UNBORN WORD of the day

At the Heart of the Hail Mary Prayer
August 9, 2010, 10:54 am
Filed under: Biblical Reflections, Mother of the Lord, Unborn Jesus

Annunciation by Michael Wening

Christians of every persuasion unite around the repetition of the Our Father. But in a sense the Lord’s Prayer is a model of how to pray – not the only prayer we are to say.

Making the sign of the cross is a physical expression of prayer which reflects our interior disposition (at least to an extent). Kneeling is also a physical expression of prayer but less revealing of one’s “beliefs” than making the sign of the cross.

All of our spiritual acts and words leave an impression upon our souls. The memory is a faculty of the soul, an “inner sense” as Aquinas described it. Surely the memory takes note of all our spiritual acts and prayers, especially those that tend to be repetitive.

So let’s consider briefly just a few words from one prayer; the Hail Mary, which is a prayer based on scripture and the tradition of the Church. (The first half of the Hail Mary comes straight from scripture; Lk 1:28, 42, 31. The second half is a simple petition expressing the age old mind of the Church.) Let’s consider one clause from this ancient prayer of the Church: “…blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus”. These words were spoken by Elizabeth to Mary when Unborn Jesus was about one week old – He was in Mary’s womb when the words were spoken by Elizabeth who was probably just a few feet away from Him.

“Blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus”. These words have been prayed by Catholics zillions of times over two thousand years, but more to the point, each individual Catholic has heard these words over and over again and prayed these words over and over again. The message of these words is like a radiant beam of glory aimed at the heart of the Christian. The point here is that these words are packed with message and meaning.

Some would take issue with recitation of this prayer by quoting Jesus Himself: “And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do…” (Mt 6:7). The point here is that this phrase – this glorious phrase “Blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus” – is NOT an empty phrase, it is scripture, it is a phrase “pressed down, and shaken together, and running over” – bursting and overflowing with meaning, direction and hope.

So, the Church is guilty of being fixated upon, even obsessed with, the wonder, the beauty and the glory of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. And we haven’t even mentioned Christmas yet!

“Blessed is the fruit of your womb Jesus” has been a luminous track for the faithful, lo’ these many centuries, for the illiterate and literate alike, for the weak and the holy alike. These words have upheld a Truth about Jesus Christ which has led the Church into its profound and expansive Pro – Life position concerning all other unborn children in the wombs of their mothers.

Dare we say it? “Blessed is the fruit of every mother’s womb!”

St. Louise de Marillac’s chaplet to Unborn Jesus
March 15, 2010, 11:20 pm
Filed under: Mother of the Lord, Unborn Jesus

Today, Monday March 15 is the feast day of St. Louise de Marillac. In an October 10, 2009 post entitled St. Louise de Marillac and Unborn Jesus – we talked about the chaplet that St. Louise developed to honor Unborn Jesus. In a book published in 1884 by Benziger Brothers,  Life of Mademoiselle Le Gras (Louise de Marillac) Foundress of the Sisters of Charity, we are given a little more insight into how she came up with this idea.

“What adds to the interest of these scattered leaves is a number of familiar details which people might find too minute, but which the family would gather up and preserve as relics. They reveal, among other things, divers practices of daily piety suggested to Mile. Le Gras (St. Louise de Marillac) by her increasing devotion to the hidden life of our Lord, and principally His sojourn in the womb of His Mother. ‘ Hearing this mysterious state spoken of,’ she writes in the year 1642, a little before Advent, ‘ I applied myself to it with deep reflection, and a new light was given me with a desire to honor this mystery by some appropriate prayers.’  It was at this time that she made the resolution of saying a rosary composed of nine grains (beads), in honor of the nine months preceding the birth of the Infant God; and to encourage in her Daughters a taste for this holy exercise, she prepared for them in a little box as many chaplets as were necessary for each to be given one, to be distributed after her death.”

As we pointed out in St. Louise and the Unborn Christ Child she never did distribute those rosaries because:

It seems that  St. Vincent had agreed to this devotional practice three years earlier but at this point he asked her to discontinue it. Even though St. Louise continued to believe that this was a devotion that Our Lady wanted her to practice – in holy obedience to St. Vincent she discontinued it.

