Keeping Vigil and the Odor of Sanctity

I woke at 3 this morning and couldn’t get back to sleep. Contracting uterus and a sinking heart. Oh please, not today. With each new wave of pain I pushed the button on my phone to check the time. No closer together than five minutes apart no further than ten. No reason to wake anyone; but enough that I couldn’t sleep. Eventually I got out of bed and went to sit in the living room, carrying my iPhone with me. Time to pray.

I stopped by the prayer shelf to pick up the small aromatic vial of blessed oil and the icon of the Theotokos that arrived int he mail yesterday, a most thoughtful gift from a dear friend. Settling into my chair, quickly sending out a prayer request on Twitter and Facebook just in case any of my friends were insomniac and wanted to join me in prayer.

My go-to application on my iPhone for the divine office is iBreviary. Universalis is nice (recently had a great update too!) and I use it as a backup because sometimes iBreviary flakes out; but I don’t like the Universalis translations as well. Anyway, iBreviary includes an option for a longer vigil with Sunday’s Office of Readings. (Click on Breviary and then on Office of Readings and you can see today’s office):

(By the way, how cool is this embeddable iBreviary preview? As far as I can tell, from the above preview window, you can access anything that I can access on my iPhone app.)

Since it was the middle of the night and I was clearly not going to be sleeping, I pressed my icon of the Theotokos into my bulging belly and read all the readings. Slowly savoring the word. Delicious draught of sweetness. I can’t say much of it stuck with me in the morning; but it was just the refreshment I needed in the dark of night.

Just as a man comes forth naked from his mother’s womb,
so he will go forth naked in the end;
there is nothing which he can take away with him.

After I finished the reading, I flicked off the phone and sat in the dark for some time listening to the stillness. Finally, I decided I was tired enough maybe I could go back to bed and get a bit more sleep. I crept into my room and slid my icon under my pillow, cradled the phone next to my chest so I could continue to check the frequency of my contractions when they came. Eventually they subsided enough that I slid into real sleep.

Woke again at 6 when Dom’s alarm went off. Our plan was to rise early so that we could make the early Mass in our old parish in Salem and then attend the surprise party my brother-in-law had arranged for Dom’s sister’s 40th birthday. I told Dom I didn’t feel comfortable driving that far away so he climbed back into bed for a few minutes before deciding he couldn’t get back to sleep. I did fall asleep again after he left the room and slept until 7 when I heard Sophie’s heartbroken sobbing as Dom broke the news that we wouldn’t be going to a party with all her cousins after all.

In the next hour I only had one contraction so we decided to go ahead and go to Mass. After Mass Father C. came up to say hi and to confirm that I’d be seeing him for an annointing on Wednesday morning. I told him about my late night fears and he agreed to go ahead and do it right then.

This was my third time receiving the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick (the first time was right after my cancer diagnosis scare while I was waiting for the test results that declared me cancer-free and the second before Ben’s birth.) It is such a beautiful sacrament. Father used a variation of the prayers that was specific for a mother about to give birth.

I love how Mother Church gives us this wonderful gift, spiritual armor to fill us with grace and strength before we go into the toughest battle we’ll probably ever face. Whether you give birth naturally or via c-section, this is one way all of us mothers are able to participate in Christ’s sacrifice: this is my body, given up for you. We show our love for our families as we give up all our physical self to the task of bringing forth life. Truly it is a profound honor to enter into this mystery and a time of peril. I am so glad to have all the spiritual weapons I can have. And afterward the smell of the blessed oil on my hands and head! The smell of holiness. I love that about my dear mother Church too: that she knows we are physical beings, that her gifts are tangible as well as spiritual: water to remind me of baptism, anointed hands pressed firmly on my head, oil smelling sweetly hours later. And, of course, the best and highest gift: his Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, food and drink refreshing on my tongue.

And now home. Waiting. Hoping Anthony will keep waiting too. I’m at 39 weeks so if he decides to come he’s full term, not early. But Thursday is the date scheduled for my c-section. I’m nervous enough about the procedure to really prefer it not be an emergency and to have my OB and not whoever happens to be on call today. And my mom is supposed to fly in tomorrow afternoon. It would be nice for her to have a few days to settle in before we’re into the craziness of new baby and hospital visits. But it is what it is. Babies come in their own time. Whatever happens, I’m spiritually ready and that’s what matters most of all.

We hope in you, Lord; be a source of strength for us today and our salvation in times of trial.

36 Responses to Keeping Vigil and the Odor of Sanctity

  1. patrice February 21, 2011 at 8:43 am #

    Thank God and Congratulations!!!!!

  2. Karen Edmisten February 21, 2011 at 8:46 am #

    He’s beautiful! Congratulations!

  3. Helene February 21, 2011 at 9:00 am #

    God’s blessings on you and Dom and Anthony.  What a beautiful addition to your family!

