Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Our story in the news

(the article that appears in Today's Catholic, the Respect Life Issue)

Hang on, possibilities exist
By Karen Clifford

Lisa Everett, left, co-director of the Office of Family Life, holds a picture of St. Hannah, patron saint of childless wives. Suzy Younger, who works with Hannah’s Tears, an organization that offers prayers and support for those suffering from infertility, holds the Chaplet of Hannah's Tears.

GRANGER — For St. Pius X parishioner Suzy Younger, the cross of infertility has been a lesson in self-surrender and relinquishing control to the divine providence of God. It was through the counsel of many priests and Catholic doctors that she and her husband David came to understand that “Right to Life” does not mean “that we have a right to a little life in ours,” she says. Instead of viewing the process of having a baby as an American “can-do” project, they have been encouraged to remember that conception is collaboration with God and the receptivity of a gift that is bestowed upon them at his appointed time.

Younger explains that the pain of infertility is very intense, and it can also be a very lonely journey.

“Many couples don’t want to share what they are going through and many have come to withhold their feelings due to hurtful comments that friends and family have made,” she notes. “As with any suffering it is so important to know that someone understands what you are going through, that someone cares, that someone else is there in the trenches with you.”

First, as a way to communicate with family and friends and later to act as a way to support others carrying the same cross, Younger developed a blog on the Internet called Hang On Possibilities Exist.

“I wanted to point people in the direction of the ‘true banquet,’ to support others as a Simon of Cyrene along their own way of the cross and to remind others suffering not to give up hope. We must always H.O.P.E. This means we must Hang On … Possibilities Exist,” she stresses.

Shortly before their marriage, Suzy and David learned the Creighton Model of Natural Family Planning (NFP). In the past three years they have been working with NaProTechnology doctors to address her health concerns, which came into focus when they experienced difficulty conceiving. Both NFP and NaPro-Technology are endorsed by the Pope Paul VI Institute.

Younger points out it is vital to recognize infertility is not the problem. “Infertility is rather the manifestation of some other underlying health problem or problems. Most reproductive technologies are aimed at resolving a couple’s childlessness, but they do nothing to address the underlying health problems causing a couple to be infertile.”

She adds, “Aside from moral concerns, treatments including in vitro fertilization (IVF) or Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT) and others, while only possibly resulting in a live birth, do nothing to help heal the source of the problem — they are a Band-Aid approach, if you will.” NaProTechnology, on the other hand, treats the underlying problem in a moral way that cooperates with the menstrual and fertility cycles and in a way that is pro-life, pro-woman, pro-healing and which guards the sanctity of marriage.

“Whereas many forms of treatment undermine the meaning of the marital act and the intimate sexual self-giving that defines marriage, NaProTechnology maintains its focus on procreation, not production, and honors the exclusivity of the marriage covenant,” Suzy notes. “NaPro always assists the marital act instead of replacing the act altogether.”

NaProTechnology uses the Creighton Model biomarkers to monitor easily and objectively the occurrence of various hormonal events during the menstrual cycle.

NaPro tracking provides valid information that can be interpreted by a woman and by physicians who are specifically trained in this system.

In the Younger’s case, once the NaPro trained general practitioners reviewed her Creighton charts, Younger went through a series of blood tests and ultrasounds that confirmed a diagnosis of Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Younger then proceeded with treatment through changes in diet and lifestyle and supplemented this with specific vitamins and medications. After six months, she had seen some health improvements but still no conception, and made plans to surgically address the underlying issues.

In late July of this year, Younger underwent surgery with a NaPro trained OB/GYN in Columbus, Ohio. The final and most detailed portion of the four-hour surgery was the ovarian wedge resection. In the experience of the Pope Paul VI Institute, the pregnancy rate is nearly 70 percent following this procedure. Younger is now seven weeks post surgery, fully recovered, and has seen improvements in her health. She and David are hopeful that they will soon be among that 70 percent.

For other couples experiencing infertility Younger advises, “First and foremost, frequent the healing sacrament of reconciliation and receive the Eucharist as often as you are able. Only in this way will you be prepared to receive the grace necessary to continue on your own personal way of the cross. This is crucial.”

She adds, “When we unite our sufferings with those of Our Lord and look to Our Lady at the foot of the cross we have a beautiful example of how to have supernatural joy in the midst of human sorrow.”

Younger recommends an organization called Hannah’s Tears,, which she has worked with for the past year. Hannah’s Tears offers prayer support and comfort to those who suffer the pains of infertility at any stage of life, difficult pregnancy, miscarriage, stillbirth, the loss of a child and the adoption process.

Finally, Younger advises to love your spouse and have fun together. Suzy and David have fostered a love of cooking together and have begun taking ballroom-dancing lessons, both have been a reprieve from the focus on their infertility.

She concludes, “Love each other, serve each other, be patient with each other, worship together, pray together, and last but not least, don’t ever give up hope … remember to hang on … possibilities exist.”

Monday, September 28, 2009

Praise the Lord! - Insurance Matters almost settled

Thank you Jesus, thank you Jesus, thank you Jesus!!!!!

As many of you knew, or could probably imagine, the medical bills started rolling in over the past few weeks. It never ceases to amaze me how many people want a piece of my medical pie. There are names listed on the claims of doctors I didn't even know existed...and yet here they are wanting cold hard cash from me. Lord have mercy.

Anyway, I finally bit the bullet today. I decided that today would be the day that I would sit down and sift through each individual claim, and figure out what we were going to owe total. According to the initial estimates by the insurance company, we would pay somewhere around $800, but as the bills have been pouring in, I have grown increasingly doubtful that this number would be accurate. We needed a financial miracle! So I started my morning off at mass, where the readings strengthened me with the knowledge that God would provide for us. Even though they refer to events of the Old Testament, I couldn't help but think that God was speaking to our situation too...

Even if this should seem impossible in the eyes of the remnant of this people, shall it in those days be impossible in my eyes also, says the LORD of hosts? Thus says the LORD of hosts: Lo, I will rescue my people from the land of the rising sun, and from the land of the setting sun. I will bring them back to dwell within Jerusalem. They shall be my people, and I will be their God, with faithfulness and justice. (Zechariah 8:6-8)

The way I heard this scripture translated into my life:
"Even if your medical bills are piling up and the solution seems impossible in your eyes (oh you of little faith), shall it even now be impossible for me also, says the Lord? Thus says the Lord...Suzy, listen, I will rescue you from the doctors and the hospitals. You are safe within my grasp. You are always my daughter and I am always your God, with faithfulness and justice. I am faithful in keeping my promises and will bring justice to this situation."

