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XXXVII, No. 5, (1524)
1. ON THE
VENERATION OF THE SAINTS
Very Rev. Georges Florovsky
2. STS. PETER AND PAUL MISSION, IN TUCSON, AZ WILL HAVE NEW CHURCH
3. APPEAL FROM PALM COAST, FLORIDA
5. Dress for Church or dressed to kill.
From the memoirs of Archimandrite Panteleimon
7. Political Mythology And The Unborn Child
1. On the
Veneration of the Saints
Very Rev. Georges Florovsky
CHRIST HAS CONQUERED THE WORLD. This victory is further unveiled and fulfilled in the fact that He built His Church. In Christ and through Christ the unity of mankind was brought about truly for the first time, for those who believed in His Name become the Body of Christ. And through uniting with Christ they unite likewise with each other in a most sincere concord of love. In this great unity all empirical distinctions and barriers are done away with: differences of birth in the flesh are effaced within the unity of a spiritual birth. The Church is a new people filled with grace, which does not coincide with any physical boundaries or any earthly nation-neither Greeks nor Jews, and a struggle of faith, through the "Mystery of water," through a union with Christ in the "Mysterious font," through the "grace of becoming sons" ; i.e. "sons of God" for Whom were all things created that are in heaven and that are in earth." In Holy Christening the one to be enlightened leaves "this world" and forsakes its vanity, as if freeing himself and stepping out of the natural order of things; from the order of "flesh and blood" one enters an order of grace. All inherited ties and all ties of blood are severed. But man is not left solitary or alone. For according to the expression of the Apostle "by one Spirit are we all baptized," neither Scythians nor Barbarians-and this nation does not spring through a relationship of blood but through freedom into one Body. The whole meaning of Holy Christening consists in the fact that it is a mysterious acceptance into the Church, into the City of God, into the Kingdom of Grace. Through Christening the believer becomes a member of the Church, enters the "one Church of angels and men," becomes a "co-citizen of the saints and ever with God," according to the mysterious and solemn words of St. Paul-one comes "to mount Zion, and to the city of the Living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and Church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect." And in this great throng he is united unto Christ. For, "unus Christianus-nullus Christianus."* ["one Christian-no Christian." Webmaster]
The essence of the Church is in its unity, for the Church is the Mansion of the One Spirit. This is not an external and empirical unity or catholicity. The Ecumenical character of the Church is not something external, quantitative, spacial, not even any geographical quality, and does not at all depend on the universal dispersal of believers. The visible unity of the Church is merely a result but not a foundation for the catholicity of the Church. Geographical "universality" is a derivative and not an essential necessity. The catholicity of the Church was not diminished in the first ages of Christianity when communities of the faithful were scattered like small islands, almost lost in the immense world of unbelief and resistance. It is likewise not diminished now when the majority of mankind is not with Christ. "Though a town or even a province fall away from the Ecumenical Church," says Metropolitan Philaret, "the Ecumenical Church will always remain a complete and incorruptible body." Likewise the Church will remain Ecumenical in the "last days" when it will be compressed into the "little flock," when the mystery of "retreat" will be revealed and when faith will hardly be found on earth. For the Church is Catholic according to its nature.
If one seeks for external definitions, then perhaps the Ecumenical nature of the Church is best expressed by the feature of its "all-timeness" (of its running through all times). For believers of all ages and all generations, who are alive now, who lived, and who will be born, belong to it in the same way. They all form one body, and through the same prayer are united into one before the one throne of the Lord of Glory. The experience of this unity through all times is revealed and sealed in the whole cycle of Divine worship. In the Church time is mysteriously overcome. The outpouring of grace seems to stop time, to stop the run of minutes and seasons, to overcome even the general order of consecutiveness and the disconnectedness of those things which took place at different times. In a unity with Christ through grace, in the gift of communion with the One different epochs and generations become our Spirit, men of living contemporaries. Christ reigns equally in the Church among the departed and among the living, for God is not God of the dead but of the living.
