Tag Archives: abortion

Lessons learned from St. Gianna (Molla)

gianna_sainthoodApril 28th Feast Day of St. Gianna Molla
Our Gianna’s first hospitalization, even though it was her healthiest, was by far the hardest for me.  During later ones we would have the slim hope of transplant to focus on, but during this one, as they tested the heck out of our little girl, we were coming to grips with the truth. Inside what looked like a normal baby was a liver full of cells that couldn’t make enough energy to keep her alive.  Our baby was going to die. Again.

St. Gianna Molla kept me company during those few days, as I had just received a biography of her for Mother’s Day, a week or two before.  There were two things that stood out to me in this particular account of her life. 

The first was of the very real pain her martyrdom caused her family.  It is easy to gloss over this in saints from eras long past, or for priests or religious even.  But here was Pietro Molla, Gianna’s beloved husband, sharing about how hard it was for him to raise their four children alone.  How hard he tried to protect his kids from the limelight surrounding Gianna’s growing popularity and her cause for canonization.  How awkward it was for him to allow his personal love letters to be published all over the world.  It was hard for him to share his Gianna with the Church, when he would much rather her have just been his unspectacular, non-miracle-working, grocery-shopping, diaper- changing wife!  Yet, he knew she was not his to keep to himself, and so he allowed the process to continue.  In 2004, He and their three surviving children (their daughter Mariolina died a few years after Gianna did) were at her canonization ceremony. Wow.

Our Gianna is also a saint, and I can share some of Pietro’s sentiments: saint-making is tough!  Especially at that moment in time, I did not want to share my Gianna with the Church.  I did not want her to intercede for people or inspire them.  I just wanted her to keep making diapers, and spitting up and wearing cute baby clothes, just like any other normal baby who lives to see their first birthday.   I love St. Gianna Molla, and I am grateful for what she did and who she now is.  But dang, she reminds me how real saints are, and that even when God is doing great and wonderful things, it still sometimes hurts!!

The second thing that struck me from that read of Gianna’s life was her unfailing trust in Providence.  Can you imagine having to decide between giving your baby life and giving her a mother? St. Gianna didn’t want to die. She loved life, and especially her family.  But she trusted God: that He was good as He claimed to be, and that He would take care of her family in her absence.  Pietro talks in that book about the times that were darkest for him and the kids and how he could feel Gianna’s tangible presence.  God did come through… through Gianna. 

And this is where we are left today.  Especially as we navigate the waters of a job search, and ponder the future of our family, we need to hold fast to what St. Gianna taught us: to trust in God’s Providence.  How grateful I am today for both of my St. Gianna’s!

St. Gianna Molla, pray for us!
St. Gianna Marie, pray for us!

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PGD: P.S.

When I shared the previous post with Brad he asked a good question (the kind you can tell the asker already has an answer ready for):

“What are people who use PGD really after?”

(The correct answer to such a question is always): “What?”

“Perfection.”

His point was not to condemn those seeking such perfection, but to affirm it.  One of the principles of the Theology of the Body, at least in the way that Brad learned it from the TOB Institute, is that most of the motivations of those actively promoting the culture of death are good.  Jesus said, “Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect.”  So, the desire for a baby who is perfect is good.  The motivation for a gay couple wanting to get married? To love and be loved. The motivation for an infertile couple to use a donor egg and sperm and invitro? To be parents. The motivation of a couple who aborts their baby with Downs? To spare the child suffering.  These are good desires!

The trick is, that when we don’t channel our desires properly, they end up getting distorted and ultimately, enslaving us.  It is essential that we keep connected to the Source, so that we can keep our number one desire as God’s will.  It is good for us to remember this principle, though.  When we are dealing with people who are ensnared by the culture of death, we need recognize and affirm the desire of their hearts which is in play.  To scold a man for eating out of a dumpster is not nearly as effective as recognizing his hunger and offering him something more nutritious.  We have the Truth, and He is a living person!  And this Truth, of course, is Jesus Christ, who “reveals man to himself”.  In Him, all our purest and deepest desires will be met.  Let us not settle for cheap imitations, and let’s fast and pray that others may come to know Him, too.

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Abortion’s Image Problem

I am learning of an unexpected blogging hazard: tag surfing.  This highly addictive form of web surfing connects you to other recent postings that match your own blog’s tags.  One of my tags is “abortion”, so you can imagine the spectrum of ideas presented in various blogs on this topic.  One thread seemed to come up several times in the pro-choice arena is the fact that abortion still gets a bad rap.  Despite the tremendous judicial strides that abortion rights advocates have achieved in the last 36 years, they haven’t been able to shake the stigma.  One article talked about abortionists who keep their profession secret from friends for fear of scorn, who shudder when cars drive slowly past their houses for fear that protesters have followed them home.  Another woman, who had just watched Juno, lamented that the pro-choicers’ lack of such a cool, confident hero likes Juno.  The author of the blog suggested that the author of another blog called “What to Expect When You’re Aborting” might be such a hero for the cause.  I followed the link and read the referenced blog for over an hour.  My conclusion about the abortion image problem? They can’t find a cool, fun poster girl to endorse abortion because there isn’t one.  Abortion isn’t cool, isn’t fun, and people don’t generally like to advertise that they’ve had one.

