UNBORN WORD of the day

April 7, 2009, 11:19 pm
Filed under: Evangelium Vitae, John Paul II


Conceptual sketch of “Our Lady of Guadalupe Respect Life Memorial Garden” St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church

Our last post gave reflections by John Paul II on his “Gospel of Life” Encyclical, 5 years after its issuance. Here are more of those reflections, taken from the second half of his discourse. John Paul II called for an APOSTOLATE OF LIFE:

An authentic apostolate of life cannot be simply delegated to specific movements, however praiseworthy, that work in the sociopolitical field. It must be an integral part of the Church’s pastoral ministry, whose task is to proclaim the ‘Gospel of Life’. For this to be effective, it is important to set up educational programs, as well as services and special structures for guidance and support.”

“…it should be given practical expression by offering services that will enable anyone in trouble to find the necessary help.”

“…efforts should be made so that these services become a ‘sign’ and a message.”

“Just as the community needs places of worship, it should sense the need to organize, especially at the diocesan level, educational and operational services to support human life, services that will be the fruit of charity and a sign of vitality.”

“…accompanied by the changing of mentalities and morals on a vast scale, in an extensive and visible way. In this area the Church will spare no effort nor can she accept negligence or guilty silence.

“I turn in particular to those young people…may they be the first agents and beneficiaries of the work that will be done in the context of the apostolate of life.”

“May every person of good will feel called to play an active part in this great cause. May he be sustained by the conviction that every step taken in defending the right to life and its concrete advancement is a step towards peace and civilization.”

UNBORNWORDoftheday Comments on John Paul II’s reflections: John Paul called for “an authentic apostolate of life” that he said “must be an integral part of the Church’s pastoral ministry”. He describes this apostolate of life in terms of education, services and structures that will present a sign and deliver a message borne of charity, all “in defending the right to life and its concrete advancement”. It seems to us that the Pope was envisioning a New form of comprehensive Pastoral Outreach for the 21st century. A New pastoral ministry combining education and services “especially at the diocesan level” which would “support human life”. This seems to be a radical challenge from John Paul the Great to “every person of good will”. Are we up to it? Are we willing? Remember his sobering warning: “…the Church will spare no effort nor can she accept negligence or guilty silence”.

April 5, 2009, 10:06 pm
Filed under: Evangelium Vitae, John Paul II


At a Vatican symposium in early 2000 commemorating the 5th anniversary of his prophetic “Gospel of Life” Encyclical Letter , John Paul made some interesting comments about the document (Latin title is: Evangelium Vitae). Here are two of those comments.

“I started from a vision of hope for humanity’s future.”

“…a document which I consider central to the whole Magisterium of my Pontificate and in thematic continuity with the Encyclical Humanae Vitae of Pope Paul VI of venerable memory.”

John Paul also gives the following two facts about the Gospel of Life:

  1. “The persistent difficulty which this message encounters in a world marked by serious signs of violence and decadence.”
  2. “The unchanging validity of this message and also the possibility of it being accepted in a society where the community of believers, with the concerned involvement of people of good will, courageously and unitedly express its commitment.”

John Paul then called the Encyclical’s message: “a reference point for civil salvation”.

In our next post we will present Part II of this reflection & John Paul’s expectation for ACTION by all of us!

March 29, 2009, 8:59 pm
Filed under: Evangelium Vitae, Thriving Not Just Surviving!, Unborn Jesus


Simeon Holding the Christ Child

When the baby Jesus was still a newborn Mary and Joseph presented Him to the Lord according to Jewish custom. As they left the Temple they met a holy man named Simeon (Lk 2:25-35). He prayed to God and made a prophecy about the baby Jesus. In part, he said: “…this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against…” Other translations say “as a sign of contradiction” or a sign that will be “opposed”.

Yes Christ is “A Sign”. First He is a Person! A Divine Person! But He is also “A Sign of Contradiction”. Likewise – thanks be to God – The Unborn Christ Child is a Sign of Contradiction!

