St James Cathedral - Seattle, WA

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Sacraments Are Pro-Life, Pro-Eternal-Life.

Sadly the day after I started writing this post, we lost our unborn baby by miscarriage.  I've decided to publicize it as originally written anyway.  Please keep us in your prayers.  Thank you God for giving us another child, even if only for a short amount of time.
 
With great joy, I'm happy to announce that my wife and I are expecting another child!  This came as a complete surprise to us, and I'm so humbled that this is part of God's plan, that he would entrust me to be a father to a third child.  I can't wait for our newest addition in September.  And here I thought that we were a few months away from getting out of the last pew in church; I guess not!

When my wife and I started to tell a small number of people about our news, I was really surprised at some of the initial not-so-happy reactions that were received.  Instead of sharing in the joy and excitement, a few responded like it was bad news, wanting to console instead of congratulate.  And when my joy isn't shaken by their lack of excitement, then they feel obligated to tell me what they think I don't realize about having another child, in a parent-trying-to-discourage-their-teenager-from-having-sex sort of way.  I know it's going to be hard having three children.  I think it's really hard having two, but that isn't going to stop me from generously following God's call to raise another child with all the joy and excitement that I have.

My daughter's baptism.
As Catholics, we say that we are pro-life.  We are taught that life is precious from conception until death.  We celebrate life's anniversaries such as birthdays and marriages.  We throw big parties at graduations and other milestones.  Some even rally against abortion, the death penalty, or other pro-life causes.  Unfortunately when it comes to sacraments during Mass, our attitude isn't always the same.

In many parishes, priests no longer celebrate baptisms during Mass.  It used to be done at the last Mass on the forth Sunday of the month at my parish, until the pastor heard enough complaints about the Mass being too long.  The Easter Vigil, which is when the greatest number of people will be formally received into the Church, has become the least attended Mass in many places.  Why? Because people think Masses with baptisms, confirmations, and first communions take too long, so they don't want to be bothered with them.  What isn't realized is that Baptism and the other sacraments of initiation are really the pro-life sacraments.  They are pro-life because they make life holy and bring us to eternal life with God.  You can't get more pro-life than that.  These are rites and rituals that add to to the fullness of the Mass, not hassles that can be avoided by going to an earlier one.

Reaction to baptisms and other sacraments during Mass is incredibly similar to some of the reaction I received when people heard about our third child- they saw all the hassles, not the fullness of life.  I'm not downplaying all inconveniences or the responsibilities.  Personally, there's a lot that for us to figure out, and a lot that we've already figured out that we have to come to terms with.  We just tacked on another year of bottles/formula and another couple years of diapers.  We'll be looking for a new car- one that can accommodate three car seats yet still fit in our garage.  We're hoping that our nanny (whom we have come to depend on) will be willing to care for three small children instead of two.  Sending two kids to Catholic school may have been financially possible, but I know we can't afford to send three.  And these are just a few of the hassles that have come into my head recently.

If all we see with having multiple children are all the inconveniences, responsibilities and  sacrifices that have to be made, then we've missed the point.  If all we notice is that the Mass is inconveniently 20 minutes longer because of some kid's baptism, then we've missed the point there, too.  Both new life and new sacramental life change all of us forever, and this impacts the life of the Church in a beautiful way.

Friends from college that spent a night with us. Now they have 6 kids!

Being pro-life isn't just a stance on abortion, euthanasia, or the death penalty.  It's an attitude or an approach that we should take, both in the market place and in the worship space.  When you're truly pro-life, then you see that every individual is made in God's image and likeness, yet unique and unrepeatable in their own way.  When you're pro-life, both birth and baptism lead us to eternal life, and therefore should be looked forward to and celebrated with all the joy we have.





8 comments:

  1. Hey Paul (and family), we are sorry for your loss. Love, the Armstrong Family

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  2. Paul and Liz, we are so saddened by this news. Although no words can really help to ease the loss you bear, just know that you are very close in our every thought and prayer. Our love and big hugs to you both, and little X and O.

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  3. Paul,

    That is such a hard reality to embrace--may God comfort you. My wife (and I) endured three miscarriages. Don't be afraid to grieve.

    GC

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  4. So sorry to hear of your loss. Maybe God just needed another angel in a hurry. Hugs to you both in your loss.

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  5. Paul~ So sorry for your loss~ after two children you can have twenty~ at least that is what I have always told my patients in L&D , someone else has a plan for you and we are not the judge . Please know that I have witnessed your loss and pain from many women in the years of being a DR Nurse and know that you have joined an elite club that has many tears and I might add members. Please extend my sympathy to your wife and I will keep your family in my prayers... Bren

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  6. Dear Paul & Liz,
    We just got the sad news from Mom a few minutes ago, and we are so sorry for your loss. We hope & pray you'll find some comfort in Romans 8:28... "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are the called according to his purpose." Sending hugs filled with love & sympathy to the new angel's parents, Xavier, Olivia, & Manuel, too.

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  7. Paul and Liz,

    We are so sorry for your loss. Please know that you are in our prayers during this difficult time.

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  8. It's the kind of thing you never wish on anyone, but it does help to be reminded you're not alone. It's obvious who has had successful pregnancies, but nobody wears a "miscarriage survivor" patch. There are probably more of us than we realize.

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