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Archive for May, 2013

Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Reading 1 ZEPANIAH 3:14-18

Shout for joy, O daughter Zion!
Sing joyfully, O Israel!
Be glad and exult with all your heart,
O daughter Jerusalem!
The LORD has removed the judgment against you,
he has turned away your enemies;
The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst,
you have no further misfortune to fear.
On that day, it shall be said to Jerusalem:
Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged!
The LORD, your God, is in your midst,
a mighty savior;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
and renew you in his love,
He will sing joyfully because of you,
as one sings at festivals.

ROMANS 12:9-16

Brothers and sisters:
Let love be sincere;
hate what is evil,
hold on to what is good;
love one another with mutual affection;
anticipate one another in showing honor.
Do not grow slack in zeal,
be fervent in spirit,
serve the Lord.
Rejoice in hope,
endure in affliction,
persevere in prayer.
Contribute to the needs of the holy ones,
exercise hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you,
bless and do not curse them.
Rejoice with those who rejoice,
weep with those who weep.
Have the same regard for one another;
do not be haughty but associate with the lowly;
do not be wise in your own estimation.

Psalm IS 12:2-3 5-6

R. (6) Among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.
God indeed is my savior;
I am confident and unafraid.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
and he has been my savior.
With joy you will draw water
at the fountain of salvation.
R. Among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.
Give thanks to the LORD, acclaim his name;
among the nations make known his deeds,
proclaim how exalted is his name.
R. Among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.
Sing praise to the LORD for his glorious achievement;
let this be known throughout all the earth.
Shout with exultation, O city of Zion,
for great in your midst
is the Holy One of Israel!
R. Among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.

Gospel LUKE 1:39-56

Mary set out
and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
“Most blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”

And Mary said:
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.

He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever.”

Mary remained with her about three months
and then returned to her home.

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“Hail Mary full of Grace the Lord is with Thee, Blessed art Thou amongst women and Blessed is the Fruit of Thy Womb, Jesus. Amen. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”

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Our Lord’s Prayer Our Father, Who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, As it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, The power, and the glory, For ever and ever. Amen

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meditate on the greatness of the woman’s mission, following in the steps of the Holy Virgin. Mary taught us two rules leading to holiness. One is: “I am the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done to me according to thy word.” This indicates that the woman’s mission is to let herself be fecundated by grace — holy receptivity. The second is: “Do whatever he tells you.” This is the holy program that the Church offers us. No doubt, if women understood this message, marriage, the family and the Church would overcome the terrible crisis affecting us. As the liturgy says, “God has put salvation in the hands of a woman.”

“The Privilege of Being a Woman”-

http://www.amazon.com/Privilege-Being-Woman-Alice-Hildebrand/dp/097061067X

Review

“Every page is filled with insights that make one want to sit back and contemplate.” — Dr. Janet E. Smith, Saint Austin Review, July/August 2002

About the Author

Alice von Hildebrand received a master’s degree and doctorate in philosophy from Fordham University in New York. She taught at the Hunter College of the City in New York, the Catechetical Institute in Arlington, Virginia, the Thomas More College in Rome, Italy, Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, and Ave Maria College in Ypsilanti, Michigan. She lectures in Canada, South America, Western Europe and the United States, and is the author of several books including Greek Culture: The Adventure of the Human Spirit, A Philosophy of Religion, By Love Refined, By Grief Refined, and the Soul of a Lion. She co-authored several books with her husband, Dietrich von Hildebrand, including The Art of Living, Situation Ethics, and Graven Images.

 

Women historically have been denigrated as lower than men or viewed as privileged. Dr. Alice von Hildebrand characterizes the difference between such views as based on whether man’s vision is secularistic or steeped in the supernatural. She shows that feminism’s attempts to gain equality with men by imitation of men is unnatural, foolish, destructive, and self-defeating. The Blessed Mother’s role in the Incarnation points to the true privilege of being a woman. Both virginity and maternity meet in Mary who exhibits the feminine gifts of purity, receptivity to God’s word, and life-giving nurturance at their highest.

