UNBORN WORD of the day


CHRIST AT THE CENTER OF THE CULTURE OF LIFE
January 31, 2009, 5:49 pm
Filed under: Pro-life, Unborn Jesus

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From the ByzanTEENS at the March for Life this year, an icon of the Visitation, showing not only Mary and Elizabeth, but John the Baptist and Jesus in their mothers’ wombs.  Notice that John is kneeling and Jesus is blessing him. Photo and caption from Political Housewyf.

The One who is the Light of the World – Lumen Gentium – is also the ‘King’ in the Kingdom of God.

“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.” Jn 1:4-5

But what exactly is at the center of the Culture of Life? Without a doubt the Church is instrumental in creating and maintaining a Culture of life. Ultimately it is Christ who is the Centerpoint of the Culture of Life, its very Source.

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth;
we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father…
And from his fullness have we all received, grace upon grace.” Jn 1:14,16

The Culture of Life is a moral compass for the world of today. And our modern world desperately needs this compass! Christ asks each Christian each day; “Will you hold up this moral compass for your neighbor to see, for your community in its turbulent and often misguided searching?”

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid.
Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand,
and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men…” Mt 5:14-16

Yet the Source of this Life, the Source of this Light is Christ! If you look carefully, ‘midst the Glory and the Grace of it all, you will see a young pregnant woman standing in the glistening shadows of God. She is Mary, and within her womb – at the very Heart of the Culture of Life – is the Unborn Christ Child, hands outstretched, His tiny hidden heart rapidly pulsing with Love…merciful…redeeming…purifying…Love!

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Oldest Madonna della Misericordia in Venice, dated circa 1325  detail Academia, by Paolo Veneziano



The Unborn State Is Sanctified By Unborn Jesus
January 27, 2009, 12:25 am
Filed under: Pro-life, Unborn Jesus

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Anonymous Prato, Madonna of childbirth, Prato, Museo dell’Opera del Duomo

By coming into the world as a little unborn baby, and living that existence for nine months, Jesus sanctified the unborn state and the relationship between the unborn child and his parents, particularly the relationship with his mother. Day after day, month by month Jesus was nothing but an insignificant unborn baby. He chose this restricted unborn life to show the depths of God’s love for us. Perhaps the world can not understand nor appreciate it, but we Christians must!

The modern world would have us judge unborn babies superficially by our limited abilities of observation; what we can observe them doing, learning, achieving and mastering. Not so with God. He sees us for who we are, rather than what we can or can not do. As the philosophical maxim states; “action follows being”. When God appeared to Moses He revealed His identity by stating: “I AM WHO AM.” So too, it is more important that we discover Who Unborn Jesus is rather than what things He might have done as an unborn baby.

And the same is true for all unborn babies. God designed “personhood” to be a secret core mystery of life to be discovered by oneself and others on nature’s terms, not ours. God hides the “unborn person” in the womb, almost in a suspended state of love that is, suspended between God’s creative love for the new creature and the mother’s nurturing love until the beauty of the infant’s physical development is sufficient to reflect the fullness of the infant soul. As one professor of pastoral theology has noted “awe is intrinsic to parenting”. Months of waiting contributes to the sense of awe that parents experience through pregnancy and birth. And awe is also an essential element in respecting human life as both gift and blessing.

Parents who, respecting nature and nature’s God, patiently wait for the birth of their child, grow themselves in that very virtue patience that they will need most in the upbringing of the child. The “unborn person” is literally a “buried treasure” of personhood and personality but, like wine, needs to age. Such a respectful attitude was that held by Mary and Joseph during the months of the second and third trimesters. It should be the attitude of all expectant parents.

From Unborn Jesus Our Hope by George Peate,



THE LORD is WITH Thee
January 24, 2009, 2:48 am
Filed under: Biblical Reflections

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Accademia, by Jacobello del Fiore

The Lord is with thee. These words were often said of or to those to whom God was about to entrust some special work.

God told Abraham that he would be with him when made his covenant with him “Abram tell flat on his face. And God said to him: “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. Genesis 17:2-4

He was “with Joseph ” while he was in Putiphar’s prison, preparing him for the great work of serving the nation during the famine. “But the LORD was with Joseph and extended kindness to him, and gave him favor in the sight of the chief jailer.” (Gen. 39. 21.)

“I will be with thee,” God said to Moses at the burning bush, when He told him that it was he who was to bring the children of Israel out of Egypt. “I will be with you; and this shall be your proof that it is I who have sent you: when you bring my people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this very mountain.” (Ex. 3 12.)