The Church is a Kingdom not of this world but an eternal Kingdom, for it has an eternal King-Christ. The Church is a kind of mysterious image of eternity and a foretaste of the Resurrection of all. For Christ the Head of the Body is "the life and the resurrection" of His servants and brothers. The measure of births has not yet been filled and the stream of time still flows. The Church is still in its historical wanderings but even now time has no power and no strength in it. It is as if the Apocalyptic moment is forestalled-when there shall be no more time and all time shall cease. Earthly death, the separation of the soul from the body, does not sever the tie between those who have faith, does not part and does not separate co-members in Christ, does not exclude the deceased from the limits and composition of the Church. In the prayer for the departed and in the order for burial we pray Christ "our immortal King and God" to send the souls of the departed to the habitations of the holy, "to the abodes of the righteous," "to the bosom of Abraham," where all the righteous are at rest. And with special expressiveness in these parting prayers we remember and call on the hosts of the righteous, and on the Mother of God, and on the powers of heaven, and on the holy martyrs and on all the saints as on our heavenly co-citizens in the Church. With powerful emphasis the all-timely and catholic consciousness of the Church is disclosed in the order of burial. The faithful who attain to a genuine union with Christ Himself in their struggle and in the saving "mysteries" cannot be parted from Him even by death. "Blessed are they who die in the Lord-their souls shall abide with the blessed." And the prayers for the departed are a witness and measure of the catholic consciousness of the Church.
Reverently the Church watches for any signs of grace which witness and confirm the earthly struggle of the departed. By an inner sight the Church recognizes both the righteous living and departed, and the feeling of the Church is sealed by the witness of the priesthood of the Church. In this recognition of its brothers and members who have "attained to perfection" consists the mystical essence of that which in the Christian West is termed the "canonization of saints," and which is understood by the Orthodox East as their glorification, magnification and blessedness. And firstly it is a glorification of God "Wonderous is the Lord in His saints." "God's saints," said St. John of Damascus, "reigned over and mastered their passions and kept uninjured the likeness unto the image of God, according to which they were created; they of their own free will united themselves with God and received Him into the habitation of their heart, and having thus received Him in communion, through grace, they became in their very nature like unto Him." In them God rests-they became " the treasures and the pure habitations of God." In this the mystery was accomplished. For as the ancient fathers said-the Son of God became man so that men could be deified, so that sons of men should become sons of God. And in the righteous who attain to love this measure of growth and "likening" unto Christ is fulfilled. "The Saints in their lifetime already were filled with the Holy Spirit," continues St. John of Damascus, "and when they died the grace of the Holy Spirit was still present with their souls and with their bodies in the graves, and with their images and with their holy ikons not because of their nature but because of grace and its activity... the saints are alive and with daring they stand before the Lord; they are not dead ... the death of saints is more like falling asleep than death," for they "abide in the hand of God"; that is, in life and in light... and 11 after He Who is Life itself and the source of life was ranked among the dead, we consider no more as dead those who depart with a hope of resurrection and with faith in Him." And it is not only to get help and intercession that the Holy Spirit teaches every believer to pray to the glorified saints but also because this calling on them, through communion in prayer, deepens the consciousness of the catholic unity of the Church. In our invocation of the saints our measure of Christian love is exhibited, a living feeling of unanimity and of the power of Church unity is expressed; and, conversely, doubt or inability to feel the intercession of grace and the intervention of saints on our behalf before God witnesses not only to a weakening of love and of the brotherly and Church ties and relationships but also to a decrease in the fulness of faith in the Ecumenical value and power of the Incarnation and Resurrection.
