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Ink Slingers Michelle Prayer Saints Spiritual Growth

Dear 8 Pound 6 Ounce Newborn Infant Jesus

“Dear 8 pound 6 ounce newborn infant Jesus, don’t even know a word yet, just a little infant and so cuddly but still omnipotent, thank You for all Your power and Your grace, dear Baby God. Amen.”

This line from Talladega Nights is one of my favorites. The setting is crude and the reason the family prays is maybe not the best (they are praying to win and to have more money), but it does highlight an aspect of faith that many often don’t consider. When we pray, we don’t necessarily have to pray to the Jesus we all envision when someone talks about our Lord. Jesus was Lord and Savior as a man, as a teen, and as a sweet infant as well.

Infant Jesus of PraguePerhaps you’ve not heard of the Infant Jesus of Prague. A statue of the infant Jesus dressed like a king was brought to Prague by Maria Manriquez. While not the first statue of the Infant Jesus, it is definitely one of the most well-known. It was said that the Infant Christ had appeared to a friar and revealed the statue to him. The beautiful wax statue is 18 inches tall and shows the infant wrapped in kingly clothes. In His left hand he holds a globe with a cross atop it. This shows He has kingship over the world. His right hand extends a blessing to us with His first two fingers raised to show His dual nature- truly human and truly divine.

The statue was eventually dedicated to a Carmelite monastery where the friars and many others began to have a deep devotion to the Infant Jesus. However, as The Thirty Years War raged and the Saxon army invaded Prague many times, the friars fled the monastery in 1628. They hid the statue behind the altar. Years later when they returned, they forgot about the statue. In 1638 it was rediscovered but the hands were missing.  Father Cyril, the friar who found the statue, was said to been visited by the Infant Jesus who told him, “Have pity on Me, and I will have pity on you. Give Me My hands, and I will give you peace. The more you honor Me, the more I will bless you.”

Father Cyril, as all the friars at the monastery, had no money to fix the statue. They also did not possess the skills necessary to fix such a work of art. He asked for the Blessed Mother’s intercession, pleading to have the funds become available to help him fix the statue. It is said that he received another vision from the Infant Jesus who told him, “Place Me near the entrance of the sacristy and you will receive aid”. He did as he was told and within a few days a man came by and fixed the statue. Shortly thereafter miracles began happening. An altar, and finally a chapel, was built to house the Infant Jesus. Despite unrest and war, miraculously the chapel and the statue have always remained unscathed. To this day pilgrims from around the world come to venerate and pay their respect to the Infant Jesus.

Devotion to the Infant Jesus may seem strange to some when the bible only speaks of Christ’s work as an adult. Sometimes it’s easier for us to connect to the man who was Jesus Christ; after all we are often faced with the same temptations and struggles that He faced. But Christ came to us as an infant. He came as a helpless newborn that had to rely on His mother and earthly father to provide for His needs. He came unable to talk and unable to walk. He came vulnerable to the world. He came as we still come. It is not only ok but it is also good to pray to Christ at the various ages and stages of His life, including as an infant. He was both human and divine from the moment of His conception. His entire life, from conception to death, was holy and is worthy of worship and adoration.

Infant Jesus of Prague 2I have a particular devotion to the Infant Jesus. I have a statue of him as well as pictures in my home and I carry a devotional card and medal in my purse at all times. I find His vulnerability as an infant to match the way my heart often feels. I feel helpless to take care of my needs on my own, unable to speak the right words when necessary, and unable to walk the right path without guidance. He understands that helplessness. He knows that I rely on Him to take care of me just as He relied on Mary and Joseph to take care of Him.  When I pray to the Infant Jesus I feel an overwhelming sense of peace. I know that even as a baby He is able to guide and protect me.  I turn to Him for many things but I find it especially comforting to ask Him to watch over my children, especially my babies.

If you haven’t discovered The Infant Jesus of Prague I encourage you to learn about Him. The miracles that flow from Him are tremendous and the peace that comes from entrusting yourself to His care is overwhelming.

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Ink Slingers Saints Stacy

Meet James Fulton, the Alleged Miracle for the Beatification of Fulton Sheen

As you know, I am a Chief Editor along with Tito Edwards at Ignitum Today, the social network of the JP2 and B16 generations.  One of our contributors, Bonnie Engstrom, wrote back in September 2011 about the riveting survival of her infant son, an alleged miracle that the family believes was through the intercession of the now Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen.  Bonnie informed us last week that this alleged miracle has been chosen as the one to be submitted for review by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and if it is declared a true miracle then Archbishop Fulton Sheen will be beatified.  It has been so exciting to share in this remarkable journey through Bonnie’s writing.  When the pastor at our parish in New York announced this good news from the pulpit last Sunday, I smiled at my husband and thought, “I know the family involved!”  It’s an amazing and glorious story.

You can read more at Catholic News Service and at Bonnie’s website, Learning to Be a Newlywed, but before you read anything else, you need to read her original story when she told us about the day her son, James Fulton, was born.  It is reprinted below with her permission.  Thank you Bonnie.


