Infertility and the Eucharist

Sometimes I have a hard time paying attention during Mass as distraction gets the better of me. For whatever reason, though, I have always made an extra effort to try to set my distraction aside to unite my prayers to the priest as he is consecrating Christ’s body and blood.

Although consecration and the Liturgy of the Eucharist is the part of the Mass I pay most attention, one recent Sunday, I listened a little closer, and heard a distinct message for me in the words of the consecration:

“This is my body, given up for you… Do this in memory of me.”

I know that the words “do this in memory of me” have always meant to repeat what Christ did: not just in terms of the celebration of the Eucharist but also to love as He loved and to break my body as He did to serve many. But other than Christ’s body that was literally given up for us and continues to be during this Holy Sacrament, I always viewed the words “This is my body, given up for you” in the light of service – to be willing to be broken as He was is to serve His holy church and His people at all costs. But in light of infertility, the words “This is my body, given up for you” take on a whole new meaning.

I was confronted with this reality when I felt God asking me as I knelt before Him in the Eucharist: “Are you giving me your body, too – not just your work and your service but your physical body? Are you trusting me with it? And are you doing this in memory of me – are you allowing God’s will to be done with your body as I allowed it to be done with mine?”

Then came the consecration of sacred blood, and as the priest lifted up the chalice and said, “This is the cup of my blood, given up for you …. Do this in memory of me.” I was all of a sudden reminded of the fact that in art history, the chalice is a symbol of the woman’s womb. And again, I heard the Lord asking me, “Have you given me your chalice, your womb? Have you allowed me to fill it with my precious blood? Are you willing to trust me with it and allow me to fill it – or not – according to my loving will for you?” These words struck to the core of my heart and have stuck with me ever since I felt Him lovingly challenge me in this area. My prayer is that I may do just this.

Jesus trusted in the will of His Father and gave up His body and blood for His most holy will. Now I need to do the same, in memory of Him.

A Mother’s Day Thank You

mothers dayWe wanted a special way to honor ALL mother’s this Mother’s Day – biological mothers, spiritual mothers, aunts, grandmothers, godmothers, teachers, etc. We thought this blogger’s post so beautifully encapsulated how special you all are. God bless you today and always. We are praying for you in a special way on Mother’s Day and you are not forgotten.

http://www.heirswithchrist.com/2013/05/to-women-who-arent-moms-mothers-day.html

Recognizing Jesus

Christ - Resurrection - My Redeemer Liveth 1 - Roger LovelessI recently had a bad spell at work after finding out a coworker was pregnant.  Having to compose myself and get back to work was hard, but after some deep breaths and prayer, I was able to continue working. The process of grief is also one that we at times feel should be easier.  For example, I still miss my father more than 10 years after his passing, but yet with infertility I am less patient with myself and I wish I did not get so upset when I hear of someone else’s good fortune.

I read a book by Peter van Breemen S.J., The God Who Won’t Let Go, that talked about Mary Magdalene visiting the tomb of Jesus and her grief at the Lord’s death (John 20).  She was so engulfed in her own grief that she did not even recognize Jesus when he spoke to her.  There are so many moments during this journey when the pain has been so great that I, too, have failed to recognize Jesus.

Mary Magdalene chose to turn toward her faith community in her grief instead of retreating from the world and isolating herself. This is a wonderful example of how we need to turn to those people and things that give us strength so we can face the situations that defy our understanding.

Infertility Workshop in Atlanta Archdiocese – Feb. 16

The Embrace Ministry of the Archdiocese of Atlanta is sponsoring an Infertility Workshop on Saturday, Feb. 16 at St. Brigid Catholic Church, 3400 Old Alabama Rd., Johns Creek, GA 30022 from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM. Topics will include Treatment Options for Catholics, Barrenness, Child-Bearing, and Assisted Reproductive Technologies in the Roman Catholic Tradition, Infertility’s Effects on Marriage, and Bearing the Cross of Infertility.

