UNBORN WORD of the day


He emptied himself: from the womb to the cross
April 2, 2010, 12:09 am
Filed under: John Paul II, The Incarnation, Unborn Jesus

Replica of the miraculous image of Mary Bogenberg

“Though he was in the form of God, [Jesus] did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:6-8).

In his General Audience of February 17, 1988 entitled Jesus Christ Emptied Himself,  John Paul II  shows how this term applied to Jesus’ life from beginning to end.

“To express this mystery the apostle uses first of all the words “emptied himself,” which refers especially to the reality of the Incarnation. “The Word became flesh” (Jn 1:14). God the Son assumed human nature, humanity, and became true man, while remaining God!…

In this context, his becoming like man involved a voluntary renunciation, which extended even to the privileges he could have enjoyed as man. He assumed “the form of a slave.”

We see in the Gospels that Christ’s earthly life was marked by poverty from the very beginning. This was clearly set out in the account of his birth, when the evangelist Luke observed that “there was no room for them [Mary and Joseph] in the inn,” and that Jesus was born in a stable and laid in a manger (cf. Lk 2:7).”

“From Matthew we learn that already in the first months of Jesus’ life, he experienced the lot of a refugee (cf. Mt 2:13-15).

His hidden life at Nazareth was lived in extremely modest conditions; the head of the family was a carpenter (cf. Mt 13:55) and Jesus himself worked with his putative father (Mk 6:3).”

“When he began his teaching, his situation continued to be one of extreme poverty, as he himself bore witness to in a certain way by referring to the precarious conditions of life imposed by his ministry of evangelization. ‘Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head’ (Lk 9:58).

From its beginning, Jesus’ messianic mission encountered opposition and misunderstanding, despite the signs which he worked. He was observed and persecuted by those who had power and influence over the people.”

“Finally, he was accused, condemned and put to death on a cross, the most infamous of all forms of capital punishment. It was applied only for crimes of extreme gravity, especially to those people who were not Roman citizens, and to slaves. For this reason also it can be said with the Apostle that Christ literally took “the form of a slave” (Phil 2:7).

He wrote that Jesus Christ ‘humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross’ (Phil 2:8). Here Christ’s kenosis is described in its definitive dimension. From the human point of view it is the dimension of the self-emptying by means of his passion and cruel death.”




The Cross itself is already mysteriously present at the instant of the Incarnation
March 30, 2010, 5:19 pm
Filed under: John Paul II, The Incarnation, Unborn Jesus

Annunciation Scene – Jean Bellegambe

“The Cross itself is already mysteriously present at the instant of the Incarnation, at the very moment of Jesus’ conception in Mary’s womb. Indeed, the ecce venio in the Letter to the Hebrews (cf. 10: 5-9)* is the primordial act of the Son’s obedience to the Father, an acceptance of his redeeming sacrifice already at the time ‘when Christ came into the world’.”

From the Letter of John Paul II to the Montfort Religious Family, 8 December 2003, Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

* “Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said:
“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired;
but a body have you prepared for me;
in burnt offerings and sin offerings
you have taken no pleasure.
Then I said, Lo, I have come to do your will, O God.”
(Hebrews 10:5-7)



THE MOTHER OF ALL FEAST DAYS QUICKLY APPROACHES – MARCH 25
March 11, 2010, 10:40 pm
Filed under: John Paul II, Unborn Jesus

John Paul II the Great left the Church a vast legacy of abundant fruits! One of these incalculable contributions is his profound and extensive teaching about ‘Theology of the Body’. Beginning with the Book of Genesis, Chapter One, in September 1979, he began what turned out to be an extraordinary collection of teachings which are destined to bless the Church for centuries to come.

