15th Century Visitation sculpture from Passau. As is customary in later representations of the Visitation, Mary and Elizabeth embrace, appearing as mirror images of one another, their unborn children, Christ and John the Baptist, can be seen in the mandoria-shaped hollows of their mother’s wombs. (see detail of Christ in the womb below)
I have a Catholic hero who 99.99% of Catholics have never heard of. I have lots of heroes, but this person is particularly distinguished for several reasons, one of which is that she has faded into utter obscurity – as most of us will do. But more importantly, she developed her own great devotion to the Unborn Christ Child back in the early 1920’s and 1930’s and wrote two outstanding books about Christ: Nativitas Christi and Ortus Christi. (No doubt her devotion to the unborn Christ was derived from the spirituality and writings of the French School of Spirituality founded centuries earlier.)
At the conclusion of this reflection I will quote one sentence from Ortus Christi, in which she turns to the Unborn Christ Child within Mary’s womb and prays.
“It is I who by my great power and my outstretched arm have made the earth…” Jer 27:5
“O Lord God of hosts, who is mighty as thou art, O Lord…Thou hast a mighty arm; strong is thy hand, high thy right hand.” Psalm 89:8,13
“And the Lord will cause his majestic voice to be heard and the descending blow of his arm to be seen…” Isaiah 30:30
“The Lord has sworn by his right hand and by his mighty arm…” Isaiah 62:8
But the arm of the Lord is also associated with deliverance, as when He delivered the people of Israel from bondage in Egypt: “I will deliver you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm…” Ex 6:6
Finally, the prophet Isaiah associates the arm of the Lord with the youthful Messiah Savior: “Who has believed what we have heard? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant…” Isaiah 53:1-2
The arm of the Lord was revealed to us as a saving arm, bringing salvation through Jesus. So, even in the womb, the tiny unborn Savior’s arm represented the arm and hand of God reaching out to humanity to heal and save!
So, Mother St. Paul – a pro-life hero from the 1920’s and 1930’s – reflects on the mission of Moses and then on Isaiah’s words: “A little Child shall lead them” (Isa 11:6), then she prays to the Unborn Lord: “Oh! Come, little Saviour, come and redeem us by Thy outstretched Arm!” How humanly weak that unborn arm, yet how powerful its redemptive blessings. We too can turn to the Unborn Christ Child and beg Him to outstretch His tiny arm and work pro-life miracles in our own day.
Unborn Christ with His arm outstretched
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