Friday, March 26, 2010

The Annunciation and abortion

From Pithless Thoughts
I was pondering, stuck as I was listening to the radio in a car on a small island in Louisiana while the wife was getting groceries, an ongoing interview of Michael Moore by Diane Rehm on NPR. Asked about the scandals in the Irish church he responded that the church spent too much time discussing abortion and same sex marriage ("Something Jesus said nothing about!") and not enough time dealing with poverty. Dumbfounded by the ignorance of such a comment I turned the radio down to a murmur.

Catholic Charities takes care of 8.5 million impoverished Americans a year, Cor Unum takes care of millions more around the world, and together the Roman Church is the world's largest charity dealing with poverty. I will not debate the Church's stance through Tradition or Biblical references (I leave this book to speak to the matter), but as the Annunciation has just passed, I think we can discern with a modicum of effort that there are little people inside the wombs of Elizabeth and Mary.

The angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God.

And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren.

For nothing will be impossible with God."

Then Mary said, "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her.

The Visitation
In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.

When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.

And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me?

For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy.

And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord."

And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.

Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.

His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.

He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.

He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.

He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever."

If a baby can jump for joy at this meeting, who is to doubt his in utero "personhood"? Unless you ascribe to some of the more absurd strains of Biblical exegesis ("The feeding of the 5 thousand was a story about hospitality and sharing! People shared their hidden food with one another!"), you must accept that the underlying truth is that a person leaped (some translations say "danced") in the womb.

It is also difficult to make a mental leap past the words of St. Elizabeth. Her "Lord" was not eventual He was present. At the Annunciation we see in a simple story what no amount of debate or position paper writing can say with as much force: From the moment we are conceived we know the Lord is with us. The Hand of Creation in whose image we were formed is known innately to all from our first moment of existence. God, who entrusted us to name all the animals of creation and to show proper dominion for creation, trusts us to care for man - the creature for whom all of creation was made. To quote St. John Chrysostom from his Homilies on Genesis (Homily 8 pg. 107): "Don't be surprised dearly beloved. I mean, the human being is the creature more important than all the other visible things, and for this creature all the others have been produced - sky, earth, sea, sun, moon, stars, the reptiles, the cattle, all the brute beasts." Christ was human from the moment of His conception. To doubt the Incarnation made a person from the beginning is to doubt the term Theotokos in particular (for he was fully God and fully man at all times) and, more broadly and damningly, the Faith itself.


  1. This Visitation Icon by the hand of Eikona Studios -- Christine Uveges Iconographer. The prototype of this icon is in an Orthodox Church in Lebanon.
    Through the years this icon has been given out to many at the Pro Life rally in Washington D.C. and whenever we are on the road working I give this icon to others and talk to them about it. Even leaving it with a tip when in a restaurant. A waitress came running out and said " Thank You, I had a decision to make --to have the baby I am pregnant with or an abortion." She wept. " You have helped me..." It is through the Holy Spirit that this icon has been written and speaks to others...
    Many stories are told to me via phone or in person...One woman was unable to conceive and her mother-in-law and her prayed with this icon. And, they continued even in the maternity ward to pray with this icon --while putting it on her pregnant belly until the baby was born! What a miracle!
    Yes, what you have said here in this writing about this icon is very well done! By the grace of God -- I am a servant of the servants Iconographer. It is good to see a person who knows how to excellently write what the Icon says visually. Thank you.
    Christine Uveges Iconographer
    Eikona Studios in Cleveland, Ohio