Archive for category Preborn Christ

He Did Not Spurn The Womb, We Shouldn’t Either

Job said, “Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I go back there.

The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD!”  Job 1:21

 

Enwombment is the term proposed in this blog and the prebornChrist.com website that suggests that we are conceived in a physical womb and birthed into spiritual wombs of family, faith, and other circumstances and relationships in order to grow and prepare for life beyond death.  St. Thomas Acquinas had once suggested the family as a spiritual womb.  St. Francis of Assisi wrote in his well known Peace Prayer  of “death is birth into eternal life.”  They seem to agree that we have time and this enwombment between the physical womb and our birth into eternal life to prepare.

 

Enwombment may be in reality a wonderful life-line God has provided each of us in our working out our salvation with Him, but the womb is also a concern that is not given much time or attention from others.  In fact, such benefits of the womb seem to many people as interferences or distractions, if not outright unpleasant.  But why?

 

As the prayer entitled, Te Deum , expresses, Jesus did not spurn the womb but instead entered the womb with all of its circumstances and limitations.  Fear again overtakes the average human with many unwilling or unable to imagine returning to the confines of the womb.  Those enwombed are dependent on others, own nothing but rather are stewards of all received and are both exposed and accountable for their life.  Who would want to seek solidarity with those in the womb?  Ignorance seems preferable to so many who are called to make their needs naked for others to meet; naked with neither distraction nor interference from God’s purpose for their life, and accountable to constituencies, not yet even known.  The unknown challenges that enwombment or solidarity with the child in the womb is unpleasant and may unearth responsibilities of which we are not yet aware,

 

Job, an Old Testament figure, understood well before the New testament was written, “Seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, 19 and all these things will be given you besides.”  Matthew 6:33

 

Regardless of what we seek to do, we will face God naked and vulnerable as we are in the womb.  We pray Christ will dress us in His mercy and sacrifice.  What now seems so important will seem so much more distant when facing death.  And fearfully, much and many whom we dismiss will prove to have been the challenges sent to us by God to strengthen us in trust in Him and to better understand the gifts and blessings He has bestowed on us.  We must use the time now to build that relationship with Jesus Christ that we will have a Happy Death where we trust Jesus Christ with our very souls, which He has in His hands always.

Devotion as Mother to Christ As Old As The Church

The first affirmation Jesus Christ intended for those who do the will of the Father to be His mother is found in the Gospels.  Three of the Gospels recount when Jesus once being informed that His brothers, sisters, and mother are outside.   Jesus responds by raising His hand over His disciples while stating that, “Anyone who does the will of the Father are my brothers, sisters, and my mother.”  See Mark 3:31-35, Matthew 12:46-50, Luke 8:19-21

 

Blessed Isaac of Stella (ca. 1100AD – 1169) entered the Cistercian Monastery of Citeaux of France.  Isaac be became an abbot of the Cistercian monastery of Stella.  He was known for his holiness and the teachings he gave his monks on the spiritual life. (See http://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/library_author/90/Isaac_of_Stella.html and the Liturgy of the Readings)

 

Blessed Isaac of Stella is one who later highlighted this statement of motherhood to Jesus when in a sermon of his he wrote the following:

 

In a way, every Christian is also believed to be a bride of God’s Word, a mother of Christ, his daughter and sister, at once virginal and fruitful. These words are used in a universal sense of the Church, in a special sense of Mary, in a particular sense of the individual Christian. They are used by God’s Wisdom in person, the Word of the Father.
     This is why Scripture says: I will dwell in the inheritance of the Lord. The Lord’s inheritance is, in a general sense, the Church; in a special sense, Mary; in an individual sense, the Christian. Christ dwelt for nine months in the tabernacle of Mary’s womb. He dwells until the end of the ages in the tabernacle of the Church’s faith. He will dwell forever in the knowledge and love of each faithful soul.  

