Sunday, December 20, 2009

Not Like Mary...

On this, the 4th Sunday of Advent, we are all reminded of the beautiful gift of Mary to us all. Her acceptance of God's will, her belief that her child was the Messiah, and her glorious birth and motherhood to Our Saviour has made her the role model of all role models. She is mother to ALL of us.

In my parish, the priest has a different person light the Advent candle each Sunday. That person represents that "part" of the congregation. For example, a child, a senior citizen, etc. And guess who lit it today? You guessed it. A mother.

And the priest made very sure to preface the lighting of the candle this week as, "Since this week we put our focus back to Mary and her motherhood to Jesus, we will have a MOTHER from our parish light the Advent candle today."

I was pre-occupied with my thoughts for the remainder of the Mass... which was the entire Mass, since the lighting of the candle happens before the entrance hymn. I just couldn't figure out, where do WE belong, and how are WE to emulate Mary? Clearly by accepting God's will we are acting like Mary. But we're the only ones who recognize that - it's not like society looks at us infertiles and says, "Oh, look how like Mary they are!" Nope. Rather, they are busy oohing and aahing over the mommies and babies of the congregation, because even the Church agrees, nothing's better than being a mommy at Christmastime.

I haven't been as depressed as I usually am this time of year, and I think I owe that to my Secret Prayer Buddy. I do have hope that I will be a mommy someday. (Don't ask me why. When I physically CANNOT implant without twice daily injections, and Natural Killer cells and a 1/2 DQ Alpha match); not to mention I just got an email from our Social Worker (though I'm not really sure I can still call her "our" Social Worker since she's not really working socially on our behalf at all) that stated we need to meet with her and the BRANCH EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR to determine whether or not we CAN continue with the homestudy. Logically, I know it's a long-shot that I'll ever be a mother. But it's not the logic I'm going off of. It's the calling. I have felt the calling to motherhood so strongly, especially recently. And even if it takes 20 years, I know we'll get to parenthood.

One day, some day, I will be homestudy approved, and oh what a glorious day that will be!! And I imagine, too, that I'll have a lot more peace with everything once that day arrives. It'll be my Golden Ticket, and by golly, I'm just gonna buy every freaking Wonka bar I can get my hands on in order to get that Golden Ticket.

While my priest and my parish may see me and my husband as worthless right now, I'm tired of seeing myself that way.

And even though on the outside, the "mother" of our Church who lit the candle may seem more obviously to be like Mary, I know we are all given the opportunity to be like her in our lives. To trust that what God has asked of you IS what is best for you, despite how contrary it is to everything you planned for yourself... well, that is just what Our Lady did. I hope and pray that I, (and that all of us) are able to emulate Our Lady as a mother, one day... but in the meantime, I will seize any opportunity I can get to be like Mary.

I used to constantly be upset at God for not allowing me to serve Him the way I thought I could serve Him best: by raising children to adore and worship Him. But just because I cannot do that doesn't mean I have to sit around and wait to serve Him. Right now, I can emulate Mary by trusting and hoping. And maybe no one else will see it but me... maybe no outsider will see the merits of what I am doing, and how I am serving the Lord in my childlessness. But the only One who matters will certainly see it, and I hope that He will be pleased.

God knows. He knows I hurt. He knows I ache. He knows I yearn. No angel ever came to deliver my infertility to me, but I still have the opportunity to respond to this gift God has entrusted to me. Some days the response is not as favorable as others. But today, and for as long as I can, my response will be:

"Let it be done to me according to your word."


Sew said...

Who are you! I thought God gave you the 12 days of Christmas gifts and now you are rocking and holy rolling! This feels like the work of the holy spirit and something is changing in you recently. I can't quite put my finger on it!

You should have been at my Mass today! My Priest said being BARREN is the gift of God Himself because He will work in you something beautiful! And my dear, He is working magic over there! I'm totally excited to see what other FANTASTIC posts you come up with!

Just when I thought you couldn't get a better blog post, this one by far is AWESOME!

Thankful said...

In my first "interaction" with you you were completely selfless, like Mary. Thanks!

Kathryn said...

Another way infertility make us more like Mary--it is hidden. She is so hidden to, too. Sure, we Catholics call her Blessed, but the majority of Christians do not. Most Christians do not recongnize her singular role in Salvation History, much less the fact that she is their mother. She has many, many children who deny her...yet, she pours out her sons graces on them anyway. We infertiles are the same, unappreciated, and yet doing important work for the Church through our sufferings.

