By Jay Hastings (Mar 3, 2009)
Suffering, the cross, hardship, sacrifices, and virtue are all wrapped up in the mystery of love. I have the pleasure of knowing a woman who is a saint in the making. She's my daughter. Her name is Mary, and she and her family are receiving many graces and responding well to them.
As the year ended, we were blessed to hear she was pregnant with her second child, the first being a healthy boy. A month or so later, during a checkup, she learned of potential complications with her child's health. A specialist later confirmed that the child had what's called partial anencephaly with encephaloceles, which prevents a baby's brain and scull from being fully formed. Chances are, even when babies with this disorder survive birth, they may not have any cognitive ability or may not ever reach consciousness. Mary saw pictures of babies with this disorder and realized how difficult it must be for people to love a child so severely disordered.
As horrified as she was by the diagnosis, Mary would not even entertain the idea that her baby be aborted. Ninety-five percent of babies with this defect are aborted. And some that do live, we have read, are allowed to die without much assistance. Mary would have none of this. After reading all the negative things on the Internet, we soon found a different perspective in the pro-life people and those who have had their babies and given them every chance to live, however slim, because it was a life ordained by God.
One child in Brazil even lived for a year and a half. Her mother responded by saying: "Although she was born without most of her brain, Marcela Ferreira has lived for a year and a half with little extraordinary care. She receives oxygen supplementation and eats through a feeding tube inserted through her nose, but otherwise lives normally. She interacts with family members and shows signs of consciousness. Her presence is a joy for all. Little Marcela came into the world to touch our hearts and to show us the true meaning of life." In describing this one child, a writer said, "You don't need a complete brain to give and receive love — all you need is a heart!".
Mary has a very positive attitude. She loves her baby. Her husband is equally supportive. They plan to have their baby and give it every chance to live, however brief his or her life may be. If the child is able to come home, we will have to find a way as a family to care for the child.
This experience makes me think of St. Faustina's Diary entry 1491:
The Lord visited me today and said, "My daughter, do not be afraid of what will happen to you. I will give you nothing beyond your strength. You know the power of My grace; let that be enough." (1491)
When our children were born years ago, we consecrated them to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Mary, our daughter, is participating very deeply in intimacy with the Blessed Mother.
The late Rev. Fulton Sheen had said that everyone in the world is born to live, but our Lord was born to die. These babies with this disorder are also born to die and must share in an intimacy with our Lord in the cross.
Saint Faustina writes:
Once, after an adoration for our country, a pain pierced my soul, and I began to pray in this way: "Most merciful Jesus, I beseech You through the intercession of Your dearest Mother who nurtured You from childhood, bless my native land. I beg You, Jesus, look not on our sins, but on the tears of little children, on the hunger and cold they suffer. Jesus, for the sake of these innocent ones, grant me the grace that I am asking of You for my country." At that moment, I saw the Lord Jesus, His eyes filled with tears, and He said to me, "You see, My daughter, what great compassion I have for them. Know that it is they who uphold the world." (286)
We have many people praying, fasting, and offering their sufferings, including those in our 24 hr Chaplet of Divine Mercy Prayer Group. We have a Divine Mercy Healing Mass March 14, and we are hoping for a miracle. Until then, we will walk with our Lord in the intimacy of the cross, praising Him for His goodness and mercy and for this little life we will have for just a short period before it's time to go back to God.
In her Diary, St. Faustina quotes the words of Jesus to suffering souls:
[T]here is no way to heaven except the way of the cross. I followed it first. You must learn that it is the shortest way. ... I am giving you a share in those sufferings because of My special love for you and in view of the high degree of holiness I am intending for you in Heaven. A suffering soul is closer to My heart. (1487)
Already we can see that we need pro-life doctors and medical professionals that want to provide for the best results for the child. Most of these children are unwanted and unloved because of their deformity. But this child already has a loving mother, father, and family waiting for him or her no matter how brief or long. We celebrate life regardless of the difficulty involved, till our Lord brings the child home.
What a cross and what a blessing! Please pray for Mary, her husband and their family as they go through this most difficult time.
Jay Hastings, of Bartlett, Tenn., is the founder of a growing group of Divine Mercy devotees who ensure that the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy is being prayed every hour of the day. The 24-hour Chaplet members now consist of over 900 people from across the United States, as well as from Mexico, Belize (Central America), Costa Rica, Canada, Philippines, Bolivia, India, Iraq, Australia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Japan, Tanzania (Africa), New Zealand, United Kingdom, Zimbabwe, Ireland, Panama, Uganda, Haiti, Aruba, Burma, Singapore, Columbia and Botswana Africa. who pick an hour each day in which to pray a Chaplet. They pray for three things: the promotion of the Divine Mercy devotion; the sick and dying in the hour that you pray; and people about to commit mortal sin. To join the 24-Hour Chaplet, contact Jay via e-mail, PJ7772@msn.com or via phone, 901-438-7772.