 

Here Blessed Isaac of Stella relied on what Jesus said.  Blessed Isaac of Stella saw the reference in physical terms for the Blessed Virgin Mary while he saw this comment in spiritual terms for the rest of the members of the Body of Christ, the Church.  Clearly this is further validation for a devotion to the Preborn Christ who Christians bear Liturgically and Sacramentally and are destined to become the on-going incarnation of Jesus Christ.

Structures of Sin Can be Undermined and Destroyed

In yesterday’s blog posting, there was a reference to Blessed John Paul II’s explanation of “Social Sin” or rather “Structures of Sin.”  Blessed John Paul II, in his Encyclical, “On Social Concern,” went beyond just saying that these Structures of Sin will only be undermined and dismantled through personal holiness.   In short, this statement is true, but is also an incomplete exposition of all that Blessed John Paul II had written as the means to rid society of a Structure of Sin.

 

Blessed John Paul II had written of three specific elements necessary for each person to pursue and put into regular practice in order to take down Structures of Sin.  The first is personal holiness supplemented with solidarity with the victims of the structure(s) of sin and then followed with personal choices that reflect concrete practice of virtue overcoming temptation to contribute another sin to the already accumulated sin.  The latter two certainly grow from personal holiness that will also fortify the solidarity and personal choices.

 

A devotion to the Preborn Christ opens up all sorts of possibilities in terms of solidarity with those who are dependent, the defenceless, the confined,  and the threatened among so many others whose very existence and dignity remains unrespected and unprotected.

 

A devotion to the Preborn Christ is dependent on a touch of grace that overcomes so many cultural prejudice that first needs the opening of one’s eyes to Jesus in the womb.  Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed. John 20:29

Let’s pray for all of us who are blind that we too may see the Preborn Christ as Elizabeth did when filled with the Holy Spirit during the Visitation.  May her words of exclamation then be ours too, “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?”  Luke 1:42

 

 

 

A little child shall lead them. Isaiah 11:6

A structure of sin or social sin is first described by Blessed John Paul II in #36 of his 1987 Encyclical, “On Social Concern.”   He introduces the concept that an accumulation of personal sin creates social structures and norms that trivialize and depend on continuing this sin in the lives of countless succeeding individuals.  These structures of sin are exceptionally difficult to remove.  Created by individual sin, they can only be removed through personal acts of virtue and these are born from a pursuit of personal holiness.

 

The culture of America, as we now know it, is very dependent on people’s reliance on contraception, sterilization, and surgical abortion.  Fear of over-extending oneself in family size leads many to disregard or reject altogether the notion of God’s Providential care for those who honor and obey His laws.  The consequences of losing sight of God include the malady of a people who have now lost sight of the value of man.  This concept was also first advanced by Blessed John Paul II.

 

The “imperfect” person is not only seen as without value, but is actually not to be tolerated by many in our society.  This attitude, encouraged by our medical, legal and political communities, put a sense of stigma or blame on parents for bringing such “imperfect” people to term and birth.  In the precise cases where the greatness of a people who value all people for whom they are, we now find America failing severely with fatal consequences for truly countless numbers of human persons.  It is common knowledge that 90% of persons diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome are surgically aborted in the womb.  Parents who stand-up to these betrayals from those in these professional fields who maintain the structures of sin will soon enough contend with family, friends and strangers who see selfishness in the parents fulfillment of their God given calling and duty in preserving the life of their child.

 

One couple, Lacey and Chritian Buchanan, are among those of us who are “imperfect” and they saw the perfection of God in their child and have grown in their sharing of divine love for him and others.  Children really do teach us and give us the opportunity to practice love for another person.  This couple’s story is shared with us via youtube.com.  We can be grateful for their practice of virtue over fear.  Please take the time to see and read the sub-titles of this video, because it is worth it.  Let’s keep in our prayers all parents with such trust in God’s wisdom and Divine Providence.  And let’s pray there are as many such parents as there are persons conceived because we all know everyone but God is a little bit imperfect.