Alice Von Hildebrand on Feminism and Femininity

http://www.catholic.org/featured/headline.php?ID=530

Says Women Can Escape a Trap by Imitating Mary’s Strength and Humility

NEW ROCHELLE, New York, NOV. 26, 2003 (Zenit) – Women in the secularized world need to be reminded that fulfilling their maternal role is infinitely valuable in God’s sight, says the wife of philosopher Dietrich Von Hildebrand.

Alice Von Hildebrand, author of “The Privilege of Being a Woman” (Sapientia) and a philosopher in her own right, shared how every woman can find supernatural strength in what feminism perceives as her weakness and look to Mary as a model of perfect femininity.

Von Hildebrand earned her doctorate in philosophy at Fordham University and is professor emeritus of Hunter College of the City University of New York.

Q: What inspired you to write this book?

Von Hildebrand: The poison of secularism has penetrated deeply into our society. It did so by stages. Men were its first victims: They became more and more convinced that in order to be someone they had to succeed in the world. Success means money, power, fame, recognition, creativity, inventiveness, etc.

Many of them sacrificed their family life in order to achieve this goal: They came home just to relax or have fun. Work was the serious part of their life.

Innumerable marriages have been ruined by this attitude. Wives rightly felt that they were mere appendixes — a necessary relaxation. Husbands had little time for loving exchanges, as they were too busy. The children saw very little of their fathers. That wives suffered was not only understandable, but also legitimate.

Q: Why do women need to be convinced that it is good to be a woman?

Von Hildebrand: The amazing thing is that feminism, instead of making women more profoundly aware of the beauty and dignity of their role as wives as mothers, and of the spiritual power that they can exercise over their husbands, convinced them that they, too, had to adopt a secularist mentality: They, too, should enter the work force; they, too, should prove to themselves that they were someone by getting diplomas, competing with men in the work market, showing that they were their equals and — when given opportunities — could outsmart them.

They let themselves become convinced that femininity meant weakness. They started to look down upon virtues — such as patience, selflessness, self-giving, tenderness — and aimed at becoming like men in all things. Some of them even convinced themselves that they had to use coarse language in order to show the “strong” sex that they were not the fragile, delicate, insignificant dolls that men believed them to be.

The war of the sexes was on. Those who fell into the traps of feminism wanted to become like men in all things and sold their birthright for a mess of pottage. They became blind to the fact that men and women, though equal in ontological dignity, were made different by God’s choice: Male and female he made them. Different and complementary.

Each sex has its strengths; each sex has its weaknesses. According to God’s admirable plan, the husband is to help his wife overcome these weaknesses so that all the treasures of her femininity will come to full bloom, and vice versa.

How many men truly become “themselves” thanks to the love of their wives. How may wives are transformed by their husband’s strength and courage.

The tragedy of the world in which we live is that we have become apostates. Many have abandoned the treasures given to us by revelation — the supernatural.

Original sin was essentially an attack on the hierarchy of values: Man wanted to become like God, without God. The punishment was terrible: Man’s body revolted against his soul. Today, this reversal of the hierarchy of values goes so far that Peter Singer denies man’s superiority over animals, and that baby whales are saved while human babies are murdered.

The whole is topsy-turvy: Marriages break down; many do not even consider getting married; partnership lasts only as long as it satisfies one. Unnatural relationships so severely condemned by Plato are fashionable and claim their rights to be put on the same level as those that God has ordered.

Q: How can women’s purported weakness be seen as a source strength?

Von Hildebrand: Granted that from a naturalistic point of view, men are stronger: not only because they are physically stronger, but also because they are more creative, more inventive and more productive — most great works in theology, philosophy and fine arts have been made by men. They are the great engineers, the great architects.

But the Christian message is that, valuable as all these inventions are, they are dust and ashes compared to every act of virtue. Because a woman by her very nature is maternal — for every woman, whether …

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married or unmarried, is called upon to be a biological, psychological or spiritual mother — she knows intuitively that to give, to nurture, to care for others, to suffer with and for them — for maternity implies suffering — is infinitely more valuable in God’s sight than to conquer nations and fly to the moon.

