Conception in the Fallopian Tube
Virtually all conceptions of human beings occur within the fallopian tubes of a female. The sperm pierces the single-cell egg only recently released from the ovum. The moment a sperm breaks into the egg, there is no longer the sperm and the egg, but rather a single-cell person, or rather a person in the embryonic stage known as a zygote. This is the moment; rather, this is the instant that there is a new person as all conditions exist for life, and the life processes have begun.
Extra Fact: A female person has all the eggs she will have for her life
by week ten after conception.
This newly conceived person will work its way down the Fallopian tubes, aided by the cilia that help push the single- or growing multi-cell person down to the uterus. On entering the uterus or womb, this new person will find a spot to settle along the uterine wall. It is there that this new person will develop a placenta that has this new person’s DNA. This placenta will implant itself within the uterine wall. From the mother, the placenta will supply this growing person oxygen, nutrients, and antibodies, and filters waste away through the mother. At all times, it allows for virtually no mixing of blood between the mother and child. The enwombed person will be attached to the placenta by way of an umbilical cord that transfers all matter between the mother and child. The umbilical cord’s legacy is our belly button.
What is a Womb?
The newly conceived person must be enwombed to grow from the embryonic stage through the fetal stage as a fetus and delivered from the womb at birth. It is in the womb that the person is perfected in preparation for birth and life outside the womb. The new person remains in the mother’s womb not for the purpose of receiving human nature, but for a certain perfecting of that which it has already received. [Question 27 Article 1 Reply to Objection 4 Summa Theologica St Thomas Aquinas]
Enwombment is essential for the sustainability and growth of this new person.
The Spiritual Womb
The material world reflects the deeper and far more critical spiritual dimension of reality. This difference is in both truth and analogy. An analogy is something similar to another thing in significant, remarkable ways without being the same. Analogies from the material world are often used to enlighten one to abstract, spiritual truths.
As noted, the womb is a place where one is perfected in preparation for birth to the one’s next stage of life. St. Thomas Aquinas used this same definition to help us understand his suggestion that the family is a form of spiritual womb. It is in the family that the person is perfected from infancy to adulthood. The adult moves out on one’s own to later date and mate in marriage, creating a new family.
Aquinas’ view of the spiritual womb applies to schools, a career, social groups, or even sports teams and book clubs. St. Francis of Assisi carried this concept of the spiritual womb to all of mortal life as the place for perfection to eternal life in a prayer of his. The song/prayer Make Me An Instrument Of Your Peace wherein the last line it is written, “And it’s in dying that we are born to eternal life.”
Application of the spiritual sense of a womb can also be to the Catholic Faith and Church, or to our mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. Baptism is the Sacrament where we both die and rise with Christ. The Baptismal Fount serves as both a tomb for our death with Christ and as a womb for our rebirth.
At Baptism, we are sacramentally impregnated with Jesus and the Most Blessed Trinity. Through Baptism we become a child of God the Father, a brother or sister of Jesus Christ, and a Temple of the Holy Spirit. We carry the Blessed Trinity within us serving as their Temple, a Tabernacle, or even as providing a womb for them. St. Paul asks of you, as a mother to Christ, “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” 1 Cor 3:16
Among other things, we also become a Member of the Body of Christ.
Mother of Christ
As a womb to Jesus Christ, each of us can serve as a mother to Jesus Christ. Jesus himself invited us to that sort of relationship to Him when He explained, “For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother.” Matthew 12:50 We also read of St. Clare writing to St. Agnes of Prague, referring to her as being “the spouse and the mother and the sister of my Lord Jesus Christ.” First Letter of St. Clare to St. Agnes of Prague
During Mass we can liturgically receive Jesus through the Reading of the Word as we recall the words of St. James from his Letter, “Humbly accept the word that has been implanted within you that can save your soul.” James 1:21 This is similar to the Blessed Mary conceiving Jesus through the word of the Archangel Gabriel. We can also receive Jesus through the Liturgy of the Eucharist by worthily receiving the Eucharist in Communion.
