In an article entitled: Old Town billboard of pregnant Mary aims to bear hope, Nancy Haught begins:
“An image of a very pregnant Mary, the mother of Jesus, looks down on Old Town from a billboard on West Burnside Street and Northwest Third Avenue. In the weeks before Christmas, she is a reminder of the approaching celebration of her son’s birth.” Click here to read the rest of the story.
Recently, Valerie Aschbacher, (who commissioned the sculpture and put up the billboard) got in touch with us to share her beautiful website : Mary Full of Life. In her email she said: ‘It appears Mary has been “speaking” to quite a few of us…..This artwork began in 2004.’
Click here to see this wonderful sculpture and the prayer that Valerie wrote artfully displayed and brought to life .
Let us pray.
Holy Mary, Full of Life
The Word lives within you!
Blessed are you among all generations
Divine is The Son, in your womb, Jesus.
Humble Mary, Bearer of God
Show us, your children,
How we may be born into new life.
Prayer by Valerie Aschbacher
The Visitation, panel from the St. James Altarpiece, c.1440 Bohemian School, (15th century) (Czech) tempera on panel (visitation type fetus)
“In the Eucharist the Church is completely united to Christ and his sacrifice, and makes her own the spirit of Mary. This truth can be understood more deeply by re-reading the Magnificat in a Eucharistic key. The Eucharist, like the Canticle of Mary, is first and foremost praise and thanksgiving.
When Mary exclaims: ‘My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour’, she already bears Jesus in her womb. She praises God ‘through’ Jesus, but she also praises him ‘in’ Jesus and ‘with’ Jesus. This is itself the true ‘Eucharistic attitude’.
At the same time Mary recalls the wonders worked by God in salvation history in fulfillment of the promise once made to the fathers (cf. Lk 1:55), and proclaims the wonder that surpasses them all, the redemptive incarnation.
Lastly, the Magnificat reflects the eschatological tension of the Eucharist. Every time the Son of God comes again to us in the “poverty” of the sacramental signs of bread and wine, the seeds of that new history wherein the mighty are ‘put down from their thrones’ and ‘those of low degree are exalted’ (cf. Lk 1:52), take root in the world.
Mary sings of the ‘new heavens’and the ‘new earth’ which find in the Eucharist their anticipation and in some sense their programme and plan. The Magnificat expresses Mary’s spirituality, and there is nothing greater than this spirituality for helping us to experience the mystery of the Eucharist. The Eucharist has been given to us so that our life, like that of Mary, may become completely a Magnificat!“
John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Ecclesia de Eucharistia, section 58
“Three months Mary abode in Zachary s house, and all that time the flame of communicating love abode there too, burning ever more brightly within her. What a privilege for the house of Zachary! We read in Sacred History that once “the Ark of the Lord abode in the house of Obededom the Gethite for three months; and the Lord blessed Obededom and all his household.” (2 Kings vi. 11.)
What then must have been the blessings bestowed on Zachary’s household, while Mary the ‘Ark of the Covenant’ abode there! ‘ Foederis area, ora pro nobis.’ Pray that we too may get the blessings of those who receive thee as their constant guest.” From Mater Christi : meditations on Our Lady (1920). Mother St. Paul
“Our Lady stayed with Elizabeth until John was born; that is the point of the ‘three months’; the gospel account is surely Mary’s personal recital. There were no maternity wards in those days, and Mary assisted at the birth of Elizabeth’s son.” From The Gospel Story by Ronald Knox and Ronald Cox, Sheed and Ward, 1958
What I love about this painting (see below) is that Mary is holding John the Baptist right after his birth. Of course, Jesus is also present at this birth in his mother’s womb.
The Birth of St. John the Baptist, Andrea di Nerio, c. 1350
Mary in the House of Elizabeth , Robert Anning Bell 1863-1933
“All through those blessed three months during which Mary abode with Zachary and Elizabeth, she was singing Magnificat. All through her life she sang Magnificat, even though she was the Mother of Sorrows, for the thought of God’s glory ever lifted her out of herself and made her praise Him for all He did. It was because Mary had said her Fiat that she could say her Magnificat….
…We know nothing of what went on during those three months, but we may presume that things continued as they began. It is not likely that Elizabeth said her ‘Ave’ only once, and only once spoke of the honour she considered it to have the Mother of God in her house. It is not likely that the unborn Forerunner never again saluted His Master, in Whose presence he so continually was. It is impossible to conceive that Mary sang God’s praises and her own unworthiness no more during those three months. And what about Jesus ? These were the first three months of His life on earth, and grace was surely going out from Him to His Blessed Mother first, and then to all who knew the secret.”
From Mater Christi : meditations on Our Lady (1920). Mother St. Paul
During one of his visits to Mexico, Pope John Paul II said “No Mexican should dare to victimize the precious and sacred gift of life that grows in the womb.”
Sadly enough that all changed on April 24, 2007 when the Mexico City legislature approved a bill to make abortion legal during the first three months of pregnancy. On August 28, 2008 the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) upheld the law legalizing abortion in Mexico City through 12 weeks of pregnancy, rejecting a constitutional challenge.
But according to an article entitled “A Wake-up Call” by Sean Salai in The Catholic World Report there is still a great deal of hope for Mexico. Here are some points from the article:
-“The Supreme Courts ruling merely states the city’s legislation is constitutional and makes no provision for wider legalization measures.”
-Fr. Marco Bran Flores, S.J. from Mexico states:”…Mexico City exhibits a very different cultural environment…Mexico City’s liberal reputation is almost mythical throughout the country, and contrasts sharply with the conservatism of the other big cities. This law will not easily be duplicated in other parts of Mexico.”