After mass, I knelt before the tabernacle for awhile and gave the entire situation to our Lord, asking Him to be my defender and to work all things out. I told Him it was far beyond my ability, but that I was trusting that He could accomplish all things. I then went home, prayed 7 Hail Marys to gird myself, and opened up my Claims History on our insurance company's website.

As I was looking at the claims, the total amount we owed that I kept getting was $7,191.92....quite a big difference from the $800 we had been verbally promised prior to surgery. I prayed for God to work the situation out and to give me wisdom into the situation. Then I noticed the one little perky column called "PPO Discount". Ah, thank God for the PPO Discount!!! Once I adjusted the spreadsheet to account for this, the numbers came into full focus and totaled....$867.00. Thank you Jesus! That was much more affordable.

So, of the $35,725.75 that the surgery cost in total (the previous amount I'd listed of around 31K was just the hospital's portion), we will only have to pay $867.00 As we had already put in a down payment to the hospital (at their request), we are left with a little over $500 left to pay.

Thank you Jesus, thank you Jesus, thank you Jesus!

We still have at least one claim out there in cyberland, but it shouldn't be to bad. So after two months of holding our breath and sticking our heads in the sand to avoid looking at what our total amount would be, the Youngers have finally emerged and through the mercy and love of God are breathing again. Thank you to each and every one of you who prayed for us. We appreciate it so much!

All glory be to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and will be forever. Amen!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

My spiritual children

For those going through infertility, there is a lot of talk about spiritual motherhood. If you're lucky, you have good friends that will remind you of the family God has given you and those souls he has allowed you to spiritually parent. It doesn't take away the pain of not having physical children, but it certainly does serve as a reminder that we are mothers and fathers to more than just the flesh of our flesh. God has an incredible way allowing us to minister to others even when we might not realize we are doing so. Think of your own life. Who have been the spiritual mothers or fathers in your life? Who has been a role model in the faith to you? Who has helped you out along your journey? Who has called you to greater holiness? For me, it's far easier to think of who my spiritual mothers and fathers are, and a bit more difficult to recognize those that I have spiritually mothered. But occasionally, one of them writes or calls to touch base and let me know how they are doing, and it is at those times, that I am really amazed at God's goodness in allowing me to be a spiritual mother to them and in the small role that I am privileged to play in their pursuit of holiness...and I begin to glimpse how big my spiritual family really is.

In the past few months, when I have struggled greatly with the lack of physical motherhood, God, in His love, has sent an influx of support from these spiritual children. I share their comments here not to toot my own horn in any way, but to simply share how lives were changed and brought closer to God just by me allowing Him to work through me to minister to them. It has nothing to do with me...everything to do with Him. (with the exception of the two students, who gave me permission to share their identity, names have been withheld)

A former student from the Franciscan University Gaming program who is now at St. John's Seminary preparing for the priesthood:
"A big thank you from one of your austria children, and lots of prayers being sent your way from out here at St. John's Seminary. Thanks for writing this blog!"

A former student from the Franciscan University Gaming program:
"I just wanted to say hello and tell you I am thinking of you. Also, thank you for your blog posts, for writing, for sharing...I don't have words to describe what I am thinking or feeling because maybe I don't quite know what I'm thinking or feeling, but I do want to say, thank you! Thank you for your witness, for your generosity in sharing your suffering with us, thank you for teaching us....Thank you for the example and gift of your spiritual motherhood inoffering up all of your sufferings as you await the gift of physical motherhood. This cross is winning you so many children.(I am happy and awed to be included. The Mystical Body of Christ is such a great and awesome mystery...) And so, thank you! Thank you for generously sharing the spiritual treasures you are gaining from all these sufferings.We are in such need of prayer, of your prayers. I don't know if these words are express my thoughts. (I feel as if Imyself need time to process the gift and example of what you areteaching). All I wanted to say was thank you. "

From a girl who was in a small Sciprture study I led during my year of grad school at IU:
"I wanted to say thank you. I recently graduated from Purdue (made it in 4 years- yay!), and so in the past few weeks I've been thinking about all that has happened during my years in college. Looking back, I can see that I changed a lot, and for the better. I have grown so much, and a big part of my transformation began with your friendship and our Lexia Novena group. When I met you I was struggling so much. I was so unhappy at IU. My faith (thanks be to God) was still alive, but it wasn't on fire. But God blessed me by sending me you and J, and it was during that time that I began to let go of the grip I had always had on controlling my own life. In reading the Bible for the group and through our conversations together, I began to feel like God was really present in my life, like he was speaking to me. It was a total act of faith that brought me to Purdue, even though I was accepted at Notre Dame, and my time at Purdue was the best 3 years of my life. I met so many wonderful people, and was able to do so many things that I never expected. I have been able to travel to 6 other countries just in the past year. The most recent, and most moving, happened just last month, when Father Patrick from St. Tom's selected me to travel to Bolivia with 5 other students for a mission trip. That experience was such an incredible blessing that changed my heart and opened my eyes to all I can do to be the face of Christ for others. It has inspired me to try to be an answer to someone's prayers each and every day and to do all things with love. So thank you, Suzy. Whether you realized it or not, God used you to bring me closer to Him, and I am so grateful. God bless!

And a recent article about my spiritual twins who have both received a call to religious vocations. I was blessed to get to know them while I was a grad student at IU. Since I was the one with the car, I was usually the driver out to the Mother of the Redemeer Farm and on road trips to Steubenville. They transfered to FUS after their freshman year at IU, and the link below for the rest of the story.

God is so good! We may not have it all together, we certainly have our own struggles, and we might not feel strong enough to help others, but if we are willing, and offer ourselves to the service of God ("Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." Luke 1:39) it is amazing how he can transform the lives of others and transform us in the process. It is humbling.

One final thought and suggestion if I may...Who have been the spiritual mothers and fathers in your life? May I suggest that you send them a small note of thanks? Let's continue to encourage each other along our way to the heaven. :)

Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, as indeed you do.
~ 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Friday, September 25, 2009

"Who do you say that I am?"

Today's Gospel reading (Luke 9:18-22) hit me right between the eyes. Jesus is praying in solitude and then asks his disciples "Who do the crowds say that I am?" To this question he receives a variety of responses...the crowds aren't sure. Some say John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others think that he is one of the ancient prophets who has arisen. This strikes me because in our day, there is still a variety of responses to who Jesus is. Some say he is the son of God and Lord of their life; some, a good teacher; others, an inspirational historical figure. And to each of these labels, the "crowd" assigns varying levels of devotion and obedience...some willing to obey His teachings so long as they don't conflict with their own personal views or as long as it "feels good"; some automatically reject anything that is presented in His name; some select only those teachings that fit their worldview while discarding the rest; and other, are willing to sacrifice even their very lives if necessary to remain true to His commands. Yes, the "crowds" have just as many varying ideas of who Jesus is as they did when Jesus walked the earth.

