UNBORN WORD of the day


MERCY INCARNATE: THE ANNUNCIATION OF THE LORD TO MARY

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Annunciation by Bradi Barth

This year, because March 25th fell in Holy Week, the great feast day of the Annunciation of the Lord to Mary has been moved to Monday April 8, 2013. This feast day also marks the Incarnation of Christ our Lord. Due to this date change, Divine Mercy Sunday (the 7th) and the Annunciation (the 8th) are back-to-back.

This fact draws our attention to the incredible testimony to the Mercy of God contained within the mystery of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. At the beginning of his 1980 encyclical letter Dives in Misericordia, On the Mercy of God, John Paul II recounts the understanding of God’s mercy found in the Old Testament, then he comments:

“Christ confers on the whole of the Old Testament tradition about God’s mercy a definitive meaning. Not only does He speak of it and explain it by the use of comparisons and parables, but above all He Himself makes it incarnate and personifies it. He Himself, in a certain sense, is mercy.” (#2)

Later in this same encyclical John Paul II speaks of Christ’s messianic program as a program of mercy, relying upon the prophet Isaiah to help define it as “the revelation of merciful love for the poor, the suffering and prisoners, for the blind, the oppressed and sinners”. (#8)

Mercy is etched upon the life of Christ from Incarnation to Ascension. We are all daily beneficiaries of His program of Mercy. But John Paul II goes a step further: “Christ’s messianic program, the program of mercy, becomes the program of His people, the program of the Church.” (#8)

The worldwide Pro-Life community has always identified itself with the Mercy and forgiveness of God and must continue to emphasize this Program of Mercy. In the unborn and newborn Christ Child we see that God’s mercy is humble, vulnerable and therefore open to misinterpretation as mere weakness. But the Christ child’s humility and vulnerability, like Mercy and forgiveness are expressions of the redemptive power of God. The Pro – Life movement must continue to reflect mercy and forgiveness, in order to reach out to those most invested in so-called “abortion rights” and the destruction of humble, vulnerable human life.



The Dream of St. Joseph by Francisco Rizi 1665, Indianapolis Museum of Art Indianapolis, Indiana
December 24, 2012, 11:17 pm
Filed under: Advent, Mother of the Lord, The Incarnation, Unborn Jesus

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

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Indianapolis Museum of Art

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The Dream of St. Joseph Artist: Francisco Rizi

In a subject that became popular in Spain during the 17th century, an angel appears to St. Joseph in a dream and explains that Mary has miraculously conceived a child. The luminous angel points to a vision of Mary with the infant Christ in her womb and the dove of the Holy Spirit above her. The veneration of the expectant Virgin as protectress of women in childbirth was prevalent at the Spanish court and was promoted by the royal confessor. Francisco Rizi was the Spanish-born son of a Bolognese painter who went to work for Philip II at the Escorial in 1583. Rizi, who became royal painter to Philip IV in 1658, was also active as a stage designer.

“An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins’ (Mt 1:20-21).

There is a strict parallel between the “annunciation” in Matthew’s text and the one in Luke. The divine messenger introduces Joseph to the mystery of Mary’s motherhood. While remaining a virgin, she who by law is his “spouse” has become a mother through the power of the Holy Spirit. And when the Son in Mary’s womb comes into the world, he must receive the name Jesus. This was a name known among the Israelites and sometimes given to their sons. In this case, however, it is the Son who, in accordance with the divine promise, will bring to perfect fulfillment the meaning of the name Jesus-Yehos ua’ – which means ‘God saves.’ “   John Paul II, Redemptoris Custos 



Apokalypse Maria-Ekklesia by Gottfried Bernhard Goz 1749/50, Die Wallfahrtskirche Birnau, Lake Constance, Germany
December 21, 2012, 9:46 pm
Filed under: Advent, Mother of the Lord, The Incarnation, Unborn Jesus

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

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Die Wallfahrtskirche Birnau (The Pilgrimage Church of Birnau)

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Apokalypse Maria-Ekklesia (Presbyteriu Deckenfresko)

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Detail of Christ In the Womb

Birnau is a pilgrimage church at the shore of Lake Constance, between Meersburg and Überlingen. It was built in 1746-1749 for the Cistercians monastery of Salem (Germany) by Austrian architect Peter Thumb. The church interior features notable frescoes by Gottfried Bernhard Göz as well as altars and stucco ornaments in rococo style by Joseph Anton Feuchtmayer.

