September 19, 2008

The Joyful Catholic / Rick Hermann

Human life begins before conception—just ask God

Rick HermannA friend of mine is a surgeon who specializes in operating on babies before they are born.

Using a powerful microscope and ultra-fine surgical instruments, this gifted man performs precise life-saving techniques on babies while they are still in their mother’s womb.

He is one of the most focused, careful and confident individuals I have ever known. To be sure, he operates in a realm previously unimaginable, a hidden domain filled with great beauty and mystery.

Throughout human history, a fierce battle has raged over this sacred ground of a woman’s womb to determine when human life begins.

Science has recently answered this question conclusively. Modern biology provides clear evidence that individual human life begins with the union of egg and sperm cell.

From the moment of fertilization, the cells are alive and producing a human being.

In other words, human life begins at conception. This is a scientific fact.

But wait, there is more to our story … .

Our Lord informs us that each of us existed in a special way before we were born. Even before we were conceived by our biological mother and father, God conceived us supernaturally in his mind.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you” (Jer 1:5).

In the mind of God, human life begins before conception.

God wills, anticipates and intends the conception of each one of us. In some mysterious and marvelous way, since we exist in God’s eternal mind before our conception, some aspect of our identity pre-existed our conception.

King David proclaimed, “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Ps 139:16).

As creatures, we begin our earthly lives at a unique and miraculous moment of fertilization that occurs in an unrepeatable moment in time.

Nevertheless, we retain an eternal dimension of our existence because we existed in the mind of God before we were conceived.

Thus, we each embody a spark of the divine essence. Since God knows us and willed our existence before time began, this knowledge may inform and transform us.

We each inherit the priceless gift of a timeless history and eternal destiny that germinates, propagates and illuminates our lives.

While we are merely pilgrims traveling this Earth for a short time, we have an infinite radiance to our being here and now.

Even more marvelously, God tells us in Genesis that he creates each one of us in his image. The knowledge that we reflect God’s holy imprint and heavenly expression is humbling, breathtaking and exhilarating. Human life is indeed full of miraculous love, sensation and wonder.

How can we think of ourselves as existing in the mind of God? What can we say about our lives before we were born? Words may fail us in the face of such a profound mystery.

All we can say is we are each the manifestation of God’s infinite divine love, eternally planned for all time and joyfully welcomed into existence by our all-knowing Father.

None of us is an accident because God does not make mistakes. We are individually wanted and desperately loved for all time by the Great Life-Giver.

Knowing this makes our lives infinitely more precious, beautiful and meaningful.

(Rick Hermann of St. Louis is a Catholic author and career coach. His e-mail address is

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