One of the most mysterious anticipations of the Orthodox Church is the contemplation of the "Protecting Veil of the Mother of God," of Her constant standing in prayer for the world, surrounded by all the saints, before the throne of 'God. "Today the Virgin stands in the Church and with hosts of saints invisibly prays to God for us all; angels and high priests worship; apostles and prophets embrace each other-it is for us that the Mother of God prays unto the Eternal God!" Thus the Church remembers the vision which was once seen by St. Andrew, the fool for Christ's sake. And that which was then visibly revealed remains now and will stand for all ages. The "Contemplation of the Protecting Veil" of the Mother of God is a vision of the celestial Church, a vision of the unbreakable and ever-existent unity of the heavenly and the earthly Church. Arid it is also a foreseeing that all existence beyond the grave, of the righteous and the saints, is one untiring prayer, one ceaseless intercession and mediation. For love is the "union of all perfection." And the blessedness of the righteous is an abiding in love. The Great Eastern saint St. Isaac the Syrian, with incomparable daring, bore witness to the all-embracing power which crowns a Christian's struggles. According to his words this struggle for God acquires fulness and completeness and attains its aim in purity-and purity is "a heart which is merciful to every created being." And what is a heart that has its mercy? asks the saint, and answers: "A burning of the heart for all creation for men, birds, beasts, demons and all creatures. And from remembrance of them and contemplation of them such a man's eyes shed tears: because of a great and strong compassion which possesses his heart and its great constancy, he is overwhelmed with tender pity and he cannot bear, or hear of, or see any harm or any even small sorrow which creatures suffer. And therefore he prays hourly with tears for the dumb animals, and for the enemies of Truth and for those who harm him that they should be guarded and that they should be shown mercy; and also for all the reptiles he prays, from this great compassion which is constantly aroused in his heart in likeness to God." And if even on earth so fiery is the prayer of saints, even with a more fiery flame it burns "there" in the "embrace of the Father" on the bosom of Divine Love, close to God, Whose Name is Love, Whose care about the World is Love. And in the Church Triumphant prayers for the whole Catholic Church do not cease. As St. Cyprian said-Christian prayer is for all the world; everyone prays not only for himself but for all people, for all form one, and so we pray not with a particular individual prayer but with one common to all, with one soul in all. The whole deed of prayer must be determined by an ecumenical consciousness and unanimous love, which includes likewise those whose names are known to God alone. It is not characteristic of a Christian to feel himself alone and separated from all, for he is saved only in the unity of the Church. And the crown of all prayer is that flaming love which was expressed in the prayer of Moses: "Forgive their sin; and if not, blot me, I pray Thee, out of Thy book which Thou hast written. . . " The center of Church worship is Eucharistic worship. Here the whole Church is united also. Here a sacrifice is made and prayers are offered "for all and for all things," here the whole Church is remembered the militant and the triumphant. In the mystery-action of the Liturgy "the powers of heaven invisibly celebrate with us," they are present and celebrate with the celebrating priest. And unto great saints it was granted sometimes by God's grace to contemplate in visible form that which is hidden from the sight of the sinful-the co-celebration of the angels. Thus it is known that St. Seraphim of Sarov on one occasion was granted to see the triumphant entrance of the Lord of Glory surrounded by hosts of angels. Such an entrance of the Lord of Glory is often represented in ikon form on the walls of the holy Altar, and not only as a symbol but likewise as an indication that invisibly all this actually takes place. And all the ikon decoration of the Church generally speaks of the mysterious unity, of the actual presence of the saints with us. "We picture Christ, the King and the Lord, without separating Him from His army, for, the Army of the Lord are the saints"-said St. John of Damascus. Holy ikons are not only images of remembrance, "images of the past and of righteousness," not only pictures, but are actually sacred things with which, as the fathers explained, the Lord is "present" and by grace is "in communion 11 with them. There exists some mysterious objective tic between the "image" and the "Prototype," between the likeness and the one who is represented, which is specially marked in miracle-working ikons which show God's power. "A venerating worship" of holy ikons clearly expresses the idea of the Church's conception of the past: it is not only a remembrance directed to something gone, but a vision by grace of something fixed in eternity, a vision of something mysterious, a presence by grace of those who are dead and parted from us, "a joyful vision of a unity of all creation."
All creation has a Head in Christ. And through His Incarnation the Son of God, according to the wonderful expression of St. Irenaeus of Lyons, "again commenced a long row of human beings." The Church is the spiritual posterity of the Second Adam and in its history His redemptive work is fulfilled and completed, while His love blossoms and flames in it. The Church is a fulfillment of Christ and His Body. According to the bold words of St. John Chrysostom, "only then is the Fulfiller the Head when a perfect body shall be formed." There is some mysterious movement-which started from the awe-filled day of Pentecost, when in the face of the first chosen few it was as if all creation received a fiery christening by the Spirit towards that last aim, when in all its glory the New Jerusalem shall appear and the Bridal Feast of the Lamb shall begin. In the stretch of ages the guests and the chosen are being collected. The people of the eternal Kingdom are being assembled. The Kingdom is being selected and set aside beyond the limits of time. The fulfillment shall be accomplished in the last resurrection-then the complete fulness and glory and the whole meaning of Church catholicity shall be revealed.
From Creation and Redemption, Vol. III of the Collected Works of Georges Florovsky (Belmont, MA: Nordland Publishing Co.), 1976, pp. 201.208.
