UNBORN WORD of the day


Annunciation of Ustyug 1119-1130, The Tretyakov Gallery Moscow, Russia
December 3, 2012, 10:35 pm
Filed under: Advent, Incarnation, Mother of the Lord, The Incarnation, Unborn Jesus

AROUND THE WORLD AND THROUGH THE CENTURIES WITH THE UNBORN CHRIST CHILD

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The Tretyakov Gallery

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One of the earliest images of Christ in the womb is the Annunciation of Ustyug

The Annunciation of Ustyug gained its name due to the legend that Saint Procopius of Ustyug predicted the fall of  a meteorite and other calamities near the town of Veliky Ustyug. He tried to convince the citizens to confess their sins and pray for the city to be saved. They did not believe him and only at the last minute, when the storm had already started, escaped to the church and started to pray before the icon and were saved.

The icon depicts Christ Emmanuel standing In the womb of the Virgin, giving a blessing with his right hand. On the left – the archangel Gabriel, greets the Virgin Mary and is blessing her. At the top of the center, in a blue semi-circle of the sky with gold stars the Father is portrayed with a blue halo of glory. He sits on a red throne, at the foot of which are red cherubim, and above on the sides – red and gold Seraphim. The Father holds a scroll in his left hand, and His right hand blesses Mary.

The Ustyug Annunciation in its iconography has its roots in Eastern Christian art. The point of this type of art is to explain the supernatural Conception – Incarnation of the deity. Therefore, in Russia, the Virgin with the Christ child depicted near her heart is sometimes called Our Lady of the Incarnation.

“For you must know that the sublime work of the Incarnation was the work of the whole Trinity, although it was only the Person of the Son of God who became incarnate. It was as if one who put on a tunic were helped by two standing on either side of him who held the tunic in their hands….For although the Holy Trinity is every where, nevertheless you must think of It in your meditation as being here in a very special manner, by reason of the great and unique work which is being done.”   St. Bonaventure, Meditations On The Life Of Christ, trans. Sister M. Emmanuel, O.S.B. (St. Louis, MO: B. Herder Book Co., 1934), 16.



ANOTHER ADVENT TRADITION YOU MAY NOT HAVE HEARD ABOUT – Iglesia de San Martín de Tours de Sevilla
December 2, 2012, 11:38 am
Filed under: Advent, Christmas, How are we to honor Unborn Jesus, Incarnation, Pro-life

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Our Lady of Hope, is renowned for her beauty. The image is from the second half of the 16th century but later restorations (one by Castillo Lastrucci), added to it‘s beauty and unmistakable Sevillian style. The Virgin wears a green coat with sterling silver lining, highlighting her magnificent crown. All year – except Advent – Mary holds the infant Jesus with her left hand and arm.

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Below the statue (see above photos), in front of the basket appears an oval  “O” iconographic detail of the Unborn Christ Child (reminiscent of the Advent “O” antiphons). 

During Advent, the oval with the Unborn Christ is placed upon the Virgin, in front of her womb. (The infant Jesus is taken down from Mary’s left hand during Advent and placed in an ornate casing.) See photos below.

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Then, on Christmas day the unborn Christ oval is returned to its place below the statue and the infant Jesus returned to Mary’s hand. These rituals give a unique charm to this statue and the Incarnation event.

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Iglesia de San Martín de Tours de Sevilla

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An Advent Tradition you may not have heard about.
November 20, 2012, 11:35 pm
Filed under: Advent, Christmas, How are we to honor Unborn Jesus, Incarnation, Unborn Jesus

Over the last number of years, we have found over 100 images of Christ in Mary’s womb from around the world. Recently, we discovered that 2 of these images are part of an Advent Tradition that surprised us. The St. Phillip Neri Institute in Berlin has a wonderful statue that a friend of theirs carved for them. It is a copy of a miraculous statue of “Maria Gravida”  that is in the Church of Maria Hilf Assumptio in Malta, Austria. This miraculous statue dates from around the 1400’s.

Maria Gravida (1400) Malta, Austria

Below are a few views of the statue of Maria Gravida at St. Phillip Neri Institute in Germany

 Maria Gravida

During Advent this Maria Gravida statue is placed on a pedestal in front of a blue curtain – behind the curtain is a Nativity scene. At Midnight on Christmas eve, the statue of Mary Pregnant is taken off the pedestal and the Nativity scene is unveiled.