  4. Jennifer Gregory Miller February 21, 2011 at 9:07 am #

    What a big, beautiful boy! Congratulations!!!!!

  5. Becky D. February 21, 2011 at 9:10 am #


  6. Mum B February 21, 2011 at 9:12 am #

    God Bless you both.  I hope you are doing ok.  He is soooo beautiful.  No wonder he wanted to be born now.  Prayers for your quick healing.  I can hardly wait to see you & him.  Love and God Bless.

  7. jen ambose February 21, 2011 at 9:16 am #

    Congratulations and best wishes for your family!

  8. The Sojourner February 21, 2011 at 9:25 am #

    Yay! Congratulations on another handsome boy with an awesome Catholic name. smile

  9. Charlotte (Matilda) February 21, 2011 at 9:37 am #

    He is so beautiful, Melanie! He just couldn’t wait to meet you guys! I hope the little ones at home slept soundly. We will pray for your recuperation and healing. Enjoy your Babymoon!

  10. Maureen February 21, 2011 at 10:27 am #

    What a blessing!  Prayers for you and your beautiful family!

  11. Kate Wicker @ Momopoly February 21, 2011 at 10:28 am #

    Oh, what a joyful surprise!  Congratulations. I’m so happy for you guys and can’t wait to meet you both in April!  God bless your beautiful family!

  12. Alicia February 21, 2011 at 10:52 am #

    Congratulations, Melanie!  What a wonderfully beautiful surprise!  Welcome to the world, Anthony.

  13. Jessica February 21, 2011 at 10:55 am #

    Congratulations!! He’s so cute. God bless you all and prayers for a swift recovery for you.

  14. Sarah in MI February 21, 2011 at 10:57 am #

    Hooray!  Congratulations and God bless your family.

  15. Sarah @ This Heavenly Life February 21, 2011 at 11:09 am #

    What a happy surprise!!  Congratulations to you and your family!

  16. Calah February 21, 2011 at 11:41 am #

    Congratulations Melanie! Yay! He’s so beautiful, and has such a fantastic name! Really great name. I’m so happy for all of you!

  17. Renee February 21, 2011 at 11:54 am #

    Those pictures are precious!  I am so happy for you.  Enjoy your babymoon!

  18. hope t. February 21, 2011 at 12:19 pm #

    He is darling! Congratulations!

  19. Maria J February 21, 2011 at 12:23 pm #

    What a handsome boy and a handsome name. Congratulations and enjoy the babymoon. You’re all in our prayers.

  20. Kelly February 21, 2011 at 2:37 am #

    Hooray!!! Congratulations! Darling baby with a darling name! God bless your growing family, Melanie.

  21. Meredith Henning February 21, 2011 at 3:15 am #

    He’s so gorgeous!!! Many congratulations to all of you, especially YOU sweet mama!! Deo Gratias indeed smile

  22. Erika February 21, 2011 at 4:29 am #

    Hoorah! So many prayers of joy for you! What a big, beautiful boy!

  23. Gae February 22, 2011 at 8:14 am #

    Dear Melanie,
    Congratulations to you all. He is just adorable. Rest well and enjoy your little man.
    God Bless

  24. Marilyn H February 21, 2011 at 8:44 am #

    What a handsome lad!  Congratulations to all of the Bettinellis.

  25. Kelly@inthesheepfold February 22, 2011 at 9:57 am #

    Congratulations! What a lovely baby. Rest and enjoy!

  26. scotch meg February 22, 2011 at 10:08 am #

    Congratulations!!!!  (Tried yesterday, couldn’t get the comment accepted)

  27. Heather February 21, 2011 at 11:18 am #

    Congratulations, Melanie and family!  What a beautiful son!  Prayers for you as you heal and adjust.

  28. eileen February 22, 2011 at 12:51 pm #

    God Bless you and little Anthony Ignatius!  Another beautiful child to love!

  29. JoAnna February 22, 2011 at 3:41 am #

    Congratulations; he is beautiful!

  30. Ellie February 21, 2011 at 7:20 am #

    Oh how wonderful! What a dear little face! Congratulations—I am so happy for you all!!

  31. Owen February 21, 2011 at 7:23 am #

    God bless this little lamb, his mom & dad, his siblings. Congrats

  32. kimberlee February 22, 2011 at 8:52 am #

    Congratulations to all of you! He is so beautiful! Deo Gratias!

  33. Marie February 22, 2011 at 9:36 am #

    Congratulations!!!  What a beautiful boy and I love the name!!!!!  Thank you God for their precious blessing!

  34. Jennifer (Conversion Diary) February 22, 2011 at 10:12 am #

    Congratulations!!! What a beautiful baby!

  35. Emily J. February 22, 2011 at 11:37 am #

    Welcome Baby Anthony! Congratulations and God bless your growing family! What a happy and beautiful bunch!

  36. Betty February 25, 2011 at 11:45 am #

    Blessed indeed!!!

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