2. STS. PETER AND PAUL MISSION, IN TUCSON, ARIZONA WILL HAVE NEW CHURCH
Saints Peter and Paul Mission, in Tucson, Arizona, at long last will have its own church, dedicated to the Chief Apostles in memory of Archpriest John Bockman.
Founded circa 1990 in Brentwood, Tennessee, the community met for worship in a series of temporary quarters, and was served periodically by Father John, who at that time commuted bimonthly from Ipswich, Massachusetts.
In 1992 Father was assigned to the mission as its priest. Shortly thereafter, Presbytera Valerie retired from her professorship at Salem State College, and Father and she moved to Brentwood, where the chapel was established in their home. As the Bockman home changed locations from Brentwood to Topsfield, Massachusetts, to Tucson, Arizona, so, of course, did the mission. Since Father John s repose in November of 2000, the mission has been served by Metropolitan Moses and the clergy of the Metropolis of Seattle.
Come March 3, 2003, when the closing on the Tucson property is to take place, the mission will have a home of its own at 1415 East Broadway, the main east-west artery of Tucson, which provides excellent access and visibility. It is about a mile and a half from downtown Tucson, five blocks from the University of Arizona, and only a mile from its present home. God has indeed blessed the mission with an ideal location.
The house is a 1928 "fortress" of brick-stucco on a volcanic rock foundation, with new plumbing, wiring, and high capacity heating/cooling. It has an almost-new roof in excellent condition, a small kitchen, a 3/4 bath, and room for parking in back. Originally a duplex, and having been remodeled for offices, the building will require some moderate modification for use as a church.
Fast action had to be the order of the day on this property. Surprisingly, there had been little interest in it throughout its three months on the market, despite the high demand for, and low supply of, housing. But on the very day the mission s offer was accepted, suddenly there were potential buyers galore, including one with cash in hand. Had the mission made its offer even one day later, it would not have gotten the property.
With the acquisition of a building, and despite the overworked clergy "pool," the mission has been pledged a monthly priest s visit, for which it is most grateful. May God grant it increase, and, some day, a permanent priest.
Donations to help the mission with the debt retirement and modification and furnishing of this new church, in memory of Father John, may be made to:
SS. Peter and Paul Orthodox Mission
P.O. Box 42816
Tucson, Arizona 85733-2816
May God reward your generosity!
3. APPEAL FROM PALM COAST, FLORIDA
Dear fellow Orthodox faithful and friends:
It is with the blessing of Metropolitan Ephraim of Boston this appeal is sent to you.
The few faithful here in Florida, with the help of some generous benefactors, are in the process of purchasing an acre of property in a nice location in the Palm Coast area. Our hope is to eventually build an Orthodox church dedicated to St. John of Kronstadt.
We appeal to you for your help in reaching this goal. Anything and everything will help and be much appreciated. As we are still in the process of incorporating, please send any donations made payable to St. John of Kronstadt Church, 126 Eric Drive, Palm Coast, Fl 32164.
We pray you all have a blessed and rewarding Great Fast. And we ask your forgiveness for any offense or temptation.
Fr. Theodore, Presbyter, Michael Christus, Warden
5. Dressed for Church or Dressed to Kill?
Be diligent to enter into the treasury that is within you,and you will see the treasury of Heaven: for these are one and the same, and with one entry you will behold them both. The ladder of the Kingdom is within you, hidden in your soul. Plunge deeply within yourself, away from sin, and there you will find steps by which you will be able to ascend.
–Homily II of the Ascetical Homilies of Saint Isaac the Syrian.
In the Garden of Paradise, before the Fall, our first parents spent their time tending the garden of their hearts, praising and glorifying our God. Their life was a life of divine vision. It is evident, from subsequent events that they did not spend all of their time in such activities. In his Hymns on Paradise, Saint Ephraim the Syrian asserts that the garden was like a sanctuary for Adam and Eve and that the animals did not have access to it. Thus, according to Saint Ephraim, it was only when Eve went out from this sacred space, and conversed with the Slanderer [diavolos in Greek] was she tempted and transgressed the divine command.
Alas, because of the fall, there is nowhere that we are free from temptation. Yet, it is during prayer, our converse with God, that we drive off the influence of the evil one. Especially prayer in the house of God, in our local parish Church, presents us with a great opportunity to tend the Garden of our hearts so as to bring forth the fruit of divine grace. Yet, it is only if we act wisely during our time in this sacred space and order our thoughts and actions aright will our labor bring forth fruit. One who seeks to tend the garden of one’s heart prepares for this by ones very attire.