And to Joshua, who had to bring the chosen people into the promised land, He said : “As I have been with Moses, so I will be with thee… Fear not, and be not dismayed: because the Lord thy God is with thee in all things whatsoever thou shalt go to.” (Jos. 1. 5,9.)

The Lord is with thee, O most valiant of men.” This was the message the angel brought to Gideon at the threshing floor, for he was to leave his wheat and go to deliver God’s people from idolatry and from their enemies. (Jud. 6. 12.)

In the New Testament there are two instances where these special words are spoken.   They are the last words Jesus said  to the Apostles before he ascended into Heaven. These are the words that accompanied His commission to send them out to bring the Good News to the world. “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

And they are among the first words spoken to Mary:

“And now when Mary is being singled out for the greatest work that was ever entrusted to any child of Adam that of being the Mother of Him Who was to save not one nation only, but the whole world, God sends an Archangel and bids him say to her : ‘The Lord is with thee.’ (Lk. 1:28 ) God was with Mary always; but now all three Persons of the Blessed Trinity are to be with her in a very special way, to enable her to co-operate with God’s designs for her.”  From Mater Christi by Mother St. Paul, 1920.



JANUARY 22 IN AMERICA
January 22, 2009, 1:45 am
Filed under: Incarnation, Poems, Pro-life

January 22 In America

It’s “that day” again.
Like any other day except…
From the bench they attacked us,
Those Solomon impostors
Knowing not when to cease.
Their wisdom aborted, their justice inept.
Morality’s sweet milk tainted-
The sacred standard of life succumbed.
Even the children seem lifeless today.

But on the horizon lies March twenty-five.
The feast of all hope and Christ alive!
His Incarnation to answer “bad justice” –
God’s Child is with us!
And in nine months only
We can embrace this tiny mercy.
December twenty-five, I will bend my knee
With the true wise men three,
Not to man’s injustice, but to a little baby.

By George A. Peate

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The most meaningless statement in the world!
January 21, 2009, 9:32 am
Filed under: Pro-life

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Pontius Pilate washing his hands

“I am personally opposed to abortion, but…”

Thousands of politicians around the world over the last number of decades, since the legalization of abortion, have borrowed heavily from the game plan of Pontius Pilate:

Pilate “took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, ‘I am innocent of this righteous man’s blood; see to it yourselves’ (Mt 27:24). Translation 2,000 years later: “I am innocent of this righteous unborn baby’s blood; exercise your freedom of choice”.

Two days before the inauguration, our local Ventura County, CA newspaper, The Star, featured a front page article about Catholic, Doug Kmiec, the one time conservative Republican, turned avid Obama supporter. The paper portrayed him as a visionary and martyr for truth. Quoting Kmiec about the rejection he has been receiving from conservatives: “We’re instructed as Christians to turn the other cheek. When the cheek keeps getting whacked, you feel the sting”.

On the abortion issue, Kmiec – who appeared a few months ago at the local Catholic seminary in a widely publicized event at which he was the only featured speaker – defends Obama: “Though Obama supports a woman’s right to choose, he’s personally opposed to abortion, Kmiec said…”

In this “personal opposition” Obama joins a long line of infamous “Christian” politicians before him who have freely chosen to write the unborn off! Enter Joe Biden, who has served 36 years in the Senate, presiding over the massive assault on the unborn from his safe Senate seat, while his conscience took a back seat. (It should be noted that he was first sworn into the Senate on January 3, 1973 – just 20 days before the Supreme Court legalized abortion.)

But few can equal the audacious unrepentant Obama, as when he flippantly told moderator Rev. Rick Warren at Saddleback Church during the Presidential Campaign “That’s above my pay grade” in response to the question about when human life begins. A debater’s slight-of-tongue! A false humility, behind which the cagey debater can dodge momentarily! Claiming ignorance as a cover for one’s duplicitous acts! Reading between the lines: if it is above his “pay grade”, and he’s going to be President of the United States then no one else should presume to know the answer either! In other words, “it’s above everyone’s pay grade” so it can’t be known, and no one is culpable. Treacherous trickery!



PART THREE – PSALM 23 “THOU PREPAREST A TABLE BEFORE ME”
January 15, 2009, 9:55 pm
Filed under: Biblical Reflections, Prayer, Pro-life

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We consider now the last two verses of this beautiful Psalm, verses 5-6.

In the early Church, Psalm 23 was associated with the three sacraments of initiation: Baptism – verse 2 “beside the still waters”, Confirmation – verse 5 “thou anointest my head with oil”, Eucharist – verse 5 “Thou preparest a table before me”. Further, it even seemed to comment on one’s new life in the Church and one’s promised life hereafter: “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (verse 6). It seems like a prophetic Ecclesiastical Psalm.

