Mystery of the Natural and Supernatural Birth

We get our Supernatural Life for the first time at the moment of Baptism. The cleansing waters of the Sacrament wash off the stain of original sin and give to the soul the great gift of Supernatural Life. We cannot see either one - the good or the bad - but we know that both are true realities because God has said so.

Only the eye of God and the eye of faith in a human being can see the wonder that takes place at Baptism. Even the most penetrating look of the human eye is not able to discover the God-given reality of Supernatural Life. The parents and godparents utter happy oh and ah at the sight of the peaceful sleep, the wide-awake focus or the annoying cries of the infant, a doll-like person dressed for the occasion in its best and whitest gown, its baptismal dress. The service itself brings no change that's visible to the eyes of people who witness and assist at the conferring of the Sacrament. Fondly the mother gazes at her baby as she gives it to the godmother before the baptismal group leaves for church; she looks happily at it again as the godmother places the infant in her arms upon returning. But her fond gaze before, and her joyful glance of welcome then, cannot discern what difference exists. Neither the mother nor anybody else can tell by means of the five senses, what is missing before Baptism or what's been added by means of the Sacrament.

The priest baptizes the infant; the infant receives its first Sacrament. Two weeks after the friends and the relatives - even the sponsors - have forgotten the fabulous event of the baby's natural birth as a child of human parents; and they have even more entirely forgotten the wonderful event of its supernatural birth as a child of God. The marvel of pure life! Just God and the eyes of faith see both of them — natural life and Supernatural Life — as authentic realities.

Orpheus charming the animals with music. Engraving by J.P. Le Bas after A. Hondius. Hondius, Abraham, 1625-1695. Date 1700-1799

Many a young mother experiences at first a couple of days of concern and interest and encouragement from her loved ones; she is the center of attention in the hospital -- physicians, nurses, husband, friends, letters, cards and gifts encircle her. Then the memory of this new arrival fades quickly from the mind; the mother finds out very soon and very sadly the high vocation of motherhood has many a lonely moment, days and weeks and months during which she is left by herself to look after the infant and to provide for all the requirements of its natural life. She does it willingly, happily, proudly -- she is the baby's mother.

If the memory of a baby's natural birth as the child of human parents is so short-lived, how long will the fact of the infant's supernatural birth as a child of God become an issue of concern and interest and attention? How long will the memory of the day of Baptism remain alive in the mind? How long will the significance and profound influence of Supernatural Life be apparent to those who are destined by God to protect and foster it?

The sponsors of the baby at Baptism, its friends and family too, forget the baby - its natural life and it's Supernatural Life - very shortly. That's often taken for granted. The mother, however, cannot forget her infant; the sponsors of the baby at Baptism, its friends and family too, forget the baby — its natural life and it's Supernatural Life — very shortly which also is taken for granted.

Massacre of the Innocents Peter Paul Rubens 1637

If the sponsors and loved ones of the household forget both kinds of life, it is possible for the mother to lose sight of the Supernatural Life of her baby, a Life that's not visible to the eyes of men. Taken up with all the cares and needs of the pure life of her child, she can forget completely that Divine Gift that her baby received from God at the moment of Baptism. Concerned as she is with many things that are essential in the daily life of the baby, she can fail to remember the One Thing Necessary, a Divine Reality, the Supernatural Life of her infant.

The mother knows what the natural life of her baby is and what it means; she can't forget that natural life. We need her to know as clearly and as certainly what the Supernatural Life of her baby is and what it signifies. Then she'll protect and foster that Life in her baby, and she'll consciously and with conviction try to keep and increase it in her own soul, in herself.

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