Filed under: Pro-life
Agitation for abortion-on-demand in the United States revved up in the 1960’s and by 1967 at least one pro life group had been established in Colorado. There were definitely valiant informal pro-life efforts earlier than 1967, but as to formal organizations, we are not aware of any group before 1967.
So it has been 42 years of organized struggle on behalf of the unborn and others whose right to life has been challenged and stripped away. 42 years of prophetic Pro-Life witness in America. These have been 42 tough years as society has slid headlong down a slope – once described as slippery, now a slope no longer, but simply a chasm, a culture of death, embraced by a majority of politicians and other dubious leaders, and wildly promoted by the mainstream media.
The prophetic witness of the Pro-Life movement shares in the inspiration of John the Baptist, who while yet an unborn baby bore witness to the Unborn Christ Child by leaping for joy in his mother’s womb (Lk 1:41-44)! So the prophetic voice of the Pro-Life / Culture of Life message is a childlike voice, reflecting a childlike spirit and a child-friendly heart! As the hidden child leaps in the mother’s womb, so hidden hope leavens – stirs up – the spirit of true prophetic witness within the Pro-Life heart!
Pro – Life Services to pregnant women are prophetic in 3 respects. 1.) They are offered through and with Gospel values & virtues. 2.) These are services which would normally be provided by mainstream secular health care – but are actively opposed by that industry. 3.) These services are a moral contradiction to the society in which we live, hence they are a sign of God at work.
Pro – Life Educational & Political outreach on behalf of, and to teens, pregnant women and society in general, is prophetic for numerous reasons. But we can minimally mirror the prior points made above. 1.) It is a voice born of genuine concern and respect for the right to life of unborn children and the right to basic information of society at large. 2.) It is a critical message which should be delivered by media, educators, religious leaders and others, but instead is purposely muted and distorted by these negligent bodies. 3.) It is a voice – like John the Baptist’s – of one crying out in the wilderness, a message rejected by the powerful elite, hence a sign of contradiction.
Jesus has words of encouragement to the Pro-Life movement for the year 2009:
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted…
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied…
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy…
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God…
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven…
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Mt 5:4-12).
Filed under: Christmas
Here is a beautiful quote about Christ’s birth from the Council of Trent.
“The faithful should also consider the salutary lessons which Christ at His birth teaches before he begins to speak. He is born in poverty; He is born a stranger under a roof not his own; He is born in a lonely crib; He is born in the depth of winter!
For St. Luke writes as follows: ‘And it came to pass, that, when they were there, her days were accomplished that she should be delivered, and she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him up in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn’ (Luke 2: 6,7).
Could the Evangelist have described under more humble terms the majesty and glory that filled the heavens and the earth? He does not say, there was no room in the inn, but ‘there was no room for him who says: mine is the earth and the fullness thereof. (Psalm 50:12)’ As another Evangelist has expressed it; ‘He came unto his own, and his own received him not.’ (John 1:2) …
We must also take care lest to our great injury it should happen that just as there was no room for Him in the inn at Bethlehem, in which to be born, so likewise now, after He has been born in the flesh, He should find no room in our hearts in which to be born spiritually. For since He is most desirous of our salvation, this spiritual birth is the object of His most earnest solicitude.”
Catechism of the Council of Trent For Parish Priests. Second Part of Article III, “Born of the Virgin Mary”. (Thanks to Father Paul Donlan for bringing the Council’s teaching to our attention.)
Last Sunday, the 4th Sunday of Advent, one of the alternative opening prayers for the Catholic Mass included these words: “Your eternal Word took flesh on our earth when the Virgin Mary placed her life at the service of Your plan”. I was taken by this concept of Mary “at the service of” God’s plan of salvation, that is, she was at the service of the plan to redeem you and me. Her famous response to the Archangel Gabriel “Let it be done unto me according to your word” (Lk 1:38), was a wide open acceptance of God’s will – not only for the next year or two but – for the rest of her life… And what a life!
One of the Preface prayers at the beginning of the Eucharistic Prayer (Preface of Advent II) was even more striking: “The virgin mother bore Him in her womb with love beyond all telling”. So we see in Mary this beautiful harmony of “service” and “love” –both “beyond all telling”. She was a teenager when she conceived Christ and she was on a trajectory of growing in service and love throughout her entire life. “Full of grace” before conceiving Christ, living a life of intensifying holiness, in the constant presence of God Most High made oh so tiny (in her womb).
