Redeemer in the Womb reviews
FAMILY RESOURCES CENTER
321 Main Strect Peoria, Illinois 61602 Phone (309) 637-1713
God's magnificant gift of life demands our responsible guardianship. We plead for
the inviolability of the womb.
This review was reproduced from a brochure which was prepared from excerpts
from John Saward's book, Redeemer in the Womb. They are reprinted with his permission.
25th MARCH - THE INCARNATION
-Commemorating the moment of the enfleshing of the Wod
God the Son, fully and completely God, eternally begotten in the bosom of the Father, became fully and completely
man at his conception in the womb of the Virgin Mary His human life began at fertilization, which in his case was
miraculous, because his Virgin Mother was made fruitful, not by male seed, but by the power of the Holy Spirit.
That is why it is the Annunciation that is the chief feast of the Incarnation. March 25 commemorates the moment
of the enfleshing of the Word.
Jesus was a fetus, an embryo, a zygote. The adventure of being human began for the eternal Son at the moment of
By becoming man at his conception, the Son of God has united every unborn child to himself and made all womb-life
not simply sacred but divine, worthy of God himself. He has consecrated 'our beginnings.' Even the microscopic
stage of human existence is 'capable of the divine mvstery.' In the womb of Our Lady, God the Son has ennobled
the very qualities that the Prometheanism of modern culture dismisses as incompatible with complete humanness -
dependence, helplessness, weakness.
Apart from the saving novelty of its virginal manner, the conception of Christ is in all respects like ours. For
us. then. as for him, it is the moment from which we are fully and completely human, endowed with rational soul
as well as body.
The radiance of the virginal conception sheds its beams on every natural human conception. Through the Incarnation,
man learns the truth about his beginnings.
By his human words and deeds, by his acts of human obedience (from his coming into the world), the Incarnate Word
confirms and sheds new light on those moral truths that, at least in principle, any man can apprehend by the light
of reason. Anyone should be able to see that the life of the human being begins at the moment of fertilization
and from that moment has the right to be protected from attack. But the Catholic believer who confesses that the
Son of God became man at the moment of his virginal conceplion, has the greatest of all possible grounds for reverence.
Unborn life has been assumed and therefore divinized by the consubstantial Word. To attack the unborn is to declare
war against God.
What greater reason can we have for respecting the human person than the assumption of hunian nature by the divine
person of the Son?
If the womb has for nine months been found worthy of the presence of God, then the attack on the unborn is an act
of sacrilege, the abomination of desolation. If Christ is truly the Head of all men, united through his Incarnation
to every man conceived, then he truly suffers in every action of abortion, just as he is neglected in the unfed
hungry and the naked man without clothes.
SPRING COMES WITH THE SPRING OF THE NEWLY-CONCEIVED REDEEMER.
TEACHING OF THE FATHERS
It is a source of great amazement, by beloved,
that someone should enquire into the wonder
of how God came down
and made his dwelling a womb,
and how that Being
put on the body of a man,
spending nine months in a womb,
not shrinking from such a home;
and how a womb of flesh was able to carry flaming fire,
and how a flame dwelt in a moist womb which did not get burnt up.
Just as the bush on Horeb bore
God in the flame,
so did Mary bear Christ in her virginity.
he entered the womb through the ear;
in all purity the God-Man
came forth from the womb into Creation
(from the chief motifs in the dogmatic poetry of St. Ephrem (c. 306-373),
Syriac 'Harp of the Spirit')
The Son of God, for our salvation, became Son of Man. He waits nine months
to be born. He endures discomforts. Bloodied he comes forth. He is wrapped in swaddling clothes. He is covered
St. Jerome (c. 343-420)
HE WHO CANNOT BE CONTAINED IS CONTAINED IN THE WOMB
Mary's womb filled me with wonder that it should contain you, my
Lord, and enclose you.
The whole of creation was too small to conceal your greatness,
Earth and heaven too narrow to serve as embracing arms, to conceal
The womb of the earth is too small for you, and yet the womb of Mary
is large enough for you.
