31 Days of De-Stressed Living, Day 23: Sense the Mysteries

child in churchDo you ever tire of the Catholic “mommy wars” over proper parenting at Mass? Cry room vs. front row pew; pro-breastfeeding vs. anti-Cheerios; attending as a family vs. letting each spouse go separately. The only subjects more likely to get fur flying are head-coverings or Marty Haugen. Or maybe pants, eh Simcha?

Now that my children are young teens, part of me actually misses going to Mass when they were younger. Sarah would sit on my hip and sing her version of the hymns (“Amazing grapes…”), while Chris would remind me to listen for the angels when the priest raised up the Eucharist. (I had told them that their guardian angels wanted to join the other angels in heaven at the consecration, but if they were naughty, they would have to stay behind, and would be most put-out.)

One of the most wonderful parts of parenting is being able to experience, vicariously, the wonder of the invisible world: God and angels and saints and heaven … and electricity and Tooth Fairies and Mommy Magic and microwave popcorn and musicals and Mozart. So much of life is conducted behind the scenes, like the miles of tunnels beneath Disney World. Gifts and serendipitous moments are as much a part of life as bedtimes and vaccines. Through our children, we learn that if we spend too much time focused on the minutiae, we lose the sense of wonder, and deplete our own joy.

So … just for today, lets give the taskmaster the day off, and take some time to sense the mysteries and remind ourselves of the innate goodness of life.

*  The explosion of a vine-ripened tomato in a mouthful of garden salad

*  The heady aroma of home-baked bread and the simmer of soup.

*  The gentle flickering of a votive lit in a countryside chapel.

*  The crunch of compacted snow frosted with a shiny veneer of ice.

In these moments, time stands still and we catch a glimpse — however fleeting — of life as it was meant to be lived, experienced, and reveled in. These sweet mysteries whisper of the destiny of all human beings: Not constrained by obligation and responsibilities, but liberated to experience life at its transcendent best.


“It is in love that we are made” (National Catholic Register)

I was grieved and not a little aggravated to read this article in the National Catholic Register today. If I hadn’t read it with my own eyes, I would never have imagined that a respected Catholic publication such as NCR would permit such a blatant attack on what is at the heart a truly pro-life issue.

As I’ve often said, adoption is never God’s first choice for a child. He intended children to be raised in the loving embrace of a man and woman joined for life in the sacrament of matrimony. When that bond is broken, yes the child suffers. So do the parents.

And yet, it is not the act of adoption that is the source of the problem. When two people fail to live up to their God-given calling, they make choices that leave permanent scars on their child.  Whether the marks are genetic or caused by living in a toxic environment prior to placement, adoption is often that child’s best chance to find the loving support he or she needs to recover.

As a mother of two children adopted from the foster-care system, I do not share the author’s amazement that the adoptive parents she encountered seemed like “normal” — even kind — individuals. It takes a great deal of heart to accept God’s call to participate in the redemption of a human soul. We make mistakes, as all parents do. But we accept the calling because we have a profound belief in the power of God to transform lives.

My letter to NCR reads in part:

No child is adopted as a “clean slate.” Any number of difficulties — both genetic and environmental, including those that led to the child being “in the system” in the first place — made an indelible mark on that child long before he was adopted.

It is true that adopted children grieve the loss of their birth parents, and that part of our job as adoptive parents is to help them work through their grief. But to blame the act of adoption itself is simply wrongheaded.

Just as two people participate with God in the act of creation when they come together as man and wife to produce a child, so through adoption we have an opportunity to participation in the REDEMPTION of that child. It is not always an easy road, and like all parents we make our share of mistakes.  But there is ample grace as well.

If your life has been touched by adoption, please feel free to add your voice to this important pro-life issue!