Protectoress of the Unborn
Our Lady of Guadalupe of Mexican fame has been called the Protectoress of
Rev. Frank Pavone, Founding Director of Priests for Life, says a copy of her
image travels the U.S. to end abortion, and is "carried into Churches and is
brought in front of abortion clinics nationwide." He tells of being with the
image in these settings many times and of an instance in Florida where a
Catholic girl was in the waiting room of a clinic, saw them outside praying
and cancelled her abortion. She went out to talk to them and they
arranged to assist her. Later that year she named her baby
From this additional title of hers, we may
look upon Mary to protect the unborn of all people, not just the unborn
of the Mexicans or Catholics. This includes everyone reading this, no
matter what your religious persuasion.
In the year 1531 Our Lady of Guadalupe
declared her identity as the Ever Virgin Mary, Mother of the true God,
to the poor Indian Juan Diego, when she appeared to him in present-day
Mexico. She told him she wanted to help "all who dwell in this
land and all those others who loving me, invoke and place their confidence in
me..." Whatever help she gives, comes in turn from the goodness of
God. In James 1:17 we are told "...all good giving and every perfect
gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights (sun, moon and
The above-mentioned concept of Our Lady of Guadalupe, being the
Mother of the true God, may seem impossible, when, in
fact, God preceded her in existence, and when she
is human and He is divine. To more fully understand her maternal role,
let us consider what a mother truly is.
What is a mother?
What is encompassed by
being a mother? Without minimizing the important role a mother plays,
the title of motherhood only encompasses a portion of the causation of the
human person. A mother provides the female elements: the egg with its
genetic makeup, her womb for the child to grow in and a delivery system
through the umbilical cord to nourish the child. At the time of birth
she brings the child into the world. To nature is added
her nurture which includes her love and care for her offspring. This
Composite of body and spirit
The little one, like all human beings, is a
composite of body and spirit. We call this spirit a soul and it is the
most important component of the human being. God creates it at the
instant of conception and thus bestows humanness upon the child at the very first moment. This does not take away from the mother,
because what she provides in engendering the child is for the body, and even
here, she provides from what God has provided in nature.
A mother of a person
Even though a mother provides nothing
of the spiritual component, the soul, we don't say she is the mother of the
body. We say she is the mother of a person: the whole human being,
body and soul.
She is the mother of a little Joey, Keegan
or Andrew, or Sydney, Anna or Erin, or
whatever the chosen name is for her offspring. The name becomes
solidly linked to and stands for the person. I know of an instance
where a child of unknown gender was lost through miscarriage early on, and
was named Jamie for the maternal grandfather James.
In Luke 1:43 Elizabeth cries out, "And
whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me"?
The baby Jesus may've been about a week in the womb when she said this,
recognizing the Person Who is Jesus.
Mary as Theotokos, the Mother of God
Before Jesus came into
the world as the God-man, he existed from all eternity as the Eternal Son of
God, and Mary being His mother, had nothing to do with His prior existence
as a spiritual Person of the Trinity. God would create the human
soul of Christ at a certain point in history
but the Spirit of His Divinity always existed.
When in the course of time God wished to
take on human form through Mary, she consented to become His mother.
She provided the egg, the womb and the nourishment for the Person of Jesus.
By contributing to the physical portion of Christ ― but neither His human
soul nor His Spirit as God ― she became the mother of our Savior. She
became a mother in the same sense that all mothers become the mother of a
person. And through her God the Son entered human history as the
Person of Christ.
The Fruit of her womb
Jesus was our
embryonic Savior and the fetal Son of God. And as Mary's cousin
Elizabeth said to her, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, "Blessed is
the fruit of thy womb."
By being so
described, we may see Him not only as he was at the beginning of His earthly
life, but as He was at the end, when He hung upon the Cross.
Disobeying God, Eve took the fruit from the forbidden tree in the garden,
and gave it to Adam, whose disobedience, in turn, resulted in the Fall of
man with its bitter consequences for the race, the greatest of which was the loss of
sanctifying grace. Jesus would reverse that consequence with His sufferings and
death. The Fruit of the womb would now be put on the tree of the
Cross, resulting in the sweetness of
salvation, to savor for all eternity. Not only does the terminology of
the fruit help show forth her maternity of Christ, but it links it to
The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe has a sash
beneath her folded hands, which I was told in Mexico signifies that she is
with child. Accordingly then, this is an an image of her carrying the
historical Jesus. It is her as the mother of God.
But something else occurred at Guadalupe when she
appeared there. She called the poor Indian Juan Diego her son,
and she did so with affection. More than that she referred to
herself as his mother. So here is another form of motherhood
expressed―and another form of life!
While earthly mothers give life in the natural order of
things, by God's design Mary also gives life in the supernatural order
of things. This second life was made possible for us through the sufferings
of her Son. It's at the heart of what it means to be
This additional life is the aforementioned sanctifying grace that Jesus restored,
a grace essential for heaven. It is supernatural life, a sharing in
the life of God Himself. As a mother brings forth life, Mary brought
forth Christ Who is "...the Way, and the Truth, and the Life."
Before Jesus died on the Cross, He said to His
"Woman, behold your son" and to the disciple standing by, "Behold, your
mother." This event from the Cross and beneath it, is seen as
expressing the reality of Mary's spiritual maternity, distinct from the
physical maternity of her Son Jesus.
Her two kinds of maternity manifested at Guadalupe are
impressive. And while they are extraordinary, we see a plurality in a
different and lesser way in ordinary human relationships, as women can be
mothers in more than one way: a physical mother of her own child, a
mother of an adopted child, or even assuming the role of a mother to another
without formal arrangement.
The disciple mentioned above was the Apostle John,
who stood at the foot of the Cross. A disciple is a follower, and
we are disciples of Christ, or are meant to be. While the use of
disciple in the passage from the Gospel of St. John, refers to a specific
person, it is a generic term, applicable to all the disciples, for all time. And those meant
to be His disciples include the precious unborn. By Christ's command
from the Cross, they are meant to be Mary's spiritual children.
Therefore their loss through abortion is a loss to her as well. They
are made to know, love and serve Him in this world and to be happy with Him
in the next, just as we are.
Help of Mary
At the outset this article
Mary was mentioned as Protectoress of the Unborn. Mary has a number of
titles, and among those recited in the Litany of Loreto, is Help of
Christians. To protect the unborn, we need to be the Help of Mary, to
be her hands and her voice: to act of her behalf in this world in opposing
the culture of death. Even if we are not physically related to
the biological parents, we are meant to be the spiritual kin of the unborn.
In gospel the disciple took Mary into his home. We need to
pray and work that the unborn should find acceptance in the homes and hearts of their
mothers and their fathers―and in the attitude, thinking and
actions of their surrounding human family, which includes the courts and
those in government: the climate around
Help us to help you, Mary, to protect the unborn and
overcome the great abuse of freedom in our time and country. Help us
bring forth the heavenly meteorology: the wind of the Holy Spirit, to chase away the clouds
of darkness that drift over the earth.