The Son of God emptied himself and accepted the whole slow development of human life from conception to the last
breath. He condescended to be conceived and carried in the womb, to take flesh from, to be 'made from' (cf. Gal
4:4), a woman. A Victorian woman poet intuited the truth as swiftly as the Fathers:
No sudden thing of glory and fear
Was the lord's coming; but the dear
Slow Nature's days followed each other
To form the Saviour from his Mother.
A German woman poet has written:
When a woman fears lite,
it becomes dark on earth.
Dread haunts every corner.
Females of flint line up,
rip out the besieged fruit,
twenty five million
a year, from out of the guarded cradle
God's Son in every child.
"Pregnancy product" in the refuge
LASt scream from the plastic bag
through the night-bIackened days.
Empty swell in hollow body
aborted fruit of love
from sterile den of thieves.
Motherless ship of the world
How will you find atonement?
When the triune God calls a human being to his service, he asks for an answer like the Yes by which the Holy Virgin
ushered the eternal Son into her soul and womb: generous welcome followed by faithful protection. In a sense, says
Balthasar, the seed of the Word is always sown as an unborn child.
The Word-Child in his silent powerlessness can so easily and by a thouaand means be rejected and aborted, almost
without religious people noticing (just as human society is built upon the tacit, thousand-fold murder of the unborn,
as if it were a foundation over which no words need be wasted). The Word-Child nestles within us and seeks safety
and protection in weak human flesh. "He did not come as a conqueror but as one seeking shelter. He lives as
a fugitive in me, in my care, and I have to answer for Him to the Father" (Barnanos).
The tremendous Lion of Judah gives himself to us as the tiny lamb of God. Before he comes at the end in power and
with his angels, the glorified Christ comes to us in a different way, in the persons of the poorest - his unborn
friends and comrades, the least, the littlest of his brethren. He wants the shelter of charity. He craves faithful
protection. Another woman poet - Elizabeth Jennings - has heard his call.
How can we not feel love
To see such helplessness?
Our cold hearts start to move
With an old gentleness,
Yet it is new also
Since we are feeling for
A God who is to grow
To manhood like the poor.
Listen, let Mary sing
Her unborn child a cry
Such as all mothers bring
To their first lullaby.
REDEEMER IN THE WOMB - JESUS LIVING IN MARY
John Saward's book is a unique and profound theological meditation on the nine months the God-man spent in His
Virgin Mother's womb. Drawing on Christian philosophy, poetry. liturgy, as well as the Fathers and great theologians
of the Church, Saward shows that faith in the Incarnation commits the believer inescapably to the defense of the
unborn child. He invites the reader, in the light of Christ, to rediscover the beauty of his own, and every human
being's first few months of existence.
The first book of its kind, it invites every Christian to contemplate with renewed appreciation the mysteries of
the life of Jesus. It shows the coherence and unity of the dogmatic faith and moral teaching of the Catholic Church.
Fr. Johann Roten, S.M., International Marian Research Institute said: carefully
balancing theology and spirtuality, the author takes his argument all the way from the 'revelation in the womb'
to the 'revelation of Ethics, ' where the unborn Jesus not only reveals God but also human reality. Saward's essay
is a manifest to life, of divine life in human reality ... from the very moment of their encounter."
Cardinal John I. O'Connor has called the book "a most unusual study
and a contribution to Mariology of exceptional interest. Even more, it should prove to be an extraordinarily rich
guide for meditation".
Redeerner in ihe Womb is availabIe for free loan at the Family Resources, Center, 321 Main Street, Peoria, Illinois
61602, (309) 637-1713, or may be purchased from Ignatius Press, 33 Oakland Avenue, Harrison, New York 10528, 1(800)
573 0390, or LaGron Miller, 1231 West Main Street, Peoria, Illinois 61606, (309) 674 5I43.
EDUCATION FOR LIFE
Free Library and AV Materials
321 Main Street
Peoria, Illinois 61602
(309) 637 - 1713
Copyright © Named Authors 1994
This version: 7th February 2003