Tag Archives: baby

The Savior arrives as a baby

Christmas could rightly be called the holiday of the senses.

It is the season of lights and tinsel, choirs and carols, the aroma of evergreen and roasting chestnuts. Christmas comes to us with sumptuous meals, hearty laughter, and kisses beneath the mistletoe. Christmas scenes — by the old masters and by modern advertisers — decorate the walls of museums, billboards on the roadside, and cards in the mailbox. For nearly 2,000 years, the world has marked the birth of Jesus as its most festive jubilee. No other day of the year offers the world so many earthly pleasures.

But why? No pope or Church council ever declared that it should be so. Yet every year, Christmas comes onto the calendar like a sudden December wind, like the blinding sun reflected off new snow. It is a shock to the senses, to go from barren winter to the season of lights and feasting.

And so it should be, for the first Christmas — the day when Jesus Christ was born — was a shock to human history.

For millennia, humankind had lived and died, uncomprehending, in its sin, the miseries of this world inevitable and the joys few and fleeting. Then Christmas arrived, and even the calendar went mad. From that moment, all of history was cleft in two: before that day (B.C.), and after that day (A.D.). The world — with all its sights and sounds and aromas and embraces — was instantly transfigured. For the world’s redemption had begun the moment God took human flesh for His own, the moment God was born in a poor stable in Bethlehem.

The greatest Christian poem commemorates this moment when God definitively came to dwell on earth. St. John begins his Gospel by describing a God of awesome power, remote in space and transcending time: a Spirit, a Word:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through Him.

This is the God that even the pagan philosophers knew: the Prime Mover, the One, the Creator. Yet, precisely where the pagan philosophers stalled, John’s drama proceeded to a remarkable climax:

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.

This was shocking news. From the distant heavens, from remotest time, God Himself had come in flesh to “pitch His tent” among His people. Yes, God is eternally the Word, but a word is elusive, and not everyone may grasp it. Now He is also a baby, and a baby may be picked up and held and embraced.

Of all the amazing and confounding truths of the Christian religion, there is none so outrageous as this: that the Word was made flesh, in a particular little town, in a stable filled with animals, on a certain day of the year. The Word was made flesh and changed everything. This makes Christmas the most shocking feast in the calendar.

This is what Christmas teaches us: We have bodies so that we can use them to worship God, as Jesus of Nazareth did. We have bodies so that we can use them to serve others, as Jesus did. We have bodies so that we can bring comfort and consolation and healing, as Jesus did. We have bodies so we can celebrate together, as Jesus did. We have bodies for glory’s sake.

Christmas tells the story of how the flesh became holy, the body was sanctified, and simple earthly joys became hymns of praise to God. We love to hear the story over and over, and we always will love it so long as a scrap of humanity remains in us. L

MIKE AQUILINA is the author of many books, including Faith of Our Fathers (Emmaus Road), from which this essay is adapted. He has hosted 11 series on EWTN Television, and appears weekly on Sirius Radio’s “Sonrise Morning Show.”

The fine art of saving lives

Mobile Chapter member is a local pro-life hero

Dr. Phillip Madonia sees dozens of women contemplating abortion every year. Their situations may vary, but their desperation is always the same. What makes Madonia stand out is his success rate in changing women’s minds. “I’ve been told that in one year I helped 75 women choose not to abort,” he said. “I have been doing this now for 26 years.”

Pro-life advocates

One factor that helps Madonia — a Legatus member from Mobile — is an Alabama law mandating ultrasounds and fetal development counseling for all abortion-minded women. However, Madonia goes a step further: He assures them that he will take care of them, no matter what their problem is.

“I remember the woman who came to me after she had been advised by her doctor to have an abortion because she had previously had a blood clot,” he explained. “She was scared and upset.”

Madonia told her that she had a complicated pregnancy because of the medicines and testing for the clot.

“I told her that we would do the hard work and have a baby. We did and she did. It was a particular thrill when she delivered. The frightened woman was now a thrilled mother.What an affirmation!” he said.

Madonia and his wife Deborah have been pro-life advocates throughout their 31- year marriage. They both volunteer for a local crisis pregnancy center called 2B Choices for Women, he as a physician and counselor, she as a member of 2B’s advisory board.

Though Madonia didn’t decide to become a doctor with a pro-life ministry in mind, the abortion issue kept surfacing.

“When I applied for my residency in Ob-Gyn, I chose not to apply to hospitals that staff abortion services,” he said. “Performing abortions in training hospitals around the country is a practice that has endured.”

In 1996, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education established guidelines mandating that residency education must include experience with induced abortion, said Madonia, citing the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

“As recently as 2006, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists encouraged medical schools to include abortion services as a part of the training for all medical schools,” Madonia said.

“A few doctors are actively pro-choice and some do not take a stance at all,” said Madonia, “but many are afraid to say they are pro-life because they are afraid they will be marginalized.”

Holy Spirit counseling

However, being openly pro-life hasn’t hurt Madonia’s career. He is president of Mobile Ob-Gyn with seven other pro-life doctors.

Madonia does not have a set routine when he counsels women, except for praying to the Holy Spirit for guidance.

“Not all women are the same. They all have different problems and fears,” he explained. “I ask the Holy Spirit to tell me what this particular woman in front of me needs.”

He has never seen a woman who wanted to “kill her baby.” Most simply don’t want to raise a child. They try to convince themselves that what they’re carrying is not a baby, Madonia said.

“I talk about the baby like it’s a living person,” he said. “I talk about the pain abortion brings that will never go away.”

Jerryann Boden, director of 2B Choices for Women, said they send Madonia the hard cases. Since the women all have to do an ultrasound anyway, they all agree to go.

“The best thing about Madonia is that he is usually in four days a week and we can send a woman the same day or the next,” she said.

“He does this with a passion because of his beliefs about abortion,” she added. “Having access to the ultrasound makes him very effective. He’s been a Godsend.”

Mary Cunningham Agee, a member of Legatus’s Napa Chapter and founder of the Nurturing Network, vouches for the importance of ultrasound technology.

“With an ultrasound, the bottom line is, it can’t be theoretical anymore,” she said. “The other side is all about rhetoric and speaking about ‘choice.’ Choice sounds great. We all like choices. But the distortion of choice is license. Once you look at an ultrasound, it’s a human being with a beating heart.”

Madonia’s wife, Deborah, is an adjunct theology lecturer at nearby Spring Hill College in Mobile. She believes her husband’s approach is what makes him so effective.

“I think John Paul II said it best: We must all be courageously pro-woman. We must become a community that is supportive of both mother and baby.Women must know that they are not alone,” she said.

Agee couldn’t agree more.

“One thing I hear in every inquiry — besides the need for resources — is the question: Will I be alone? These women need to know that they will not be alone,” she said.

There are thousands of pro-life counselors across the country, but pro-life doctors are essential to saving unborn children.

“When a woman calls, she’s not looking for a philosophical conversation,” said Agee. “She has immediate problems and needs. One of them is medical. A doctor will be a huge player one way or the other.”

Madonia sticks to the facts when speaking to patients. He tells women about the life they carry, which will grow up to be a child, a teenager, an adult. But most of all, he tells them that they are not alone. He tells them he will walk with them every step of the way. And he means it.

Sabrina Arena-Ferrisi is a staff writer for Legatus Magazine.