When one reads the life of St. Teresa of Avila or St. Thérèse of Lisieux, one is struck by the fact that they constantly refer to their “weakness.” The lives of these heroic women — and there are many — teach us that an awareness and acceptance of one’s weakness, coupled with a boundless confidence in God’s love and power, grant these privileged souls a strength that is so great because it is supernatural.

Natural strength cannot compete with supernatural strength. This is why Mary, the blessed one, is “strong as an army ready for battle.” And yet, she is called “clemens, pia, dulcis Virgo Maria.”

This supernatural strength explains — as mentioned by Dom Prosper Gueranger in “The Liturgical Year” — that the devil fears this humble virgin more than God because her supernatural strength that crushes his head is more humiliating for him than God’s strength.

This is why the Evil One is today launching the worst attack on femininity that has ever taken place in the history of the world. For coming closer to the end of time, and knowing that his final defeat is coming, he redoubles his efforts to attack his one great enemy: the woman. It says in Genesis 3:15: “I will put enmity between you and the woman.” The final victory is hers, as seen in the woman crowned with the sun.

Q: Why do you think women have moral power?

Von Hildebrand: The mission of women today is of crucial importance. In some way, they have the key to sanity — the first step toward a conversion. For supernature is based on nature, and unless we go back to a natural soundness, the sublimity of the supernatural message will be lost to most of us.

Why do they have the key? Because their influence on men is enormous when they truly understand their role and mission. Again and again I hear priests say that they owe their vocation to their grandmother or mother.

St. Monica, in collaboration with God, brought back her wayward son to God. St. Bernard’s mother, St. Francis de Sales’ mother — who was only 15 years older than he — and St. John Bosco’s mother were key factors in their spiritual way to holiness.

Q: How is Mary a model of femininity?

Von Hildebrand: Women have the key because they are the guardians of purity. This is already clearly indicated by the structure of their bodies, which chastely hides their intimate organs. Because their organs are “veiled,” indicating their mystery and sacredness, women have the immense privilege of sharing the sex of the blessed one: Mary, the most holy of all creatures.

Feminism began in Protestant countries, for the plain reason that they had turned their backs on Christ’s mother, as if the Savior of the world would feel deprived of the honor given to his beloved Mother.

Mary — so gloriously referred to in the Apocalypse — is the model of women. It is by turning to her, praying to her and contemplating her virtues that women will find their way back to the beauty and dignity of their mission.

Q: How did writing this book help you grow in appreciation of being a woman?

Von Hildebrand: Writing this book has been a privilege. It gave me a unique opportunity to meditate on the greatness of the woman’s mission, following in the steps of the Holy Virgin.

Mary taught us two rules leading to holiness. One is: “I am the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done to me according to thy word.” This indicates that the woman’s mission is to let herself be fecundated by grace — holy receptivity. The second is: “Do whatever he tells you.”

This is the holy program that the Church offers us. No doubt, if women understood this message, marriage, the family and the Church would overcome the terrible crisis affecting us. As the liturgy says, “God has put salvation in the hands of a woman.”

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One of the most beautiful moments in history was that when pregnancy met pregnancy when childbearers became the first heralds of the King of Kings. All pagan religions begin with the teachings of adults, but Christianity begins with the birth of a Child. From that day to this, Christians have ever been the defenders of the family and the love of generation. If we ever sat down to write out what we would expect the Infinite God to do, certainly the last thing we would expect would be to see Him imprisoned in a carnal ciborium for nine months; and the next to last thing we would expect is that the “greatest man ever born of woman” while yet in his mother’s womb, would salute the yet imprisoned God-man. But this is precisely what took place in the Visitation.