But let’s step back and look at two other simple themes running through this Psalm: the Path of Righteousness and the Will of God.

THE PATH OF RIGHTEOUSNESS: “he leadeth me” (v.2), “he leadeth me” (v.3), “in the paths of righteousness” (v.3), “I walk…thou art with me” (v.4), “shall follow me” (v.6). Psalm 23 describes a journey of faith, a journey along a path which leads us to a place; the Church. Nature reveals God’s creative hand to us (v.2), but proceeding we experience the tender hand of God as “He restoreth my soul” (v.3) and then comforts me (v.4). By the time we arrive at His Eucharistic liturgy, “He preparest a table before me” (v.5), almost like a servant – reminding us of Jesus washing the feet of His apostles at the Last Supper. And Jesus did prepare the table for them at that last supper as He changed the bread into His Body and the wine into His Blood – this was thoughtful loving preparation. So the “waters” of verse 2 have now been changed into wine “my cup runneth over”, and within the Church, into His blood. “He prepares the mystical table” as the early Church Father, St. Gregory of Nyssa, commented concerning verse 5.

THE WILL OF GOD: “The Lord is my shepherd” tells us right away that we are sheep who must follow the Shepherd’s “will”. It is His tender-hearted will that we rest and eat in “green pastures” and rest and drink “the still waters” (v.2) because He intends to “restoreth” our souls. He wills that we represent Him even within the “valley of the shadow of death” (v.4) – today read “valley of the culture of death”. He protects us by being with us; “for thou art with me” (v.4). He is strong and mighty, inspiring His flock to witness to the truth of His Culture of Life “for his name’s sake” (v.3). Verses 5-6 speak of the abundant blessings which the Lord intends for us; sacramentally, mystically, eternally, first in this world, then in the next. “Mercy and goodness shall follow me” within the Mystical Body of Christ, as God wills.

The Good Shepherd also entrusted Peter with this shepherding tradition and mandate: “Feed my lambs”, “Tend my sheep”, “Feed my sheep” (Jn 21:15,16,17).



PART TWO – PSALM 23 “I WILL FEAR NO EVIL”
January 12, 2009, 2:05 pm
Filed under: Biblical Reflections, Prayer, Pro-life, The Incarnation

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The second of three reflections on Psalm 23, considers verse 4.

The last line of verse 3 – “he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name sake” – brings us to “walking the walk” in verse 4:

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”

Are we surprised that righteousness has led us into a certain element of risk and danger? Confronting evil in the world has become difficult. 21st century consequences – that is, problematic and unexpected ones – are now multiplying. What seemed simple has become much more complicated, partly due to the sins and weaknesses of the Good Shepherd’s followers, and partly due to the moral shambles of modern civilization.

We are walking through the sinister valley of the “culture of death”! But God is with us – that changes everything! “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Rom 5:20). So the Christian, that is, the follower of the Good Shepherd, should not be afraid. Just stay close to Him, don’t wander off…

King David, the author of this Psalm, was a shepherd and later a king. Christ the Lord is also both Shepherd and King. But when Christ was coming into the world it was an awesome fearsome thing. First, the Archangel Gabriel appeared to the priest Zechariah. His first words were: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah…(Lk 1:13). Then Gabriel appeared to Mary: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!…Do not be afraid, Mary…(Lk 1:28,30). Later, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream: “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife…(Mt 1:20). And finally in the hills of Bethlehem an angel of the Lord came to the shepherds watching their flocks: “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy…(Lk 2:10).

He is Emmanuel, which means “God is with us” (Isa 7:14). So, as verse 4 tells us: “I will fear no evil: for (God) art with me”…God is with us.

“Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me”. The shepherd’s rod and staff remind us of the prophecy that the Messiah would come from the tribe of Judah: “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs” (Gen 49:10). The rod (scepter-like) is for exercising power by striking an enemy, defending against evil. The staff is for steadying one on his journey, leaning upon it for comforting rest.

So the Messiah would be Emmanuel, “God with us”, a Shepherd King guiding and protecting us. His sign is a cross of two beams, much like a rod and staff intersecting and fastened together.With the cross He has already defeated death and evil.  From our 21st century vantage point we look out to Nazareth and Bethlehem and we see Him coming: The Shepherd King of the Culture of Life.

See also: Another reflection on Psalm 23.



PART ONE – PSALM 23 “HE LEADS ME BESIDE STILL WATERS”
January 9, 2009, 11:14 pm
Filed under: Biblical Reflections, Prayer, The Incarnation

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The first of three reflections on Psalm 23, considers verses 1-3.