Here is one quote which is particularly relevant to the subject of this blog:

“The fact that theology also considers the body should not astonish or surprise anyone who is aware of the mystery and reality of the Incarnation. Theology is that science whose subject is divinity. Through the fact that the word of God became flesh, the body entered theology through the main door.”  (April 2, 1980; #4)

Indeed! And Christ Himself commented on this fact immediately as it occurred as we read in Hebrews:

Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,
“Sacrifices and offerings thou hast not desired,
but a body hast thou prepared for me;
in burnt offerings and sin offerings thou hast taken no pleasure.
Then I said, ‘Lo, I have come to do thy will, O God,’
as it is written of me in the roll of the book.”        Heb 10:5-7

You will find the above reading in the Mass for The Annunciation of the Lord on March 25th. Pope Paul VI commented on this passage from Hebrews, calling it the “fundamental offering that the Incarnate Word made to the Father when he entered the world” and St Alphonsus de Liguori, a Doctor of the Church, comments on this passage explaining that Christ spoke these words “immediately” (in other words, at the first cell stage of His life; His conception).

Christ acknowledges that He has received, as a gift from His Father in heaven, His body… and when He says “I have come to do thy will, O God”, He implies His own acceptance of and satisfaction with the Body received, and explicitly states His own holy intention to unite the gift of His body and soul to the holy and glorious purposes of His Father. So, an incipient theology of the body comes from the “lips” of Christ Zygote, Christ Embryo. This is a very positive view of one’s body and soul, as a gift bursting with potential and purpose. By the fact of His conception and “speaking”, we see the unity of His Person with His body, and by the fact of His “offering”, we see that this fundamental act is an act of holy love.

Further, frequently throughout His life on earth our Lord repeatedly re-stated this offering of His life and Himself to the holy will of His Father – a whole and complete offering, which includes His body being offered for the benefit of others. The Incarnation – viewed as a loving offering – teaches us the simple truth that God is Love.



Why Advent?
November 29, 2009, 11:49 pm
Filed under: Advent, John Paul II

Tis the Season of ‘The Gospel of Life’


When you think about it – the Church has two special times of the year when it asks Christians to set a time aside for prayer and reflection (and fasting) -Advent and Lent-.

Why Advent?

Because…

As John Paul tells us in Dominum Et Vivificantem:

  • ” Creation is thus completed by the Incarnation and since that moment is permeated by the powers of the Redemption, powers which fill humanity and all creation.” #52
  • “The mystery of the  Incarnation constitutes the climax of this (God’s) giving, this divine self-communication” #50
  • “What was accomplished by the power of the Holy Spirit “in the fullness of time” can only through the Spirit’s power now emerge from the memory of the Church. By his power it can be made present in the new phase of man’s history on earth: the year 2000 from the birth of Christ.” #51
  • “But it must also be remembered that for us Christians this event (the Incarnation) indicates, as St. Paul says, the ‘fullness of time’, because in it human history has been wholly permeated by the ‘measurement’ of God himself: a transcendent presence of the ‘eternal now.’ ” #49

Advent is that time to get in touch with that ” divine self-communication”, to become aware of  “human history that is permeated by the measurement of God himself” and the “powers of the Redemption, powers which fill humanity and all creation”. Right now in our world’s history we desperately need this power of the Incarnation to ” be made present in this new phase of man’s history on earth”.

We must realize that Advent and Christmas is a time where God is prepared to pour out anew many graces upon his children. Pro-lifers: in a special way this is our season. We who are pro-life should use this time when Christ came to our world first in a womb and then in a manger  to renew ourselves to go out and build a ‘culture of life’.



Motherhood and the Mystery of the Cross
September 20, 2009, 7:43 pm
Filed under: Evangelium Vitae, John Paul II

Jesus blessing pregnant woman

Station – Jesus meets the weeping women  in Pfefferschlag He blesses those who are pregnant and the children in the square in front of the historic village church.

They are a sharing in the mystery of the Cross, in which Jesus reveals the value of every person, and how life attains its fullness in the sincere gift of self. Over and above such outstanding moments, there is an everyday heroism, made up of gestures of sharing, big or small, which build up an authentic culture of life….

