Tag Archives: pregnancy

The Feast of the Expectation of the Blessed Virgin Mary—imagine how St. Joseph felt as he escorted his full-term wife to Bethlehem

Joseph and Mary going to Bethlehem                                            stjosephnewpalz.org

By Larry Peterson

Within the season of Advent is the Feast of the Expectation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This feast is celebrated on December 18. It is a profound commemoration of what Our Lady and St. Joseph went through during the week preceding the first Christmas. (At this time it is only celebrated in Spain, Italy, Portugal, and Poland, and among some religious groups).

In the year 431, the Council of Ephesus declared that the Divine Maternity was indeed a dogmatic truth and that the Blessed Virgin Mary was truly “Theotokos,” meaning the Mother of God.  Without the Divine Maternity what follows would never have happened.

Have we ever thought about Joseph and Mary during this time? Have we ever tried to imagine how it was for them? Let’s pause for a moment and envision how it might have been for this teenage girl who was at full-term in her pregnancy and her young, carpenter husband.

They were about to embark on an eighty-mile journey to go to Bethlehem. There were no paved roads, cars, trains, planes, nor were their rest-stops along the way. They would travel along rocky, dirt roads and Mary’s mode of transport would be a donkey.  Her husband would walk,  guiding their “vehicle.”

I am sure most dads remember the birth of their first child. I know I do. I was twenty-five years old, and Loretta’s water broke on a Sunday afternoon. The journey by car over paved roads, across the George Washington Bridge and into Manhattan took twenty minutes.

When we arrived, she was immediately taken to maternity and I was relegated to the waiting room. At the time, I was just filled with massive relief knowing that my wife and soon to be born baby were in capable hands. I was not thinking about St. Joseph.

I will let you moms ponder how it must have been for the Savior’s mom. Although filled with grace and protected by God Himself, she was still human with all the emotions and fears any normal woman would have. Those feelings were real. (I hope you women realize how special you are the because you are the ones who God specifically created to continue His creation).

Being a man, I cannot imagine having to face the responsibility of taking my pregnant wife who was about to give birth, on an eighty-mile trek to get to a place I had never been without having any idea where we were to stay. The entire concept is, as we would say today, CRAZY! But for the chosen parents of the Messiah, that was their reality. They had no choice.

The journey would have taken Joseph and Mary at least four days (today we can drive eighty miles in less than two hours).  Imagine all the stops along the way especially with our Blessed Mother having a full-term baby leaning on her bladder. Yes, she was human.

They would have had to rest; but where? On the side of the road? They had to eat; did they start a fire and try to cook something? They had no Igloo Coolers so what did they use to preserve their food (whatever it was) and how much water were they able to carry? How many changes of clothing did they bring along? Where did they wash up? Where did they change their clothes?

When they reached Bethlehem, Joseph had to leave his worn out and pregnant wife, alone, in a strange place, and try to find shelter. We folks today just look for the first motel we see, pull in, sign in, and have a nice clean room with a warm bed waiting for us. It was not the same for the Holy Family, not even close. They wound up in a cave that sheltered animals. This was Mary’s maternity center and her birthing room was a pile of hay. It is SO hard to imagine.

We owe our Blessed Mother so much. She accepted God’s incredible gift of the Divine Maternity and all that followed; from seeing Joseph react to the initial horror at learning of her pregnancy, from the Bethlehem journey to the First Christmas in a cave, and onward through His passion and death.. everything Mary did was a selfless act that came straight from the all-consuming Love that is in her Immaculate Heart.

As for St. Joseph—he is the PERFECT role model for all of us men. He loves his God and his family and will do all in his power to care for and protect them, no matter what. That is what a real man does.

We followers of Christ are truly blessed.  Why is it so many do not see that?

©Larry Peterson 2018

 

Meet the Saint who Was “Not Born”; He is also the Patron of Childbirth and Pregnant Women. His name is St. Raymond Nonnatus

St. Raymond Nonnatus; Mercedarian: orderofmercy.org

                                                                                                                       By Larry Peterson

The Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy, more commonly known as the Mercedarians, was founded in the year 1218 by St. Peter Nolasco. His purpose was the redemption of Christians captured and imprisoned by the Muslims. To become a Mercedarian requires an additional commitment on the part of those wanting to join the order. It is known as the “fourth ” vow.

