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Follow the science | Catholic culture


By Fr. Jerry Pokorsky (bio – articles – email) | Sep 20, 2021

“Everyone knows” that Catholics are superstitious. We believe that the Incarnation reconciles God and man, and nature and grace. Faith and reason, and religion and science, are perfectly compatible. Imagine that. So let’s take a break from our “superstitions” and follow the science.

Here are some notes using reports from Mayo Clinic staff on the development of an unborn baby.

During the first two weeks of the mother’s cycle, the sperm’s journey in search of an egg for conception takes place. In the third week, when an egg is finally released from the woman’s ovary, the sperm and egg unite and fertilization occurs, forming a single-celled entity with the DNA of a new being. human. Baby (biologically called a zygote to indicate its location) has 46 chromosomes – 23 from mom and 23 from dad. These chromosomes determine the sex and physical traits of the baby. This form of replication at conception, meiosis, is unique in biology. All other cell replications reproduce with all 46 chromosomes intact and the same in new cells (mitosis). Thus, the conceived baby is a separate entity of the same species but is not biologically identical to either of the parents.

Immediately, this unicellular organism begins to develop; each cell formation carries the information on the sex of the baby in its chromosome code. The baby moves down the fallopian tube and begins to divide to form a cluster of cells that resemble a small raspberry. The rapidly dividing ball of cells sinks into the interior walls of the mother’s uterus in a process called implantation. The term “embryo” denotes its change of location, but the entity is the same: a human baby.

By week 5, the mother may realize that she is pregnant. Baby has developed three diapers. The top layer will give birth to the outermost layer of the baby’s skin, nervous system, eyes and inner ears. The baby’s heart and a primitive circulatory system will form in the middle layer of cells. This layer of cells will also serve as the basis for the baby’s bones, ligaments, kidneys, and much of the reproductive system. The inner layer of cells is where the baby’s lungs and intestines will develop.

Growth is rapid during the sixth week. The baby’s brain and spinal cord begin to form. The heart and other organs also begin to take shape. The structures necessary for the formation of the eyes and ears develop. Tiny buds appear which will soon become arms. The heartbeat of the baby’s embryo can first be detected by ultrasound as early as 5 1/2 to 6 weeks.

Seven weeks after the onset of pregnancy, the baby’s brain and face are growing. Depressions that will become nostrils become visible, and the first fruits of the retinas are formed. Buds from the lower limbs that will become legs appear, and the buds from the arms that sprouted last week now take the form of paddles. By the eighth week, the fingers began to form. The baby’s ears also take shape and the eyes become well defined. The upper lip and nose formed. The baby might be about half the diameter of an American quarter.

By the ninth week, the baby’s arms grow taller and elbows appear. The toes are visible and the eyelids are forming. The baby’s head is large but still has a malformed chin. The length of the unborn baby is the diameter of an American penny. By the tenth week, the unborn baby’s head has become rounder. The baby can now bend his elbows.

By week 11, the baby’s face is large, eyes wide apart, eyelids fused together, and ears low. Buds for future teeth appear. Red blood cells start to form in the baby’s liver. At present, the baby could be about 2 inches in length.

The twelfth week sees the unborn baby grow fingernails and the tiny beginnings of the reproductive organs. (If the baby is a girl, every egg she produces in her lifetime will develop as her ovaries develop until week 20.) The baby’s face has now taken on a more developed profile. . His intestines are in the abdomen. Right now, the baby is about 2 1/2 inches long and weighs about 1/2 ounce (sic!).

Week 16. Baby’s eyes move. Baby may be over 4 1/2 inches tall. Week 17: The baby’s heart pumps about 100 pints of blood each day. Week 18: The baby begins to hear. The baby’s digestive system has started to function, and he may be 5 1/2 inches tall and weigh 7 ounces. Week 20: Midway through, baby is just over 6 inches. His movements begin to be felt by the mother (acceleration). He sleeps and wakes up regularly. Mom’s actions can wake the little thing up.

Week 21. The baby can suck his thumb. Week 23: Fingerprints and footprints form, and the little rascal begins to gasp, causing jerky movements. The baby can be around 8 inches tall. Week 25: The baby responds to his mother’s voice. (GPS units in cars often use a female voice because a baby in the womb hears its mother’s soothing voice first.)

Week 28 – 33: Baby’s eyes partially open; her hair is growing; his rapid weight gain begins; its eyes detect light and the pupils can change size in response to a stimulus. The baby has no room to knock, but it stretches, rolls and squirms. After thirty weeks, a mother often feels like a stranded whale. (This is not in the Mayo Reports. It comes from testimonials from mothers.)

Week 40. The baby is fully formed and ready to be born. Sometimes unborn babies are reluctant to enter the world because they have good things with mom. Sorry, kid. We need you to pay off this federal debt. (Not in the Mayo Report either, but Catholic superstitions include the belief that 2 + 2 = 4.)

Unborn babies – every unborn baby regardless of their heritage, regardless of their physical or mental characteristics – need our protection and love. And we need them to fill the earth according to God’s marriage plan. We rejoice in science, in the study of the work of God. Life is good and God is great. To deny the humanity of an unborn baby and insist that we can choose our gender identities are anti-scientific superstitions.

“And he took a child, and put him among them; and taking him in his arms, he said to them: “Whoever receives such a child in my name receives me; and whoever receives me does not receive me, but he who sent me. ‘ »(Mk 9, 36-37)

Bro. Jerry Pokorsky is a priest in the Diocese of Arlington who has also served as a financial administrator in the Diocese of Lincoln. Trained in commerce and accounting, he also holds a master’s degree in theology and a master’s degree in moral theology. Father Pokorsky co-founded both CREDO and Adoremus, two organizations deeply committed to an authentic liturgical renewal. He writes regularly for a number of Catholic websites and magazines. See the full biography.

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