Dressed for Church or Dressed to Kill?
We live in secularized world where exposure of the body, preoccupation with sensual things, and striving to attain a physically alluring appearance are pervasive. Consequently, many Christians have passively incorporated these societal standards.
We make a statement by the way we dress. Fashion industry continually invites us to make a statement. If we wear work clothes, sporting clothes, military uniforms, business suites, etc. we are making a statement about ourselves, who we are, what we do, what our purpose is. Since we cannot avoid making a statement by our attire, we need to ask ourselves what statement are we making by our attire in Church.
We sometimes fail to reflect that in matters of dress, as well as every other matter, the secular yardstick is inappropriate for the Church. What the secular world passes for modesty may still be immodest in church, yet the distinction may not be apparent to those who have gotten used to the sensuality of the world.
An ankle-length skirt may be modest by secular standards, meet the literal standards for church attire, and yet be so snug-fitting that anatomical features beneath are entirely apparent. A dress of the same length may have a slit in it alternately revealing and covering the leg in provocative way (after all, the whole purpose of such a design is to attract the male eye), thus defeating the purpose of a long dress and having a worse effect than a skirt of a shorter length. A young woman in our Church once commented, “A chain is as strong as its weakest link and a skirt is really only as long as the highest slit, and I find it bothers me to have to go to church and have people's legs and bodies in my face.” A low neckline may be routine in the workday world, yet it is inappropriately revealing and seemingly suggestive in church.
Open collars, body shirts, and extremely tight fitting slacks on men “make a statement.” What statement are we making? Are we dressed for Church, or dressed to kill?
Modest attire seeks to conceal rather than reveal.
One may ask, "Why does it matter?" or, "Why should it matter to anyone else? Isn’t immodesty a matter between myself and our Saviour?" This thought is true, but incomplete. Several additional considerations are relevant. First, in the history of God’s people, there was always a clear understanding of the difference between the sacred and the profane. The church, God’s house, is sacred, set apart for the Christian to encounter God in a unique manner. If our Lord Jesus Christ were physically present, would we be so inattentive concerning whether our attire was modest or immodest? Second, we are an example to the children in our parish. From us they learn by instruction and by example appropriate dress as well as church practices. Third, history shows that concessions that liberalize rules by a small degree tend to act as a door opener for concessions of ever-increasing size. One needs only to observe the dress of people entering churches of other denominations to realize where this slippery slope leads. A few decades ago those churches were filled with men in suits and women in modest dresses; today, the standard fare are slacks, shorts, mini skirts, and halter tops.
Finally, there is a matter of considerateness, of one’s obligations to others. A woman who was no longer young, from a very pious traditional Orthodox background once said she dressed from head to toe in acknowledgement of her obligation that she not be the cause "for the brethren to stumble." On the other hand, a priest described the need to avert his eyes when, upon giving Communion to a middle-aged woman, he noted her bosom exposed. He was surprised and annoyed that she would present herself in so immodest a garment. In other words, regardless of how insignificant one might believe one’s own attractiveness to be, and how "trivial" one believes any "seductiveness" might be, one has an obligation to avoid distracting and scandalizing others.
The point is that both men and women are capable of “missing the mark” and not understanding their obligations towards others. Any attire that accentuates the anatomical differences between the sexes is inappropriate, especially in church.
Because of prevalent fashion, it is especially difficult for teenage girls to find modest attire and we hear the complaint, “I’ll have to buy my clothes at an old ladies store!” Au contraire, shop at a mature woman’s store and learn tasteful sophistication. [i.e., Liz Claiborne & surprisingly, LL Bean are designer labels to look into.] The universal law for both sexes it that one can dress well and not expose oneself.
Another distressing practice that distracts our fellow believers is the habit of young men who wear clothing that serves as billboards for various commercial products and sporting goods brands. It brings to mind our Saviour’s reaction to the buyers and sellers in the Temple, “Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise” (John 2:16).
