UNBORN WORD of the day

“Behold the Lamb of God”
April 23, 2010, 8:21 pm
Filed under: Fathers of the Church, The Incarnation, Unborn Jesus

St. John the Baptist

There is one tradition of St. John the Baptist icons that portray him pointing to the Christ Child (unborn). In his left hand he holds a chalice or charger and a scroll that reads, “Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world”.  With his right hand he points to the Christ Child (unborn).

St. Leo the Great (A.D. 400?-461) has a wonderful quote that expresses in words what these icons express in art:

“…when at her greeting, John (in the womb of Elizabeth and not yet born) was stirred with prophetic exaltation-as if even in his mother’s womb he were already crying out, ‘Behold the Lamb of God, behold the one who takes away the sins of the world’.” ) Sermon 35

Here are a few more icons in this tradition:

Saint John the Forerunner

St. John the Forerunner and Baptist of our Lord

St. John the Baptist

“I will set upon your throne the fruit of your body” Psalm 132:11
April 22, 2008, 11:20 pm
Filed under: Biblical Reflections, Fathers of the Church, Pope Benedict XVI

“The Lord has sworn in truth to David…’I will set upon your throne the fruit of your body'” Psalm 132:11

In the following passage Pope Benedict XVI comments on Psalm 132:11 by using a lengthy quote from St. Irenaeus:

“Let us end by remembering that the beginning of this second part of Psalm 132 was commonly used by the Fathers of the Church to describe the Incarnation of the Word in the Virgin Mary’s womb. St Irenaeus, referring to the prophecy of Isaiah about the Virgin in labour, had already explained:”

“The words: ‘Listen, then, O house of David!’ (Is 7: 13), indicate that the eternal King, whom God had promised David would be ‘the fruit of [his] body’ (Ps 132:11), was the same One, born of the Virgin and descended from David.Thus, God promised him that a king would be born who was ‘the fruit of [his] body’, a description that indicates a pregnant virgin. Scripture, therefore…sets down and affirms the fruit of the womb to proclaim that the One to come would be begotten of the Virgin. Likewise, Elizabeth herself, filled with the Holy Spirit, testified, saying to Mary: ‘Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb’ (Lk 1:42). In this way the Holy Spirit points out to those who want to hear him that in the Virgin’s, that is, Mary’s, giving birth is fulfilled God’s promise to David that he would raise up a king born of his body” (Contro le Eresie, 3, 21, 5: “Già e Non Ancora”, CCCXX, Milan, 1997, p. 285).

Wednesday, 21 September 2005

The Annunciation
April 1, 2008, 12:30 am
Filed under: Fathers of the Church, Incarnation, Pope Benedict XVI


The Annunciation by Nicholas Poussin

Here are some excerpts from a homily that Pope Benedict XVI gave on March 25, 2006.

“In the Incarnation of the Son of God, in fact, we recognize the origins of the Church. Everything began from there.

Every historical realization of the Church and every one of her institutions must be shaped by that primordial wellspring. They must be shaped by Christ, the incarnate Word of God. It is he that we are constantly celebrating: Emmanuel, God-with-us, through whom the saving will of God the Father has been accomplished.

And yet – today of all days we contemplate this aspect of the Mystery – the divine wellspring flows through a privileged channel: the Virgin Mary.

St Bernard speaks of this using the eloquent image of aquaeductus (cf. Sermo in Nativitate B.V. Mariae: PL 183, 437-448). In celebrating the Incarnation of the Son, therefore, we cannot fail to honour his Mother. The Angel’s proclamation was addressed to her; she accepted it, and when she responded from the depths of her heart: “Here I am… let it be done to me according to your word” (Lk 1: 38), at that moment the eternal Word began to exist as a human being in time.

From generation to generation, the wonder evoked by this ineffable mystery never ceases. St Augustine imagines a dialogue between himself and the Angel of the Annunciation, in which he asks: “Tell me, O Angel, why did this happen in Mary?”. The answer, says the Messenger, is contained in the very words of the greeting: “Hail, full of grace” (cf. Sermo 291: 6).

In fact, the Angel, “appearing to her”, does not call her by her earthly name, Mary, but by her divine name, as she has always been seen and characterized by God: “Full of grace – gratia plena“, which in the original Greek is 6,P”D4JTµXv0, “full of grace”, and the grace is none other than the love of God; thus, in the end, we can translate this word: “beloved” of God (cf. Lk 1: 28). Origen observes that no such title had ever been given to a human being, and that it is unparalleled in all of Sacred Scripture (cf. In Lucam 6: 7)…

In the Second Reading, we heard the wonderful passage in which the author of the Letter to the Hebrews interprets Psalm 39 in the light of Christ’s Incarnation: “When Christ came into the world, he said: …”Here I am, I have come to do your will, O God'” (Heb 10: 5-7). Before the mystery of these two “Here I am” statements, the “Here I am” of the Son and the “Here I am” of the Mother, each of which is reflected in the other, forming a single Amen to God’s loving will, we are filled with wonder and thanksgiving, and we bow down in adoration.”



