THROUGHOUT THE Christmas season and beyond, we are drawn to the many beautiful images of the Blessed Virgin Mary holding the baby Jesus in her arms. I think, for example, of the venerable icon of Our Lady of Tender- ness and the 600-year-old statue of Our Lady of Ludźmierz in Poland, which beautifully portray the intimacy of the Blessed Mother and Christ Child.
These and other images remind us that our Savior took flesh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary and was born into the world. Though miraculously conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus grew and developed in his mother’s womb the way all babies grow and develop. And despite all of the misunderstanding and hardship that surrounded his birth, Mary and Joseph loved their child beyond all telling.
As I look upon the many images of the Blessed Mother and Child, I cannot help but think of mothers facing diffcult pregnancies. Many are young; many have experienced poverty, abuse or rejection. They may face pressure from family members and others to solve the “problem” of an unwanted pregnancy via abortion. Far too many of these mothers give in to such pressure thinking they have no other choice. The culture of death pits mother and child against each other, turning what should be a relationship of tenderness toward violence. Not surprisingly, many who choose abortion experience lifelong remorse.
With the eyes of faith, the Church sees in the unborn child an image of the Child Jesus taking shape in his mother’s womb. With the eyes of reason, the Church sees in the unborn child what science sees: From the outset, the developing child has distinctive DNA and, within weeks, exhibits all the indicators of our common humanity — a heartbeat, brainwaves, a face, toes and fingers.
‘Faith also highlights what reason at its best teaches us — namely, that the Creator has endowed these innocent children with inviolable dignity.’
In the Hail Mary, we say, “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.” Faith tells us that Jesus, who grew and developed within Mary, has united himself in love to each child in the womb. Faith also highlights what reason at its best teaches us — namely, that the Creator has endowed these innocent children with inviolable dignity.
Here I must pay tribute to pro-life preg- nancy centers in my own Archdiocese of Baltimore and throughout the world. They are places of care and compassion. Employing ultrasound machines — many supplied by the Knights of Columbus — they enable expectant mothers to gaze upon their unborn children. The ultrasound image dissolves the deceptive rhetoric often employed to promote abortion, and most of these mothers elect to bring their babies to term. The Knights of Columbus Ultrasound Initiative has saved countless innocent lives.
Of course, bringing a baby to term is only the beginning. When Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph were surrounded by love, despite their diffcult circumstances. Like the visiting shepherds and the three kings, we need to surround new and expectant mothers with love and care. Surely, that includes providing them with life’s necessities. It also means accompanying them, not merely in the short term but for the long haul. I am grateful that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops sponsors a program titled “Walking with Moms in Need” to help parishes do just that (see walkingwithmoms.com). This initiative provides a pathway for volunteers and parishes to reach out to these mothers, to befriend and assist them through challenging days. This is an important part of what it means to be pro-life.
I am deeply grateful to my brother Knights of Columbus and their families for their unstinting witness to the God-given dignity of human life. While we pray, hope and work for the day when the unborn will be protected by law, let us continue to bear witness to the Gospel of Life by cherishing both child and mother.
Logos & Emblems
Fraternal Leader Advisory
Knights in Action
Share your Knights in Action News
Please contact the
Knights of Columbus News Bureau