61 Minutes

By Bonnie Engstrom, September 16, 2011

One year ago today I delivered my son, a stillborn.  For a moment he was placed in my arms quiet, blue, and limp.  The midwife and her assistant then took him from me and began CPR.  They could not find a pulse.  He did not breathe.  Because we were at home (it was my third, planned homebirth) 911 was called.

While cpr was continued and we waited for the ambulance my husband took water and baptized him using the name we had agreed upon, James Fulton.  I remember sitting on the floor saying, “Fulton Sheen, Fulton Sheen, Fulton Sheen” over and over again in my head.  I suppose it was as close as I could come to a prayer; I suppose it was my way of asking Archbishop Sheen to interceded for my son.

The paramedics came and rushed James away.  In route, as they tried to restart his heart, they gave him two doses of epinephrine by lines in the shin bone.  Neither worked and one leaked out, turning his whole right leg – from toe tip to buttock – black and blue and purple.   In the ER the doctors and nurses worked on him for another 18 minutes or so.  A nurse practitioner told me she wanted James’ mother to be able to hold him alive for a little bit.  Five minutes, an hour – she just wanted my son to be alive long enough for me to say good-bye.

They did a sonogram of his heart.  It fluttered but it didn’t beat.  A nurse held his foot; she later told me it was cold, like the expression “cold and dead”.  He was intibated and getting oxygen, but there was no way that the chest compressions were adequately circulating the oxygen to the brain and other organs.  Following the orders of the on-call neonatalogist they stopped working on him so they could call time of death.

My little boy, James Fulton, 9lbs and 12oz, had been without a pulse for 61 minutes.

Everyone stopped working.  And then his heart started.

James was admitted to the NICU at the Children’s Hospital of Illinois and was immediately “cooled” – a newer type of therapy where they lower the body’s temperature by a few degrees in an effort to spare the brain and other organs further and ongoing damage.  For three days he was sedated and shivering, covered in tubes and wires.  They thought that he would not live to be a week old.  They thought he would have to lose his right leg because of the chemical burn.  They thought that if he did live he would be a “vegetable”.  They tried to give us hope, but they thought that he would probably spend the rest of his life strapped in a wheelchair, blind, severely mentally disabled, on a ventilator, fed through a feeding tube, in diapers, unable to communicate love.

EEG’s showed very abnormal brain activity.  An MRI showed that the brain had been injured from the severe lack of oxygen.

At times I wondered if we should have just stayed home and never called 911.  I worried that I had become Dr. Frankenstein and had, through other people, manipulated James into life.  I worried that he would be treated like a monster.

In the situation we were in I could either worry or I could hope.  I could fear or I could trust.  We had prayerfully decided to have a homebirth and so I knew that we were following God’s plan for our lives.  I didn’t know where we would end up, but I knew that I could not live in the dark – I had to hope and trust – I had to live in the Light.

So we prayed, and we asked people to pray with us.  Two days after his birth 100 people, many I barely knew, came to the Peoria Diocese’s cathedral.  In the church where Fulton Sheen served Mass and was later ordained, we had a holy hour and Mass.  As a group we prayed for Sheen’s intercession:  Eternal Father, You alone grant us every blessing in Heaven and on earth, through the redemptive mission of Your Divine Son, Jesus Christ, and by the working of the Holy Spirit.  If it be according to Your Will, glorify Your servant, Fulton J. Sheen, by granting the favor I now request through his prayerful intercession – that James Fulton’s body heals and functions normally and that he is spared any brain damage. I make this prayer confidently through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Friends told James’ story on Facebook, in emails, on blogs, and to their prayer groups, prayer chains, Bible studies, family members, and friends.  People in Alaska, New York, Mexico, Peru, Germany, Ireland, and Canada prayed for my son, asking for Sheen’s intercession.  Atheists asked their believing friends to pray for him.  Classrooms of children in Catholic schools throughout Illinois recited the Sheen prayer every day.  Little children adopted him as their main prayer intention.  My dad began attending Mass again on a regular basis.

Say hello to James Fulton

And God answered the prayers.  Jesus Christ healed my son.  The Holy Spirit filled the hearts His faithful.  And Sheen continued to evangelize through his namesake and my son.  By the time he was a few days old his kidneys, liver, and colon were all working.  His leg was healing.  By a week he was breathing without any assistance.  His blood pressure was good.  He began eating by bottle.  He was taken off pain meds and started to interact with me, his visitors, nurses, and doctors.  At seven weeks he came home from the hospital.  A follow-up MRI showed no more brain damage.  The precautionary g-tube was removed when he was six months old.  Now he rolls over, crawls, cruises, and will walk soon.  He eats Cheerios, picking them up with his thumb and pointer finger.  He squeals with laughter, plays with blocks, steals toys from his older siblings, and has scored in the normal / age appropriate range by his developmental and physical therapist.

My family and I believe that God brought James back from the dead and healed his body.  We believe that He did this through the intercession of Archbishop Sheen.  We believe that God did this for the same reason that he allowed Lazarus to die:  “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.”

Today my son is one year old.  Thank you, Jesus, and Happy Birthday, James Fulton!

Click here.

To learn more, visit The Archbishop Fulton John Sheen Foundation.