-Mexican Bishops have come out strongly even telling lawmakers who voted for this law that they are automatically excommunicated.
– Rosalind Villasenor, a Mexican born lay minister who conducts abstinence retreats in the U.S. and Mexico points out: “I wouldn’t consider (the law) typical, Mexico is known to be protective of its culture, faith and values. There can’t be anything more important (to Mexican) than life.”
And one other point that the article made was:
-“This law will have little effect on the rest of Mexico and will only serve to galvanize the Mexican pro-life movement.”
And that is exactly what has happened – since the March 2007 Mexico City pro-abortion law was passed there have been many demonstrations for life in Mexico. Here are links that show the Mexican people standing up for life:
Mexico City Pilgrimage to Protest Abortion Law to be Held this Sunday “Pilgrimage for the Marvelous Gift of Life,” June 22.2008
Mexican Pro-Lifers to UN: Stop Murdering our Children Organization accuses United Nations of complicity in “genocide” against Mexicans July 16, 2008
But there is even better news coming out of Mexico.
Last week, at the national meeting of the Mexican Bishops conference, they agreed to the following actions for the defense of life
- Prayer, Holy hours, Masses for life
- Teaching “Evangelium Vitae” everywhere
- Massive and permanent campaigns for life
- Promoting pro-life laws
- Creating pro-life and natural family planning committees at parish level.
Pro-lifer’s are also working hard on the political level to outlaw abortion in the rest of the country.
In order to prevent the attempt to legalize abortion at the national level Mexico needs 16 of its 31 states to protect human life in their constitutions. Since the Supreme Court ruling in August many of the Mexican States have been putting this legislation on a fast track. Following are the states that have either passed this legislation or are working on protecting human life in their constitutions:
- Sonora October, 2008 (with exceptions in case of rape, mother’s life, miscarriage)
- Baja California October, 2008 (no exceptions)
- Morelos November, 2008 (no exceptions)
- Chihuahua already had protections for life in their constitution since 1994.
- Last week the Governor of Veracruz has sent his State congress a bill to protect life from conception.
- Jalisco and Nuevo Leon, the two most important Mexican states after Mexico City, are on the verge of approving constitutional amendments that will establish the right to life of the unborn from the moment of conception.
- Also, last June Legislators in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, which borders the United States, rejected an attempt to decriminalize abortion, according to the news agency Infonorte.
- Guanajuato and Jalisco each have proposed Constitutional amendments, but they still don’t have enough votes from PRI legislators to approve them, so they are waiting.
We should be encouraged and find inspiration in the Pro-life response of the Mexican people. Please remember them in your prayers. Thanks to Marcela Vaquera for giving us current information on the situation in Mexico.
- “If God seems at times to be slow in responding, it is because he is preparing a better gift. He will not deny us. We well know that the long awaited gift is all the more precious for the delay in its being granted….Ask, seek, insist. Through the asking and seeking you will be better prepared to receive God’s gift when it comes. God withholds what you are not yet ready for. He wants you to have a lively desire for his greatest gifts. All of which is to say, pray always and do not lose heart.” St. Augustine on prayer from Sermon 61: 6-7.
- A recent Marist poll commissioned by the Knights of Columbus again showed that — when presented with clear choices in a polling question — only 8% of Americans favor abortion on demand throughout pregnancy. The poll also found that 60% of Americans favor banning all abortions, or limiting them to the rare cases of danger to the mother’s life, rape or incest. Click here for poll results.
- The Catholic Bishops pledged (at their recent November meeting) the resources of the Church to mobilize the Catholic community to oppose FOCA and all other attempts to eliminate existing pro-life laws and policies. This will include a massive education and postcard campaign beginning in January, urging members of Congress to reject the abortion extremism of FOCA.
Here are some encouraging quotes from individual Bishops attending the recent Bishop’s meeting:
- “We have lost 50 times as many children in the last 35 years as we have lost soldiers in all the wars since the Revolution. Any bishop here would be willing, would consider it a privilege, to die tomorrow if it meant ending abortion,” he said. “We should dedicate the rest of our lives to taking any kind of criticism, whatever it is, to stop this horrible genocide.” Auxiliary Bishop Robert Hermann
- Chicago Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Paprocki said FOCA would have a “significant and adverse effect” and that bishops “need to be prepared in the face of increasingly militant threats to unborn life. The next step would be for federal law to require abortions by all hospitals, including Catholic hospitals, which we cannot do,” he said. “We’d need to consider taking the drastic step of closing our Catholic hospitals completely.”
- “One cannot compromise between the fire and the fire department, the fly and the fly swatter. There are things that don’t admit of compromise – and vile … intrinsic evil such as abortion do not admit us any such compromise.” Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska
- Bishop Joseph F. Martino said the bishops must concentrate on reaching out to Catholic politicians who disagree with them, even if they have to threaten excommunication in the same way that bishops in St. Louis and New Orleans threatened segregationist Catholic officials in 1947 and 1962.
“In working for the common good of our society, racial justice is one pillar of our social doctrine. Economic justice, especially for the poor both here and abroad, is another.
But the Church comes also and always and everywhere with the memory, the conviction, that the Eternal Word of God became man, took flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary, nine months before Jesus was born in Bethlehem. This truth is celebrated in our liturgy because it is branded into our spirit. The common good can never be adequately incarnated in any society when those waiting to be born can be legally killed at choice.
If the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision that African Americans were other people’s property and somehow less than persons were still settled constitutional law, Mr. Obama would not be president of the United States. Today, as was the case a hundred and fifty years ago, common ground cannot be found by destroying the common good.”
Plenary Session Address by Cardinal George, 2008 Fall General Assembly of Bishops, Nov. 10-12.