Life as Pregnancy

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As part of another study group, I'm reading Rick Warren's The Purpose Driven Life. I understand its enormous popularity among protestants--Warren claims to have discovered what the Catholic Church has known for centuries--the purpose of life (to wit--prayer and loving God). So for the most part the book has gone without hitch. Yesterday I ran into a bit of protestant theology of the fundamentalist variety--"to become part of God's family, you must be born again." This was followed with such absurdities as "baptism is a necessary sign of this rebirth and everyone should be baptised." It often appears that our protestant brethren have lost the sense of grace.

But the encounter led me to another line of thought. I can legitimately claim to be a "born again" Christian. I had the experience, was baptised into the Baptist church and underwent some instruction there. But, I wonder--is this really what being "born again" is about.

It occurred to me that all of life is a vast pregnancy in the body of God. That is to say, we are born again only when we are born into the Kingdom, as it were. And what occurs here on Earth determines the outcome of that gestation--whether we are born to life or still-born. Not to go too far with this because it may be very far off track and I haven't yet considered it in the fullness of possible meanings--however, being born again is a life-time process that culminates only when we leave this life to emerge in the life beyond. and everything is directed toward that end. So if we fail and fumble in this life, we are as very small children--children in the womb even. And it is expected of so young that they might not progress much.

Thinking a little further in the metaphor, perhaps our saints are those who have been born into the Kingdom while still here on Earth. And what a stunning thing it is to think of them as infants and toddlers in the faith; however, it is how they always refer to themselves. Consider then what it will be like to be in heaven where we to some extent mature in Christ.

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Literally, good food for thought. Thanks, Mr. Riddle!

OK, so I'm not eating your blog post, but you know what I mean :-)

I like your thoughts on the metaphor of "born again." Maybe that is what Bartimaeus felt like in yesterday's Gospel reading in Mark 10:46-52.

The passage in John 3 where Jesus speaks to Nicodemus can be more accurately translated as born (anothen) above. In John 19 the same Greek word is used "been given you from above (anothen);"

At Baptism we are truly born above into the Mystical Body and become part of the Church. Whether we are infants or adults at that point we are truly members of the church. We may or may not accept faith at that point and start participating with the grace given us. Many confuse the point where they intellectually/ emotionally start participating with grace as the point at which they are born.

The Christian life as viewed as a pregnancy has some interesting parallels. A pregnancy brought to term requires health throughout the process.

The baby is totally dependent on the mother, while we are totally dependent on God. The baby must keep growing and must continue to accept nourishment from the mother. In the Christian life we all must keep growing and accept his graces or else we become luke-warm and start to turn away from God's graces.

The end point of pregnancy is to be fully formed and healthy to be able to live in the world. Our end point is to be morally healthy in sanctifying grace so that we can live with God forever. If for some reason we are not totally formed but still die in friendship with God then we go to Purgatory since we are not yet totally purified to live in Heaven, just as those premature babies who are formed but still need assistance before they can live on their own in the world.

The other parallel is that if we don't grow, or if we refuse graces and our souls are malformed and we do not die in God's friendship then we have miscarried in the Christian life.

Inspire is an article I wrote about 5 years ago on this topic. I think that you have some wonderful insights about this topic. What is also interesting is that on the theology of the body email list, we are also discussing baptism (in the context of what does the church teach about the souls of infants who die unbaptized).

Some observations about this analogy:

The day of a saint's death is sometimes called the "celestial birthday."

In one of the oldest histories of Christianity, the historian is describing a persecution. Alas, some Christians were stillborn -- they recanted under threat of death -- but some of these stillbirths God restored to life, for they watched their fellows being martyred, and in the afternoon returned to make a profession of faith.



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on October 27, 2003 8:19 AM.

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