UNBORN WORD of the day

January 9, 2009, 11:14 pm
Filed under: Biblical Reflections, Prayer, The Incarnation


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


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


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


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”

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.