And yet, in this scripture passage, Jesus asks a further question...“But who do you say that I am?”...and indeed He is asking each of us this question even now. Where are we on the spectrum of belief? How would we answer this question if He asked us individually? When we can no longer rely on the opinions of others and we must search deep within our souls to find the honest answer of our own heart, what would we way? Would we be able to say with Peter, “The Christ of God?” And if we do reach the same conclusion as St. Peter, do we truly behave that way in our daily living?

For me this is the place of the greatest "rub" if you will. I do believe that Jesus is the Christ of God. I love Him above all else. But how does this belief and declaration of His identity affect my daily life? In my own struggle along the journey of infertility, am I willing to let go of my will and embrace His for my life? Do I trust that He loves me? That He knows what is best for me? That He would never do anything to cause me pain if it were not for my ultimate good? Do I believe that He has me in His sights and I haven't fallen through the cracks? That he loves me and is not punishing me? These are difficult questions and I have to admit that at times I struggle to say "yes" to some of them. We are creatures who often trust only what we can see and tangibly experience, and this makes faith difficult at times. But each day, in the midst of our own struggles in life, Jesus comes to us with the patient heart of a lover, longing to bring us closer to Him. Longing to have us trust Him and soften to His touch. Yearning for us to allow Him to vanquish the doubts and the fears we have and instead replace them with joy, peace and certainty in our hearts.

In my own experience I grew closer to our Lord by posing the same question of Him that He poses to us. "Lord, who do you say that I am?" In October of 2004, I posed this question to the Lord shortly before leaving on a pilgrimage to Medjugorje. To answer it, I had to become naked before the Lord, to strip away everything that covered me, break down the walls I had built up around me and to unveil my face before His gaze. "God, who do you say that I am?" As I continued asking this quesiton, I realized that I was scared to be seen. I didn't want to be looked at. I was afraid for Christ to really "see" me (as if that would prevent Him from seeing me?). I didn't want his gaze in my soul, I would feel Him and I would resist. As He would try to get closer, I would build up a wall of protection. I recognized that I needed to be broken down, crushed down and re-centered on the wheel of the potter and taken back to square one. But the Holy Spirit is truly a gentleman and will never push His way into your life. He must be welcomed. And so during those days in Medj, I prayed that the layers would be peeled away like layers of an onion and that I would be truly open to the healing touch of the Lord. He was faithful in keeping His promise and in great love revealed to me exactly who He believes me to be. The answer came over the course of the pilgrimage and culminated with the words of the priest during confession. The answer was powerful, astounding and full of love. It proved to me beyond any shadow of a doubt that God truly knew me, knew my soul, my desires, my longings, my failures, my potential....and in spite of them, or perhaps because of them, He loved me more than I could ever imagine. He revealed to me who He said that I was...and in return my heart was able to give a bold reply to Him when he asked me, "Who do you say that I am?"

"Who do you say that I am?" No matter where we are in life, no matter what struggles we may be going through which would tempt us to turn from God, may we grow in faith and trust, joy and peace and may each of experience a greater knowledge of His love and mercy when we ask this of our Lord, and may each of us be able to say to Him in reply..."Lord, you are the Christ of God, the lover of my soul."

"My child, all your sins have not wounded My Heart as painfully as your present lack of trust does - that after so many efforts of My love and mercy, you should still doubt my goodness...Tell me all, My child, hide nothing from Me, because My loving Heart,
the Heart of your Best Friend, is listening to you."
~ Our Lord to St. Faustina Kowalska

Thursday, September 24, 2009

St. Padre Pio - "Pray, Hope and Don't Worry"

I had the wonderful privilege of being able to attend mass today at Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio. Having worked for the university's study abroad program in Austria for two years, it is always a bit like a homecoming for me to return to campus and attending mass at Christ the King Chapel is always a highlight of my visit. Today was even more special as we are celebrating the feast of St. Padre Pio.

I cried through the majority of the mass. It was just so beautiful to be around so many young Catholics on fire for the faith. When we lived in Austria, one of my favorite parts was hearing the students sing at mass, their voices were just so beautiful. Today was no different. Hearing them lift their voices in prayer made me feel so close to the "Holy, Holy, Holy" it quite simply a foretaste of heaven for me. While Dave and I continually mourn the lack of physical children in our life, we are blessed to have numerous spiritual children, among them the approximately 800 FUS students that studied abroad during the time we worked together as Resident Directors for the Gaming program. Even though all of those students have graduated and moved on with their lives, being around such a large crowd of other FUS students was a beautiful reminder of the many lives that we were blessed to touch. In the middle of mass, I was given a small glimpse into what heaven must be like...being surrounded by those whose lives we have touched and who have touched our lives, all lifting our hearts and voices to constantly sing the praise of the Lord. It was simply beautiful. The homily was very meaningful to me as the priest reflected upon Padre Pio's life, his sufferings and the way in which he not only carried his cross, but grew from it. The priest started by describing the following comic strip (which I had seen several weeks ago in an email):

These images are so profound. They teach us that we need our crosses in order to reach heaven...that they are our path to holiness. The priest continued on with several reflections:
* Don't pray for a cross to meet your strength, pray for strength to meet your cross.
* Sometimes what we need to carry on is not a smaller cross, but rather an interior change..a change in attitude.
* There is nothing wrong with asking God to remove your suffering (Matthew 26:39), but some sufferings (like Padre Pio's stigmata proves) are not to be taken away. Instead, we must pray that we will learn to face them with love and joy.
* Looking at the life of Padre Pio, we see that the cross can form us (and not deform us) if we allow it to. Padre Pio learned compassion from his cross. He took the burden on himself and grew in compassion and grew more like Christ. He carried on his way of the cross with fidelity and joy and allowed it to shape him.
* As Padre Pio said, "The weight of the cross makes us stagger...the power of the cross gives us relief and joy."
* It takes empty hands to carry the cross. So empty your hands so that you can pick up your cross and follow Him.
* It is the power of the cross that is the provides us the gift and power of the Eucharist. Thus, the power of the cross is waiting for us at each mass. He is waiting for us to open our hearts and our mouths and to ask Him to give us Himself. When we say "Amen", we are saying "Give it to me. Let your power flow through me." We are weak and need His power and His strength...only through the power of the cross, and receiving this power in the Eucharist can we bear any burden with joy and allow it to lead us to eternal life.