She alludes to this in a letter: “I feel that I must tell your Charity (St. Vincent) that I was and still am sorry at having to abandon those little prayers because I believe that the Blessed Virgin wanted me to render her this small tribute of gratitude. But with her, I console myself by offering my renunciation to her and by resolving to please her in some other way and to serve her with greater fervor….” Louise de Marillac, Spiritual Writings, L.304

Later this week  we would like to present to you a new apostolate  in Pennsylvania called Preborn Jesus Ministry. This new apostolate  is promoting praying the joyful mysteries of the rosary to honor  preborn Jesus and to pray for the unborn.

A modern Visitation story
February 9, 2010, 11:59 pm
Filed under: Mother of the Lord, Unborn Jesus

Maurice Denis. The Visitation. 1894. Oil on canvas. 103 x 93 cm. The Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia.

The following story was told by Mother Agnes Mary Donovan, superior general of the Sisters of Life in her Dec. 10, 2009  address to the Nothing More Beautiful Congress entitled Witness to the Grace of Jesus Christ.

After recounting the story of the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth Mother Agnes reflects:

“How did Elizabeth know that Mary was carrying the unborn Jesus?” our founder would ask. “Remember how Mary had exchanged her word for the Living Word, the Son of God, who would be conceived beneath her heart? That same Living Word reached out and touched Elizabeth.

“She hadn’t received any advance warning that Mary was coming, no telephone call or telegram, and there was no way she could have known that Mary was carrying the Son of God. But Elizabeth did know – she knew that Mary was the Mother of God because the infant in her womb leapt for joy.”

That’s the power of the Christ child within the womb of Mary. It radiated outwardly from that womb and penetrated the womb of Elizabeth, purifying John the Baptist as you and I are purified of original sin at Baptism.

At this point in the address, Mother Agnes goes on to recount a true story of a young pregnant woman whom they ministered to:

Let me tell you a recent story which is nearly a present day recapitulation of this New Testament event. As part of the 40 Days for Life, Janet and her friends, local faithful Hispanic women, witnessed before an abortion mill in Stamford, Conn., each week on their way to work.

A young woman, Maria, who came to the clinic for an abortion appointment, came over mistakenly to speak with one of them. In the midst of the conversation they realized that this woman did not want an abortion, but without support for herself and her child, she had surrendered in desperation.

In the midst of the conversation, Janet and her friends realized that they needed to leave to get to work and called the Sisters of Life to ask them to continue where they had left off and to help link this young vulnerable pregnant woman with the resources she would need.

Our only Spanish-speaking sister was on an errand away from the convent that morning and other sisters who were home when the call came in went hurriedly to pick her up, and to bring her to the convent so that they might talk to get to know Maria and to understand her needs.

Just that week, in the entrance foyer of our convent and retreat house a beautiful stained-glass window of Our Lady of Guadalupe, had been installed to mark the fifth anniversary of our retreat mission at Villa Maria Guadalupe. Our Italian sister from Brooklyn, launched into the use of her limited Italian, and another sister broke out Spanish she hadn’t used since college telling the young woman in literal and poor Spanish: “This is the home of your mother.”

They continued communicating using the only language they all shared – the universal language of love.

After some time our Brooklyn sister remembered the Spanish Bible in the library, and returned with it encouraging the young woman to read the story of the Visitation – Mary’s visit to Elizabeth following the Annunciation of the angel and conceiving the Christ Child.

As the young mother read the story silently to herself, tears poured from her eyes as she exclaimed: “That is what happened to me as I looked at the window of my mother. The baby leaped in my womb.”

These are pictures of the stained glass window of Our Lady of Guadalupe,that was installed to mark the fifth anniversary of the Sister’s of Life retreat mission at Villa Maria Guadalupe.

August 15, 2009, 10:32 pm
Filed under: Biblical Reflections, Incarnation, Mother of the Lord, Unborn Jesus

Madonna pregnat 7

Nardo di Cione, 1346-m. 1365, Madonna del parto , Firenze, San Lorenzo: 1365

Our prior six posts*  have considered the mystery of Mary’s contemplation and remembrance of all the significant events, revelations and Divine inspirations that occurred in her life, and in the lives of others nearby, during the course of her nine month pregnancy. With Christ alive just inches beneath her listening heart, she was the living echo of God’s abundant grace during those initial months of the Incarnation.

