Face of hope

Face of hope
Courtesy: TIffany Kay Photography

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Spiritual preparedness

We have our heads pretty well wrapped around Meagan's condition by now.  We know the ups, downs, ad the risks that can occur.  We have prepared ourselves for the worst, and are hoping for the best.  Medically, Meagan is in great hands.  I have a great OB, we see a wonderful Perinatologist, and the Neurosurgeon that will do Meagan's surgery is more than we could have asked for.  Though we have the "practical" side of things pretty well handled, for now, there is also a side we need to prepare as well.  Meagan's spiritual life.

 As Catholic parents, we not only have an obligation to pass the faith on to our children, but, also a desire to do so.  We want them to be well versed in their faith, and most of all prepared to grow in their faith the best way possible.  The best way we can prepare our children for the challenges of life is to make sure they have a strong faith presence in their life. To make sure they understand God is first, everything else is second. And to understand how the world fits into their faith; not how their faith fits into the world. 

Because of Meagan's precarious entrance to the world, and having such an unknown path for a few years to come, Brian and I have decided to have Meagan baptized as soon as she is born.  We don't normally wait very long anyway, but, we feel it is just as important as the incubator that helps her breathe and the shunt that will help her survive.  After discussing it thoroughly, we have also decided to have her Confirmed simultaneously.  This was quite the battle as our Pastor refused for three meetings which left me in tears - but after contacting the Diocese, he was told to oblige with our wishes and thankfully the sacraments will be given to her at birth.  Sad it came to that, but glad we persevered and were able to fight for our daughter's spiritual well being.  We want her to have as many initiation sacraments and as much 'help' as possible since she already has a fight ahead of her.  Medicine can do great things.. but it has limitations. With God, there are no bounds.

This brought up the debate of a Confirmation name.  We went back and forth over which name to pick.  We re-read through countless Saint biographies and wanted to find the one that fit "just right" for Meagan.  We wanted a Saint that could be appropriate for what she is going through now... but also that she can really learn from down the road, and inspire her.

Brian and I finally decided last night (at 2am while finishing painting our kitchen) that we will choose Gianna after Saint Gianna Beretta Molla for Meagan's Confirmation name.

For those who aren't familiar with Saint Gianna, she was an Italian woman who was a medical doctor and worked mostly in Pediatrics.  She married and had three children, and unfortunately suffered two miscarriages after that.  She finally became pregnant with their fourth child but received some bad news.  They discovered a fibroma on her uterus upon which her doctors had to operate.  They offered grim news and Gianna begged them to spare the life of her child by only removing the fibroma (an easier solution offered to her was to terminate the pregnancy to ensure Gianna's continued health). The doctors abided by her wishes and the life of her child was spared, but she continued to have many complications and pain throughout the pregnancy. 

Her biggest worry was that the child would have pain and she asked God to please not let the child suffer.  When she approached her delivery day, Gianna said, “If you must decide between me and the child, do not hesitate: choose the child - I insist on it. Save him." On April 21, 1962, which also happened to be Good Friday of that year, Gianna gave birth to her fourth child. Despite doctors' efforts to save them both, Gianna succumbed to complications 7 days after the birth. According to witnesses, amid excruciating pain, Gianna cried out, "Jesus, I love you. Jesus, I love you" before she passed.  She was 39 years old.

She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1994 and officially canonized as a saint in 2004.  Her husband and that fourth child, a daughter, were present at her canonization.

One of the miracles of St. Gianna recognized by the Catholic church involved a mother who was 16 weeks pregnant and sustained a tear in her placenta.  Her womb was drained of all amniotic fluid and the doctors told her there was no hope now for a live baby.  Instead of terminating, the woman prayed to Gianna and constantly asked for her intercession on behalf of her baby's life.  The woman continued her devotion to St. Gianna, and ended up delivering a healthy baby despite the lack of amniotic fluid that continued for the remainder of her pregnancy. The doctors could offer no medical explanation for the outcome.  There have been  many other miracles attributed and documented by the Church to St. Gianna. 

Brian and I feel there is not a more appropriate Saint for Meagan's confirmation.  She was a mother, a doctor, and also a witness to life.  When she was offered the easy way out, she chose her child.  She also exemplified the roles of wife, mother, AND professional and was able to balance all 3 vocations in a way that was always putting God and family first.  We feel with St. Gianna at her side, Meagan can do anything.

The prayer of St. Gianna:
Jesus, I promise You to submit myself to all that You permit to befall me,
make me only know Your will.
My most sweet Jesus, infinitely merciful God, most tender Father of souls,
and in a particular way of the most weak, most miserable, most infirm
which You carry with special tenderness between Your divine arms,
I come to You to ask You, through the love and merits of Your Sacred Heart,
the grace to comprehend and to do always Your holy will,
the grace to confide in You,
the grace to rest securely through time and eternity in Your loving divine arms.

St. Gianna, guide Meagan's doctors in their work. St. Gianna, pray for us.