It was an incredibly powerful homily for me and has provided me with much to pray about and meditate upon. So did the closing song of the mass. I've heard "Press On" numerous times before, but today more than ever before, it hit me in a new way. Through the intercession of St. Padre Pio, may we too have the grace and strength to press on as we continue to carry our crosses.

Press On
For the man who follows Jesus all the days of his life, who picks up his cross and walks with his God, a glorious inheritance awaits him at the end when he will see and know his true Father. And the pearl of great price is in his hand.

So as for me I will press on in running the race with my eyes fixed on Jesus, who inspires and perfects my faith. I will fight the good fight with all my heart and soul till the day that I'm with Jesus, the day I'm finally home, the day that I have won the crown.

He will approach the throne of this Father with Jesus at his side. The Father will rise and say, "Welcome home! You're a good and faithful servant come home and take your reward! The battle's done, come and take your rest. Stay with me forevermore!"

So as for me I will press on in running the race with my eyes fixed on Jesus, who inspires and perfects my faith. I will fight the good fight with all my heart and soul till the day that I'm with Jesus, the day I'm finally home, the day that I have won the crown.

And the heavens will resound with the thunder of praise. The angels and the saints will shout for joy. And the Father will dance for his son has come home, another warrior returns from the fight, another vict'ry for the Lamb of God.

So as for me I will press on in running the race with my eyes fixed on Jesus, who inspires and perfects my faith. I will fight the good fight with all my heart and soul till the day that I'm with Jesus, the day I'm finally home, the day that I have won the crown.

Text and Music: Robert Filoramo, (c) 1997, Koinania Academy Press.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

All for His glory

I drove to Buffalo, NY last night so that I could attend my friend's baby shower. She and her husband struggled with infertility for quite sometime and during the times they lived in South Bend, the two of us would get together to talk, listen, and drink Margaritas to commiserate. Their pregnancy is a beautiful miracle and I was so happy to be able to make the 7 hour drive to celebrate with them. It's the first baby shower I've been able to make in quite awhile and I was so thankful to have the emotional strength to go. Praise God for this little one, due in about 6 weeks.

Two of the most constant challenges I have with our journey through infertility are surrender and trust. Learning that instead of trying to get rid of this cross, I am better to surrender myself to the will of God the Father and trust Him and His plans. Sometimes I am tempted to feel abandoned...forgotten...overlooked by God and I ask "Why do we have to go through this?", but inevitably God sends me some little sign that He has not abandoned me, forgotten me or overlooked me. His consolation today came in the form of a prayer that my friend had on her dresser in her bedroom. I loved it so much I copied it into my journal and chose to share it here. I pray it will inspire you and encourage you as it has me.

God has created me to do Him some definite service.

He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another.

I have my mission: I may never know it in this life, but shall be told it in the next.

I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons.

He has not created me for naught. I shall do good; I shall do His work.

Therefore I will trust Him. Whatever, wherever I am, I can never be thrown away.

If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him.

If I am in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him.

If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him.

My sickness or perplexity, or sorrow may be some necessary causes of some great end, which is quite beyond us.

He does nothing in vain; He may prolong my life. he may shorten it; He knows what He is about.

He may take away my friends, he may throw me among strangers, he may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me -- still he knows what He is about.

~ John Cardinal Newman
Meditations and Devotions

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Bishop D'Arcy's Column in the paper

I got to read Bishop D'Arcy's column in our diocesan newspaper today (Today's Catholic), and it was a beautiful reflection on the Bioethics conference titled "The beauty of Catholic moral teaching in the area of sexuality." Imagine my surprise when I find myself mentioned in the article. The entire article is worth reading, but I have copied the part pertaining to me below. We are so blessed to have a faithful bishop who supports events like this to truly educate his flock on the beauty and power of the Church's teachings. Thank you Jesus for Bishop D'Arcy.

..."I had the good fortune at being at table with a woman from St. Pius X Parish, Granger, who came in with several others from that parish. She shared with us the cross and the pain she had experienced in her struggle to have a child and how moved she was, even to tears, that there were so many present, including outstanding scientists and pastoral leaders who understood the pain of not being able to have a child, and were working for people like herself in a way that is sound and moral, and according to the plan of God; and that treatment for her infertility through NaProTechnology was being pursued in a way that was moral and respectful of human dignity."

Additionally, I talked for a couple of hours today with a reporter from Today's Catholic. She interviewed me for an article regarding our journey which will be part of October's "Respect Life" issue. I really enjoyed talking with her and sharing our journey (there were tears in her eyes and mine at times) and am thankful that God is giving us this opportunity to share our journey in the hopes of helping others along theirs. It's amazing the doors and opportunities that are opening to us lately in regards to helping spread the beauty and truth of the Church's teaching regarding marriage and sexuality. We are so thankful for the opportunities.

On becoming holy...

Our American "can-do" "instant-gratification" "self-made-man" mentality teaches us that we should be able to accomplish anything we want with hard work and a bit of time. Thus, in our spiritual lives we want to become holy in one month or maybe even in one day. But don’t ask too much from yourself. Instead ask the Holy with Him. God will inspire you to holiness at the right moment. Be ready. Be open. Keep your heart open. Remember, holiness is not your doing only. Most is the work of the Holy Spirit. Follow His time and not yours. Your will is strong, but be prudent and allow room for the Holy Spirit. Let God work in you. Don’t try to do it all yourself.
~ Reflections following spiritual direction today

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Our Lady of Sorrows

September 15 is the day that the Catholic Church celebrates the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. It is a name by which the Blessed Virgin Mary is referred to in relation to sorrows in her life and it is a day that I hold close to my heart, because on this way of the cross of infertility, I find myself again and again going back to Our Lady at the foot of the cross and as a model on how to bear suffering. As the Magnificat says of today's memorial, "we need the maternal closeness of the Sorrowful Mother to sustain us when overcome by the terrifying trials of life. Through Mary's compassionate presence at the cross, that event - as it recurs in our life - becomes more deeply human, filling us with the courage to face life's sufferings, certain in the secure embrace of divine providence. Whenever Mary loves us, she gives us Jesus."

