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Photo courtesy Michael Clancy
Little Samuel's mother, Julie Armas, is an obstetrics nurse in Atlanta. She knew of Dr. Bruner's remarkable surgical procedure. Practicing at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, he performs these special operations while the baby is still in the womb. During the procedure, the doctor removes the uterus via C-section and makes a small incision to operate on the baby. During the surgery on little Samuel, the little guy reached his tiny, but fully developed, hand through the incision and firmly grasped the surgeon's finger. The photograph captures this amazing event with perfect clarity.
The editors titled the picture, "Hand of Hope." The text explaining the picture begins, "The tiny hand of 21-week-old fetus Samuel Alexander Armas emerges from the mother's uterus to grasp the finger of Dr. Joseph Bruner as if thanking the doctor for the gift of life."
Little Samuel's mother said they "wept for days" when they saw the picture. She said, "The photo reminds us my pregnancy isn't about disability or an illness, it's about a little person."
You can see the actual picture, and it is awesome...incredible. And hey, pass it on. The world needs to see this one.
From ZenitIslam Sees Mary as a Model for All Believers
Mentioned 34 Times in the Koran, Observes Archbishop Gioia
ROME, MAY 29, 2003 (Zenit.org)Mary has a place in Islam too, says a Vatican aide.
"God is the only point of reference for the Muslim believer, but next to him are those who reflect his holiness. Mary is one of them," Archbishop Francesco Gioia, president of the Pilgrimages to the See of Peter.
The archbishop expounds on that point in a book, "Mary, Mother of the Word, Model of Dialogue Between Religions," published by Cittā Nuova.
"Mary occupies an outstanding place in Islam," he said. "She is the only woman whose name the Koran mentions -- up to 34 times."
Mary is particularly fascinating to Muslims. "She is the model of all believers because of her absolute faith and perfect 'submission' to the will of God," he added.
"Vatican Council II took note of the benevolent attitude of the Muslims toward Mary, and in the declaration 'Nostra Aetate' one reads: 'They honor Mary, the virginal mother (of Jesus), and at times invoke her with devotion," the archbishop observed.
Muslim faithful's affection and devotion for Mary is reflected in the pilgrimages they undertake to Marian shrines, especially Fatima, and in the fact that many Muslim women are called Mary, he added.
According to the Koran, "an angel, by order of God, announced to Mary that she would give birth to a most pure son, a message that disturbed her. She gave birth under a palm tree that nourished her miraculously. She was a virgin and pure. She safeguarded her virginity and God infused his Spirit in her, making her and her son a sign for creatures," Archbishop Gioia noted.
"In the Koran it is stated that Mary 'is one of the devoted women and is a saint. She is preferred, purified and chosen by God over all the women of creation,'" he added.
"In the Koran, Mary has a decided Christological function, underlined by the prevailing designation of Jesus as 'son of Mary,'" he continued.
Biographical and spiritual elements of the Koran on Mary differ from Christian tradition, however.
"Muslim Mariology is irremediably conditioned by the Koran's explicit denial of the divinity of Jesus Christ," he said.
On the figure of Mary there are "points of convergence and of divergence between Christians and Muslims," Archbishop Gioia said. "[But] the fact must not be minimized that Muslim tradition proposes Mary as a model to the faithful of Islam."Lourdes Shrine Accepts Prayer Petitions Via E-mail
LOURDES, France, MAY 29, 2003 (Zenit.org)The Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes offers an online service that lets people send their petitionary prayers via e-mail. The intentions are then placed in the Virgin's Grotto.
Prayers sent by e-mail are read every day at 3:30 p.m. in the cave.
The petitions are placed in the cave where the Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette Soubirous in 1858. The apparitions and message of Lourdes are recognized by the Catholic Church, but are not a dogma of faith.Troubled Rwanda Has a New Marian Shrine
Apparitions in Kibeho Foreshadowed the 1990s Genocide
KIBEHO, Rwanda, JUNE 2, 2003 (ZENIT.org-Fides)A land long accustomed to war now has a new Marian shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows.
"I exhort you to pray fervently that this Kibeho Shrine may become a place from which there will arise a people of Rwanda renewed in faith, thirsting for love for their God, determined to forget the sad past of fratricidal war," said Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, on Saturday, when consecrating the shrine.
The shrine in Kibeho, a place of pilgrimage for Catholics in Rwanda and neighboring countries, is where the Blessed Virgin appeared several times in 1981 and later years.
