful voice which comes from the throne of God in the Heavenly Jerusalem (Rev 21:4)….”

“In effect, signs which point to this victory are not lacking in our societies and cultures, strongly marked though they are by the “culture of death….”

“Unfortunately it is often hard to see and recognize these positive signs, perhaps also because they do not receive sufficient attention in the communications media….”

 

Here are signs of hope for the Pro-life movement:

1. We all know that more states are passing Pro-life legislation. Each year Americans United for Life has an annual report on the progress made: Changing Law to Protect Human Life, State by State.

2. There are more Pro-life Pregnancy Crisis Centers in the U.S. than abortion providers. In an a pro-abortion article in the Palm Beach Post called The New War on Abortion it states:

“Abortion opponents are running thousands of centers, called crisis pregnancy centers — dispensing everything from baby clothes to free ultrasound pictures to prayer. There are as many as 4,000 crisis pregnancy centers in the U.S. and about 130 in Florida.

By comparison, about 1,800 centers in the U.S. provide abortions.”

3. Pro-lifers are coming up with new and innovative ways to bring the Pro-life message to our country. Here are four examples:

Truth Booth TruthBooths” are kiosks or carts set up at local malls showing 3D and 4D ultrasound images of babies in the womb.

Bound4Life A group of young people who stand before abortion clinics, courts and other public places praying and fasting in silence with red duct tape across their mouths. On the duct tape is written only one word: LIFE

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Silent No More The Silent No More Awareness Campaign is an effort to make the public aware of the devastation abortion brings to women, men, and their families. Women and Men whose lives have been affected by abortion speak out.

Crossroads Young people walking across America to save lives.

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4. Embryonic stem cell research alternative:

As we have all heard scientists in Japan and Wisconsin were able to create embryonic-like stem cells from skin cells without the destruction of human life.

Here are two interesting quotes from articles on this subject:

Scientist at Work | Shinya Yamanaka
Risk Taking Is in His Genes

“When I saw the embryo, I suddenly realized there was such a small difference between it and my daughters,” said Dr. Yamanaka, 45, a father of two and now a professor at the Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences at Kyoto University. “I thought, we can’t keep destroying embryos for our research. There must be another way.”

After years of searching, and at times almost giving up in despair, Dr. Yamanaka may have found that alternative. Last month, his was one of two groups of researchers that independently announced they had successfully turned adult skin cells into the equivalent of human embryonic stem cells without using an actual embryo…

And just this week scientists at UCLA have replicated this research -Here is what one of the scientists at UCLA had to say about this research:

Kathrin Plath, an assistant professor of biological chemistry at UCLA and lead author of the study, told the Daily Breeze that the stem cells they created “were virtually indistinguishable from human embryonic stem cells.” “We’re very excited about the implications of this,” she said. Full story at LifeNews.com.

There are many more new signs of hope but we thought we would highlight a few – we all need a dose of hope.

 

 



WHEN IT COMES TO PRAYER – SOMETIMES GOD CHEATS
February 10, 2008, 11:22 pm
Filed under: Evangelium Vitae, Quotes from Great Christians, Saints

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The Seventh Way of Prayer – St. Dominic
While praying, he (St. Dominic) was often seen to reach towards heaven like an arrow which has been shot from a taut bow straight upwards into the sky.*

Towards the end of the Gospel of Life, John Paul II gives us an important reminder about “prayer” and fasting. He does this to help us be properly prepared for the Pro – Life battle:

“Jesus himself has shown us by his own example that prayer and fasting are the first and most effective weapons against the forces of evil (cf. Mt 4:1-11). As he taught his disciples, some demons cannot be driven out except in this way (cf. Mk 9:29). Let us therefore discover anew the humility and the courage to pray and fast so that power from on high will break down the walls of lies and deceit: the walls which conceal from the sight of so many of our brothers and sisters the evil of practices and laws which are hostile to life.”

Notice in the above quote John Paul II points out the need for “humility and courage to pray and fast”. This reminds me of a sermon given by St. Francis de Sales on March 29, 1615 regarding “The Spirit of Prayer”. Here is an excerpt:

“for do you not see how a marksman with a crossbow, when he wishes to discharge a large arrow, draws the string of his bow lower the higher he wants it to go? Thus must we do when we wish our prayer to reach Heaven; we must lower ourselves by the awareness of our nothingness. David admonishes us to do so by these words: When you wish to pray, plunge yourself profoundly into the abyss of your nothingness that you may be able afterward, without difficulty, to let your prayer fly like an arrow even up to the heavens. [Cf. Ps. 130:1-2; Sir. 35:21].”