At the Annunciation the archangel told Mary that her cousin, Elizabeth, was about to become the mother of John the Baptist. Mary was then a young girl, but her cousin was ”advanced in years,” that is, quite beyond the normal age of conceiving. “See, moreover, how it fares with thy cousin Elizabeth; she is old, yet she too has conceived a son; she who was reproached with barrenness is now in her sixth month, to prove that nothing is impossible with God. And Mary said, ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done unto me according to thy word.’ And with that the angel left her.” (Luke 1:36-38)

The birth of Christ is without regard to man; the birth of John the Baptist is without regard to age! “Nothing is impossible with God.” The Scripture continues the story: “In the days that followed, Mary rose up and went with all haste to a city of Juda, in the hill country where Zachary dwelt; and entering in she gave Elizabeth greeting. No sooner had Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, than the child leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth herself was filled with the Holy Ghost; so that she cried out with a loud voice, “Blessed are thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. How have I deserved to be thus visited by the mother of my Lord? Why, as soon as ever the voice of thy greeting sounded in my ears, the child in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed art thou for thy believing; the message that was brought to thee from the Lord shall have fulfillment.” (Luke 1:39-45)

Mary “went with all haste”; she is always in a hurry to do good. With deliberate speed she becomes the first nurse of Christian civilization. The woman hastens to meet a woman. They serve best their neighbor who bear the Christ within their hearts and souls. Bearing in herself the Secret of Salvation, Mary journeys five days from Nazareth to the city of Hebron where, according to tradition, rested the ashes of the founders of the people of God, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

The terraced-fields of Juda
pregnant with seed
called out to her
as she passed, praising the Child
she was yet to bear,
invoking His Blessing
on their expectancy.*

“She gave Elizabeth greeting”; springtime served the autumn. She, who is to bear Him Who will say: “I came not to be ministered unto but to minister” now ministers unto her cousin who bears only His trumpet and His voice in the wilderness. Nothing so provokes the service of the needy as the consciousness of one’s own unworthiness when visited by the grace of God, The handmaid of the Lord becomes the handmaid of Elizabeth.

   

   

On hearing the woman’s greeting, the child whom Elizabeth bore within her “leaped in her womb.” The Old Testament is here meeting the New Testament; the shadows dissolve with joy before the substance. All the longings and expectations of thousands of years as to Him Who would be the Saviour are now fulfilled in this one ecstatic moment when John the Baptist greets Christ, the Son of the Living God.

Mary is present at three births: at the birth of John the Baptist, at the birth of her own Divine Son, and at the “birth” of John, the Evangelist, at the foot of the Cross, as the Master saluted him: “Behold thy mother!” Mary, the Woman, presided at the three great moments of life: at a birth on the occasion of the Visitation, at a marriage at the Marriage Feast of Cana, and at a Death, or surrender of Life, at the Crucifixion of her Divine Son.

“The child leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth herself was filled with the Holy Ghost.” A Pentecost came before Pentecost. The physical body of Christ within Mary now fills John the Baptist with the Spirit of Christ; thirty-three years later the Mystical Body of Christ, His Church, will be filled with the Holy Spirit, as Mary, too, will be in the midst of the Apostles abiding in prayer. John is sanctified by Jesus. So Jesus is not as John – not man alone, but God, as well.

The second part of the second most beautiful prayer in the world, the Hail Mary, is now about to be written; the first part was spoken by an angel: “Hail (Mary) full of grace; the Lord is with Thee; blessed art thou amongst women.” (Luke 1:28)

Now Elizabeth adds the second part in a “loud voice”; “Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb (Jesus)” Old age is here not jealous of youth or privilege, for Elizabeth makes the first public proclamation that Mary is the Mother of God: “How have I deserved to be thus visited by the mother of my Lord?” She learned it less from Mary’s lips than from the Spirit of God nestling over her womb. Mary received the Spirit of God through an angel; Elizabeth was the first to receive it through Mary.

Cousin-nurse at birth, Mother-nurse at death. There is nothing Mary has that is for herself alone – not even her Son. Before He is born, her Son belongs to others. No sooner does she have the Divine Host within herself than she rises from the Communion rail of Nazareth to visit the aged and to make her young. Elizabeth would never live to see her son lose his head to the dancing stepdaughter of Herod, but Mary would live and die at once in seeing her Son taste death, that death might be no more.

* Calvin Le Compte, I Sing of a Maiden, Macmillan, 1949.