We will never ever understand Mary unless we understand this: that she loved her unborn child with “love beyond all telling” during her first trimester, then even more so during her second trimester, and then to the breaking point during her third trimester! Her love of her son –God’s only begotten Son – simply continued to grow and deepen, grow and intensify, grow and re-define what love is and could be.
It is “love beyond all telling” because no human mind can fathom it! Think of Mary’s closeness to her baby when you think of these words from John’s Gospel: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth…And from his fullness have we all received, grace upon grace…” (Jn 1:14,16).
So Mary received grace from her baby and grew in her love for her baby and her God, and Jesus received His humanity from His mother and grew in His humanness and His solidarity with humanity. Each received from the other and grew in the gift received, mother and child.
Filed under: Christmas, Pope Benedict XVI, Quotes from Great Christians, Unborn Jesus
On this mosaic Joseph is depicted as taking the Virgin Mary to his home.
This is one of the world famous mosaic depictions of Chora museum.*
“We should like to penetrate into those remaining six months, which Mary and Joseph spent together, before the birth of the Holy Child. Scripture is silent about them, but it is not difficult for a sanctified imagination to picture something of what was taking place…
The house at Nazareth was in very deed God’s Sanctuary, containing the Altar of Repose, where the Savior of the world was resting. Angels were in constant adoration before their King. The faithful consisted of Mary and Joseph, whose thought and conversation could be about nothing else but the Child Who was coming into the world. And who shall measure the graces and blessings, which that Child was showering upon Mary and her faithful spouse, during those months of waiting and prayer and holy converse,while they planned and arranged with such care and minuteness, as parents are wont to do, every detail connected with the birth of the firstborn?” Mother St. Paul, Ortus Christi
“Joseph realized how great was the blessing which God had bestowed upon him, a poor carpenter, in decreeing that from his house and family should come the hope and salvation and remedy of all generations and that he should be guardian and putative father of the Savior and the spouse of His blessed Mother. When a heart so pure and holy sees itself enclosed and inundated by such mysteries, what must it feel? How astonished and enraptured it must be amidst such marvels and blessings, especially since the Holy Spirit usually gives to the just an experience or taste proportionate to the knowledge which He gives them. What must have been the state of Joseph’s will when his intellect was enlightened concerning the great marvels and mysteries?” Venerable Louis of Granada (1505-1588)
“In these last days of Advent the liturgy invites us to contemplate in a special way the Virgin Mary and St Joseph, who lived with unique intensity the period of expectation and preparation for Jesus’ birth. I would like today to turn my attention to the figure of St Joseph…
The beloved Pope John Paul II, who was very devoted to St Joseph, left us an awesome meditation dedicated to him in the Apostolic Exhortation Redemptoris Custos, “Guardian of the Redeemer”. Among the many aspects it highlights, particular emphasis is placed on the silence of St Joseph. His is a silence permeated by contemplation of the mystery of God, in an attitude of total availability to his divine wishes. In other words, the silence of St Joseph was not the sign of an inner void, but on the contrary, of the fullness of faith he carried in his heart, and which guided each and every one of his thoughts and actions…
Let us allow ourselves to be ‘infected’ by the silence of St Joseph! We have much need of it in a world which is often too noisy, which does not encourage reflection and listening to the voice of God. In this time of preparation for Christmas, let us cultivate interior meditation to welcome and watch over Jesus in our lives.” Pope Benedict XVI, Angelus Message, Dec. 18, 2005.
* The Chora (Museum) Monastery is located in the northwest part of Istanbul, in a district called Edirnekapi. The word “Chora”, as widely accepted, means land, country, a suburb, or suburban area, and countryside in Greek language. As the building lay outside the city walls built by emperor Constantine, it was thus named Chora. Chora also means “womb” in ancient Greek. Some historians have thought that the church might have been dedicated to Virgin Mary who gave birth to Jesus from her womb.There are two etymological approaches to the word “Chora” 1- Geographical (land, county, suburb), 2- religious and mystical (womb).
Fresco of the Annunciation at the Pantheon, Rome, 15th century
“The silence of Nazareth should teach us how to meditate in peace and quiet, to reflect on the deeply spiritual, and to be open to the voice of God’s inner wisdom and the counsel of his true teachers. Nazareth can teach us the value of study and preparation, of meditation, of a well-ordered personal spiritual life, and of silent prayer that is known only to God.”
