October is a rich month of celebration and awareness of the beauty of life and the pain of its loss. It also marks 15 years since St. John Paul II introduced the luminous mysteries of the rosary, reminding Catholics of the healing power of the rosary.
by Heidi Indahl
October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month and Respect Life Month. It is also the month of the rosary.
This year the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ theme for Respect Life Month 2017 is Be Not Afraid. This dovetails nicely with October marking 15 years since St. John Paul II (known for his personal motto of “Be not afraid!”) introduced the world to the luminous mysteries, or mysteries of light, in his apostolic letter on the rosary, “Rosarium Virginis Marian.”
A Beautiful Puzzle: Celebrating the Dignity of Human Life
As an author who dedicated an entire book to the healing value of the rosary following pregnancy and infant loss, all of these celebrations fit together into a beautiful puzzle. The full realization of Catholic social teaching celebrates the dignity of human life from conception to natural death. In cases of miscarriage, stillbirth and infant loss we see the entirety of that human life experience—conception to natural death—wrapped up in one brief life. It is in the stark humanity of the children that we find respect for the infinite value of their lives.
As I was writing Blessed Is The Fruit of Thy Womb: Rosary Reflections on Miscarriage, Stillbirth, and Infant Loss, I was struck how the luminous mysteries pulled me into thinking beyond my child’s life and into how I was called to live today: “What is my public ministry called to be?”
Consider the following reflection from the book as a call to have courage to continue living a life in service to Christ even following the death of a child—to be not afraid to continue being a light for Christ, even (particularly) in the darkness.
Be Not Afraid
And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord it is well that we are here; if you wish, I will make three booths here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.
MATTHEW 17: 4
The mountaintop sounds like such a peaceful place. When I read the full passage, I understand why Peter and James and John wanted to stay! Jesus knew, however, they had to come down from the mountaintop and continue the story.
Have you ever bargained with Jesus and asked him to just stop things where they are? Maybe you could just stay pregnant and then you wouldn’t need to face your child’s impending death? Maybe if you never leave the hospital, you will not need to face the reality that your child has truly died? Or maybe you could just stay home so that you don’t have to face all the new babies at church?
The problem is, when we stay put we close ourselves off from our own transformation by the Holy Spirit. In order to continue the story, we have to keep living it no matter how unbearable that seems in this moment. That’s the hard news. The good news is that just as Peter, James, and John brought Jesus with them from the moun- taintop, so do we.
Peter, James, and John were all changed by their encounter with Jesus and the Holy Spirit on the mountaintop. How has your loss transfigured your own life? Are there things you have learned or could do to allow the Holy Spirit shine brightly through you?
Pray this decade of the rosary for the courage to leave the place you are and to go where Jesus asks you. Pray for the courage to be transformed.