That being said, at our mass today one of the prayer inentions was for all who await the birth of the child and all who wait to adopt. I thought of you (and me.)

Great post...gave me so much to think about.

Meg @ True, Good and Beautiful said...

Beautiful. I'm inspired.

Thank you. :)

Joy Beyond the Cross said...

Amen! You are so right...we can serve now. It may not be the way I thought it was going to turn out, but that is not what is important...doing God's will is the most important. (Yes, I know...much easier said than done!). Have a blessed remainder of Advent!

Cathy said...

Such a true reflection. My parish (which I love, incidentally) does a "Mother's Blessing" after Mass twice a year for preggos - but never for IFs.

Just talk about motherhood, creating children in your womb is like making a cathedral (er, what about adoption?), blah blah.

Many prayers for all 'the girls' this time of year. It's so hard.

... said...

Yes, we all have to find a way to serve now. Beautiful.

LifeHopes said...

I am amazed. Honestly I can't imagine being in a better place than right where you are. Complete surrender to His will.

I know God is smiling on you.

You have a very pure and beautiful soul.

Mrs. Mike said...

Amen! This is such a beautiful reflection and like Mary...your sorrow, your obedience, your sacrifice (and certainly your perseverance) is hidden from the rest of the world...known only to Him and yourself. Is that not a more valuable gift to God than fecundity?
Your reward for your faithfulness will indeed be great.

the misfit said...

IMHO, your priest should have had that candle lit by a thirteen-year-old pregnant girl who conceived the child out of wedlock. Mary's life was extraordinary, and we romanticize it into the banal. Her future husband was going to "divorce her quietly" to prevent her being STONED for fornication. They fled to Egypt with an infant child to avoid the massacre of all Jewish children under two and were exiled for years. Their lives have nothing in common with soccer moms in minivans sending their infertile friends Christmas photographs of Tommy and Sarah in red sweaters holding Joey with snowflakes off to one side. I agree with you that in the Church's admiration of motherhood (which is appropriate, in the proper way - it's what we all want(ed), right?), it manages to ignore the vocation that aligns with the central image of our faith - the cross!

At the diocesan meeting Jeremiah organized a few weeks ago, I got to say to some (newly ordained) priests who were present (they asked) something I've been wanting to for a long time. One of the top things that infertiles want from their pastors is just for them to remember we exist. If you're throwing off examples of life's sufferings in a homily, childlessness should be one that leaps to mind. Say it at least occasionally. When you phrase the blessing for Mother's Day, look out over your congregation and realize that there are already women out there in tears, even if you can't see. On a saint's feast day or in conjunction with a reading which clearly implicates infertility, mention it. Call it a cross. Say that the Church loves infertiles, that it prays with them. Make infertilites one of the intentions for that Mass. Celebrate adoptive motherhood expressly. Talk about what JPII said, that's it's "heroic" and "generous." Since our crosses are God's will, not our choices, don't make us look like rejects from the fold for living with them as bravely as we can. A woman who used IVF to conceive a large family would be lauded as an icon of generous Catholic motherhood. A woman who languished childless like St. Anne is assumed to be contracepting and selfish. Something has to be changed. (I didn't say all of this, but the basic point, that they should think about us. And it made me feel a lot better to say it. Our Church is supposed to be the comfort of the suffering, not their scourge.)

the misfit said...

P.S. I don't know what "infertilites" are, either. Bad editing. And sorry for the super-long comment. Maybe I should just write a post of my own :).

Amy @ This Cross I Embrace said...

I LOVE this comment, misfit! LOVE. IT. Man, why didn't I think to tell this to the priest that lead our IF support group in November??

And I kinda like "infertilite." I might start using it from now on.

mrsblondies said...

Both your reflection and the misfit's comment are wonderful. I'm inspired to talk to my priest about acknowledging infertility.

keep calm and carry on... said...

it is hard when the mothers seem to get the attention, as the infertiles sit silently. our church has never mentioned infertiles or adoption... i'm hoping now that i meet with our priest the doors may be open.

there was a baptism yesterday as well - all i could think was great, another one - but the child looked like he was adopted.. it was interesting to see and think maybe another one of us was out there.

E said...

I think tha being like Mary is more surrendering to God's will in our lives, not fulfilling motherhood. She said way more than yes to motherhood, she carried the Son of God. Then had to give Him back.

Great post!