Awareness of these obligations, along with a general commitment that the purpose of church attendance is to maximize the opportunities of oneself, and others, for reverential communication with the Almighty, may be all the guidance one needs in selecting one’s wardrobe and dressing appropriately. To remind ourselves and visitors to our church of the importance of proper dress, most churches in our diocese have the following posted at the entrance:
Those who attend the divine services are expected to conduct themselves with reverence and dignity and to be dressed modestly. Men are requested to wear long-sleeved shirts or jackets. Women are requested to wear a covering for their heads. Those wearing low-necked [below the clavicle] or short-sleeved dresses, dresses above the knee, pant suits, or shorts are asked not to enter. Smoking and the chewing of gum are prohibited within the church’s premises.
The temple of God is a holy place, and your conduct should be appropriate.
Discretion is the greatest spiritual gift. We need to strive in our worship in Church for an understanding of what is truly appropriate. If we understand our purpose in going to Church and our obligation to our fellow Christians, then we can judge for ourselves if we are dressed for Church or “dressed to kill.” In order to be Christians, we must act on our understanding for “faith without works is dead” (James 2:20), as the Apostle James clearly teaches. Let us make manifest our faith and love for our Savior and our fellow Christians, and clothe ourselves as ones who with knowledge seek to be clothed with the Spirit.
"It is better to elude the passions by the recollection of the virtues than by resisting and disputing with them. For when the passions leave their place and arise for battle, they imprint on the mind images and idols, and this warfare has great force, able to weaken the mind and violently to perturb and confuse a man's thinking. But if a man acts by the first rule we have mentioned, when the passions are repulsed they leave no trace in the mind."
"... Until a man has received the Comforter, he requires the divine Scriptures to imprint the memory of good in his heart, to keep his striving for good constantly renewed by continual reading, and to preserve his soul from the subtleties of the ways of sin; for he has not yet acquired the power of the Spirit that drives away that delusion which takes soul-profiting recollections captive and makes a man cold through the distraction of his intellect." -Saint Isaac the Syrian
From the memoirs of Archimandrite Panteleimon
Once when I was with the Elder a young man came with his wife for a visit. From the conversation that ensued, it became evident that the young man was already an acquaintance of the Elder and that he had just recently married. He was bringing his wife for the first time to meet the Elder and receive his blessing. It was summer and quite hot. The young man was wearing short sleeves and his wife likewise, but both were otherwise dressed modestly. After they had greeted one another and kissed the hand of the Elder, the Elder said to the young man:
“It is evident that your wife loves you greatly.”
“From what do you surmise this, Elder?” asked the young man.
“I behold short sleeves on you, short sleeves on your wife also. From great love that she has for you, she does whatever you do, she imitates you.”
Both of them blushed. The young man said:
“But it is summertime, Elder. It is very hot.”
“For me also it is summertime, but I don’t take off my clothes, I don’t sport short sleeves. You are the head, you are the instructor in your house. If you are modest, then she is modest also. You govern. As you wish, so it is.”
The Elder was amazing. There is nothing that he left unobserved, that he did not comment on. But he always made his observations with love and wisdom and on occasion with humor. Afterwards he said to the couple, “I do not wish to grieve you. I do not wish that you depart with sadness, but as spiritual father it is my duty to tell you what is right, what is profitable to your souls.”
Then he gave them many beautiful admonitions. The nun brought them treats and they thus departed. On this occasion the Elder did not, as he often did when talking with visitors, send me to wait in the chapel or in the courtyard. I surmise that he kept me close to him on this occasion so that I would hear all that was said as instruction. As for the young man and his wife, I do not think that they could ever forget the words and admonitions of the Elder.
Political Mythology And The Unborn Child
By Stephen Caesar, M.A.
(CHRISTIAN NEWS, December 9, 2002)
The women's movement defends abortion by employing two myths that have been exploded by modern science. The first myth is that an unborn child is not a cognizant human being but a "potential life" or a "blob of tissue." This is in contradiction to Luke 1:41, which affirms the cognizance of the unborn child. In this passage, Mary, while pregnant with Jesus, enters the house of her relative Elizabeth, who at the time was pregnant with John the Baptist. The Bible recounts: "And it came to pass, that, when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb." This indicates that a baby can hear voices outside the womb and react to them, something that a "lump of tissue" or a "potential" anything cannot do.
Recent technological breakthroughs have shown that the Biblical position is right and that the women's movement is wrong. The Boston Globe recently reported: "In the comfort of the womb, a baby can hear its mother speaking. Scientists have shown that the newborn already recognizes its mother's voice and can also distinguish between the language spoken by the mother and a foreign language" (Cook 2001:6).
