Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Grateful for the Gift of Life and for the Woman who Protected Life

This morning, I was sitting in the chapel of the Newman Center at Boston University reading through the Resurrection accounts and through the First Book of Thessalonians.  Whenever I read the Pauline letters, I feel a kinship with St. Paul.  St. Paul was a pastor.  He clearly loved preaching the Word and he clearly loved the people entrusted to his care.  When I read St. Paul, I think of how privileged I am to share in the same ministry of being a shepherd.

Today is my birthday and, not unusually, I found myself thinking about the great blessings of my life.  Particularly, I was thinking about the privilege I've had of being a priest, preaching the Word, and shepherding the flock.  As I pondered these things, I was struck by how all of these things were contingent upon the gift of life itself.  Because I was given life, I have had the joy of experiencing life, the joy of being a priest, the joy of preaching the Word, the joy of absolving sins, commending the dying, confecting the Eucharist, baptizing, confirming, and encountering some extraordinary people.

That gift of life, upon which every other thing was contingent, came to me because my Mother was faithful to the gift of life.  I've rarely ever told anyone that at the beginning of my life--were it not for my Mother--my life would have been at risk.  I've always considered it a topic that was best left unshared, but today as I was praying, I thought that sharing it may someday help somebody else.

The short story is that at the beginning of my Mother's pregnancy with me, she was advised by a doctor to end the pregnancy.  His thought was that the pregnancy was putting her health at risk and that it was likely--were I to survive--I would suffer from serious medical conditions.  My Dad once said, there wasn't even a question in my my Mother's mind of doing that.  My Mother says that while she was laying in her hospital bed at the old St. Margaret's Hospital for ten days after surgery, one of the nurses told her that had my Mother gone to a hospital that wasn't Catholic, they would likely have just ended things quickly and quietly.  Instead, the nurses and doctor at St. Margaret's Hospital were people who faithfully lived the Gospel of Life.  (For me, this is a good reason why we ought to to save and promote true Catholic Health Care).  

In any event, today as I'm grateful for all the things that I've enjoyed and continue to enjoy in my life; grateful for the people I've encountered, the privilege of being a priest, the joy of preaching the Word, the awesome ministry of bringing God's mercy to the repentant, the consolation of the sacraments to the dying, the Body and Blood of Christ to the faithful, and the joy of Christian friendship, I'm grateful mostly for that upon which all of these things are contingent, the Gift of Life.  All the good that I've experienced in my life and any little good that I've done came because of one woman's fidelity to life.  The one who was entrusted with my life from the very beginning was the true protector of that life.  I'm grateful today that God put my life in such good hands.

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