Maria Gravida, December 24, Christmas Eve day

Nativity Scene, Christmas Eve Midnight

We have also discovered a similar tradition for the statue of Our Lady of Divine Hope in the Iglesia de San Martín Sevilla in Spain which we will highlight in a future post.



St. Theresa of the Child Jesus – Feast Day Oct. 1
September 22, 2012, 11:34 pm
Filed under: Incarnation, Saints, Unborn Jesus

 “I put myself on the side of childhood….I am, above all, on the side of the Infant God….”

Francois Mauriac
The Son of Man

 “…. I wondered what name I would be given in Carmel.
I knew there was a Sister Therese of Jesus; however, my
beautiful name of Therese could not be taken away from
me. All of a sudden, I thought of Little Jesus whom I
loved so much, and I said: ‘Oh! how happy I would be if
they called me Therese of the Child Jesus!’”

St. Therese of Lisieux,
Doctor of the Church
Story of a Soul   

On several occasions Christ counseled us to have a childlike faith, even going so far as to placing a child in front of His disciples, so that His teaching would have the sacred and personal imprint of a living child.

As it turned out, it was but a small ‘baby step’ for many saints, to move from childlike faith to devotion to the Christ Child. Examples abound, but for the sake of brevity, let’s mention three saints: Francis of Assisi (so drawn to the newborn baby Jesus, that he created a living nativity scene to supplement his personal devotion), Anthony of Padua (who held the Child Jesus in his arms) and Therese of the Child Jesus (“I cannot fear a God who made himself so small for me!”[LT 266])

The personal devotions of holy Christians to the Christ Child have multiplied a hundredfold to engulf Catholic communities and cultures throughout the world. For the purposes of this discussion, we take it as a given fact that devotion to the Christ Child is tenderly woven into the devotional fabric of the Church, that it is to be encouraged (while being in conformity “to the doctrine, legal discipline and norms of the Church”) and that each individual Christian can enter into it with confidence.

Which leads us to the Unborn Christ Child. The devotional step from adoring Christ lying in a manger, to contemplating Him lying in His mother’s womb is intellectually tiny, even though it may challenge the imagination slightly…

But why bother ourselves with a study of the Unborn Christ Child? John Paul II explains: “The conception and birth of Jesus Christ are in fact the greatest work accomplished by the Holy Spirit in the history of creation and salvation: the supreme grace – ‘the grace of union,’ source of every other grace, as St. Thomas explains.”  The nine month continuum, from Christ’s conception to His birth, is an exceptional time of grace for the world and humanity – of utmost significance to the Church generally, and to expecting mothers and unborn babies particularly.

Maria gravida – Institute of St. Philip Neri in Berlin



HOW ARE WE TO HONOR UNBORN JESUS (AND ALL UNBORN BABIES MADE IN HIS IMAGE AND LIKENESS)? – CONSIDER ST. JOSEPH
July 10, 2012, 8:04 pm
Filed under: Adoption, How are we to honor Unborn Jesus, Incarnation, Papal Quotes

The Dream of St. Joseph by Francisco Rizi  Indianapolis Museum of Art

After the dream (Mt. 1:20-24) Joseph honored Unborn Jesus by welcoming Him and His mother into his home, by his obedience to the angel of the Lord, his doing God’s will, and especially by loving Unborn Jesus as his own Son (Mt 1:.24).

When Joseph woke from sleep ‑ we read in Matthew ‑ he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him’ (Mt 1:24). In these few words there is everything. The whole description of Joseph’s life and the full characteristic of his holiness: ‘He did’. Joseph, the one we know from the Gospel, is a man of action.” Pope John Paul II, General Audience, March 19, 1980

Today, I want to direct our gaze toward the figure of St. Joseph… The one who gives the most importance to the putative father of Jesus is the Evangelist Matthew, emphasizing that thanks to him, the Child was legally introduced into the lineage of David fulfilling the Scriptures, in which the Messiah was prophesied as the ’son of David’.”  Pope Benedict, Angelus address, December 18, 2005

“Joseph’s adoption of Jesus is effected in the two acts with which the account (Mt 1:24 25) closes, and which are in fact its most essential elements. ‘He took his wife…. And he called his name Jesus.”  Cardinal Danielou, The Infancy Narratives

During the nine months the accumulation of grace upon him must have been beyond our powers of calculation. The company of Mary, the atmosphere of Jesus, the continual presence of the Incarnate God, and the fact of his own life being nothing but a series of ministries to the unborn Word, must have lifted him far above all other saints, and perchance all angels too….Our Lord’s Birth, and the sight of His Face, must have been to him like another sanctification.” From Bethlehem by Father Faber

On this mosaic Joseph is depicted as taking the Virgin Mary to his home. This is one of the world famous mosaic depictions of Chora museum.