Related IgnatiusInsight.com Articles and Excerpts:

• The Virtually Venerable Fulton J. Sheen | Charles F. Harvey
• Mary, The Woman the World Loves | Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen br> Mary in Byzantine Doctrine and Devotion | Brother John M. Samaha, S.M.
• Fairest Daughter of the Father: On the Solemnity of the Assumption | Rev. Charles M. Mangan
• The Blessed Virgin in the History of Christianity | John A. Hardon, S.J.
• “Hail, Full of Grace”: Mary, the Mother of Believers | Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
• The Disciple Contemplates the Mother | Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis
• Mary in Feminist Theology: Mother of God or Domesticated Goddess? | Fr. Manfred Hauke
• Excerpts from The Rosary: Chain of Hope | Fr. Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R.
• The Past Her Prelude: Marian Imagery in the Old Testament | Sandra Miesel
• Immaculate Mary, Matchless in Grace | John Saward
• The Medieval Mary | The Introduction to Mary in the Middle Ages | by Luigi Gambero
• Born of the Virgin Mary | Paul Claudel
• Assumed Into Mother’s Arms | Carl E. Olson


The World’s First Love: Mary, Mother of God(2nd edition)
by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

Anniversary Edition with New Foreword by Fr. Andrew Apostoli

• Also available as a Downloadable Audio File. To hear a sample reading of The World’s First Loveclick here

With his characteristic eloquence and brilliance, Fulton J. Sheen presents a moving portrayal of the Blessed Virgin Mary that combines deep spirituality with history, philosophy and theology. All the major aspects and events of Mary’s life are lovingly portrayed in this word portrait that is a never failing source of information, consolation and inspiration. Sheen also gives profound insights into all the Marian beliefs ranging from the Immaculate Conception to the Assumption to the miracle of Our Lady of Fatima.

While considering the different phases of Mary’s life, Bishop Sheen discusses various problems common to mankind of every age and reveals clearly that every problem can be resolved. He emphasizes the unique dignity, strength and gifts of women and their ability to help heal the world’s problems. Sheen stresses mankind’s need of the Mother of God and her burning love for all her children. The great resurgence of devotion to Mary is God’s way of emphasizing the worth and dignity of every person against the false doctrines that have so confused the modern world.

“A stimulating literary picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary … an impressive scope of information.”
— Newark News

“A remarkable book by Sheen. Many rays of inspiration are to be gleaned from this thought-provoking work.”
— Philadelphia Inquirer

“The whole treatment is based on a high key that reflects the author’s deep reverence and devotion for the Blessed Virgin.”
— Chicago Sunday Tribune

“With the world situation as challenging as it is today, especially the fear of war and terrorism, this book is truly prophetic. Sheen presents powerful insights into how Our Lady can help us in dealing with the problems in today’s world. Among his many books, Sheen cherished this book as his personal favorite!”
—  Fr. Andrew Apostoli, CFR


Archbishop Fulton Sheen (1895-1979) is considered by many to be the most influential Catholic of the 20th century in America. Millions of people watched his incredibly popular television series every week, “Life is Worth Living”, and millions more listened to his radio program, “The Catholic Hour”. Wherever he preached in public, standing-room-only crowds packed churches and halls to hear him. He had the same kind of charisma and holiness that attracts so many people to Pope John Paul II, who called Sheen “a loyal son of the Church.” Learn more about Archbishop Sheen by reading his autobiography, Treasure In Clay, or visiting the Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen Foundation website.

http://www.ignatiusinsight.com/features2011/fsheen_visitationwfl_may2011.asp

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Gospel of Luke Chapter 1- 26:38 -Announcement of the Birth of Jesus.* 26 In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary.l 28 And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.”m 29 But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 n Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. 32 o He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,* and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, 33 and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”p 34 But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?”* 35 And the angel said to her in reply, “The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.q 36 And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived* a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; 37 for nothing will be impossible for God.”r 38 Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

Gospel of Luke Chapter 1- 26:38 -Announcement of the Birth of Jesus.* 26 In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary.l 28 And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.”m 29 But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 n Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. 32 o He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,* and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, 33 and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”p 34 But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?”* 35 And the angel said to her in reply, “The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.q 36 And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived* a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; 37 for nothing will be impossible for God.”r 38 Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

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Holy Rosary Joyful Mysteries in petition -“Hail Mary full of Grace the Lord is with Thee and Blessed is the Fruit of Thy Womb, Jesus.”

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