In addition to the traditional vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, the Mercedarians also vow to willingly trade their life for another who is in danger of losing their faith. What follows is a brief visit into the life of one of the original Mercedarians, St. Raymond Nonnatus.

Raymond came into the world in the year 1204. His birth was anything but normal. His mother died while she was giving birth to her son. His father is credited with saving the baby’s life. I cannot imagine what this man was going through or the emotions that were flooding him. His wife had died before his eyes, yet he had the presence of mind to remove his unborn child from her womb with his own dagger.

He and his wife had agreed on naming the child,  Raymond. This was done by the child’s dad. However,  the last name of Nonnatus may seem a bit strange. That is because it is Latin and it means, “not born.” Raymond became known as the child who was “not born.”

Raymond’s father owned several farms, and he wanted Raymond to manage one of them. But Raymond was obviously drawn to religious life. He possessed a deep devotion to God and the Blessed Virgin. Nearby was the ancient chapel of St. Nicholas, and he would frequent there to pray and meditate. Eventually, his father realized that his son would not be a sheep-herder or farmer and gave in to the boy’s wishes to join the Mercedarians in Barcelona

Raymond’s life was now on track for him to fulfill his God-given destiny. Empowered by his father’s permission, Raymond told the Mercedarians that he had personally taken a vow of perpetual virginity and was determined to join the Mercedarian order. He was accepted and (this is not definite) it is said that St. Peter Nolasco, the founder of the Mercedarians, is the one who presented Raymond with the Order’s habit. The young man was probably ordained a priest in his early twenties although there is some uncertainty as to the exact date.

In 1224, Father (aka Friar) Raymond began his first redemption journey to Valencia which had been conquered by the Moors. Raymond Nonnatus managed to gain the freedom of  233 captive Christians. He was just beginning his work.

In 1226,  he traveled to Algiers, in Northern Africa. Offering to remain behind as a replacement prisoner for the Moors, he managed to free another 140 captives. Three years later he went back to Algiers again. This time he was accompanied by his friend, Friar Serapion.

Friar Serapion, after having fought alongside Richard the Lion-Hearted during the Crusades,  became a Mercedarian. He had decided he would rather surrender his life for captives rather than kill infidels. The two of them managed to free 150 captives from slavery on that journey. In 1232,  Raymond and Serapion managed to free 228 captives from the prisons and dungeons of Tunis.

St. Raymond’s last redemption was in 1236. It was in Algiers again, and this visit is not known for the number of freed prisoners. Rather, it is known as the torture Raymond was forced to endure. Having exhausted all funds, Raymond stayed behind as a hostage. He spent his time in the dungeons preaching the message of Jesus and Christianity. This flew into the heart of the Muslim teachings, and his captors would have none of it.

Raymond was taken away, and they used a searing iron to bore holes through his upper and lower lips. Then they placed a padlock through the holes in an attempt to keep the suffering man quiet. The padlocks remained in place for eight months at which time ransom was received for Raymond’s release. He was returned to Spain in 1239.

Raymond Nonnatus died toward the end of August, 1240; the exact day is unknown. He was 36 years-old. Tradition has it that the town, the local count, and the friars all claimed his body. They resolved the dispute by placing Raymond’s body across the back of a blind mule. The mule was let loose and wherever it stopped would be Raymond’s burial place.

The mule ambled slowly to the chapel where Raymond Nonnatus had prayed so frequently as a teenager. That is where he was buried and many miracles at the site have been attributed to his intercession.

St. Raymond Nonnatus was canonized a saint by Pope Alexander VII in 1657. He is the patron saint of childbirth, children, and pregnant women. He is also patron for priest defending the seal of confession.

St. Raymond Nonnatus, please pray for us and all of the unborn.

copyright©LARRY PETERSON 2018