Except, of course, the author of “What to Expect…”.  She speaks  flippantly and humorously about her experience in hopes of encouraging other women who have had or are considering abortions.  With her experience, she seeks to disprove the pro-lifers’ assertion that abortion is harmful to women.  Her abortion hasn’t left her wounded, but relieved.  She’s happy to get rid of the “womb squid”.  And yet, I would argue, that her story itself proves my point.  She may have been a happy patient at her local Planned Parenthood, but she describes all the other women there are uncomfortable, distant, angry, even weepy.  She described the men there as “small”, pacing around as if in a kind of reverse maternity room.  In the waiting room, no one spoke, except a few mothers yelling at their daughters’ boyfriends.  The staff she encountered was more interested in paperwork and her sedation preferences, than in her as a person.  Even as nonchalant as the author was, even she, when placed on the table, broke down in tears.  I have never been inside a Planned Parenthood clinic before, but this story sounds just like the ones I have heard from women and men who have been clients there. They seem like cold, desperate places.

This is the “right” they have been celebrating for the last 36 years.  Abortion has an image problem because it is against the natural law for a mother to pay someone to vacuum her child out of her womb.  It’s an ugly choice.  Some women are forced into it, some driven to it by desperation, and others, like “What to Expect”, just simply don’t care- even if the Tumor could read poetry or play piano, it was in her body and if she doesn’t want it, it’s gone.  And yet, there is a strong sense in the pro-choicers’ minds that you should be sensitive and compassionate to women having abortions, because even though abortion is a “fundamental right”, they recognize that it is different than getting a tooth out.  And they are right.  It is a horrible decision to have to make.  Maybe I’m wrong, but impression I get from people like “What to Expect” is that they are trying to justify that decision to themselves.

The difference, then, between pro-lifers and our opponents is that while the Planned Parenthood types try to cheerlead their way into believing that this heartbreaking “choice” is somehow helping women, we are calling a spade a spade.  It isn’t the religious wackos outside clinics that bring down judgment on abortionists: it is the act itself.  It is wrong. It devestates women and families at a fundamental level.  And the truly compassionate thing to do is to insist that it stop.

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Elephant in the Living Room

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 10, 2008 07:42 PM, CDT

Many people, when touched by the illness of a loved one, will take up the cause of fighting that illness. This is right and good. We should fight terrible diseases, especially ones that take the lives of children. Brad and I certainly support efforts of researchers seeking to know more about mitochondrial disease with a future hope of some treatment. But we haven’t felt particularly inclined to take this up as a cause.

This is why: Four thousand children die every day in our country of something totally preventable. Each day that my child was in the hospital or clinic, with a team of doctors working their hardest to beat an unbeatable disease, 39 healthy Minnesotan kids died at the hands of a different set of doctors across town. I am speaking of course of abortion.

My children had bad genes, and despite medicine’s best efforts, they died. But at least while they lived, they were respected, loved and treated with dignity. When they died, people cried for them. They had beautiful funerals. People leave them flowers at the cemetery. Their short lives were lived in love. Babies who die from abortion die badly. They are treated as medical waste. People pretend to forget they ever existed. This is an injustice that cries out to heaven.

But children who die from abortion are not its only victims. Losing a baby to an untreatable disease hurts. But Brad and I have the support of our families, friends and Church. People ask us how we are doing. They sent cards (hundreds of them!!) and flowers, and meals. Women and men who lose their babies to abortion do not have this support. Often their grief goes totally unrecognized and unaffirmed. One post-abortive woman I know was told by her psychologist to ‘just get over it already’. The choice that was supposed to be so freeing, these women tell me, ends up imprisoning them in a spiral of grief, anger, shame and hurt. Let’s not be naive: every abortion claims AT LEAST two victims (though we can’t forget dad, grandma, the friend that gave the ride, the abortionist…).

Abortion is the elephant in the living room of American society. No one likes to talk about it. It makes everyone squirm. But the fact remains that in the three decades that it has been legal, it has killed millions of children and wounded millions of parents. This cannot be allowed to continue. Over 170 cities in 45 states are currently participating in 40 Days for Life- an interfaith effort to end abortion through prayer, fasting and presence. If your city is hosting one, I encourage you to participate (St. John’s is hosting October 25th at Regions). If not, there are hundreds of different ways to take a stand for life. Some defend it in our courts or legislature, others on the sidewalk, others through education, others at Crisis Pregnancy centers, others through adoption agencies, others in post-abortion healing ministries. And all of us have a chance to support it at the ballot box.

Let’s work toward cures for childhood diseases, but in doing so, let’s also try our best to also save the lives of all those kids who are not sick.

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