The Buchanan’s original youtube.com link is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oWCbkyR0cy0

Their posting and contact information include the following:

Published on Mar  9, 2012

This is my plea to anyone considering abortion. Rethink your decision, no matter the circumstances. I am so glad I chose life!
The Buchanans can be reached via blog (http://christianbuchanan.blogspot.com/) or Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lacey-a…).
Music: Fernando Ortega “Give Me Jesus”; Chris Tomlin “How Great is Our God”

Enwombment

I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you.  John 14:20

 

With these words spoken, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Jesus was conceived within the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  As contained within the hymn, Te Deum, it is said of Jesus, ‘you did not spurn the Virgin’s womb.’

 

The womb is where Jesus assumed human flesh “to be like us in all ways except sin.”  Jesus entering the womb, God with us in the womb, affirms our dignity beginning in the womb, from a single cell person, or zygote, onward.  And yet, there is even scandal for Jesus to enwomb himself in flesh.  Such condescension of God to share in humanity so that man may share in divinity was seen by the prideful Satan as to be so scandalous that he would declare, “I will not serve,” and hence his fall.  God’s plan was not Satan’s plan.

 

Further, there remain many people even of today who view the womb as a place of scandal and view those persons present within the human womb as less than fully human, less than a person.

 

A person conceived within another is a complete and fully human person who has been enwombed.  The womb allows a person space to be implant and it means life because it is there that the person who exists as a total person from the start – even as a zygote or rather a single cell person – will expand and develop in preparation for life after birth.  It is in the womb that the person is given the time, nourishment, protection and space necessary to  grow so as to eventually live autonomously outside the womb after birth.

 

Interestingly, we read in John Chapter 3, even after birth from the womb we find that Jesus challenged Nicodemus to understand that we must also be born of the spirit – What is born of flesh is flesh and what is born of spirit is spirit.  Nicodemus had asked a very pertinent question, “How can a person once grown old be born again? Surely he cannot reenter his mother’s womb and be born again, can he?”  Jesus never specifically addressed the matter of one’s presence in another womb, though the Church and saints have.

 

The Church teaching explains that the Baptismal font, along with being the tomb for those who die spiritually with Christ is also the womb for those reborn spiritually in the Church.  St. Augustine goes further when he explains in his Summa Thelogica that parents form a spiritual womb when they take the responsibility to raise a child to the age of reason.  And St. Francis of Assisi alludes to a womb of mortal life or faith in the Church when he concludes his Peace Prayer with “…and in dying I am born into eternal life.”  As St. Francis alludes to, we are enwombed until we die.

 

And during that life of the Baptized, we bear Christ’s Holy Spirit within that makes us members of the Body of Christ.  As we make room for his Indwelling Presence and surrender ourselves to the life of Christ it is in our body, we complete what is lacking in the suffering of Christ and birth Christ into this world.  In the dying of the faithful, where the two become one in this one flesh is perfected, they are birthed into eternal life with the Father as the Body of Christ with Jesus as our head.

Who is the Preborn Christ?

This ministry is committed to developing and promoting devotion to the Preborn Christ and it begins with answering the question:  Who is the Preborn Christ?

 

In obvious terms, the Preborn Christ is Jesus during His nine months in the womb of His mother, Mary.  This time in the womb is often related to His Incarnation as a whole.  Yet the experience Jesus had within the womb is not pondered as the intimate source for prayer and meditation that it truly is.  As scripture concurs, with the account of “The Visitation (when Mary went to visit her cousin, Elizabeth), we are told that Elizabeth’s baby, St. John the Baptist, acknowledged Him and “leapt with joy.”

 

Also, in order to explore more deeply whom the Preborn Christ is, we must consider the Sacrament of Baptism – both its purpose and effect.  Sin has orphaned us and death will orphan many of us.  It is through Baptism that we are adopted by God as our Father.    This adoption also makes us brothers and sisters of Jesus and of each other.  This is emphasized by Jesus when He instructed us to pray to God as He does, “Our Father, who art in heaven….”