On this journey through infertility, I find myself looking to Mary in a new way...begging her to show me how to handle the grief that comes as a result of being unable to conceive a child. Whereas most of my time previously has been contemplating her “fiat” at the annunciation, I now look to her at the foot of the cross, and beg her to teach me with her own witness how to balance the human emotions of grief and despair with the simple faith and spiritual joy in the resurrection and God’s plan. I see her kneeling there at the foot of the cross and I contemplate what her own emotions must have been. There she was at the height of her human pain, watching her only son die a tortuous hideous death. Did she feel abandoned by God? Certainly she had to wonder why this had to happen and how this could be part of God’s plan. And yet at the same time, we know from her entire life that she was wholly surrendered to God. When I was in Rome in February 2009, I spent a great amount of time in St. Peter’s Basilica before Michelangelo’s Pieta meditating on Our Lady’s balance of grief and surrender that he managed to capture out of a piece of stone. Her head bowed down in sorrow, yet her left hand open as if to say, “Lord, I take what you give and I give what you take.” This is the joyful surrender I desire.

I continually ask her for her intercession, that she will help me be a woman full of grace, and even as she does, my own questions still flood my mind. Why are you withholding this gift from me? Lord, what am I doing that you don’t want from me? What am I not doing that you do want? Why is it that when I’ve tried my entire life to be faithful to you and your teachings that you deny me this gift and yet grant life to those that throw that precious gift of life away or go about obtaining life in a way not in keeping with the Catholic faith. Why when we desired to use our own lives as a witness to the effectiveness of Natural Family Planning by showing that it does work when trying to postpone children, was that opportunity dismissed from our lives when we couldn’t get pregnant at all? My entire life…long before I was Catholic, I somehow instinctively knew of the inherent physical, psychological and spiritual dangers of birth control and had promised God…”give me one human being and I will give you as many as you want.” Now here I was with my wonderful husband, facing the question…”what if the answer is none?”

Romans 9:20,21 But who indeed are you, a human being, to talk back to God? Will what is made say to its maker,"Why have you created me so?" Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for a noble purpose and another for an ignoble one?

“Be it done unto me according to thy word” sometimes seems like an impossible and very bold prayer. It would take courage to do even if I could see Him, but when the face of Christ is hidden in the darkness of my heart, then it requires all the heroism of Our Lady’s fiat. It would be easier for me to sacrifice some big things to God, to impose some hard rule upon myself or choose for myself what I sacrifice for God… it is much more difficult to say, “Do what you like with me.” But this is exactly what God asks of us and what Mary patterns for us with her life. Mary is truly the model for discipleship. She gave her fiat and we each must give ours.

It is a popular devotion in the Catholic Church to pray and contemplate the seven sorrows in Mary's life, and below I have listed them along with a mixture of Fr. Bob's homily from this morning and things that I see her teaching us through her example in bearing these sorrows.

1. The Prophecy of Simeon over the Infant Jesus. (Luke 2:34)
Simeon told Mary that a sword would pierce her heart. She teaches us that no matter the sorrow, we can commit it to her Son, place it in His hands and consecrate that sorrow to Him. When we were preparing for marriage, I came to know through prayer that like Mary, a sword would pierce my own heart. To be honest, I was scared. Terrified. I didn't know what it was, but I was sure I didn't want it. It took the wise counsel of my spiritual director to help me see that in many cases it is exactly this "sword" which is our path to holiness, our road to salvation. It is by enduring the piercing of this sword that we grow in love for and trust of God. Mary showed us this with her own life in how she committed herself completely to God even with the prophecy of Simeon in mind.

2. The Flight into Egypt of the Holy Family. (Matthew 2:13)
Mary teaches us to go trusting, to grow in faith. Even when we are in darkness we can press on. Even when we can't see where we are going or why, we can trust in His plan.

3. The Loss of the Child Jesus for Three Days. (Luke 2:43)
Mary couldn't find the Christ child for three days. Imagine being a mother who has lost her child in a very busy crowded area for three days. She had to have been panicked and probably thought that the prophecy of Simeon had come to pass. While I have never experienced this pain of losing a child firsthand, I did get to witness it in a unique way with a friend and her son. While living in Austria, we were able to go to Rome with a large bus full of people for the viewing of the late Pope John Paul II. If you remember, the crowds were enormous and the streets were a mass of people. As I was continuing on my way I suddenly realized that my friend's young son was "swimming upstream" in the crowd. I grabbed him by the hand and asked where he was going. He told me he was trying to find his mom. Afraid that he would get lost in the crowd on people, I told him that he needed to stay with me and that we would find his mom. I honestly can't remember how long it was before we met up with them, but it seems to me that it was well over 15 minutes. When we finally located his parents, his mother was beside herself and when she saw him threw herself on her needs to wrap him in her arms. Her pain at losing him was so intense and her mother's sorrow so great, that in that instant I saw in her a reflection of what it must have been like for the Blessed Virgin.

4. The Meeting of Jesus and Mary along the Way of the Cross. (Luke 23:26)
Our Lady had to see Jesus carrying our cross...the cross of our sins. How difficult this must have been. Yet, as she came to know the will of the Father more and more, she grew in hope of God's glory and grew in her trust that Jesus knew what He was doing. I think the movie Passion of the Christ portrays this sorrow beautifully, when Mary rushes to Jesus' side after he falls under the weight of the cross, all the while images of his childhood replaying in her mind, and looks at him in confusion and awe as he says to her, "see, mother, I make all things new." Hard hard it must have been for Mary to learn the lesson of Jeremiah 29:11-13 (For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare, not for woe! plans to give you a future full of hope. When you call me, when you go to pray to me, I will listen to you.
When you look for me, you will find me. Yes, when you seek me with all your heart,
you will find me with you, says the LORD, and I will change your lot.)
and yet, full of trust and faith, Mary continued on, following the steps of her son to Calvary.

5. The Crucifixion, where Mary stands at the foot of the cross. (John 19:25)
What exactly did Mary pray at the foot of the cross? How could she even find it within herself to pray when she was filled with such intense sorrow and pain? Perhaps it was the Lord's prayer. Perhaps it was calling upon God her father in the prayers Jesus had taught her...."they will be done." It was this prayer and her act of faith in calling upon God the father that gave her the strength to press on. So it must be with us.

6. The Descent from the Cross, where Mary receives the dead body of Jesus in her arms. (Matthew 27:57)
When she received his body, she grew in love. When she held him, she probably remembered the first time she held him as a newborn baby in Bethlehem. In fact this is one possible way that Michelangelo's Pieta has been interpreted...that it is really an image of Mary holding the baby Jesus. This interpretation states that "Mary's youthful appearance and apparently serene facial expression, coupled with the position of the arms could suggest that she is seeing her child, while the viewer is seeing an image of the future." Perhaps. Whatever way you interpret the sculpture, it is powerful. I have always loved Michelangelo's Pieta, but on a recent trip to Rome, I spent a great deal of time praying before it, asking Our Lady to help me bear my sorrow with as much grace as she bore hers.