De Sales compares prayer to the shooting of an arrow “up to the heavens”. I would like to ask if we shoot our prayer up to God in Heaven, exactly what are we aiming at? His Heart perhaps? Imagine, if you will, a target in Heaven like that used by a common archer here below. We supplicants, weary and wayward as we are, shoot our prayer heavenward but the target seems to elude us – except that God hears our prayer before we say it and he sees that arrow before it is released. God moves that heavenly target so that it meets the arrow – your arrow – your prayer is mercifully heard by God, your prayer is lovingly received by God. God cheats sometimes because of our incapacity. What we lack He makes up for in Mercy.

*Taken from the Nine Ways of Prayer – the Nine Ways of Prayer was written by an anonymous Bolognese author, sometime between A.D. 1260 and A.D. 1288, whose source of information was, among other followers of St. Dominic, Sister Cecilia of Bologna’s Monastery of St. Agnes. Sister Cecilia had been given the habit by St. Dominic himself. “The Nine Ways of Prayer” has been sometimes printed as a supplement to “The Life of St. Dominic” by Theodoric of Apoldia, though they aren’t an actual part of that work.



THE PEOPLE OF LIFE AND FOR LIFE
February 9, 2008, 1:31 am
Filed under: Evangelium Vitae

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The people of life and for life‘, that is the way John Paul II describes the Church in his prophetic Encyclical Letter Evangelium Vitae; The Gospel of Life. This identifying phrase runs through the Letter, appearing about ten times. According to John Paul this is a distinct and powerful charism of the Church in our time and must continue to be. As we have mentioned before in our UNBORNWORDoftheday, John Paul was not ashamed or embarrassed to identify himself, along with the Church, as “Pro-Life“. In fact, he used this term a number of times in The Gospel of Life with dignity, honor and conviction.

“We are the people of life because God, in his unconditional love, has given us the Gospel of life and by this same Gospel we have been transformed and saved.” #79

“To all the members of the Church, the people of life and for life, I make this most urgent appeal, that together we may offer this world of ours new signs of hope, and work to ensure that justice and solidarity will increase and that a new culture of human life will be affirmed, for the building of an authentic civilization of truth and love.” #6

“The ‘people of life‘ rejoices in being able to share its commitment with so many others. Thus may the ‘people for life’ constantly grow in number and may a new culture of love and solidarity develop for the true good of the whole of human society.” #101

“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.” #101



40 DAYS OF LENT, 40 WEEKS OF PREGNANCY, 40 YEARS OF WANDERING
February 7, 2008, 12:17 am
Filed under: Biblical Reflections, Pro-life

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In yesterday’s post we talked about the number 40 (Noah, Moses, Jesus and so on).

But we didn’t mention all of the forty-something episodes. There are more than one would expect. (For example, the prophet Elijah was sent by God to Mount Horeb which was a 40 day journey; I Kg 19:8).

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Interestingly, often the 40 days (or years) is linked to a journey or a time of enduring. So we were appropriately stunned today when one of our Newsletter subscribers (Thanks M_____!) pointed out that a pregnancy is typically 40 weeks long (actually the normal range is 38 to 42 weeks). This is fascinating when one considers that our faith holds up for us the 40 years the people of Israel wandered in the desert and the 40 days that Jesus spent in the wilderness as critical periods of formation for a people and a Person. So, in pregnancy we see that every growing unborn/preborn human is specially “formed” for his or her mission in life in those first 40 weeks. And the mother experiences a challenge also (Thanks Eve!).

The unborn baby and the mother are undergoing a primordial preparation TOGETHER! This is an incredible aspect of pregnancy, too obvious sometimes to appreciate, that mother and child together are striving towards a shared goal at the end of the 40 weeks. Both persons – in their bodies and in their souls – are being formed, prepared, challenged. God wants to help the woman through this time by providing her with the example of Christ (in the wilderness for 40 days) and also with a “communion of saints” of Israelites who endured the famous 40 year trek and all women past and present who have gone through this journey of pregnancy.