In one of his great Messianic outpourings, Isaiah told us that the Messiah would be “like a shepherd”: feeding his flock, gently leading them, gathering them in his arms and holding them “in his bosom” (Isa 40:11). So when we read “The Lord is my shepherd” we are to picture the tenderhearted Christ who once told His followers “I am the good shepherd” (Jn 10:11). In verse 3 of the Psalm we read that the shepherd “leadeth me in the paths of righteousness”. Jesus alluded to this when He described the good shepherd: “…the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out…he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice” (Jn 10:2-4). So Jesus the good shepherd leads us in the paths of righteousness, into all good.

When we read about the green pastures, first we should appreciate the fact that these are “His pastures”, but for our benefit. St. Cyril of Alexandria, an early Church Father, says the pastures are “the ever-fresh words of Holy Scripture, which nourishes the hearts of believers and gives them spiritual strength”.

But to my mind, perhaps the key to this entire Psalm is found in the following words: “He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul” (Ps 23:2-3). Many early Church Fathers took this reference to “waters” as a reference to baptism. So, just as Jesus Himself was baptized, so He leads us along this righteous path to also be baptized “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28:18-20).

This baptism “restoreth my soul” in the proper and holy relationship it is meant to have with the Holy Trinity. These still waters, beside which we rest, are also very deep waters. That is, they are deep mystically speaking, like the waters of the Jordan River within which Jesus was baptized. When Jesus emerged from the water witnesses beheld a Trinitarian Theophany: a Dove (the Holy Spirit) came down upon Him and a Voice (the Father’s) resounded around Him: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Mt 3:13-17). We can quietly meditate beside these still waters, beside this pool of Revelation, discovering here the deep mysteries of the Holy Trinity.

Gaze again upon these still mystical waters into the mystery of the Incarnation. See how the Incarnate Unborn Jesus first meets John the Baptist when both dwelled within the deep amniotic waters of their mothers’ wombs. In this first meeting, Christ anointed the unborn baby John with His Spirit and John leaped for joy (Lk 1:39-44).

The Good Shepherd leads us “beside still waters”, where we rejoice as we contemplate the deep teaching of the Holy Trinity and the Incarnation. As baptized Christians we rest here, content. Another early Church Father, St. Gregory of Nyssa, reflecting on verses 2-3 of this Psalm refers to “the pastures and fountains of doctrine”. In due course, we hear again the voice of the Good Shepherd: “…whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (Jn 4:14).



“God became an embryonic person …”
January 7, 2009, 12:13 am
Filed under: Saints, Unborn Jesus

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Andrea di Bartolo from Jesi, Platytera as Madonna Madonna della  Misericordia, Ostrense Belvedere, Church of Our Lady of Mercy:

The new Vatican  document Dignitas Personae refers to Christ’s identification with humanity but also points out that his identification began in the womb. Here are two beautiful quotes about this identification  from Deacon Keith Fournier of  Catholic Online.

“As a pre-born child, Jesus sanctified all mother’s wombs by dwelling within the temple of His beloved self-chosen mother. This is the greatest argument that Christians have against the horror of procured abortion. In an age which rejects the truths of revelation we also argue from the truth of reason, the Natural Law. However for those who believe that Jesus the Redeemer lived, ruled and reigned as King in that Holy womb, the evil of the taking of innocent human lives through abortion comes into focus. The latest instruction from the Holy See entitled ‘The Dignity of Persons’ speaks of  ‘Embryonic Persons’. God became an embryonic person and has forever identified with these smallest members of our human family.” The Dignity of the Person’: The Catholic Church, Defender and Champion of Life by Deacon Keith Fournier

“As we move closer to the Day when those who bear the name Christian will commemorate the Nativity of the Lord, let us remember the incredible truth revealed in the Mystery which we will celebrate, there was a Redeemer in the Womb. The Incarnate Word became one of us, at every stage. In fact, Jesus was an ’embryonic person’, to use the salient phrase taken from this newest Vatican document, and is forever identified with all embryonic persons.” Merry Christmas: Incarnate Love is Born Today by Deacon Keith Fournier



The Dignity of Persons in the embryonic state
January 6, 2009, 1:07 am
Filed under: Medical/Bioethical Issues, The Incarnation

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Statue based on the original pro-life monument in Mosta, unveiled by His Excellency, Dr Edward Fenech Adami , the President of Malta in March 2006

On December 12, 2008 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published its instruction on certain bioethical questions, entitled Dignitas Personae. Throughout the document there are wonderful quotes about Christ’s identification with humanity and unborn children. Here are three examples.