7. The Burial of Jesus. (John 19:40)
What really can one say? He was gone to her. While she certainly would have trusted that what He had promised would come to pass and that he would come again, her baby boy was gone to her. Fr. Bob talked about how the Jewish tradition when in mourning is to give God praise and how the prayer of the Mourner's Kaddish is a beautiful example of this:

May His great Name grow exalted and sanctified in the world that He created as He willed. May He give reign to His kindship in your lifetimes and in your days, and in the lifetimes of the entire Family of Israel swiftly and soon. Now say: Amen.

May His great Name be blessed forever and ever. Blessed, praised, glorified, exalted, extolled, mighty, upraised, and lauded by the Name of the Holy One. Blessed is He beyond any blessing and song, praise and consolation that are uttered in the world. Now say: Amen.
May there be abundant peace from Heaven and life upon us and upon all Israel.
Now say: Amen.

He Who makes peace in His heights, may He make peace, upon us and upon all Israel.
Now say: Amen.

This beautiful prayer of praise is recited in Jewish custom by the son of the deceased every day for 11 months after the burial. It makes me wonder, did Our Lady, the sole remaining relative of Jesus recite this prayer each day after His burial? Was a prayer like this what gave her strength to continue praising God in the pain? In my own experience with sorrow, I guess my modern day Kaddish has become the song "Blessed be your Name" by Tree 63. In the darkest of times, I sing this and continue to praise God. I highly recommend it. It's worth the listen.

Yes, I can relate to Our Lady of Sorrows and I am so thankful that as our spiritual mother, she shows us her sufferings and guides us through every dark valley of our lives. No matter what our sorrows are, she is there as a model and a guide...constantly leading us to her son and the victory He promises us.

Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Lift high the cross!

Today we celebrated the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. As this blog is dedicated to describing our journey along our own personal way of the cross (of infertility), it only seems fitting then, that I reflect a bit on this feast.

Fr. Bob's homily was a meaningful description of how God never leaves us. Below is my best rendition of his homily:
Jesus says to us, "... behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age" (Matthew 28:20). Sometimes when we are suffering and are on the cross, we feel abandoned by God. We look everywhere, but we can't see Him. We think that perhaps He isn't there. But God never leaves us. When we are nailed to the cross, it is then that we are nailed on top of Him. He is holding us even as we suffer with Him. The reason that we cannot see him in our darkest hours of suffering is that He's closer to us then than He has ever been. He can take horrible events and incredible pains and heal them. He makes all things new...even the cross. He can bring good from evil, healing from harm and brings hope and healing to all who call upon Him.

This is why we celebrate today the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. It's such a powerful message to me. As Catholics, we talk a lot about "offering it up" but only as we continue on this way of the cross am I really starting to understand more and more what this means. It means that even though we would have never chosen this path (infertility) for ourselves, just like Christ didn't choose his path ("My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will" Matthew 26:39.), it is the path we have been given and it can result in good. And if we unite our sufferings with those of Christ, He will bring life and goodness from a place where only death and evil were thought to exist. I see this manifested even now with the development of Hannah's Tears and the events unfolding with Bishop D'Arcy and the diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. For so long, Dave and I kept our journey and suffering to ourselves, but once we really trusted God and obeyed to His call to open up and begin sharing our experiences, amazing things have begun to happen which have not only allowed us to heal but have allowed us to help others as well. Just yesterday I was asked if I would be willing to either be interviewed or write an article for Today's Catholic, our diocesan newspaper. It's amazing what can happen when we offer our hurts and sufferings to God and allow Him to do with them what He wills. We gain strength, peace and joy as He transforms us and allows us to be conduits of grace to others. I have seen it time and time again with so many people who have suffered yet still choose to give of themselves...It is true that wherever your greatest pain, there also lies your greatest ministry.

No matter what your pain, your suffering, your wound, please know that I am praying for you, that there is hope and that Jesus can and does make all things new. You can trust Him.

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you, because by your Cross you have redeemed the world.

Exaltation of the Cross
(from the book Byzantine Daily Worship)
By its elevation, the cross is like an appeal to the whole creation to adore the blessed passion of Christ our God who has suspended on it, for Christ destroyed by this cross the one who had destroyed us. In his great goodness, he brought us back to life after we had been dead, and he beatified us and made us worthy of heaven, for he is merciful. Wherefore we exalt his name with great rejoicing and glorify his infinite condescension...

O precious cross of the Lord, Moses prefigured you when he stretched out his arms to heaven and thus defeated the haughty Amalek. You are the pride of the faithful, the strength of those who struggle. You are the beauty of the apostles, the courage of the just, and the salvation of all the saints. Wherefore, at the sight of your elevation, the whole creation rejoices and exults and glorifies Christ whose goodness tied all things together into one...
O most venerable cross of the Lord, the angels surround you with joy. By your elevation today, you raise those who had been cast down and delivered to death for having eaten of the forbidden tree. Wherefore we honor you in the faith of our hearts and praise you with our lips, begging for sanctification...

Come, all you nations, let us bow in worship to the blessed cross of the Lord through which eternal justice came to us. He who deceived Adam, the first man, was conquered by a tree, and the same who fettered the royal creation by his guile has been cast down into nothingness. The serpent's venom has been washed away by the divine blood of Christ, and the curse of the sin has been lifted by a rightful sentence when the just Christ was condemned unjustly. By God's plan, death that had come from a tree would be conquered by a tree, and suffering would be healed by the suffering of the Lord. Glory be to the active presence of your providence in our lives, O Christ our King: through it, you have wrought salvation for all.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Reflections on the Bioethics Conference

If you remember, a few weeks ago I wrote that I met with Fr. Bob because in prayer I felt that he had the next "puzzle piece" or was a link to the "puzzle pieces" I needed regarding this conference that I feel called to put on. Man o man, did that prove to be true.