November 24, 2007, 11:12 pm
Filed under: Evangelium Vitae, Fathers of the Church


Today, Sunday, November 25th, is the last Sunday of the Liturgical Year, the feast day of Christ the King!

“You cannot serve God and mammon.” Jesus told His disciples. (“No one can have two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.”) Mt 6:24 This is not spiritual rocket science. We make a simple choice.

When Jesus first started preaching His Gospel it was that “the kingdom of God is at hand” (Mk 1:14). Later He explained that people should “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” (Mt 6:33). And with what spiritual disposition do we do this? “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” (Mt 10:15) So early on Jesus set before us the “childlike attitude” as being exemplary.

St. Augustine wrote his famous book the City of God (426 A.D.) to place before Christians the choice: the City of God or the city of the world.

In our own time, John Paul II has written his prophetic encyclical The Gospel of Life and placed, once again, the choice before us: a Culture of Life or a culture of death.

The right choice is clear: God, the Kingdom of God, the City of God, the Culture of Life!

St. Leo the Great
November 10, 2007, 12:30 am
Filed under: Fathers of the Church


Vatican City: Vatican Museum: St Leo the Great’s Meeting with Attila in 452 (1511-1514, Raphael and assistants)

Today, November 10th is the feast day of St. Leo the Great (A.D. 400?-461). He is regarded as one of the most important of the Western Fathers of the Church and was declared a “Doctor of the Church” by Pope Benedict XIV. He is one of only three Popes in two thousand years to be called “the Great.”. Not only was Leo a great teacher, he is credited with saving Rome.

The Picture above depicts St. Leo persuading Attila, called the Scourge of God, to spare the city. Attila said that while Leo was talking to him, he saw a person in priestly robes who stood nearby with bared sword, threatening his life should he disobey Leo’s commands.

Here are a few quotes from St. Leo about the life of the Unborn Christ Child:

“Nothing could contain his greatness, yet he allowed himself to be enclosed in his mother’s womb.” The Binding of the Strong Man.

“…the power of the Most High overshadowed her, so that within her spotless womb Wisdom might build itself a house and the Word become flesh.” Creator of Time is Born in Time

“…when at her greeting, John (in the womb of Elizabeth and not yet born) was stirred with prophetic exaltation-as if even in his mother’s womb he were already crying out, ‘Behold the Lamb of God, behold the one who takes away the sins of the world’.” Sermon 35

Jeremiah 31:22 “The LORD has created a new thing upon the earth…”
October 30, 2007, 12:11 am
Filed under: Fathers of the Church, Unborn Jesus


This weekend we attended the Holy Family Festival in Ojai. They had a wonderful speaker from Catholic Answers, Tim Staples, who gave two talks on “The Immaculate Conception and the Dignity of Man”. Tim Staples is a fabulous speaker and I would recommend him highly for both adults and teenagers.

At the end of the day, we were fortunate enough to get to speak with Tim and his lovely wife, Valerie. Tim brought up an interesting scripture about Mary and referenced St. Jerome’s interpretation of it. We were surprised because we weren’t aware of this passage about Mary’s pregnancy and the Unborn Christ Child.

“The LORD has created a new thing upon the earth: the woman must encompass the man with devotion.” Jeremiah 31:22

St. Jerome in his commentary on this verse understood it of Mary’s virginal conception of Christ. “The LORD has created a new thing on earth; without seed of man, without carnal union and conception, ‘a woman will encompass a man’ within her womb – One who, though He will later appear to advance in wisdom and age through the stages of infancy and childhood, yet, while confined for the usual number of months in his mother’s womb, will already be perfect man.” USCCB New American Bible Footnote 3 Point C

September 12, 2007, 11:48 pm
Filed under: Fathers of the Church


Today, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2007 is the feast day of St. John Chrysostom (died 407 A.D.). He was famous for his eloquent preaching. In those early centuries of the Church various forms of Gnosticism ebbed and flowed throughout the known world. Part of the Gnostic message claimed that Christ did not have a real physical body like you and I. The early Church battled this heresy for centuries. In the following excerpt from one of John’s homilies on the Gospel of Matthew, we see John defending the Church’s understanding of Jesus Christ as fully God and fully man.


