Filed under: Biblical Reflections, How are we to honor Unborn Jesus, Pro-life, Unborn Jesus
The Annunciation by Nicolas Poussin
How did the Archangel Gabriel honor unborn Jesus:
The Archangel Gabriel honors Unborn Jesus through the profound reverence with which he announces His entrance into the world (Lk 1:5-17, 26-38).
Gabriel was sent to a nobody, who had next to nothing, and who lived in the middle of nowhere. Or so it would seem. And he came to her and said, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” Why would an angel show such reverence towards a human being? Why would Gabriel, whom the bible tells us stands “in the presence of God” (Lk.1:19), speak in this way? He himself answers the question: because she had “found favor with God” (Lk.1:30).
He also honors Unborn Jesus by the respect and adoration he shows the Unborn Word of God.
Like Gabriel we too can worship the Unborn Christ Child and show great reverence to his mother. We can also honor Unborn Jesus by the respect and reverence we give to each unborn baby made in His image and likeness and by the love and support we give to their mothers.
Filed under: Biblical Reflections, How are we to honor Unborn Jesus, Pro-life, Quotes from Great Christians, Unborn Jesus
Meeting of Mary and Elisabeth by Marx Reichlich, Austrian painter (b. 1460, Salzburg, d. 1520, Salzburg) Alte Pinakothek, Munich
Sunday was the feast of the birth of St. John the Baptist. In honor of St. John we are posting a short series entitled:
How are we to honor Unborn Jesus (and all unborn babies made in his image and likeness)?
There are countless ways to honor Christ Unborn. But one way to consider this question is to reflect on the eight people and one angel mentioned in the Gospels as particularly honoring Jesus during His 9 months in the womb. These 9 are: the Archangel Gabriel, Mary, Unborn John the Baptist, Elizabeth and Zechariah (John’s parents), Joseph and finally the 3 wise men.
We would like to start with 2 quotes about unborn John who stands in the place of all unborn babies – who in a sense is every unborn baby.
Cardinal Bérulle (1575 – 1629) wrote extensively on the Unborn Christ Child. Here he reflects on the Visitation when the unborn John the Baptist leaps with joy:
“God has become a child, and so he wants first to be known and adored by a child, and this is one of the first emanations of the childhood of God, manifesting himself to the universe. God is a child, the world ignores, heaven adores, and a child is the first person in the universe to recognize and adore him, and he does so by the homage and secret operation of God himself, who wants to act upon children. He wants to honor himself as child by giving the first knowledge of himself to a child in the world, making him his prophet in the universe. Thus the Infant-God is recognized and manifested, not by and angel, but by a child. So his first prophet is a child, just as shortly his first martyrs will be children.”
Bishop Austin Vaughan (1927-2000), Auxiliary Bishop of New York, who was arrested many times for peacefully praying and protesting in front of abortion facilities, wrote an article called “The Catholic Duty to be Pro-Life” in which he reflected:
“It is not an accident, I think, that in the Scriptures the first person, after Mary, who adored Jesus when he came into the world was St. John the Baptist…The second person who ever worshipped Jesus after Mary was an unborn baby and I think God made it that way to tell us in our day and age the worth and importance of every individual right from the very beginning of life.”
The Bishops of the U.S. are asking us to join them in prayer for our country in a campaign called the Fortnight of Freedom.
“The fourteen days from June 21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to July 4, Independence Day, are dedicated to this “fortnight for freedom”—a great hymn of prayer for our country. Our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face of persecution by political power—St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More, St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome. Culminating on Independence Day, this special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action will emphasize both our Christian and American heritage of liberty. Dioceses and parishes around the country have scheduled special events that support a great national campaign of teaching and witness for religious liberty.” From the USSCB Website.
We would like to encourage everyone to get involved. Pray, fast, call your representatives in Washington to let them know how you feel about this issue.
It is interesting to note that this fortnight of freedom began on July 21 the vigil of the feast day for both St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher who were martyred for their faith. They were martyred because they would not accept the decrees of Henry the Eighth who in order to marry Anne Boleyn made himself head of the Church of England. Neither of these men would accede to his decrees and both went to their death rather than compromise their faith. Like them we are slowly but surely facing an uphill battle for our faith today. They are models for our us.
Many people have heard about St. Thomas More – but Bishop, St. John Fisher is less well known. One of my favorite observations about St. John Fisher was made by the inspirational Father Vincent McNabb in his biography about St. John Fisher, published in 1935. He writes:
“In reading the authentic records of how the Bishop (St. John Fisher) bore himself in his bishopric we are perhaps surprised to find him praised for qualities which might be expected of any good bishop. But as there are times of general moral depression when the average layman’s practice of the ten commandments demands heroic virtue, so there are circumstances when a bishop’s fidelity to the ordinary duties of his office argues the saint.”
It seems to us that many of the 10 commandments are at the forefront of our society’s most grave battles – moral battles about the dignity and value of human life and marriage. We can see that the 10 commandments were a divine gift intended to elevate human living and direct it towards God and virtue. So today, for believers to live according to the 10 commandments, in this time of moral crisis, is no small accomplishment. Let us encourage each other continually to meet this challenge of our time, seeking opportunities to lift up these and other noble moral principles which point towards the Culture of Life. And let us pray for our families and our children an join our Bishops in this Fortnight of Freedom.
To learn more or order click here.
June 15 was the feast day of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. We are featuring a quote from Father James Kubicki, S.J – National Director of the Apostleship of Prayer.