 

However, Christ does not stop there.  As temples of the Holy Spirit not built by human hands, Jesus has sent us His Holy Spirit to reside within us. We are bound together with the same spirit, and as the many we form a single body of Christ.  Jesus is Christ’s head and we are Christ’s body.  We, the body of Christ, share in the divine life of Jesus and the Holy Trinity, and in the tri-fold mission of Jesus as priest, prophet, and king.  If we live and die in the Lord, then we are co-heirs of the Kingdom as the body of Christ with Jesus as our head.  It is through His people, living The Way that the Incarnation of Christ is on-going.

Who is the Preborn Christ?

He is Jesus and us.  As Caryll Houselander cites in The Wood of the Cradle, Wood of the Cross, it is the salvation of each of us for we are each destined to be ‘another Christ’ in this world.  Houselander continues, “Jesus is not content in living a human life, He lives every human life.”  His call for each of us to be ‘another Christ’ in this world is what He meant in His Great Commission, “…make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.“Matthew 28:19

There Is Always A Prayer Offered For You

In talking with a middle-aged Catholic the other day, I was sharing with him some brochures that I collected while visiting Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wisconsin.   He saw a picture of a sister kneeling before an altar that I explained was where the Eucharist was exposed.  I continued to explain that at all times there is at least one Sister is before the Eucharist interceding for us.  There is never moment that anyone of us is without prayer.

There, adjacent to Viterbo University are the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration who have a convent that includes a chapel that is open to the public.  The chapel that is situated behind the main  Church altar is  Eucharistic Procession that has been on-going, continuous, and without interruption for over 135 years.  The Sisters knew of a 24/7/365 presence well before select McDonald’s or other fast food restaurants decided to operate the 24 hour drive-up window.  These Sisters hold the nation’s record for the nations longest continuous prayer.  Such can only be done in the context of a community and every member’s dedication to the cause.  Like the Preborn Christ who intercedes from the womb of His mother, Mary; the Franciscans of Perpetual Adoration offer their adoration and intercession to the True Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist within their convent.

This young man was surprised at such dedication and slowly came to admit the need for such continuous prayer.  He’s not alone in being slow to understand the value of, or rather need for such a prayerful presence.  It seems so difficult for so many of us to understand that our health and prosperity are provided by God’s bounty and not of our hard work, though it is by our hard work that we can harvest God’s bounty.

The greatest threat to the future of this Perpetual Adoration is the decline in vocations and the decline in support for the religious by the lay people.  A life-long vocation of prayer is simply not encouraged by most parents because such a life is so often misunderstood.  This lack of understanding is growing about all of the religious.  The mission of these Sisters and so many monasteries and convents around the world seem to escape so many in the secular world.  These religious communities are not merely praying for themselves but are actually joining with Jesus in His ministry of intercession for all mankind before God the Father.  In prayer, they offer praise, reparation for sin, intercession for the good of all  and thanksgiving on behalf of all men, women and children for His Divine Providence.

Imagine a world lacking such religious intercession before God on our behalf.  What would such a  world be like?  Hopeless and in despair.  Looking at the world we live in, is it any surprise that there are less religious engaging in adoration than in the past and more who are choosing to cohabitate than in the past?  Cohabitation is only one of the alternative life styles that are competing with a religious life, but it is one with consequences that will certainly become inter-generational.    Not to mention the rise in violence, illicit sexual relations, and decline of general morality.  These religious are dealing in an economy that many are not even aware exists, that is the economy of salvation.  In the economy of salvation it is grace that serves as currency, if you will.  It is those who pray who are the equivalent to the capitalist producer in our market economy.  It is those who pray who help with begging for God’s grace and they also help to direct that needed grace.

As religious practice and faith in our society decline, are we prepared to take up the slack in prayer that is bound to occur with the decline of the praying religious?  What can we do to do better?  What can we do to encourage such a vocation of life-long prayer?  Please offer the religious who pray for us a prayer in return.  Consider sponsoring them financially.  Encourage young adults and children to consider such a  vocation.

