The Underlying Message of ‘The Visitation’

During the Annunciation, the Angel Gabriel informs Mary that her cousin Elizabeth is in her sixth month of gestation, letting her know that though barren and advanced in age, the birth of Elizabeth’s baby, like Mary’s, would be a miraculous event. So here we have a very old woman who had always been barren and a very young girl who had taken a vow of virginity (see here), both pregnant. Mary then travels to visit Elizabeth, “in haste”, and St. Luke reports the remarkable exchange that took place upon Mary’s arrival.

“And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.'”

Two things taken together here strike me as extremely important from a theological standpoint. The First is that Elizabeth was “filled with the Holy Spirit”, meaning that everything she subsequently said would carry theological significance. The second is her use of the word “baby”, “the baby in my womb leaped for joy.” The word for baby in Greek is brefos, and does not imply a fetus or an unborn child, but just as it does in English the word strictly means “baby”. St Luke will use the same word in chapter 2 verse 16, in reference to the shepherds: Continue reading “The Underlying Message of ‘The Visitation’”

Johnny Rotten’s Anti-Abortion Video

The punk rocker admitted in an interview that the song was intentionally anti-abortion. It’s based on a true story about a groupie named Pauline who lived in a facility for people suffering mental illness. On the grounds was a tree house which she made her home. She once showed up at Rotten’s home wearing clear cellophane and holding an aborted baby.

The reason I am posting this in spite of the vulgarity is that I think the video can be used as a powerful statement on abortion for high school or college students because of its inherent credibility. They were not around in the Punk era, which began with performance artists violently heaping scorn on a conformist society. The movement had an authentic character and that is communicated in this video. The reaction of the students will be one of fear.

Because so many Catholic educational institutions get a low score on pro-life issues, a video like this exposes their conformism. Incidentally, a week after this performance (Jan. 1978) the group disbanded.

The Danger of Religious Pluralism

four-religionsDistinct from syncretism, which reflects the blending of elements of unrelated faiths, pluralism affirms that different religions offer alternate paths to the same god, or to salvation. I once heard a priest use the analogy of a group of siblings, representing different religions, arguing with each other over who father loves most. Dad, representing God, then walks in on the quarreling kids and assures them that he loves them all equally.

It’s one thing for members of different religions to engage in dialogue as a means of promoting peace, but quite another to disregard their disparate and competing claims to the truth and declare them equally valid. It’s intellectual anarchy, like insisting that 2+2=5. The danger is that it crosses a line after which one’s own religion is unavoidably diminished in value. Continue reading “The Danger of Religious Pluralism”