“In being born among us, may the Child Jesus not find us distracted or merely busy, beautifying our houses with decorative lights. Rather, let us deck our soul and make our families a worthy dwelling place where he feels welcomed with faith and love. May the Blessed Virgin and St Joseph help us to live the Mystery of Christmas with renewed wonder and peaceful serenity.” Benedict XVI General Audience, December 20 2006



Pregnant Madonna,The Sanctuary of St. Mary of  the Assumption, Bogenberg, Austria
December 21, 2012, 8:18 pm
Filed under: Advent, 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 Sanctuary of St. Mary of  the Assumption (Pilgrimage church Mariä Himmelfahrt)

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The Sanctuary of St. Mary of  the Assumption (Mariä Himmelfahrt) Shrine Interior

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Pregnant Madonna

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Pregnant Madonna (detail)

The Sanctuary of St. Mary of  the Assumption in Altotting Bogenberg on a hill overlooking the Danube is the second largest and oldest pilgrimage site in Bavaria.
The special feature of the arc mountain church is the sculpture of the pregnant Madonna (window in the womb with baby Jesus).  Bogen’s greatest claim to fame is this shrine to Mary high atop Bogenberg.

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According to the legend, the Romanesque stone sculpture of Our Lady was found floating upstream on the Danube in 1104. In 1295 the chronicle of Oberalteich monastery for the first time mentions the legend of how the miracle-working statue which is revered in Bogenberg Church was found. According to that legend the statue had been floating upstream in the Danube and had landed on a rock in the river, which appears when the water level is low. This rock is still called “Marienstein”, i.e. Marys stone. Count Aswin of Bogen is said to have recovered the statue from the rock and to have taken it to the chapel of his castle. Then a church was built on Bogenberg Hill for the statue and the hill with the church was given to the monks of Oberalteich, who encouraged the pilgrimage to the miraculous statue. The statue shows Holy Mary heavy with child. It is also the reason why many of the pilgrims who came/come to Bogenberg were/are women praying for a good childbirth.

“In Advent Christ rested in Mary still, silent, helpless, utterly dependent. The Creator trusted Himself to His creature….This was a foreshadowing of what the Incarnation would mean for us; for in us too, Christ rests as He rested in Mary. From the moment when the Christ life is conceived in us, our life is intended for one thing, the expression of His love, His love for God and for the world…. We must allow the Christ life to grow in us in rest. Our whole being must fold upon Christ’s rest in us, as the earth folds upon the seed.” Caryll Houselander, The Passion of the Infant Christ (London: Sheed and Ward, 1949).



Gosler Town Hall Interior, 1505-1520, Goslar Town Hall Goslar Germany
December 18, 2012, 7:25 pm
Filed under: Advent, Mother of the Lord, The Incarnation, Unborn Jesus

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

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Gosler Town Hall Interior

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Verkündigung Mariä

The Huldigungssaal in Goslar town hall was built from 1505 to 1520 as a Council Chamber. Here is a unique gem of late Gothic art : walls, ceiling and even the window recesses are completely lined with paintings. Varied carved tendrils crown the individual whiteboards. Each and every painting is a work of art that fits in with the overwhelming impression.. It took many years but the Huldigungssaal has now been restored, with security, climate and lighting upgraded to keep this unique ensemble of artwork in pristine condition.

“The Word took possession of her chaste womb, where He was to dwell for nine months the first nine months of His sojourn on this earth. And in that temple He at once began His work, that of loving God with a human heart……All His perfect acts of love, of praise, of reverence, of service, His acts of patience and humility, of meekness and suffering, of sacrifice and mort ification and all the rest, passed up to God through Mary. From that sacred temple a fragrant incense was continually rising to heaven “a sweet smelling savor”, sweeter than either earth or heaven had ever known before. For all those acts were perfect in God’s sight, worthy of His acceptance; they were the acts of a perfect man. And they were also infinite because they were at the same time the acts of God Himself.” Mother St. Paul, Nativitas Christi (London: Longmans, Green and Co. Ltd., 1937), 145