“Nor think that thou hast learnt all, by hearing “of the Spirit;” nay, for we are ignorant of many things, even when we have learnt this; as, for instance, how the Infinite is in a womb, how He that contains all things is carried, as unborn, by a woman; how the Virgin bears, and continues a virgin. How, I pray thee, did the Spirit frame that Temple? how did He take not all the flesh from the womb, but a part thereof, and increased it, and fashioned it?

For that He did come forth of the Virgin’s flesh, He hath declared by speaking of “that which was conceived in her;” (Mt 1:20) and Paul, by saying, “made of a woman;” (Gal 4:4) whereby he stops the mouths of them that say, Christ came among us as through some conduit. For, if this were so, what need of the womb? If this were so, He hath nothing in common with us, but that flesh is of some other kind, and not of the mass which belongs to us. How then was He of the root of Jesse? How was He a rod? how Son of man? how was Mary His mother? how was He of David’s seed? how did he “take the form of a servant?” (Phil 2:7) how “was the Word made flesh?”(Jn 1:14) and how saith Paul to the Romans, “Of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is God over all?”(Rom 9:5)

Therefore that He was of us, and of our substance, and of the Virgin’s womb, is manifest from these things, and from others beside; but how, is not also manifest. Do not either thou then inquire; but receive what is revealed, and be not curious about what is kept secret.”

Homilies on the Gospel of Matthew Homily IV Matthew 1, 17

The servant in the womb
August 27, 2007, 11:47 pm
Filed under: Fathers of the Church, Incarnation


Today is the Feast day of St. Augustine (354 – 430 A.D.), one of the greatest Fathers of the Church. In the following brief quote Augustine reflects on Christ “as servant” within the womb of His mother and at His birth as well.

We have then proved that the birth of the Son was the work of the Father; now let us prove that it was the work of the Son also. Now what is the birth of the Son of the Virgin Mary? Surely it is His assumption of the form of a servant in the Virgin’s womb. Is the birth of the Son ought else, but the taking of the form of a servant in the womb of the Virgin? Now hear how that this was the work of the Son also. “Who when He was in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but emptied Himself, taking upon Him the form of a servant.” (Phil 2:6-7) “When the fullness of time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman,” (Gal 4:4) who was “made His Son of the seed of David according to the flesh.” (Rom 1:3) In this then we see that the birth of the Son was the work of the Father; but in that the Son Himself “emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant,” we see that the birth of the Son was the work also of the Son Himself.
St. Augustine Sermons (51-60) On Selected Lessons of the New Testament/Sermon 2, point 11

“To-day the living ladder, through whom the Most High descended…was assumed into heaven”
August 14, 2007, 10:08 pm
Filed under: Fathers of the Church, Quotes from Great Christians


Today is the Feast of the Assumption of Mary, John of Damascus talks about the greatness of the Incarnation in the first quote and links it to the Assumption in the second quote:

“The Father predestined her, the prophets foretold her through the Holy Ghost. His sanctifying power overshadowed her, cleansed and made her holy, and, as it were, predestined her. Then Thou, Word of the Father, not dwelling in place, didst invite the lowliness of our nature to be united to the immeasurable greatness of Thy inscrutable Godhead. Thou, who didst take flesh of the Blessed Virgin, vivified by a reasoning soul, having first abided in her undefiled and immaculate womb, creating Thyself, and causing her to exist in Thee, didst become perfect man, not ceasing to be perfect God, equal to Thy Father, but taking upon Thyself our weakness through ineffable goodness. Through it Thou art one Christ, one Lord, one Son of God, and man at the same time, perfect God and perfect man, wholly God and wholly man, one Substance from two perfect natures, the Godhead and the manhood.” John of Damascus , Sermon I On The Assumption

“To-day the living ladder, through whom the Most High descended and was seen on earth, and conversed with men, was assumed into heaven… To-day the heavenly table, she, who contained the bread of life, the fire of the Godhead, without knowing man, was assumed from earth to heaven, and the gates of heaven opened wide to receive the gate of God from the East. To-day the living city of God is transferred from the earthly to the heavenly Jerusalem, and she, who, conceived her first-born and only Son, the first-born of all creation, the only begotten of the Father, rests in the Church of the first-born: the true and living Ark of the Lord is taken to the peace of her Son. The gates of heaven are opened to receive the receptacle of God, who, bringing forth the tree of life, destroyed Eve’s disobedience and Adam’s penalty of death.”
John of Damascus, Sermon III On the Assumption

She taught two fathers of the church – her two younger brothers!
July 18, 2007, 10:29 pm
Filed under: Fathers of the Church

For a brief pro-life reflection on today’s Gospel reading:Mathew 11: 28-30


Today, July 19 is the feast day of St. Macrina the Younger
Born about 330; died 379. She was the eldest child of Basil and Elder Emmelia, and the sister of the two Fathers of the Church, St. Basil and St. Gregory of Nyssa.