“In the face of this manipulation of the human being in his or her embryonic state, it needs to be repeated that God’s love does not differentiate between the newly conceived infant still in his or her mother’s womb and the child or young person, or the adult and the elderly person. God does not distinguish between them because he sees an impression of his own image and likeness (Gen 1:26) in each one…

“In the mystery of the Incarnation, the Son of God confirmed the dignity of the body and soul which constitute the human being. Christ did not disdain human bodiliness, but instead fully disclosed its meaning and value: ‘In reality, it is only in the mystery of the incarnate Word that the mystery of man truly becomes clear'”

At every stage of his existence, man, created in the image and likeness of God, reflects the face of his Only-begotten Son… This boundless and almost incomprehensible love of God for the human being reveals the degree to which the human person deserves to be loved in himself, independently of any other consideration – intelligence, beauty, health, youth, integrity, and so forth. In short, human life is always a good, for it ‘is a manifestation of God in the world, a sign of his presence, a trace of his glory’ (Evangelium vitae, 34).”

Dignitas Personae was published to give the Catholic Church’s teaching concerning the new technologies that relate to the unborn in our very confused Brave New World. Click here to read the document.

Here are some of the topics discussed at some length in the text:

Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)
Freezing embryos
The freezing of oocytes
The reduction of embryos
Preimplantation diagnosis
New forms of interception and contragestation (abortive birth control)
Gene therapy
Human cloning
The therapeutic use of stem cells
Attempts at hybridization (the admixture of human and animal genetic elements)
The use of human “biological material” of illicit origin

To read a one page synopsis from the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops click here. This synopsis gives a brief overview of the topics listed below.

Ethical fertility treatments
Embryo adoption
Pre-implantation drugs and devices.
Gene therapy
Genetic enhancement/designer babies.
Human/animal hybrid embryos
Considers the challenge faced by researchers and families arising from the proposed use of unethically obtained cells and tissues.

In tomorrow’s post  we will have two beautiful quotes about pre-born Jesus from Deacon Keith Fournier of  Catholic Online that touch on this new document.



The Divine Person in her womb – His Holy Name in her heart
January 2, 2009, 4:55 pm
Filed under: Biblical Reflections, The Incarnation, Unborn Jesus

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Fra Angelico – The Annunciation, detail of the Virgin

Saturday, Jan.  3, 2009 is the Feast day of The Most Holy Name of  Jesus. The Archangel Gabriel was sent on a mission to deliver a message to the Virgin Mary who lived in Nazareth (Lk 1:26-38). A key component of that message was the Name of the Messiah, a further installment in the prophetic revelations through the millennia concerning the identity of the Messiah. Previously, the revelations and prophecies had been getting more and more specific as the year of his advent approached.

God the Father spoke to Adam and Eve  about the Messiah (Gen 3:15). As centuries unfolded, so too the mystery of the Messiah unfolded. It was revealed – He would be from the tribe of Judah. It was revealed – He would be born in Bethlehem. It was revealed – He would be a descendant of King David.

But now, in these last days – actually moments before the Incarnation of the Son of God – His Holy Name was revealed – to one trusted custodian: “you shall call his name Jesus”. Here we must pause and reflect on Mary’s state of soul. The Angel departs, the Holy Spirit comes upon her, the power of the Most High overshadows her, and after all is said and done, she is left alone (almost), to marvel, with a handful of words in her heart which break open the sacred mystery of the Messiah:

“Do not be afraid”
“Son of the Most High”
“His kingdom”
“holy, the Son of God”
Jesus

Of these five “words”, the first and the last are the most “personal” with respect to Mary’s human heart: “Do not be afraid, Mary…” and “JESUS”, her baby’s name.

Jesus” was a special name; the fruit of God’s Heart. A name with a message, it means “Yahweh is salvation”. But uppermost in Mary’s mind was that this was her child’s name. She would have repeated it, interiorly, with great frequency…out of love, out of reverence and awe, in thanksgiving and with expectation.

After the Holy Spirit revealed the “Divine” pregnancy of Mary to Elizabeth, it was now Mary’s privilege to announce to Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah the name of the Messiah; “Jesus”(Lk 1:39-56). This holy couple represented the “remnant” of Israel who faithfully awaited the fulfillment of God’s promises through the coming of the Messiah. So to them Mary revealed the Most Holy Name of Jesus. Later, the name was also revealed to Joseph.

For nine sacred months this name was pondered within this Mother’s Heart. She held the Divine Person in her womb and His Holy Name in her heart. Both hidden from the world until the proper time. Decades later,  St. Paul would say of this “name”, that it was “the name which is above every name” (Phil 2:9). But for Mary, it was simply the most beautiful name she had ever heard or spoken.