Part of this daily heroism is also the silent but effective and eloquent witness of all those ‘brave mothers who devote themselves to their own family without reserve, who suffer in giving birth to their children and who are ready to make any effort, to face any sacrifice, in order to pass on to them the best of themselves’.

In living out their mission “these heroic women do not always find support in the world around them. On the contrary, the cultural models frequently promoted and broadcast by the media do not encourage motherhood. In the name of progress and modernity the values of fidelity, chastity, sacrifice, to which a host of Christian wives and mothers have borne and continue to bear outstanding witness, are presented as obsolete …

We thank you, heroic mothers, for your invincible love!

We thank you for your intrepid trust in God and in his love.

We thank you for the sacrifice of your life …”

From: The Gospel of Life, Section 86



TWO WOMEN WHO BROUGHT US “CORPUS CHRISTI”: HISTORY & MYSTERY
April 8, 2009, 9:35 pm
Filed under: John Paul II, Mary, Saints, The Eucharist

You may have never heard of Blessed Juliana of Cornillon  (Juliana of Liege), 1192 -1258. She was an Augustinian nun who was the first promoter of a feast day in honor of the Blessed Sacrament. She has been recognized as the person primarily responsible for the introduction of the Corpus Christi feast day during the middle ages. According to Acta Sanctorum, she had a unique and extraordinary devotion. She said the Magnificat (Lk 1:46-55) nine times a day; once for each month that Our Lord spent in the womb of His mother. (The Magnificat was proclaimed by Mary while she was pregnant.) One can not help but see the beautiful connection here in Juliana’s spiritual life between her devotion to the Body of Christ in the womb and the Body of Christ upon the altar.

Which leads us to the second woman: Mary the Mother of Jesus. In his encyclical letter ECCLESIA DE EUCHARISTIA, On the Eucharist in Its Relationship to the Church, John Paul II discusses Mary and the Eucharist:

“In a certain sense Mary lived her Eucharistic faith even before the institution of the Eucharist, by the very fact that she offered her virginal womb for the Incarnation of God’s Word. The Eucharist, while commemorating the passion and resurrection, is also in continuity with the incarnation. At the Annunciation Mary conceived the Son of God in the physical reality of his body and blood, thus anticipating within herself what to some degree happens sacramentally in every believer who receives, under the signs of bread and wine, the Lord’s body and blood.”

“As a result, there is a profound analogy between the Fiat which Mary said in reply to the angel, and the Amen which every believer says when receiving the body of the Lord. Mary was asked to believe that the One whom she conceived “through the Holy Spirit” was “the Son of God” (Lk 1:30-35). In continuity with the Virgin’s faith, in the Eucharistic mystery we are asked to believe that the same Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Mary, becomes present in his full humanity and divinity under the signs of bread and wine.”

“Blessed is she who believed” (Lk 1:45). Mary also anticipated, in the mystery of the incarnation, the Church’s Eucharistic faith. When, at the Visitation, she bore in her womb the Word made flesh, she became in some way a “tabernacle” – the first “tabernacle” in history – in which the Son of God, still invisible to our human gaze, allowed himself to be adored by Elizabeth, radiating his light as it were through the eyes and the voice of Mary. And is not the enraptured gaze of Mary as she contemplated the face of the newborn Christ and cradled him in her arms that unparalleled model of love which should inspire us every time we receive Eucharistic communion?”(#55)

“The Eucharist has been given to us so that our life, like that of Mary, may become completely a Magnificat!” (#58)



WHAT JOHN PAUL II SAID 5 YEARS AFTER ISSUANCE OF HIS “GOSPEL OF LIFE” ENCYCLICAL – PART II
April 7, 2009, 11:19 pm
Filed under: Evangelium Vitae, John Paul II

respect-life-memorial-garden1

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”.