It fell upon her, that is, it was an integral part of her office as Mother to the Incarnate Word, to be exquisitely attentive to every event, revelation and inspiration concerning her Son during His entire life, but especially during the sacred months of her pregnancy while she was the only one in direct communion with Him.

Before the apostles had ever been chosen or an Apostles Creed had been formulated, she was the contemplative memory of the Church (as John Paul II would say). Before the great St. Paul was converted, Mary was pondering in her heart the deepest mysteries of Christ, and marveling at the Plan of Salvation as it was unfolding – first, within her body,  as a softly lit light, and later as a glowing beacon for all of Israel to behold. She carried the church’s forming Creed in her heart while carrying humanity’s developing Unborn Redeemer within her womb.

With the birth of Christ came yet another cloudburst of inspired witnesses: the angels spoke to the shepherds and the shepherds came to worship and told Mary and Joseph what they had been told. Next, the three wise men from the East came and also shared their wisdom. At the Temple, holy Simeon and the prophetess Anna were inspired to speak of the Christ child. An angel appeared to Joseph to instruct him. As Mary and Joseph fled with their newborn Son, Christ now became a political problem and death for young children was the King’s answer to the problem of Christ.

We do not have time here to sift through all of these wondrous happenings in this “fourth trimester” – the months immediately following the Nativity – but the Holy Spirit was extremely active and gracious during this hallowed time as well.

*This 7th post concludes this series.

The Annunciation: Fear not for I am with you.
March 24, 2009, 11:30 pm
Filed under: Mother of the Lord, Papal Quotes, Unborn Jesus


Nuestra Señora de la Esperanza

Today is the Feast of the Annunciation. Here are two beautiful quotes from Pope Pius XII which show us that right from the moment of His conception in Mary’s womb Christ our Savior embraced us with His redeeming love.

“But the knowledge and love of our Divine Redeemer, of which we were the object from the first moment of His Incarnation, exceed all that the human intellect can hope to grasp. For hardly was He conceived in the womb of the Mother of God, when He began to enjoy the beatific vision, and in that vision all the members of His Mystical Body were continually and unceasingly present to Him, and He embraced them with His redeeming love.” Pius XII Mystici Corporis , 75

“The Virgin Mary utters that generous word, “be it done”…Immediately the Heart of Jesus, ever to be adored, has begun to pulsate with love, divine and human” Pius XII, On Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, 63.

February 22, 2009, 11:25 pm
Filed under: Mother of the Lord, Unborn Jesus


Visitation by Fra Angelico

We find this line in the Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Think of Mary, after she is visited by the Archangel Gabriel and she has conceived Christ the Lord within her womb…

“In those days Mary arose and went with haste, into the hill country, to a city of Judah…” Lk 1:39

“For you shall go out in joy, and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall break forth into singing…” Isaiah 55:12

All of Judah longed for the Messiah…When would he come?

How would he make his entrance in the hill country of Judea?

He was the long-awaited One, the people all desired to see his day!

Here comes a young woman, exuding peace to comfort her people,
How beautiful upon the mountains are her feet,
As she brings good tidings…
Good news of a great joy which will come to all the people…

The very hills of Judea desire her secret, which she carries beneath her heart,

She carries within her, in expectation, the One who Is…

But how will he be received?
Now Mary sees the house of Zechariah, she runs with excitement…
She enters the home and greets her cousin Elizabeth…
Elizabeth cries out:
“…when the voice of your greeting came to my ears,
the babe in my womb leaped for joy.”


December 23, 2008, 3:09 pm
Filed under: Advent, Mother of the Lord, Unborn Jesus


Last Sunday, the 4th Sunday of Advent, one of the alternative opening prayers for the Catholic Mass included these words: “Your eternal Word took flesh on our earth when the Virgin Mary placed her life at the service of Your plan”. I was taken by this concept of Mary “at the service of” God’s plan of salvation, that is, she was at the service of the plan to redeem you and me. Her famous response to the Archangel Gabriel “Let it be done unto me according to your word” (Lk 1:38), was a wide open acceptance of God’s will – not only for the next year or two but – for the rest of her life… And what a life!