We learn from a Prophetic Sign! And if we study the life of Unborn Jesus we have lots of uplifting, beautiful, edifying and hopeful lessons to learn there!

But there is also this: Unborn Jesus is a sign of contradiction to the culture of death that is encroaching day-by-day into our culture and society. Thanks be to God, Unborn Jesus is at the spiritual heart of the Culture of Life that the Church is committed to.

Here are two examples: “…as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40). “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me.” (Mt 18:5). Mother Teresa of Calcutta, John Paul II and Benedict XVI have all commented on these words of Jesus in relation to unborn children. When your local abortion facility aborts a baby, it is aborting Christ. And when your local Pregnancy Counseling Center helps a pregnant woman carry her child to term, they are also helping Christ be born in Bethlehem!

There is an intersection between time and eternity, earth and heaven, the worldly powers and the Kingdom of God, the physical life and the spiritual realm, evil and Good, death and Life – and the newly conceived Christ Child at the one cell stage is at that very point of intersection! So is Christ Crucified & the Resurrected Christ! When Life meets death Christ is there! When adults kill babies Christ is there (with the babies)!

Thanks be to God, the Unborn Christ is Victor when He collides with this pathetic culture of death. We as Christians must be united with Him, in solidarity with all unborn children. To quote George Weigel, we must be busy about building “a culture-forming counterculture”. Two of its distinguishing marks will be: it is Christ-centered and Life-affirming!

To quote John Paul II: “…we are facing an enormous and dramatic clash between good and evil, death and life, the ‘culture of death’ and the ‘culture of life’. We find ourselves not only ‘faced with’ but necessarily ‘in the midst of’ this conflict: we are all involved and we all share in it, with the inescapable responsibility of choosing to be unconditionally pro – life.” (Evangelium Vitae #28).

The Joyful Mother and The Gospel of Life
July 7, 2008, 10:45 pm
Filed under: Evangelium Vitae

Joyful Mother/Pope John Paul II Sculpture*

This is a statue of John Paul II kneeling before Mary, the Joyful Mother (Saint Peter Catholic Church Stevens Point, Wisconsin). An explanation of the significance of this statue is given below.


“…While reading the Encyclical Letter, The Gospel of Life, by Pope John Paul II, I was touched by the beautiful words: The joy which accompanies the birth of the Messiah is thus seen to be the foundation and fulfillment of joy at every child born into the world.’ What a wonderful notion, that the joy, which accompanied the Birth of Christ, should be the same joy accompanying the birth of every child born into this world!

… Our major concern was to bring out the joy of motherhood as seen in Mary, the Mother of Jesus and the Mother of the Church.

This concept was also to include two major events: the (commemoration) of the visit of the then Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, primate of Poland, to our parish in 1976 and the 100th anniversary of the church of St. Peter.”

*The text on the statue’s granite base reads as follows:

Joyful Mother – The joy which accompanies the birth of the Messiah is thus seen to be the foundation and fulfillment of joy at every child born into the world. (The Gospel of Life) Pope John Paul II. Commemorating the visit of Karol Cardinal Wojtyla to the Church of St. Peter August 23, 1976, the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Church of St Peter 1897 – 1997. Given in memory of Alice Turzinski Zagrzebski 1995 & Helen Rogowski Zagzebski 1994 by their spouses Edwin R. Zagrzebski & Humphrey J. Zagzebski

May 10, 2008, 6:52 pm
Filed under: Evangelium Vitae, Pro-life

When the culture you live in respects and promotes human life will you even notice? Here are 10 “society-wide” signs to look for in a “Culture of Life”:

  1. Humble respect towards God, Source and Creator of human life and the beautiful universe we inhabit and the recognition that life is a gift to be cherished.
  2. Awe and respect for the origin of individual human life, that is, respect for the integrity of procreation and the incipient new life of the human embryo.
  3. Thoughtful respect for the sacred character of maternity and the right to life of the unborn child – particularly characterized by a medical profession that treats both mother and unborn child as “patients” and refuses to advocate the killing of a “patient”.
  4. Respect for all people with disabilities, and especially children with disabilities, such that the medical profession and other “caring professions” treat unborn and newborn children with disabilities as patients deserving of professional care and human compassion – not problems to be eliminated.
  5. That adoption is understood and appreciated as a life-giving, life-nurturing option for the individual child and for the well-being of society as a whole.
  6. Profound respect for the dignity of the elderly infirm and those who are dying along with corresponding compassionate care and services.
  7. Respect and societal support for the covenant/sacrament of marriage between a man and a woman.
  8. Respect and practical support for the institution of the family, sometimes called the “domestic church”, and even a “preferential option” for all children from infancy to adolescence.
  9. A genuine appreciation within Christianity, for that “childlike spirituality” so strongly encouraged by Jesus.
  10. A society that is known for an attitude of acceptance, forgiveness, compassion and understanding towards all, and particularly towards the poor, the sick, the weak and the marginalized.

Defend the unborn with confidence
March 29, 2008, 12:20 am
Filed under: Evangelium Vitae, Pope Benedict XVI


We have a son who participated in debate in high school and college. Sometimes in the ordinary routine of college life he  was called upon to defend the Catholic faith. I asked him if being in debate helped him. He told me that he found defending the faith a lot easier and more fun than debate because as he put it, it is always easy to defend the truth. I think when we are defending the rights of the unborn – we should remember this. Something that Pope Benedict said in a speech given to the Pontifical Academy for Life on February 22, 2007 made me remember what my son had said:

“It is a right that must be sustained by all, because it is the first fundamental right of all human rights. The Encyclical Evangelium Vitae strongly affirms this:  “Even in the midst of difficulties and uncertainties, every person sincerely open to truth and goodness can, by the light of reason and the hidden action of grace, come to recognize in the natural law written in the heart (cf. Rom 2: 14-15) the sacred value of human life from its very beginning until its end, and can affirm the right of every human being to have this primary good respected to the highest degree. Upon the recognition of this right, every human community and the political community itself are founded” (n. 2).

The same Encyclical recalls that “believers in Christ must defend and promote this right, aware as they are of the wonderful truth recalled by the Second Vatican Council:  “By his Incarnation the Son of God has united himself in some fashion with every human being’ (Gaudium et Spes, n. 22). This saving event reveals to humanity not only the boundless love of God who “so loved the world that he gave his only Son’ (Jn 3: 16), but also the incomparable value of every human person” (ibid.).

Therefore, the Christian is continually called to be ever alert in order to face the multiple attacks to which the right to life is exposed. In this he knows that he can count on motives that are deeply rooted in the natural law and that can therefore be shared by every person of upright conscience.

After saying this Pope Benedict went on to elaborate in detail all of the difficulties we encounter when defending life in our society. Still, when I think about turth being the natural impulse of the human soul it helps me defend the unborn with confidence.

the value of democracy stands or falls with the values which it embodies and promotes
March 26, 2008, 9:03 pm
Filed under: Evangelium Vitae


The above cartoon from April 22, 1990 makes the point that democracy can sometimes have tragic consequences. John Paul II in section 70 of his Encyclical letter Evangelium Vitae makes some similar and startling statements about Democracy.

Democracy cannot be idolized to the point of making it a substitute for morality or a panacea for immorality. Fundamentally, democracy is a “system” and as such is a means and not an end. Its “moral” value is not automatic, but depends on conformity to the moral law to which it, like every other form of human behavior, must be subject…”

But the value of democracy stands or falls with the values which it embodies and promotes. Of course, values such as the dignity of every human person, respect for inviolable and inalienable human rights, and the adoption of the “common good” as the end and criterion regulating political life are certainly fundamental and not to be ignored.”

“If, as a result of a tragic obscuring of the collective conscience, an attitude of skepticism were to succeed in bringing into question even the fundamental principles of the moral law, the democratic system itself would be shaken in its foundations…”