Further evidence of the unborn child's cognizance of the outside world has been discovered by Alexandra Lamont, lecturer in the psychology of music at Keele University in Great Britain. According to the Globe, Prof. Lamont "asked a group of expectant mothers to pick a piece of music and then play it every day during the final three months of their pregnancy. The children were then not exposed to the music for 12 months after they were born" (Cook 2001:7). Prof. Lamont then played three pieces of music to the 1-yearolds: The song the mothers had played to them in the womb, a similar song, and a song from a completely different style of music. "What she found stunned her," reported the Globe. "The children consistently preferred the exact piece of music they had heard in the womb" (Cook 2001: 7). Prof. Lamont herself' remarked, "I never expected this kind of long-term memory" (Cook 2001: 7).
Still more evidence for the unborn child's ability to hear sounds and react to them was reported recently by Scientific American. Ultrasound, the high-tech medical procedure that permits an obstetrician to see inside a pregnant woman's womb, relies on sound wave to form a picture of the unborn child. These sound waves are too high to be heard by adults, but unborn babies can hear them perfectly - a little too perfectly, it turns out, as the prestigious journal reported:
"Volumes [of sound from the procedure] can reach up to 100 decibels in utero, as loud as a subway train. An unborn baby would perceive this sound as a high-pitched tone or chord, although the noise would be more akin to a finger tap near the ear than a shriek cutting the air. The finding may explain why babies wiggle more during ultrasound scans than when resting undisturbed" (Minkel 2002: 28).
Both of these discoveries demonstrate that an unborn child is a cognizant human being who can react to sounds, just as Luke 1:41 suggests, and in complete opposition to feminist mythology.
The second myth used by the women's movement is the claim that an unborn child is not a separate entity, but merely a piece of a woman's body, like her liver or kidney (or a man's prostate). In the Bible, however, the separate personhood of a child in the womb is clear; Isaiah 49:1 states, "The Lord hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother bath he made mention of my name." If a child in a woman's womb were merely a piece of her body, like a lung or a bladder, it would hardly make sense for God to call it, since He is not in the habit of calling out inseparable body parts. However, if the baby is a separate human entity, then Isaiah 49:1 would make perfect sense. Genetics has shown the the Biblical position is correct: The cells of the unborn child are so different from those of his or her mother that they are foreign. The research of J. Lee Nelson demonstrates this point. An associate member in the Program of Human Immunegenetics at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and an associate professor in the Division of Rheumatology at the University of Washington ─ Seattle, Dr. Nelson has been trying to find the cause of autoimmune diseases (in which the body considers itself to be a disease which must be fought). According to Nelson,
"One of the unsolved mysteries of immunology is why the body of a pregnant woman doesn't reject her fetus... In recent years, the mystery deepened as researchers learned that fetal cells get into the maternal blood stream during pregnancy and, what's more, may stay there for decades, perhaps indefinitely... The indefinite persistence of fetal cells in a woman's body ... led me to ask if some so-called autoimmune diseases may be triggered by foreign cells, specifically by fetal cells present in the mother's body"(Nelson 2001: 14 [emphasis added]).
If the unborn baby were the genetic equivalent of the mother's kidney or appendix, then his or her cells would not be "foreign," but would have the same genetic code as the rest of the mother's cells. The fact that fetal cells are foreign to the pregnant woman confirms the Biblical truth that an unborn child is a separate human entity.
The findings of modern science are in accordance with Biblical statements, while the women's movement is completely at odds with the truth on this issue. Isaiah, writing in the eighth century BC, and Luke, writing in the first century AD, knew more about the true nature of the unborn child than science did until very recently. This is yet another indication of the divine source of the Biblical authors' knowledge ─ not to mention the profound wrongness of the women's movement on the question of abortion.
Cook, G. 2001. "Womb Music." Boston Globe Magazine, October 14.
Minkel, J. R. 2002. "Sonic Womb." Scientific American, 286, no. 2.
Nelson, J. L. 2001. "The Chimeric Self." Natural History, 110, no. 5.
Stephen Caesar holds his master's degree in anthropology/archaeology from Harvard University. He is the author of the e-book The Bible Encounters Modern Science, available at www.Istbooks.com.
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