Present at the Mass were the bishops of Rwanda; the apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio; civil and local authorities; numerous priests; religious; and pastoral workers.
The young visionaries say that when the Blessed Virgin appeared she introduced herself as Nyina wa Jambo, Mother of the Word, and she called for prayer, fasting and conversion of heart.
Only once did Our Lady show the young people a horrible scene: a river of blood, people killing each other, abandoned corpses, no one to bury them. This terrifying vision was later related to the genocide which disrupted this central African republic in 1994-1995. Kibeho was one of the worst affected areas.
"The sacrifice of thousands of people killed inside and around the old church building, cries loudly to all of us and calls us to take a new path, the path of peace, of reciprocal forgiveness for the blows inflicted, and of reconciliation," Cardinal Sepe said in his homily.
"A true people of God cannot harbor feelings of hatred, division, revenge, which are foreign to God and to his love," he said.
The prefect went on to recall the commandment of love which Jesus gave to his disciples and he urged Rwandans to welcome God in their hearts: "From the home of your heart he wishes to sanctify your life, bless your families, inspire you to work for the common good of all, to spread in this nation Gospel values on which to build a human and religious social life worthy of his Name."
Cardinal Sepe spoke of the many pilgrimages made to this shrine from various parts of Africa, and the conversions of many pilgrims who return to the faith.
"Every pilgrim who comes to Kibeho," he said, "and is reconciled with God and man, must become a builder of a new humanity, builder of a new Rwandan people, ever more faithful to God.Mary and the Dialogue With Judaism
Archbishop Gioia Highlights Common Roots of Judaism and Christianity
ROME, JUNE 2, 2003 (Zenit.org)The descendants of Abraham and the followers of Christ have much in common, notes a Vatican official.
"'Mary' and 'Jesus' are expressions of the oldest Judaic biblical tradition," said Archbishop Francesco Gioia, president of the Pilgrimages to the See of Peter. "The common roots between the descendants of Abraham and the followers of Christ are greater than the differences and divergences."
The archbishop was addressing the role of the Blessed Virgin in the dialogue with Judaism. He deals with the issue in the book "Mary, Mother of the Word, Model of Dialogue Between Religions," published by Cittā Nuova.
"If the contemporary Judaic tradition was circumscribed to Christ and immediately after, harking back to the common origins, the possibilities for agreement would be multiplied," the archbishop says.
"The God of Jesus is the same God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, 'the God of our fathers,'" he observes. "For this reason, the usual expression: 'We all have the same God,' is valid without a single reservation, both for the children of Israel as well as for the followers of Christ. Sinai is the sacred mountain and Jerusalem the holy city for one and all."
For these reasons, "existing differences should be subordinated to the many points that unite to justify not only the dialogue, but to establish an atmosphere of friendship. Deep down, in the declaration 'Nostra Aetate,' Vatican Council II, after underlining Mary's Hebrew roots, attributed a new title to her, calling her 'Exalted Daughter of Zion' (Lumen Gentium, 55)."
In regard to the dialogue and, specifically, the figure of Mary, Archbishop Gioia maintains that "the dialogue between Christians and Jews up to now has concentrated on the figure of the Messiah, making only a few allusions to Mary."
"In reality, Judaism is also overcoming the controversial phase, noted in the course of history, and that of silence, which for centuries has surrounded the Hebrew woman called Myriam," he notes. "Avital Wohlmann, for example, professor at the University of Jerusalem, 'accepts Mary as Jewish and rejects her as Christian.'"
"It is hoped, however, that Judaism will emerge from this situation," the archbishop says.
He continues: "An interesting testimony in this respect comes from Lea Sestieri Scazzocchio, a Jewish author who sees in Mary the 'Daughter of Israel,' the 'religious woman without fault,' the 'virtuous and consecrated woman' who 'sings for Israel.'
"In one of her works, Lea Sestieri concludes writing: 'Mary, a Jewish mother therefore? Without a doubt: in the faith, in the tragic sorrow faced with the death of her son; but also in the great messianic hope.'"
Archbishop Gioia concludes: "Pointing out to the faithful the heroic example of Edith Stein, the holy Carmelite victim of Nazi ferocity in Auschwitz, John Paul II said: 'Jews and Christians cannot forget their singular brotherhood, which sinks its roots in the providential plan of God, which accompanies their history. Mary, Daughter of Zion and Mother of the Church, pray for us!'"
From LOsservatore Romano
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