One of the Preface prayers at the beginning of the Eucharistic Prayer (Preface of Advent II) was even more striking: “The virgin mother bore Him in her womb with love beyond all telling”. So we see in Mary this beautiful harmony of “service” and “love” –both “beyond all telling”. She was a teenager when she conceived Christ and she was on a trajectory of growing in service and love throughout her entire life. “Full of grace” before conceiving Christ, living a life of intensifying holiness, in the constant presence of God Most High made oh so tiny (in her womb).

We will never ever understand Mary unless we understand this: that she loved her unborn child with “love beyond all telling” during her first trimester, then even more so during her second trimester, and then to the breaking point during her third trimester! Her love of her son –God’s only begotten Son – simply continued to grow and deepen, grow and intensify, grow and re-define what love is and could be.

It is “love beyond all telling” because no human mind can fathom it! Think of Mary’s closeness to her baby when you think of these words from John’s Gospel: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth…And from his fullness have we all received, grace upon grace…” (Jn 1:14,16).

So Mary received grace from her baby and grew in her love for her baby and her God, and Jesus received His humanity from His mother and grew in His humanness and His solidarity with humanity. Each received from the other and grew in the gift received, mother and child.

Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Unborn
September 22, 2008, 9:58 pm
Filed under: Mother of the Lord, Pro-life, Unborn Jesus

The two best known pro-life priests have written about Our Lady of Guadalupe and the unborn. Both recognize  that this apparition is unique because when Mary appeared to Juan Diego she was pregnant. Some of you will ask how do we know that this is so.

We know it because of  the Maternity Band: The maternity band around the woman’s waist was the sign of a pregnant woman, a mother who is about to give birth, it was a sign to the Indians that someone is yet to come.

Calling it a surprising image this is what Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life said about Our Lady of Guadalupe: “Today this image is still preserved on Juan Diego’s tilma, which hangs over the main altar in the basilica at the foot of Tepeyac Hill just outside of Mexico City. In the image, Our Lady is pregnant, carrying the Son of God in her womb. Her head is bowed in homage, indicating that she is not the Goddess, but rather the one who bears and at the same time worships the one true God.”  and “…Our Lady of Guadalupe has been declared the ‘Patroness of the Unborn’.”

From: Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Pro-life Movement

Father Thomas Euteneuer of Human Life International states: “Of all the many manifestations of Mary’s loving presence among us throughout the centuries, in this apparition alone does she appear to us in the manner of a pregnant mother. She holds within her the unborn Christ, proclaiming the sanctity and blessedness of life within the womb. Her reverence and tenderness communicate to us the joy and awe with which we must approach each nascent life. In contemplating her simplicity we find the strength to emulate her faith, and proceed with confidence in the knowledge that God will overcome the seemingly insurmountable barriers looming all around us in the world today.”

From: Our Lady of Guadalupe: Protectress of the Unborn

Let us honor the Birth of the Mother of Our Savior
September 7, 2008, 10:53 pm
Filed under: Mother of the Lord, Unborn Jesus

Anne Conceiving the Virgin; Bellegambe    and     Mary’s Birth; Master of the Pfullendorf Altar

Today, September 8 is celebrated as the feast day of the Birth of Mary. We would like to praise God for the birth of the Mother of our Savior.

“The Church usually celebrates the passing of a person, that is, the person’s entry into eternal life. Besides the birth of Christ, the Christian liturgy celebrates only two other birthdays: that of St. John the Baptizer and of Mary, the Mother of Jesus. It is not only the individual greatness of these saints that the Church celebrates, but their role in salvation history, a role directly connected to the Redeemer’s own coming into the world.” To learn more: The History of the Liturgical Celebration of Mary’s Birth

Here is a beautiful hymn about when Mary carried Jesus our Savior and God in her womb.

Mary’s womb filled me with wonder
that it should contain you,
my Lord, and enclose you.
The whole of creation was too
small to conceal your greatness,
Earth and Heaven too narrow to
serve as embracing arms, to
conceal your divinity,
The womb of the earth is too small
for you, and yet the womb of
Mary is large enough for you.

These lines from Saint Ephrem’s Hymn on the Nativity

August 15, 2008, 12:58 pm
Filed under: Mary, Mother of the Lord

“The Woman Clothed with the Sun” – (from mural in the Church of the Visitation in Ein Kerem in Israel)

Today, August 15, 2008 is the feast of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven. The Gospel reading however is from the Visitation (Lk 1:39-56). We are reminded during this reading of Unborn John’s famous leap for joy at the coming of His Savior Jesus Christ. When Mary first conceived Christ, is it not likely that her soul leapt for joy too? This being the case, can we not see in the Assumption of Mary her extraordinary leap of joy into the Heavenly Presence of her Savior?