The Decree of Redemption by Konrad Witz, 15th Century, Gemäldegalerie Berlin Germany
December 16, 2012, 11:25 am
Filed under: Advent, The Incarnation, Unborn Jesus

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

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Gemäldegalerie Berlin Germany

Konrad Witz Trinity and Visitation

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The Decree of Redemption by Konrad Witz (Click here to see enlarged copy of painting)

Richly ornamented with a gold background this painting shows us the Divine sphere. The invisible Mystery of the Trinity is made  visible. God the Father sits on a throne. The book is opened. The Holy Spirit is hovering as a dove. Our redemption is being pondered. The Lamb looks to Christ who is worshiping the Father. The Son is being sent. The key locks the circle. The key starts at the heart of the Father and points to the halo of the Son where it ends with a cross. The Divine decree is the Incarnation of God – the Son is being sent for the Redemption of the world. The Innocent (the Lamb) is to be sacrificed in order to bring the Divine love to humanity.

The Incarnation has already taken place in the womb. The right section of the painting shows Mary and Elizabeth as pregnant women, with John and Jesus in their wombs. Here sits the unborn Baby Jesus in the womb of Mary as on a throne and the unborn John kneels, folds his hands and adores the Redeemer. The Divine is in the world. The thoughtful look of both Women indicates the understanding each has of the Unborn Redeemer. Mary is the Virgin with flowing hair and an open ear, she has just heard the word of the Angel affirmed by Elizabeth. Her blue dress of heavenly fidelity speaks the Magnificat. The letters of this song of praise adorn the Mantle of her cloak embroidered in gold Letters. Elizabeth is the old and wise woman in the red dress. She looks with love into the transcendent distance at the Counsel of Redemption. The views of  both women draw the viewer, to involve them in the wonder of this Event.

“O King of nations, as I look back through the ages and see the Child and His Mother so clearly set forth in promise and prophecy, in type and example, when I think of Thy plans for the Redemption of the world, made from all eternity and gradually unfolding as the fullness of time approached, when I think of the nations all desiring Thy coming, when I think of the intense desire of Thy loving Heart, there is one thing that seems to jar and to be out of harmony with the rest, and that is the lamentable want of desire in my own heart ! The time is very short now, the Child with His Mother are already on the way to Bethlehem. Oh! Let me multiply my Acts of Desire that my little King when He comes may be indeed my ‘desired One’ too.”  Mother St. Paul, Ortus Christi, pp. 124.125.



Pregnant Virgin 1500 -1600, Cistercian convent, St.Marienstern Panschwitz-Kuckau Germany
December 15, 2012, 11:21 pm
Filed under: Advent, Mother of the Lord, The Incarnation, Unborn Jesus

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

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Cistercian convent, St.Marienstern

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Pregnant Virgin

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Maria in der Hoffnung

Our Lady Expecting, Our Lady of Hope

Pregnant Virgin

In 1996, Medievalist, Markus Bauer visited the Cistercian convent, St. Marienstern, in Panschwitz-Kuckau — a small village with a population of 2400 and located in the Sachsen part of the Lausitz area in search of material for an historical exhibit. The historian found three sculptures of the Blessed Virgin Mary, each with an opening in the stomach, where the viewer could see a miniature carving of the unborn Christ Child.

Such sculptures were highly valued devotional objects in the 14th and 15th centuries. In the 19th century, this type of devotional image no longer spoke to the souls of the sisters in the same way, so they hung a cloth over the stomach opening, or they nailed the opening closed. Since the covering for one of these Marian figures was missing, it was put away in a remote cell, where it stayed to the present time.

“It would simply weary the reader to repeat almost word for word this description of our dearest Lord’s life in the Womb, changing the phrases to apply it to the Blessed Sacrament. The parallel is so complete, that it must already have suggested itself; and I have dwelt upon it at greater length, because, as the devotion to the life in the womb is especially a devotion of interior souls, so the corresponding thoughts with regard to the Blessed Sacrament are those which are most familiar to interior souls in their prayers before the tabernacle; and again as all the mysteries of the Sacred Infancy take their color and character from the life in the womb, to establish the analogy between it and the Blessed Sacrament is in truth to establish the analogy between the Blessed Sacrament and the Sacred Infancy altogether.”   The Blessed Sacrament, Fr. F. W. Faber