We set out for Warsaw this morning, a party of 5 including our two Priests, our Deacon and our Director of Christian Initiation. Near the end of our hour drive I asked the group what the conference was going to be on. Deacon responded that a priest named Rev. Tadeusz Pacholczyk, Ph.D. was going to present. All I knew about him was that my mother-in-law has spoken highly of him, she has sent me several excellent articles that he has authored and that she strongly felt that I should meet him. While I interiorly agreed that I would love to meet this Fr. Tad, how was I going to accomplish that? I didn't even know where to find him. Well, I got my answer today. He was going to present at this conference. God-incidence #1

So I knew that the conference pertained to Bioethics, but what aspects? End-of-life issues? Cloning? Stem cell research? Organ transplant? Nope. Imagine my utter shock when I picked up my conference folder and the label read "The Ethics of Reproductive Technologies." What? You mean this entire conference was going to be on Reproductive Technologies??? You have got to be kidding me. I thought I was in heaven.

We arrived 20 minutes late and were told to slip around the side and up in the front there would be empty chairs. So we tried to slip in without making a disruption (fat chance) but there were no seats and any table in the front. So instead, some kind people at the front let us sit with them, and as I was preparing to thank the kind man in clerics for offering pulling up a chair for me, I realized that the priest I would be sitting with was indeed Bishop D'Arcy. :) Imagine that. As I tried to gather and focus my attention on Fr. Tad, who had already begun to speak, I did a quick glance around the table to see who else was sitting with us and there were Lisa and Fred Everett (Directors of Family Life for the Diocese) and Dr. Patrick Holly (who is NaPro doctor in Fort Wayne). My jaw probably visible dropped and I had to have appeared dumbfounded. Why? Because for the last several months, as I have prayed and asked God for direction regarding this conference He's calling me to put on, I knew that I would meet with Bishop D'Arcy and also Fred and Lisa. I just wasn't sure how that was going to happen. I mean, what do you do, call the Bishop's office and say, "Hi, I'm a random nobody and I'd like to meet with the Bishop"? I mean come on. And Fred and Lisa don't know me from Eve. So for the past few months I have known that I needed to meet them and believed I would, I just didn't know how...and look how easy God made it for me. Poof. All together at one table. As I sat there taking it all in (listening to Fr. Tad speak in the background) all I could hear was God saying to me, "See Suzy, I am faithful in keeping my promises." I began to cry.

I cried a good deal through Fr. Tad's excellent presentation. Not because it was hard to hear or made me sad, but rather because I was so ecstatic that people were there, listening, interested, and that there were finally discussions being had on Catholic Reproductive Technologies. In a room full of maybe 100 people (mostly priests of the diocese), we were educating people on morally acceptable routes of dealing with infertility. This is the groundwork to be laid if we really want to help people stop eating from the dumpster.

During lunch, Bishop and I had the opportunity to talk and he asked me to tell him about myself and my story. I told him of my conversion to the Catholic faith in 2003, working at Culver Academies, about my time working for Franciscan University of Steubenville in Austria, about marrying Dave, our journey of infertility and about Hannah's Tears. He was so attentive and I can only thank him for his kindness and compassion. I felt like he and I were the only two people in the room and his assurance that he would be praying for us "in a very special way" meant the world to me. At one point I even told him, "you know, Bishop, I don't think you're through with me yet, I think we are going to work together on this" (this being furthering education on morally acceptable reproductive technologies)...he smiled and chuckled (he has the most wonderful, compassionate eyes). We talked, really just the two of us, throughout lunch and near the end, he suggested that I share my story with the group. I was a bit stunned. Here? Now? But he encouraged me to go up during the Q&A panel and get the microphone and so I did.
Talk about a "Come, Holy Spirit" moment.

I honestly don't remember what I all I said. It seems like I hardly touched on anything that I had wanted to say and I didn't even mention that I have been treated with NaPro for the last 3 years....oh well. But I do remember telling how happy I was that we were having a conference like this, because as one of the 8 million individuals facing infertility in the US right now, I could attest that it is a very lonely road and we need all the support we can get. I relayed how priests have helped us to see this as our own way of the cross and to unite our suffering with that of Christ, and how other priests, like ones in the Basilica at Notre Dame had encouraged us to try IVF, and how this broke my heart. I commended them for being her today, thanked the speakers (Fr. Tad, and Dr. Holly) for their contributions and then encouraged the priests to keep learning and to go back and share the truth, power and beauty of the Church's teaching with their congregations. I also told them about Hannah's Tears and said to feel free to share the ministry with anyone who they felt would benefit. At the end, I remember thinking that of the four things that bishop asked me to share I only felt that I hit two of them at most, but he seemed pleased and complimented me on what I had said.

Dr. Holly's talk was incredible as well. I can't believe that we have a NaPro doctor (with obstetrics) here in Indiana. I had no idea. What a blessing. I would still have needed to go elsewhere for my surgery because Dr. Holly doesn't do NaPro surgical procedures, but still...I am so glad he's here. His presentation was wonderful and included an overview of the Creighton Model of NFP and numerous charts describing the successes of NaPro. Wow. What a day.

But, all too soon, the day was over and as we rushed out the door in order to get back to Granger on time, I ran up to Bishop and thanked him again for everything. He complimented me again on my speaking (even in front of others standing by) and told me to call his office and we would get together. God! You are so faithful. In the times when I doubt, and feel forgotten, you have shown me in a heartbeat that you ARE so faithful in keeping your promises. You have instructed my heart in the past few months, and have told me that all of these meetings would come to pass, and now here, in one short day, you have made it all happen. You are so good to me. Thank you.

There are a million more things I could touch upon, like the joy of seeing so many priest friends from the diocese, getting to meet other individuals that I had hoped to meet, the wonderful conversation on the car ride home, etc....but really, I think I've said more than enough. Let's leave it at that.

In the end, I made some great connections, had some very anointed conversations and I believe with all my heart that my life is going to change soon. God is so faithful.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

New Hope for Infertility - NaPro Technology

Please take time to watch these clips!

One of the main hopes for this blog at this point is that it will serve as a vehicle of education regarding NaPro technology, a new and innovative (and highly effective) method new women's health science that monitors and maintains a woman's reproductive and gynecological health and provides medical and surgical treatments that cooperate completely with the reproductive system. Several weeks ago, on August 19th I wrote about Dumpster Diving vs. the True Banquet I mentioned then that I believe NaPro Technology is the true banquet that infertile couples are looking for.

Please take the time to watch these clips! It will take about 20 minutes of your time but may be some of the most important information you obtain. Even if you don't experience infertility personally, there is a very good chance that someone close to you does, and you just might be the person who has the opportunity to share truth and power of NaPro Technology with them and give them hope in their time of trial.

Without further ado...