“St. Augustine and other Fathers of the Church liked to say that Mary first received the Word into her Immaculate Heart and then conceived the Word in her womb. In this new person were joined two natures – human and divine. The loving union of God with humanity had begun in a new and wonderful way, making possible every person’s union with God. He took flesh so that he could give his flesh to save humanity and to unite his flesh with ours. The Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium) states, “By his incarnation, he, the Son of God, has in a certain way united himself with each man” (LG, 22).
Cell by cell, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, now uniting himself to our nature and our flesh, began to develop in the womb of his mother. Within 21 days his first organ appeared. His tiny physical heart began to beat under the heart of his mother. Over nine months he grew and developed as every baby does until at last he was born….His entire life on earth was a revelation of the love of God…”
Father James Kubicki, S.J. has a wonderful new book entitled A Heart on Fire – Rediscovering Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Father Kubicki is an extraordinary priest who is a frequent guest on Catholic radio and television – he is also a popular conference speaker, parish mission speaker and retreat director. Father Kubicki has been a great friend to our apostolate too – giving us support and encouragement.
A Heart on Fire is a book which will help rekindle devotion to the Sacred Heart – arguably the most important devotion for all Christians. Father Kubicki makes the Sacred Heart devotion understandable to the modern mind without downplaying its traditional beauty and power. This is an important book because understanding the love of Christ and its central role in our faith is what each Christian is truly striving to achieve. We highly recommend this book.
There is a story that St. Anthony was seen holding the Christ Child in his arms. Many images and statues of St. Anthony depict him holding the Christ Child. One variation of these images is of St. Anthony holding a Bible with the Christ Child on it. The most unusual one is El Greco’s St. Anthony. Here are 2 other images in this tradition.
Perhaps this is because St. Anthony was also known as a great preacher – and especially for his knowledge of scripture. Following are 2 quotes from St. Anthony’s sermons which pertain to the Christ Child.
“The fruit of the bee is the Son of the Virgin. Blessed is the fruit of thy womb [Lk 1.42], it says; and Canticles 2: His fruit was sweet to my palate [Cant 2.3]. This fruit is sweet in its beginning, middle and end. It was sweet in the womb, sweet in the crib, sweet in the temple, sweet in Egypt, sweet in his Baptism, sweet in the desert, sweet in word, sweet in miracles, sweet on the ass, sweet in the scourging, sweet on the Cross, sweet in the tomb, sweet in hell and sweet in heaven. O sweet Jesus, what is more sweet than you are? ‘Jesu- the very thought is sweet…sweeter than honey far.’ ”
The Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Anthony of Padua
Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son: and his name shall be called Emmanuel. [Is 7.14]
“…that is, God-with-us. This God is made a little child for us, is born for us today. There are many reasons why Christ is called a little child; and for briefness’ sake here is just one: if you hurt a child, make him cry… but then show him a flower, a rose or something like that, and after showing it give it to him- then he will not remember the hurt, he will put away his indignation and run to embrace you. In the same way, if you offend Christ by mortal sin, or inflict any kind of injury on him, but then offer him the flower of contrition or the rose of tearful confession (“Tears are the soul’s blood”), then he will not remember your offences, he will take away your guilt and run to embrace and kiss you.”
The Nativity of the Lord, St. Anthony of Padua
Annunciation Benedictine, Art Collections St. Lambrecht, Germany 18th Century, unknown artist from Styria
There are many parallels between Christ Unborn and Christ Eucharistic. Here we present just three biblically focused parallels in honor of Corpus Christi Sunday (Corpus Christi means ‘Body of Christ’).
1. The first parallel is between the words the Incarnate Christ spoke to His Father immediately upon entering the world (see Heb. 10.5-10), particularly: “Sacrifices and offerings thou hast not desired, but a body hast thou prepared for me…Lo, I have come to do thy will, O God…’” Compare this to the “words of consecration” spoken by our Lord at the passover Last Supper; “This is my body which is given for you…”, followed by the words of offering He spoke in the Garden of Gethsemane; “Father….not my will, but thine, be done.” The same human body prepared for Christ, would be offered up by Him on the cross after being truly and sacramentally presented during the Passover by Christ Himself.
2. Understanding that Mary is the Ark of the New Covenant, unfolds the second parallel for us; see Rev 11.19 -12.2. Also, recall that both the Old Testament Ark of the Covenant and Mary had both been ‘overshadowed’ by the Holy Spirit. The 3 month visit of (pregnant) Mary to the home of Elizabeth and Zechariah a few miles west of Jerusalem, is actually prefigured in the Old Testament when the original Ark of the Old Covenant (containing Manna from Heaven) is brought by King David to the home of Obededom, located a few miles west of Jerusalem for 3 months (Sam 6.1-13). David dances for joy before the Ark, unborn John the Baptist leaps for joy before pregnant Mary. David says, “How can the Ark of the Lord come to me?” Elizabeth says, “…why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” Note: The Manna was the bread which came down from heaven, and Jesus referred to that Manna years later when He proclaimed Himself to be the Bread of Life (Jn 6.31-35).
3. The third parallel occurs in Bethlehem. Mary and Joseph enter Bethlehem with the Unborn Christ Child, to fulfill prophecies concerning the birth of the Messiah. The name “Bethlehem” means “house of bread”. Mary carries within her “the bread of life” – and this Unborn Jesus who is “the Bread of Life”, will be born here for us. He is the “the true bread from heaven” (Jn 6.32) sent into the world for our nourishment and Salvation!