A Baseline for Healing

Sidewalk Counseling outside abortion clinics is a tool of outreach to pregnant mothers who are considering or being coerced into aborting their child or are determined to do the same.  In such outreach, the mother is presented with knowledge of just what her options are the comprehensive assistance that is available to support her decision for life, and encouragement for her spirit for life that may be faltering.

 

That maybe articulated reasons for sidewalk counseling and each is true.  Sidewalk Counseling also contributes to hope and healing for the post-abortive person.  Those who go for an abortion, along with those who accompany, drive, pay for, encourage the abortion in any way, or even coerce a mother into having an abortion need both hope and healing that only God can provide.

 

Dr. Theresa Burke, the Founder of the post-abortion ministry Rachel’s Vineyard, has said that those who are offering outreach to the abortion-bound provide for that person a base-line of truth that contributes positively to the admission of truth by the post-abortive of what really happened in the abortion and their recovery from the abortion.  Those sidewalk counselors may be the only person(s) in the life of the post-abortive who acknowledge the life of the preborn child.  They may be the only source in the world of the post-abortive that affirms that there is a problem with the unresolved abortion and can provide direction toward hope, healing and recovery.  One must recognize the problem before a solution can be offered.  But once the problem is identified, the right solution must then be applied.  Sidewalk counselors among the small and growing numbers of people who can help in this regard.

 

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.

Healing While You Sleep

Having a strong and faithful relationship with and in Jesus Christ is what this life is all about for us.  It is our loving and trusting relationship in Jesus Christ with a  contrite heart for any and all sins we have committed that is what matters when we face death.

 

Relationships through life can be good, but even the best relationships can have unhealthy aspects that can limit our trust in others, particularly in Jesus Christ.  He wants us to be wise in our relationships, but also to be healed of the unhealthy harm we suffer.  All such hurts and relationships need to be brought to prayer along with our own examination of conscience.  A truly contrite heart will recognize our own short-comings and may prompt us to make amends to do better.  Yet, the injuries we suffer can often only be healed by Jesus Christ, whereas time may dull the pain the injury that remains.

 

One prayer for healing, the author is unknown to this writer, that can be offered at night before bed is the following:

 

Healing Prayer At Bedtime

 

Lord Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit, go back into my memory as I sleep.

Every hurt that has ever been done to me, heal that hurt.

Every hurt that I have ever caused another person, heal that hurt.

All the relationships that have been damaged in my whole life that I am not aware of, heal those relationships.

But, Lord, if there is anything that I need to do;

If I need to go to a person because he or she is still suffering from my hand,

Bring to my awareness that person, I choose to forgive and I ask to be forgiven.

Remove whatever bitterness may be in my heart, Lord, and fill the empty spaces with your love.

Amen.

Author Unknown

 

An Anniversary to Note

Tomorrow will be the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and is worthy of celebration.

 

Tomorrow will also be the anniversary of the first man-made nuclear explosion that occurred at Trinity site in Los Alamos, New Mexico on July 16, 1945 at 5:29 am.[1]

 

In less than one month from that date, two more such nuclear bombs will be detonated over two sites, Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  The human death toll for each is conservatively set at 150,000 for Hiroshima and 75,000 for Nagasaki.

 

Nagasaki was the Catholic capital of Asia, and the Cathedral of Nagasaki was ground zero for the second bomb.  A Mass began in the Cathedral at 11:00 am, and the bomb would explode at 11:03 am.  The Eucharist was reposed in the tabernacle during the Mass, but also served as ground zero for the bomb, though not designated as such.

 

The dropping of the bombs proved to be with controversy as some have contended that the bombs should not have ever been used, in part due to the impossibility to spare civilians from the effect of this bomb.  It has also been argued that the sacrificial death of many spares the deaths of many more who would otherwise die.  Others have taken from Hiroshima and Nagasaki the lesson that technology saves lives.

 

Can we blindly accept the technological imperative over the human imperative?  Can we make decisions by merely comparing prospective body counts?  What does this make of us and what unseen, unintended consequences follow such abandon?

 

From the shock of the new era in technology, Los Alamos director J. Robert Oppenheimer, stated shortly after the explosion that, while watching the test, he was reminded of a line from the Bhagavad Gita, a Hindu scripture: “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”[2][3]

 

Lets take note of this anniversary and not just the awe-full power we have in hand, but of the mindset that has been unleashed.

 

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trinity_(nuclear_test)

2.  ^ Variants on       this quotation exist, both by Oppenheimer and by others. A more common       translation of the passage, from Arthur W. Ryder (from whom Oppenheimer       studied Sanskrit       at Berkeley in the 1930s),       is:

Death am I, and my present task

Destruction. (11:32)

Since the Gita’s first translation into English in 1785, most experts have translated not “Death” but instead “Time”. A further elaboration of the supposed Oppenheimer quote often cited is taken from Robert Jungk‘s 1958 Brighter than a Thousand Suns:

If the radiance of a thousand suns

were to burst into the sky,

that would be like

the splendor of the Mighty One—

I am become Death, the shatterer of Worlds.

For an extensive discussion of the quote, its various translations, and its various reported forms, see James A. Hijiya, “The Gita of Robert Oppenheimer” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 144:2 (June 2000).

3.^ Richard       Rhodes, The Making of the Atomic Bomb       (New York: Simon and Shuster, 1986). Quotes after the test from p.       675–676.

 

 

No Life Without Purpose

Understanding that we were created with purpose and means for eternal happiness doesn’t always satisfy our confused intellect and disordered passions.  John Henry Cardinal Newman, (1801 – 1890), an American bishop, was one who shared in such dark moments of life.  He shares with us his prayer to God helping him to accept this struggle as part of life:

 

The Mission of My Life

God has created me to do Him some definite service.

He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another.

I have my mission.

I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next.

I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons.

He has not created me for naught.

I shall do good; I shall do His work.

I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place,

while not intending it if I do but keep His commandments.

Therefore, I will trust Him,

whatever I am, I can never be thrown away.

When I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him,

when in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him.

If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him.

He does nothing in vain. He knows what He is about.

He may take away my friends.

He may throw me among strangers.

He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink,

hide my future from me.

Still, He knows what He is about.

Amen.

 

No life lived for God and the building of His kingdom is lived without purpose.

 

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.