To carry a baby for 40 weeks and then give birth to him or her is a near mystical experience. During this 40 weeks of preparation, God heaps upon the woman opportunities to discover life’s tender and timeless mysteries. And for the unborn baby, well, Unborn Jesus is watching over this little one in supernatural solidarity!

Finally, the Pope’s Lenten Message (2008) can speak to the pregnant woman’s heart, for pregnancy, like Lent, is a “process of interior renewal” which “stimulates us to rediscover the mercy of God” and can help us to “learn to make of our lives a total gift”. Benedict reminds us that: “When we do things out of love, we express the truth of our being; indeed, we have been created not for ourselves but for God and our brothers and sisters (cf. 2 Cor 5,15).”



Moses, Mary and the Burning Bush
February 6, 2008, 12:16 am
Filed under: Biblical Reflections, Incarnation

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Today is Ash Wednesday – the first day of Lent. Forty is a number used often in the Bible and is the reason that Lent has 40 days (Sunday’s don’t count). In Noah’s time it rained for 40 days and nights, the people of Israel wandered in the desert for 40 years, Moses was on Mount Sinai for 40 days and most importantly Jesus fasted in the wilderness for 40 days.

In the Acts of the Apostles we are told that, after Moses fled Egypt he was in the land of Midian for 40 years: “And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the desert of mount Sinai, an angel in a flame of fire in a bush.” (Acts 7:30) So Moses was prepared by God for 40 years before the Burning Bush event, the turning point in his life and a turning point in human history.

But did you know that the Burning Bush has often been seen as a symbol of Mary who carried God within her womb?

“The bush, then (as some hold) is a prefiguration of the Virgin Mary since she made the Savior blossom forth, like a rose growing out of the bush of her human body; or rather, because she brought forth the power of the divine radiance without being consumed by it. Hence we read in Exodus: ‘The Lord appeared to Moses in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush; and looked and behold the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed’ (Ex 3:2) ” Rabanus Maurus (Benedictine Monk d. 780)

St. Gregory, the fourth century Bishop of Nyssa, seems to have been the first to connect the idea of Moses and the burning bush to Mary, the mother of Jesus. Gregory wrote in his On the Birth of Christ that as the bush was in flames, but not consumed, so Mary had God present inside her and was not consumed.

In Eastern Christian tradition the Burning Bush is seen as a symbol of Mary – The burning bush appeared to Moses in Exodus 3:2. In the song of The Burning Bush sung during the month of Kiahk (the fourth month of the Coptic calendar between December 10 and January 8 ) they say:

The burning bush seen by Moses
The prophet in the wilderness
The fire inside it was aflame
But never consumed or injured it.
The same with the Theotokos Mary
Carried the fire of Divinity
Nine months in her holy body.

Again it was said of Christ that He is a “consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29). The fire burning inside the bush is a symbol of Christ and the bush itself symbolizes the Virgin.

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Triptych of the Burning Bush, by Nicolas Froment, in Aix Cathedral



God is a child, the world ignores, heaven adores.
February 5, 2008, 12:44 am
Filed under: Quotes from Great Christians, Unborn Jesus

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In honor of Cardinal de Bérulle who was born on February 4, 1575 we want to devote today’s post to him. He was the founder of the French School of Spirituality. The French School of Spirituality was a principle devotional influence within the Catholic Church, from the mid 17th Century through the mid 20th Century, not only in France but throughout the world.

Cardinal de Bérulle was friends with St. Vincent de Paul and St. Francis de Sales. In fact, St. Vincent de Paul was very influenced by Bérulle and once said of him,”he was one of the holiest men I have ever known”. Another saint, St. John Eudes, considered Cardinal de Bérulle to be one of his models of the spiritual life.

Cardinal Bérulle wrote extensively on the Unborn Christ Child. Here are two beautiful quotes. The first quote 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.”

“There are three states of Jesus that deserve singular and daily consideration: in the womb of the Father as Son of God, God of God, consubstantial and equal with his Father; in the womb of the Virgin as Son of Man, both man and God, the Mediator of God and men; in the womb of the Church, which is his center and altar, as Lamb of God and victim of praise and propitiation, which she (the Church) presents to the Father.”