Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Life Forgotten

No greater love than to give life, and eternal Justice for Life to return that love.

I was praying the Glorious Mysteries of the rosary when I read that meditation line. Read it again please; look at the capital letters and see what it really means. I did that tonight.

I do not have any children; I was not so blessed. But then tonight I thought back, and remembered that once I was so blessed. A child was once conceived in my wife, but within a couple of months the doctor told her that it had died in her womb; her body would soon pass it out naturally, and it did. I thought back on that night when it happened and she called to me from the bathroom: “Come see how pretty it is” --- I do not even recall today if it was a boy or girl. But I told her I didn’t want to see.

How cold a man that was. “No greater love than to give life.” I didn’t feel love then, not really, and so I guess it was Justice that I did not give life. And Life did not return love to me. Neither I, nor my wife as she later admitted, knew if the child was mine.

(Many marriages arrive at crucial, painful points like this. Like a house engulfed by fire, they seem unsalvageable. It doesn’t have to reach this point, however. We must remember that a single broken window does not make a house a derelict one, but studies have shown that one un-repaired broken window, given the image of unimportance, will subtly encourage others to appear. It’s like sin in that regard. And then a spark may lead to a flaming disaster, fed by air from the broken windows. Too often we think we are alone in our trials, but we forget that there are repairmen for windows, and even in disasters, a Fireman. If we have faith, we need but call.)

I said I was not blessed with children, but tonight I realized that in fact I really was. It was only for a couple of months, but in fact a life was given to me and put in my care --- to love. But in my concerns about myself and my life, I had no room to love another. And so Justice took it away.

I prayed, I believe, for the first time tonight for my child. A life forgotten, by me it is true, but I am sure not by Him, the true Father who does not forget. I pray now often that I might imitate Him, but then I did not. And my actions then reflected the weak sincerity and love in my prayers. It would take about 15 years before I would finally learn how to pray, sincerely. During those years, I thought I was a good man --- and so did everyone else. It’s what we all wanted to believe, but we were wrong.

How I lived those early years of my life was, I believe, how many “good” people live: they follow the rules. But that doesn’t mean they like the rules, or even understand them. And certainly they don’t think about them. A light turns red at the intersection and your foot hits the brake; today is Sunday and you go to mass; everyone gets up and goes forward to receive the Eucharist, and so do you. You don’t think about the red light, the mass, or the Eucharist. Your mind wanders. But to the world all around, --- and to yourself, you are a “good” person.

The day I finally learned how to pray was the day I finally knew what was happening at the mass, and KNEW Who I received in the Eucharist. That wisdom was truly a gift; it was nothing I figured out for myself. I am so thankful, now, that I was given that gift. Since then, through prayer --- conversations with God --- I have truly come to know Him, and my life is so much better. I no longer say “I am a Catholic” in the same manner as “I own a red car.” I have been blessed with real faith.

I thought tonight about a life forgotten, one that was a gift to me and which I never really loved, nor prayed for. That was a tragedy. But I thought further and also remembered another life forgotten: me. My life, it too, was a gift to me, and one which I never really loved nor prayed for. And that too was a tragedy.

I’m sure I had a heavenly Father --- and mother, too --- Who often was looking down upon me, wondering. He saw me growing up, living my life, seeming happy in many ways, and for that He was somewhat happy, but certainly not proud. Oh He loved me for what I was, His child, a “good” person, but I think He saw me kind of like a runner He had trained and had high expectations for. I was quick out of the gate, and He cheered, but He grew concerned as I quickly fell behind. He wondered if I would win the race, or even finish. And me? I’m not even sure I knew I was in a race, and if I was even aware of His love, not really; I took it all for granted.

I think a lot of us lead lives like that, seeing ourselves as “good” people. We’re on the track of life totally unaware of the heavenly cheerleaders in the stands, rooting us on. To ourselves, we are a life forgotten, unaware that there is a race to be won. If we are concerned at all, it is about ourselves in relation to others. “Is my race shirt as pretty as theirs? Do I have new shoes like they do? If they are in this lane, am I following them like other “good” people? If they seem to be running without any pain, does it seem unfair that I hurt?” It’s so often just a focus on us.

And we rarely think about the finish line.

The race of our life is really about learning to love, and through love to give life to others, that Love might be given to us. It’s not about us being focused on loving ourselves first. Growing in holiness during this life isn’t about being always happy now. It’s a race and it is hard work, and sometimes painful. Growing in holiness is about eternal Justice returning the love we have given, eternally.

I think I’m making some progress in my own race. Oh, just because I’ve been running a while one might think it makes the race easier, it does not, nor do the pains and trials come any less frequently, and perhaps they come even more. But now I expect those pains and am prepared to accept them; I know they come with love. And, I pray, I also expect the blessings and am prepared to appreciate them, unlike the blessing of a life I once ignored.

I started this reflection thinking on a life, a blessing, I once ignored because I was so caught up in my pains. Life was hard, and I couldn’t see the blessings there, even the really big ones. Don’t get so caught up with your pains, my friends, as I was. You are very blessed.

I am better prepared today to be thankful for the years, the days, and the hours He gives to me. I remember this life, this blessing He has given me, and I will try to live it well, in joy and in sorrow, as His Son showed me. He lead a wonderful life, and accepted His pains. And I shall try also.

Sometimes at mass we think back on the sacrifice that Jesus made for us many years ago, and reflect on the Eucharist he instituted so He could be with us even today. And then we think: so He could be with us today? But look at us, really look at us: are we someone worthy of His sacrifice? And we worry, and are sad. We so easily forget, however, that He is our God, and a God outside of time. He didn’t just choose to die for us some day long ago, He chooses now, today, to die for us, just as we are. “Oh Lord I am not worthy,” we think and pray. But how dare we challenge His judgment on the value of our life, the one He is willing to die for now, and the value of all lives for that matter, each and every one, even those we don’t value. He died for them all.

And His was a life which was NOT forgotten. And I hope in His promises, and that mine shall not be forgotten either. Each day He looks and decides: we are important enough to die for.


  1. I am sorry, Tom, that your wife's pregnancy, whether yours or not ended in such a sad way. I am sorry for any sadness you have felt over the years that you have not had a child. I share with you a joy over the gift of faith, of realizing how loved we each are that our God would leave the love, ectasy, and glory of communion with the Father and Holy Spirit, to become man, suffer and die for each of us, and to realize that yes, he loves me enough, esch of us enough that he would do it just for me, or just for you, or just for one of the ones we call least because we don't yet love as he loved us. Thank you for the post!

  2. Thank you for your comments, Colleen. I have no children, but I have many Godchildren. They are a blessing, as are all my friends and my mom.

    I had a woman from The Guadalupe Partners, a small abortion intervention group speak to our men's breakfast club. She had all of us crying over her trust in God, and His many blessings on their efforts --- and lives saved. They've been at the abortion clinic every Saturday it is open for over 9 years. She promises to help every woman with her problems -- and God has always delivered on her promises. He works miracles to save even one life. And all we have to do is care even a small fraction as much as He does, and He is happy.