In Christ, Nothing is Futile

The American Culture in 2013 is a terribly confusing period with many distractions and even more unhealthy, and even evil temptations abound.  It is not difficult to be overwhelmed with the expectations and demands of such a technologically advanced and socially digressing culture.  All too often a relationship with Jesus, or God, is lost in the shuffle of life.  Even worse, there are those who have abandoned God with the claim that either the Church is in the way or that God has abandoned them.  Unfortunately, what replaces a trust in Divine Providence, God’s goodness to us always within a divine plan for our salvation, is replaced with a sense of futility of life and a creeping despair  and hopelessness.

It is not only okay to feel confused and overwhelmed with disordered passions.  These conditions are especially understandable when you consider that these are among the consequences of sin since Original Sin.  The point to not lose sight of is that you don’t act on those passions.  Even our confusion and disordered tugs serve God’s purpose if but recognized and accepted without a sinful response.  It may be more important for such a  one to offer a simple prayer of waiting on the Lord.  In His time He will make clear the next move He wants made.

St. Paul addressed these exact concerns when writing his letter to the Romans.  “…for creation was made subject to futility, not of its own accord but because of the one who subjected it, Jesus Christ, in hope that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God.” Romans 8:20-21

In short, we were created through Jesus Christ for Jesus Christ.  We have the purpose to know, love and serve God in this world and share His happiness in eternal life.  Living such a life is not futile, but gives us the freedom to be happy.

 

A Parent’s God-given Priorities

“May the Lord bless us, protect us and lead us into eternal life.”

 

It is with such a prayer that the Liturgy of the Hours, the Prayer of the Church, is closed daily at both morning and evening prayer.  It is an appeal to God that each of us makes for His care at all times of each of our lives.  God is our Creator and cares for us as the perfect Guardian, or rather as the perfect, eternal parent.  God’s love for us means that God always does what is best for us.  A parent seeking to do the best for their child can do no better than  introduce their child to God.

 

In imitation of God and by charge from God, all responsible parents express their love for their child by affirming their child’s dignity, protecting the child, from harm and teaching their child of eternal life and how to attain eternal life with and through God.  A parent who accomplishes these three goals for their child in preparation of a child’s grown adulthood has been a successful parent.  These priorities are the pearl of great value.

 

If the innocence of a child were words, this prayer would be the words heard by the parent.

 

“May the Lord bless us, protect us and lead us into eternal life.”

The Vocation of Motherhood

On the subject of motherhood, the soon to be canonized, Pope John Paul II offered the following insight in his 1995 Encyclical entitled, Evangelium Vitae, section 99:

In transforming culture so that it supports life, women occupy a place, in thought and action, which is unique and decisive. It depends on them to promote a “new feminism” which rejects the temptation of imitating models of “male domination”, in order to acknowledge and affirm the true genius of women in every aspect of the life of society, and overcome all discrimination, violence and exploitation.

Making my own the words of the concluding message of the Second Vatican Council, I address to women this urgent appeal: “Reconcile people with life”.133 You are called to bear witness to the meaning of genuine love, of that gift of self and of that acceptance of others which are present in a special way in the relationship of husband and wife, but which ought also to be at the heart of every other interpersonal relationship. The experience of motherhood makes you acutely aware of the other person and, at the same time, confers on you a particular task: “Motherhood involves a special communion with the mystery of life, as it develops in the woman’s womb … This unique contact with the new human being developing within her gives rise to an attitude towards human beings not only towards her own child, but every human being, which profoundly marks the woman’s personality”.134 A mother welcomes and carries in herself another human being, enabling it to grow inside her, giving it room, respecting it in its otherness. Women first learn and then teach others that human relations are authentic if they are open to accepting the other person: a person who is recognized and loved because of the dignity which comes from being a person and not from other considerations, such as usefulness, strength, intelligence, beauty or health. This is the fundamental contribution which the Church and humanity expect from women. And it is the indispensable prerequisite for an authentic cultural change.