No words can take away the pain of miscarriage, although faith and time can lessen it. Some parents find the words of St. Bernard of Clairveuax helpful. He wrote to a couple that had a miscarriage. In response to their question, �What is going to happen to my child? The child didn�t get baptized,� St. Bernard said, �Your faith spoke for this child. Baptism for this child was only delayed by time. Your faith suffices. The waters of your womb � were they not the waters of life for this child? Look at your tears. Are they not like the waters of baptism? Do not fear this. God�s ability to love is greater than our fears. Surrender everything to God.�
Your faith spoke for this child.I never had a doubt that God honored my plea for my baby to be received into his arms when I realized I was miscarrying and in the middle of the night placed my hand over my cramping womb, whispered the baptismal formula and named our baby Francis. I knew that the waters in my uterus and the waters of my tears were enough so long as the words and the will were there.
One commenter on Mr. Darwin’s blog post said a young man told her her baby was in hell! How terrible that anyone would tell a grieving mother otherwise than that her faith was sufficient for her child. Our God is a God of love and mercy, a perfect Father, whose Son told us that a father would never hand his child a stone when he asked for bread. How could we want more for our children than he would give? How could He condemn our children when we beg Him to hold them in His loving arms? Is it possible for me to love my baby more than my Heavenly Father does?
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And that would have been all I wrote except that before I hit submit I came across these thoughts on St. Francis by Kate Wicker:
“Francis was to become a man who wanted to laugh with joy at his freedom in God’s beautiful world and weep with compassion and love at the sufferings of his Lord, and he never seemed to know which to do.”
I haven’t always been sure how to react to God either. Do I cry? Laugh? Rejoice? Mourn?
God is too big to conjure up just one emotion. There have been times when I’ve been in awe of Him. Being close to nature or giving birth to a child can do that to me. I feel so small as I experience an indestructible sense of wonder: God created this mountain, this dancing dandelion’s white fuzz puffed into air, the depths of this vast ocean, this new life nestled in my arms.
There are other times when I don’t want to accept the atrocities of the Passion of Christ. It’s too painful. Wasn’t there another way? I don’t understand. I don’t understand. And I’ll shudder thinking of Jesus, bloodied and battered, crucified for us all. And I’ll cry when I hear about a child who has suffered, hollowed out and starving because there was nothing left to eat. Or I’ll weep in confusion when I’m reminded of the woman whose baby was ripped from her arms in tsunami that formed in the same ocean that seemed so beautiful to me once but now seems violent. Again, I’ll say: I don’t understand.
And suddenly I made the connection. I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me before; but when I read what Kate said about not knowing whether to laugh or cry, it suddenly occurred to me that today I should be celebrating the feast of St Francis for our baby Francis who went to heaven via miscarriage more than two years ago.
It’s a funny synchronicity, writing about the miscarriage and then reading about Francis.
It’s an odd connection, really. I love St. Francis, have a special affection for him. As does Dom who attended Franciscan University. And yet we’d almost certainly not have named the baby Francis had it been full term. That wasn’t one of the names we were considering. But somehow when I knew I was miscarrying it felt right. That was the name for this little one whose face I would never see.
For each of our children we’ve tried to acknowledge their patron saint on their feast days. Even if it’s just picking a rose and looking at a holy card of St Therese for Sophie Therese. But until just now I never thought to do that for our baby Francis in heaven.
I suppose I should try to think of a suitable way to acknowledge this day, to remember two beloved Francises in heaven. Perhaps that’s enough. Remember and talk about them. And yes say yet another prayer that one day I will see all my children together joyful in heaven.