Registration is $15 and includes lunch. Register at: http://www.embracefamilies.com/events

Please join us for this blessed event! Click below for an event flyer with more information:

Infertility Workshop Flyer

Sarah’s Hope & Abraham’s Promise

When we attended the Future Full of Hope prayer service at the Diocese of Austin, we were privileged to meet the organizers of the Sarah’s Hope and Abraham’s Promise infertility and miscarriage support groups. They also hold occasional couples’ retreats with healing Masses - one is coming this Saturday, Oct. 20 at the Schoenstatt Shrine in Austin, TX. If you’re unable to attend, please keep those in attendance in your prayers. Here is a flyer you can download with more information on the retreat:

Sarah’s Hope flyer

 

CatholicTV interview

 

We were blessed to have the opportunity to visit the CatholicTV studios in early July to be interviewed on This is the Day about the Church’s teachings on infertility.  You can watch our interview here:

 

 

Rituals

April 19, 2012I read in Tears of Sorrow, Seeds of Hope that “rituals seek change, not of God, but of us…The participants expect, and hope, to be different after a successful ritual than they were before…The ritual’s fundamental purpose is to escort the participants across a threshold, from where they are to where they need to go.”

We recently helped organize our first diocesan Mass of hope and encouragement for those experiencing infertility or miscarriage.  We did not know who or how many people would come.  Being at the Mass and seeing people there taking comfort in our ultimate Catholic ritual – the blessing of the Holy Mass – made me think back to this quote and the truth behind it. 

The quote I cite above comes from a Jewish book on infertility, so the Mass is not something that is mentioned or even thought of, but it resonated with me.

April 19, 2012We organized the Mass with the hope that this ritual would help people see the beauty in what God is doing in their lives amidst their pain.  There were pregnant women who came to the Mass, as well as those who longed for a child, people who had long ago suffered infertility and those walking the road right now.  There were people who participated that were not infertile but simply went to support a friend or loved one who has experienced this emptiness. 

The ritual of the Mass united us all.  There we all were, praying, receiving, offering – we crossed a threshold to a place of hope, and united our cross to Christ’s.

Learning to pray through infertility

Remaining faithful in our prayer lives is one of the biggest challenges when bearing the cross of infertility. Infertility can shake our faith to the core, but it is so important to persevere and remain close to God, even when we may not feel His loving presence.

Please read this beautiful, honest perspective on infertility – and specifically on praying through infertility - written by a faithful Catholic man:

http://blogs.nd.edu/oblation/2012/05/24/waiting-for-gabriel-learning-to-pray-through-infertility/

The battle

We had a great run in our Blog Book Tour and took some time off to recover from our “travels!” Thanks so much to the great blogs that hosted us and enabled us to share a message of hope for this cross of infertility. We hope you will continue to visit these lovely blogs and get to know the bloggers as they share their faith and pour out their hearts.

The past few weeks have given us an opportunity to further reflect upon this experience of infertility and how it affects so many areas of our lives. Here’s one such reflection:

The battle
Lately, I’ve come to think about more imagery of war in my prayer life.  Infertility can be seen as an adversary.  Like any good adversary it sneaks up on you.  It slowly reveals itself to you.  Month after month, disappointment after disappointment, it shows itself more and more.  At some point, though, we are forced to see the enemy and call it by name.  I am infertile.  Unfortunately this is not like G.I. Joe where knowing is half the battle.  It seems that once infertility is named, it claims a stake at the center of our lives.  Charts, doctors’ appointments, the passing of the months; it’s all measured by infertility.  Before we know it the enemy is gaining ground on us – infertility is taking over.  It is up to us to stop.  We need to fight back and hard.  We need to put on some extra thick knee pads and pray.  Surrender.  Trust.  When we do these things they are triumphs in the war and we begin to see the tide turn.  The war may not be over but we are on our way and we can claim victory because we know that God is on our side and He has already won.

One more stop!

We have added one more stop to our Blog Book Tour! Please join us on May 3 at The Practicing Catholic.