These suggestions are to take nothing away from the singular honor bestowed on the Blessed Virgin Mary as the True Spouse of the Holy Spirit. Only she is the Mother of God who gave of her flesh to the Incarnation of Jesus. Only the Virgin Mother is the Immaculate Conception, conceived without sin. Only Blessed Mary was given to us as a spiritual mother by Jesus, and only she received all of us as her spiritual children from Jesus. Only the Virgin Mother was Assumed into heaven and received Coronation as Queen of Heaven and Earth.
We must note that a woman from the crowd called out and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that carried you and the breasts at which you nursed.” He replied, “Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.” Luke 11:27-28 It is clear that the cause for the honor to Mary is that all that she did was in obedience to the Father’s Will. Obedience to the Father’s will is a standard to which we are all called to seek.
Our difference from Mary is that we all suffered Original Sin until Baptism and even after that we struggle with the remaining effects of Original Sin: 1) confused intellect or thinking; 2) malice of will or selfishness; 3) disordered passions or emotions; and 4) weakness, sickness, and death.
A further difference is that for Jesus to grow within Mary’s womb; He had been given His own flesh in a body to grow. Within each of us, Jesus exists spiritually, but not is flesh. For Jesus to be embodied within us, we must surrender our flesh to Jesus as Jesus surrendered His flesh for us. This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me. Luke 22:19 Surrendering our flesh to Jesus means that we must surrender the actions of our body to the will of Jesus. He must increase; I must decrease. John 3:30 To the extent that we surrender our will to Jesus’ will, which is one with the Father’s will, we must live the life of Christ. I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh. Galatians 2:19-20
Both the Catholic Church and the Blessed Virgin Mary are there to help us in discerning the will of the Father for each of us. With Jesus, each of the Church and Mary says to you, My children, for whom I am again in labor until Christ be formed in you! Gal 4:19
As we do surrender our body and lives as Members of the Body of Christ with Jesus as our head, we identify evermore with Paul’s words, For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Col 3:3
The goal is that of a one-flesh union between yourself and Christ. Or as is described in Genesis 2:24, and the two of them become one body.
The Apostle John wrote in his Gospel that the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. John 1:14 If we are successful in this communion of self and Christ, we will be able to proclaim that the Word became my flesh.
Jesus knows how difficult it is for us to surrender our thoughts, words, and flesh to even God. As previously cited, the effects of Original Sin challenge us always with the fear of loss and abandonment. Jesus shares in similar but more profound abandonment when on the Cross hanging by nails through His hands and feet cried out, Jesus cries out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46 Jesus does not want us to feel that level of abandonment. He seeks to protect us from His singular experience and level of alienation. For this and so much more, Jesus calls us to be Baptized, and He promised that He will be with us until the end of time. cf. Matthew 28:19-20 There will be no suffering in our lives that we will face alone; Jesus will be there with us.
Jesus draws us into Himself. In His final discourse to His disciples during the Last Supper before His Passion, Jesus told them, “Believe me that I am in the Father and the father is in me,…” John 14:11 He encouraged us in saying, “Remain in me, as I remain in you…Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.” John 15:4-5 Reminding us of the need to obey the will of God, He added, “If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.” John 15:10
His earlier call to love, “As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” John 13:35 will take on a much higher meaning after both His first Consecration of the bread and wine as His Body and Blood along with his subsequent Passion and Crucifixion. “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.” Luke 22:19
The surrender of our flesh is not easy. Jesus knows this, but it is the way of the Cross. It is the wisdom behind commitment and trial. Jesus is needed for us to succeed. We must learn to surrender our lives that we may yield our flesh to Jesus in the same spirit that Jesus freely surrendered His flesh to His Passion by His tormentors. Recall His words as The Good Shepherd in anticipation of answering Pontius Pilate, “This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again – This command I have received from my Father.” John 10:17-18
Jesus is now and always with us. He wants us to understand that as much as He may be within us as a child in its mother’s womb; we are more inside Jesus as one in His spiritual womb. This is the dynamic of enwombment. I bear Jesus Christ as Jesus Christ bears me all the more so. We are not alone. We are not to be afraid. We are to yield our flesh and lives and Members of Christ trusting that Jesus is our Head. If we too find the Father’s will for our life and body, we will be able to join St. Paul in saying, “I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church.” Col 1:24
Peace of Jesus in the womb of Mary be with you.
© 2019 Patrick A. O’Donnell All Rights Reserved