Unborn Jesus Our Hope
by Ronda Chervin, PhD
“Surely Unborn Jesus had – and has – a special place in His most tiny hidden heart for today’s vulnerable unborn children.” (Epilogue, Unborn Jesus Our Hope)
What are the chances of reading a pro-life book with a hopeful and even exalted message? That was my initial skeptical approach when my friend, George Peate, agreed to let me look at a manuscript he was preparing called UNBORN JESUS OUR HOPE. But first, let me back up to share some key memories of my own pro-life journey that help explain my reaction to Peate’s book.
I was born in 1937 to parents who loved and cared for me and my twin-sister, but whose philosophy of life did not allow for any unconditional affirmation of the intrinsic worth of the human person. Part of my conversion at the age of 21 to Catholic Christianity was the recognition that a baby in the womb was more valuable than a book on a shelf. Years later, while I was a professor of philosophy at Loyola Marymount University of Los Angeles, I became part of the pro-life movement both in the teaching of ethics and by praying in front of abortuaries. And my husband, Martin Chervin, wrote a play BORN/UNBORN depicting the grief of a father becoming aware that the mother of their child is going for a late-term abortion.
It was in front of an abortuary, in 1982, that I first met my fellow pro-life friends George and Michele Peate and their family. There was much sharing of wisdom amongst the quietly praying protesters between counseling women coming for abortions. I remember once someone said that the mystery of Mary’s visitation to Elizabeth showed how the babe in the womb was a person. There in Scripture we didn’t read about how two not yet human salamander-like swimmers waved their tails in greeting but about how the unborn tiny person of Jesus blessed the tiny unborn person John.
Another memory – I was sitting at the edge of my seat in a movie theatre thrilling to the image of that small man, Gandhi, defying the British Empire with prayer and non-violent resistance. I asked loudly as that great film ended, “Don’t the lives of the babies in the womb mean as much to us as the welfare of his people meant to Gandhi? Where are leaders in our movement who love God and unborn babies with that degree of sacrificial fervor?” Within a month I heard of the early attempts of Operation Rescue led by such heroic deeply Christian believers as Joan Andrews.
When I finally got to read a draft of UNBORN JESUS OUR HOPE, I thought that only a parent could write so lovingly about the process of life in the womb, mingling this awe with a presentation of theological truth, so scholarly and yet vibrant. I was stunned with joy at the beauty of Peate’s account of the meaning for us of unborn Jesus.
I see now that part of my interest in the manuscript had to do with burn-out. After years of activism in the pro-life movement I had become tired of reading protest articles. I needed to spend any time left over from teaching, writing and speaking in quiet prayer. I did not know how to bring the anger, hurt and disappointment about abortion into that inner sanctuary of the heart of Jesus or into soothing recitation of the mysteries of His life given in the rosary.
But now, reading UNBORN JESUS OUR HOPE in its final form I am deeply moved. I see how just as the errors of radical feminism challenged us to develop a true Christian sense of womanhood, so can the scourge of abortion bring forth new wonder about the unborn person in the light of the life of the unborn Jesus.
UNBORN JESUS OUR HOPE is a masterpiece. With its poetic style and theologically sound presentation, it provides a unique synthesis of contemplation and human experience. Studded with evocative quotations, the reader is invited to commune with the great perceptions of centuries of Church teachers. While written from a Catholic background, I believe all Christians will love this book, especially because of the constant references to Scripture.
Simple reflections gently challenge us as we read. Peate writes about the visitation of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth, that “Mary acts with God at His prompt and pace.” At His prompt and pace. . . I ask myself, do I act with God at his prompt and pace or do I rush ahead and then beg God to grace my impetuous sometimes misguided deeds?
Thank you, Holy Spirit, for Your light shining in the darkness of the culture of death, upon the mind of George Peate, who has written this refreshingly beautiful reflection: UNBORN JESUS OUR HOPE.
Ronda Chervin, Ph.D., is a professor of philosophy, a widow and grandmother, and author of numerous books about Christian living.