It pleased God to bring the beauty of human adoption into the heart of the Incarnation mystery. St. Joseph is a model for all those in the pro-life movement. He took unborn Jesus and Mary into his heart and life. He took care of them, saved them from disgrace and even death, supported them and helped them find shelter. Father Faber talks about the grace Joseph received in this ministry – think of all of the graces you receive in your ministry to the unborn and their mothers.




HOW ARE WE TO HONOR UNBORN JESUS (AND ALL UNBORN BABIES MADE IN HIS IMAGE AND LIKENESS)? – CONSIDER JOHN THE BAPTIST

From Salzburg Cathedral exhibit Mary Expectant with Child November 25, 2006 – January 7, 2007

Unborn John honored Unborn Jesus by expressing joy at His Presence (Lk 1:44).

“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, ‘Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.’ ” Luke 1: 41-44.

“John was ‘filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb’ by Christ himself, whom the Virgin Mary had just conceived by the Holy Spirit. Mary’s visitation to Elizabeth thus became a visit from God to his people.” Catechism of the Catholic Church, Article 8, 717.

“… He (John) inaugurates the Gospel, already from his mother’s womb welcomes the coming of Christ, and rejoices in being “the friend of the bridegroom”, whom he points out as ‘the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world’.” Catechism of the Catholic Church, Article 3, 523.

We can honor Unborn Jesus by our recognition of Christ’s love for the unborn and our joy in His incarnation as an unborn baby. We can also honor Unborn Jesus when we share the pro-life message joyfully and give witness to the sanctity of each unborn child made in the image and likeness of our Unborn Lord.

St. John the Baptist (pointing to Unborn Jesus)



HOW ARE WE TO HONOR UNBORN JESUS (AND ALL UNBORN BABIES MADE IN HIS IMAGE AND LIKENESS)? – CONSIDER MARY
July 3, 2012, 10:49 pm
Filed under: How are we to honor Unborn Jesus, Incarnation, Mary, Pro-life

 

Annunciation Mosaic from Redemptoris Mater Chapel (Vatican)

Mary honored Unborn Jesus by accepting wholeheartedly the Plan and invitation of God to be mother to the Messiah/Savior and by then loving Him (Lk 1:38).

“In all these days, my gaze has necessarily focused on this depiction of the Annunciation of Mary (see above). What fascinated me is this: the Archangel Gabriel holds a scroll in his hand, which I believe is the symbol of Scripture, of the Word of God. And Mary is kneeling within the scroll; that is, she lives her whole life in the Word of God. It is as though she were steeped in the Word. Thus, all her thoughts, her will and her actions are imbued with and formed by the Word.

Since she herself dwells in the Word, she can also become the new “Dwelling Place” of the Word in the world.”

Pope Benedict XVI Redemptoris Mater Chapel Saturday, 11 March 2006

“The Virgin is involved with Jesus and she is the only one in the whole world involved with Jesus. Thus she is the only one in the whole world adoring the mystery of the Incarnation, which was brought about on earth for the earth but unknown to the earth. She is the only one adoring Jesus. The more that she is the only one captivated by such a great subject, the greater is her involvement. She is devoted to it with all her faculties. All her senses are brought to bear on it, for it is a tangible mystery and tangible within her. All her senses should pay homage to her God made tangible for human nature. Her whole mind is concentrated on it. And the Spirit of Jesus, which enlivens this little divinized body, enlivens the spirit and body of the Virgin as well, through grace, love and a holy, gentle influence.”

Cardinal Berulle (1575-1629) – writing about Mary’s attitude in the hours and days after the Annunciation.

We can imitate Mary in honoring Unborn Jesus by living his word and welcoming Him into our lives and by loving Him with our whole heart, mind and will. We also honor Unborn Jesus when we welcome unborn children into our world by our witness to their sacredness and by giving loving help to their mothers.