“Her parents are also recognized as saints. They saw to it that she was very well educated. Macrina in turn became the teacher of her younger brothers Basil, later bishop of Caesarea, and Gregory, later bishop of Nyssa. These brothers themselves became two of the greatest teachers in the Universal Church. There is every reason to believe—based on their own testimony—that if Macrina had not attended to their education, and later, their spiritual growth, we would not know them today.”

St. Gregory of Nyssa (c.335-394), saw the fetus as a complete human being from the time of conception, and specifically rejected theories based upon formation or quickening: “There is no question about that which is bred in the uterus, both growing, and moving from place to place. It remains, therefore, that we must think that the point of commencement of existence is one and the same for body and soul.”
St. Gregory of Nyssa, On the Soul and the Resurrection.

St. Basil the Great (c.330-379) was unequivocal: “A woman who deliberately destroys a fetus is answerable for murder.”
St. Basil the Great, supra note, 10

“God imbued with our likeness”* St. Cyril of Alexandria
June 26, 2007, 9:49 pm
Filed under: Fathers of the Church


Today June 27 is the Feast day of St. Cyril of Alexandria

St. Cyril of Alexandria was an eloquent and outspoken defender of Mary as the Mother of God at the Council of Ephesus in 431. At one time He wrote “That anyone could doubt the right of the Holy Virgin to be called Mother of God fills me with astonishment. Surely she must be the Mother of God if our Lord Jesus Christ is God and she gave birth to him.”

Below are some excerpts from a famous homily (Homily 4) delivered by St. Cyril when he was presiding over the Council of Ephesus in 431 A.D.:

“Hail Mary, seat of Him who in no place can be contained. In your womb you contained the Only Begotten Word of God…”

“Hail Mary, Mother of God, for whom John, yet still in his natural womb, jumped for joy and adored the luminary of eternal light.”

“Hail to You, who in your holy and virginal womb have enclosed the Immense and the Incomprehensible.”

*We took our heading for today’s post from the following quote from Cyril:

“Christ, as I have said, was also God in his humanity, permitting human nature to use its laws while nonetheless conserving also the purity of divinity. For in this way and in no other is God to be understood both what was born by nature, and those things which the virgin mother produced not only of flesh and blood in the same way that other mothers do, but (the flesh and blood) of the Lord and of God imbued with our likeness.” Paschal Homilies, No. 17:2 MG 77, 776

The Burning Bush
May 31, 2007, 11:41 pm
Filed under: Fathers of the Church



St. Justin Martyr (Died c. 155 A.D.) taught that it was Jesus who appeared to Moses in the burning bush.

“These words (of the Prophets), then, have become the proof that Jesus Christ is the Son and Apostle of God, being of old the Word, appearing at one time in the guise of fire, and at another time as an incorporeal image…formerly He appeared to Moses and to the other prophets in the form of fire and as an incorporeal image…” First Apology, 127

St. Fulgence of Ruspe (467-527 A.D.) seems to see the burning bush as prefiguring the Incarnation when he observes:

“From the very beginning of the virginal conception a unity of Person so remained in Christ, and the unconfused reality of both natures so perdured, that neither could the Man be torn asunder from God, nor could God be separated from the Man assumed. Nevertheless, the divinity did not consume the humanity, nor did the humanity change the divinity into something else…” The Trinity, 2248

Fr. Richard F. Clark, S. J. in a pamphlet published by the Catholic Truth Society in 1964 sees the expectant Madonna (see above statue) in terms of the burning bush.

“The flame of fire in the burning bush was a figure of Jesus in Mary’s sacred womb…. So He still speaks as if concealed in Mary’s womb…”. The Coming of Christ, p. 38

“Perhaps the difference between the bush ablaze and the mother expectant is that the former is a spectacular miracle, whereas the latter is mystifyingly tender and meek. Moses was frightened by the spectacle (Ex 3:6), but who could be frightened of this young and thoughtful handmaid, Mary? She did not obscure the presence of the Son of God within her by arrogance, vanity, or any peculiar personal characteristics. Her naturally simple human ways were ideally matched with these supernatural divine ways of God’s providence. ” Unborn Jesus Our Hope