The second reading tells us that Christ is “the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep” (I Cor 15:20). It then goes on to say that in Christ all shall “be brought to life, but each one in proper order”. Mary is first in line for glory, after Christ! No, this is not Mary’s line per se, it is the line formed by Christ the first born from the dead (Col 1:18). But it is the Church’s line, the line for all the members of the Church redeemed by Christ their Savior – and Mary is the first in this line! Just as she was first to receive Christ the Savior into her heart (and in her case uniquely into her womb), so she is first to taste the fullness of redemption!

She was humanity’s representative, waiting faithfully in Nazareth for the Messiah, every day offering God Most High her invitation to send the long-awaited Messiah to Israel, and even to tiny humble Nazareth if it pleased the Most High. When Gabriel appeared to her she said Yes; “…let it be to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38). And so too, now at the close of this definitive chapter of salvation history, after saying “Yes” to God all her life, she again says, so to speak, “let it be to me according to your word” – and she is then taken up into heaven. Even Sacred scripture mystically commemorates this event as recorded by John the Evangelist in Revelation 12 (today’s first reading).

The line to Heaven is made up of those who say “yes” to God.

January 1, 2008, 11:43 pm
Filed under: Mother of the Lord


The Church’s liturgical year began at the outset of Advent, but the Church takes special notice of the first day of the calendar year by having a special celebration feast day for Mary “the Mother of God”. Rather than focusing on New Year Resolutions or looking over our shoulders at the year that was, the Church considers the new beginnings we find in Mary’s life.

“The Lord has created a new thing on the earth” (Jer 31:22). What is this “new thing”? Yes, it will be a New Covenant. Yes, Mary will be the New Ark of the Covenant (carrying within her the living Son of God). But, generally we could say that this “new thing” is a New Dispensation of Grace, a New Era for human living – a New Time of Grace. And this New Era of Grace begins precisely in Mary!

Even before the Incarnation, this “new thing” is realized within the soul and heart of Mary. Theologians have called it “the Immaculate Conception”. We can also call it, more generally, Grace…special Grace upon Grace! In other words, God prepared the way of the Lord, not only prophetically in the ministry of John the Baptist, but also biologically and spiritually within the body and heart of Mary.

When the angel Gabriel appeared to her she was “ready” – as ready as God had made her. And the angel acknowledges this mystery of Grace in her by proclaiming first of all: “Hail, full of Grace, the Lord is with you!” (Lk 1:28) Now through the centuries there have been some differences concerning how to best translate this greeting by the angel. If I might be excused for saying so, in one way, it doesn’t matter. “Rejoice, most highly favored, the Lord is with you” is another rendering. We know for a fact that God had worked a singular miracle of preparation within the life, person, body, soul of this one uniquely favored woman to be “the Mother of God”.

So, she is the first human to experience this “new thing” which God was beginning in human history and she experienced it uniquely. Her heart had already been filled with Grace abundant as she stood before the angel that day! Next, her womb was filled with Grace overflowing in the One Cell newly conceived – in the Person of God’s only begotten Son! In accepting the “Gospel Message” of God’s messenger angel, she becomes the First Christian! In her incipient and prophetic experience of the New Grace of this New Era of Grace, she is the First among all humans, and leads the Way behind the Divine Child who leads us.

The Immaculate Conception: A Worthy Dwelling for the son of God
December 8, 2007, 11:22 pm
Filed under: Mother of the Lord


Jean Bellegambe
Saint Anne conceiving the Virgin Mary

Douai, Musée de la Chartreuse

Yesterday, December 8th was the feastday of the Immaculate Conception (Mary’s conception within the womb of her mother St. Anne). We want to thank Dan Engler for sending the above painting to us representing this wondrous mystery of our faith. Below is a quote from Cardinal Berulle describing God’s miraculous involvement in Mary’s life.

“He happily preserved her from all offense, He adorns her with all grace. He makes her worthy of carrying him and receiving him into the world. He comes into her as into his tabernacle. He rests for nine moths in her as on his throne. He comes to us through her.” Cardinal Berulle, Vie de Jesus.