Thirty years later, when Pope John Paul II visited Nazareth he brought forth something else Pope Paul VI had said in that 1964 homily:
“Here in the town which Pope Paul VI, when he visited Nazareth, called ‘the school of the Gospel’, where ‘we learn to look at and to listen to, to ponder and to penetrate the deep and mysterious meaning of the very simple, very humble and very beautiful appearing of the Son of God’. ” Nazareth: Pope John Paul II (homily) Solemnity of the Annunciation 25th March 2000
Filed under: Quotes from Great Christians, The Incarnation, Unborn Jesus
Interior Of The Mezquita Cathedral Virgin Mary Icon*
“He has become incarnate for me; it behooves me then to keep as close to Him as possible, to love Him with all my heart and to copy Him as far as I can.
He is God and therefore there can be nothing imperfect about Him; from the first moment of the Word being made flesh in the womb of His Mother till ‘she brought forth her first-born Son’ on Christmas day, His faculties, His reason, His intelligence, His sensibilities were all in a state of perfection; He knew the past, the present, and the future; and He, the Source of grace, was pouring forth grace on all around Him.
Directly we understand this, we feel that we must draw near, not only to adore but to sympathize, to wonder, to love, to learn, to imitate. For those who understand the Incarnation, His work did not begin on Christmas Day, but on the Feast of the Annunciation, when Mary said: ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to Thy word.’
What happened at that moment? The Holy Ghost overshadowed her, the Body of Our Lord was formed from her pure blood; God created the human Soul to dwell in it, and by the act of the Incarnation that Soul and Body became the Soul and Body of the Word, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity.
Mary became the Mother of God and Gabriel worshiped before the Tabernacle of the Word made flesh.”
From Ortus Christi:meditations for Advent (1921) by Mother St. Paul
*Detail – fresco of Virgin Mary “of the Sign”: she is carrying Jesus in her womb. This icon is found in The Mezquita of Cordoba, a Roman Catholic cathedral and former mosque, situated in the Andalusian city of Córdoba, Spain. Under the rule of Islam, it was built as the second-largest mosque in the world, and is perhaps the most accomplished monument of the Umayyad dynasty of Cordoba. After the Spanish Reconquista, it was transformed into a church, and some of the Islamic columns and arches were replaced by a basilica in early Baroque style. Today it houses the main church of the diocese of Cordoba in Spain.
Filed under: Advent, Incarnation, Quotes from Great Christians, Unborn Jesus
Mary full of Life brings light to a dark world. Photo taken by Rob Howells, Director of Development Union Gospel Mission
Recently, we did a post about this beautiful billboard, Mary Full of Life. The idea for the sculpture and billboard were developed by Valerie Aschbacher. (Click here to see the original news story about this billboard.) Valerie sent out an email about her efforts to make sure it was lit up at night. She finally succeeded but shared her thoughts about the darkness surrounding the billboard.
“Saddened by this dark experience, I had hoped Mary Full of Life would become illuminated for all to see – as a real beacon of LIGHT amongst the dark landscape in the city. This morning, the Clear Channel President has notified me – the light is working now.”
This made me think how Mary’s pregnancy and the Unborn Christ Child illuminate our dark culture of death. Karl Adam in his book The Son of God (Sheed and Ward, 1934) writes about how Christ “holy and exalted as was his nature…appeared to us in purely human form, in the dubious condition of all that is transitory and temporal.” What can be a more ‘dubious condition’ to this world than a single cell or a developing unborn baby.
Blessed Teresa of Calcutta reminded us that the poor were really Christ in a ‘distressing disguise’. In our sad world, what disguise could be more distressing than an unborn baby?
In a post entitled Life Incarnate, two views ‘the aspiring f.o.o.l.’ (an aspiring ‘friend of our Lord’) writes these beautiful lines: “He consigned Himself to a torturous life on earth so that we might see, embodied as it is, what love is.”
When I see the billboard of Mary full of Life spreading the light of Jesus unborn to the dark world beneath it, I know this is ‘what love is’ – Jesus unborn ‘in the dubious condition of all that is transitory and temporal’ – yes a beautiful yet , ‘ distressing disguise’ that this dark world needs to behold.
“In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1: 4-5)