It's been awhile

It's incredible to me to think that it's been 2 weeks since I've blogged. When I first started this, Dave encourage me not to let this become an obligation. It hasn't, but yet there is so much that I have wanted to write about and haven't been able to. It's incredible what happens when you start feeling better, get busy and things have to get pushed out of the schedule. Having said that, don't be surprised if there are several posts in the next few days (dated between August 23rd and today)....I'm going to try to play "catch up" with my thoughts.

I am now 6 weeks post-surgery. According to the information that we received about the procedure, it is at about this time that I should be feeling pretty much back to normal...and for the most part I am. I have been back to Pilates classes and while I've lot a TON of ab and core strength, I am at least able to do most things okay. (However working the lower abs really ticked off the ovaries yesterday, I have to tell ya!).

I think the hardest part for me is the emotional recovery at this point. Prior to the surgery, it was easy a bit easier to distance myself from the journey through infertility because I was so focused on the surgery itself. Why consume myself worrying or wishing for pregnancy when I knew I was going to have surgery? But now...six weeks post-surgery...I find myself slipping back into the "what if?"..."when?"...mentality. With the surgery and recovery pretty much behind me, the same questions start to arise and I see the same roller coaster of hope and disappointment before us. I honestly don't even want to get on that ride again. What I wish is that somehow I could learn to just be content with each day as it find a happy medium where I am full of hope (like we as Christians are called to be), but not that my hopes are "up." I honestly don't know that it's possible to strike that balance. But in a perfect world, I could be thankful for the blessings, I would embrace the crosses that were in my life, but I would just be able to go about my life, unscathed and in peace...just like a little baby weaned at the mother's breast....not worrying about things to great for me (Psalm 131)....or like a little boat, anchored safely in the harbor, riding out the waves of the stormy seas.

The hormonal changes of this recovery have been noticeable as well. My Creighton charts look far different than before (which we were told would happen) and for the first time in 4 years the "Queen of the Yellow Stamp" had a completely "green stamp" post-peak. Incredible that that much could change so quickly. But the emotions have changed just as quickly. As my parts begin to heal to communicate with each other and the brain, hormones are working to balance themselves and Dave and I can both tell that this has not yet happened. Add in the fertility drugs that we are now on again (Clomid) and it's pretty much one big emotional roller coaster.

In my interactions with so many women who are going through infertility, I hear the same thing over and over...many many people highly underestimate the emotional and psychological stresses that are caused by the treatments. Is that to say that I wouldn't recommend the treatment? In no way. That would be like telling a cancer patient to avoid Chemotherapy because they might feel ill. It stinks...but I have to hang on a believe it's worth it in the end. When I stand fully healed with my baby in my arms, it will be worth it. In the's yet another weight of the cross on this journey and one that both Dave and I (and other couples) learn to carry and support. And for those of you going through this same journey, please know that we are praying for you too and you're not alone...and you're not crazy! :)

Tomorrow I'll attend the Fort-Wayne/South Bend Diocesean Bioethics conference! I'm psyched about what type of connections I can make in thie Diocese specifically regarding Catholic infertility ministry. For those of you in the Cincinnati area here's something worth attending this weekend.

Great to be "back"....God bless you all!

Cincinnati Infertility Conference
Saturday, September 12, 2009
9 am to 1 pm
Guardian Angels Parish
6531 Beechmont Ave
Cincinnati, OH 45230
Featured Speakers will include:
Dr. Jason Mattingly and Dr. Kevin Sellers
Trained at the Pope Paul VI Institute
Fr. Earl Fernandes
Dean of Mount St. Mary's Seminary
Assistant Professor of Moral Theology Sylvia M. Corson
Certified Creighton Teacher
We will also have couples to speak to who have adopted domestically and internationally
For more information contact Lottie and Tate
or to help advertise you can print and distribute our handout

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Hannah's Tears Live on the Web

We are LIVE on the web!

After almost exactly a year in development....the Hannah's Tears website is now up and running!
We are so grateful to Brandon who volunteered his time and talents as a web designer. He said "yes" to God's call to design the site and later that day he and his wife found out that they were expecting their long awaited baby! Praise be to God!

Hannah's Tears offers prayer support and comfort to the brokenhearted who suffer the pains of infertility at any stage of life, difficult pregnancy, miscarriage, stillbirth, the loss of a child and the adoption process. This apostolate intercedes for Catholic doctors, nurses, and their supportive personnel. We also serve as a vehicle of education in the proper channels of Catholic fertility practices as well as offering information resources to those seeking adoption and fertility care.

While Hannah's Tears has primarily been a blog, we are excited to see what God has in store for this website and where He will lead the ministry.

Please feel free to share this ministry and website with all those you know and I would welcome your suggestions for anything you think could/should be added to the website as well.

Thank you for your prayers!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Happy Birthday to Our Lady!

This is a beautiful article. It delves into the infant and childhood life of Mary and as the article eloquently puts it, Reflecting on Our Blessed Mother as an infant and child leads the faithful where Mary always leads the faithful: to her Son.

As this blog is dedicated to sharing our journey along the way of infertility it is only fitting to remember that Mary was born to parents, Saints Ann and Joachim, who had suffered greatly for their inability to have a child. Due to Ann's barenness, the sheer fact of Mary's conception and birth were truly miraculous and surrounded by supernatural graces. I pray for similar miraculous and supernatural graces to surround Dave and I and all you who hope and suffer like us.

One part of the article that really spoke to me was this:
Before Mary conceived Christ in her womb, she had conceived Him in her heart, said St. Augustine. Before Our Lady wrapped her first-born in swaddling clothes, she had already embraced the Messiah with her will, her intellect, and her nature. Before she followed His way of passion and stood below His bloody cross, she had freely immolated herself before God for the sake of the coming Messiah. Before she rejoiced in His resurrection, she had dedicated her life to His glory and victory. Before knowing the immediacy of His coming–and before comprehending her own role as His Mother–she had already unreservedly offered herself to God for His divine purposes.

This understanding of her “fullness of grace” prepares us to comprehend Mary’s unqualified “fiat” to God’s angelic messenger when invited to be the Mother of God. God had been preparing the soil of her soul since her creation. she herself, through her goodness and love freely given, had tilled it and made it ready for seed.

My prayer is that each of us may each of us be "full of grace" and give our unqualified "fiat" realizing that throughout our entire lives God has been preparing the soil of our soil and in love freely given, we till it an make it ready for seed. May we, too, each conceive Him in the womb of heart and embrace the Messiah with our will, our intellect and our nature. May we freely immolate our self before God for the sake of His coming into our hearts and our lives. May we dedicate our life to His glory and victory. May we offer our self for His divine purposes.

God bless you all!