His name is Jonathan

I spotted her as she walks by from a distance, to approach her and to talk about being in this insanely dangerous place. She looks hesitant and rigid. That’s one common body language many women who come down to this place exhibit. I should confess I was rigid myself for some reason. However my complete focus was on getting the information into her hands which might be the last chance for baby jonathan to survive. As she gets close, I understand the reason behind her rigidity and uneasy walk. She has a laminaria inserted and is on her second day of her abortion appointment. So Jonathan must be in second trimester. I gave her the pamphlet and asked her if she had thought about other options. Her response not only did blow me away but it left me speechless. She answered :

“What do you mean? other than killing my child?” 

Women very well know it’s a child and it’s their child but, how did we get to the point of having a casual talk about the death of a person? As we talk standing on the road what’s happening inside of her is of incredible importance. The baby jonathan (whom I named out of anguish to give acknowledgement and as a witness for his presence on earth) is soaked in poisonous solution probably gasping for breath for hours. Here’s how Jonathan died after I felt hopeless and shameful to convince the mother of the decision she was about to make.

I still remember the huge belly, the mother’s eyes, her ignorance mind blowing, very young probably in early twenties and her haunting statement “What do you mean? other than killing my child?”This happened 5 months ago and I never wanted to rewind the memory of the day to register the event in my blog out of the anger, pain and anguish arising out of the injustice happening in a massive scale. But I have to tell the world about Jonathan, his martyrdom, that he was killed so his mother may live. Jonathan was never given a chance, he was treated like a trash, like filth to be disposed and not interrupt the mother’s life from whatever she was up to.

But Jonathan died in my presence experiencing my love, witnessing my immature fight to save his life, seeing the anguish and longing for him which he never got to get from his own mother, leaving his imprints in my memory and probably even praying for me in heaven watching over me and his own mother. This is the reason I do what I do and am not afraid of doing it. I never experienced labor but I realized that doesn’t make one a mother. I am Jonathan’s Mother. I fought for him, I wished he was alive, I wanted to see him live and love. I am his Mother who gave him the identity and love that his biological mother refused to give.

What happened to Womanhood? Where’s Motherhood?  Will someone talk about this crisis of Motherhood? Women are made alien to the idea of Motherhood to the point of killing their own children, robbing the inherent God given identity of Motherhood. The Crisis is not pregnancy, the real crisis is Motherhood!

The one thing that fulfills Womanhood, i.e, Womanliness in a Woman is Motherhood! – Swami Vivekananda

 

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From Harvard to Heaven

It is unlikely to find a person who can talk about Hume and get excited about computer programming, who has a strong pro-choice stance and ends up with seven children even to homeschool one of them, a presbyterian preacher becoming a CCD teacher, one who shares recipes as well as undertakes political campaigning, a registered Democrat who then turns out to be a social conservative, diagnosed with cancer and goes on skiing, lectures at Cambridge as well as attends the Opus Dei meetings and most of all while facing death, selects a future wife for her husband. You seem to think that’s all the colors in the rainbow right? Well St.John Paul II once said “Discovering Christ, always again and always more fully, is the most wonderful adventure of our life.” The Odyssey of Ruth Pakaluk is a tale of one such adventure.

While many can easily get lost in the idea of attributing sainthood to mysticism it’s rather hard to accept the contrary view of St.JoseMaria Escriva that “Either we learn to find our Lord in ordinary, everyday life, or else we shall never find him.” Ruth’s account is a sound testimony to this truth. Because, not many can see that while baking and making bed, by cooking and cleaning, by writing letters and doing laundry, by lecturing and volunteering, by debating and campaigning, by giving birth and accepting cancer she has indeed been on a very special journey.

Let me try to give a portrait of her that will widen the horizon of doing extraordinary in ordinary. For certain people she’s just a wife who struggles with housekeeping and a mother  whose one child is already in heaven due to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) and a Harvard graduate, for others she’s someone who reads The End of the Affair as well as Gaudium et Spes, discuss NATO or criticize America’s foreign policy and for certain others like Planned Parenthood she’s intellectually dangerous and should be avoided in public and has strong feelings about Justice Anthony Kennedy’s decision on the infamous Planned Parenthood vs Casey, for a handful of them she’s someone who knows what she speaks so don’t mess with Church dogmas and ex-cathedra because the next immediate thing will be a letter to the Bishop of your diocese, for many others she’s the head of  diocesan Respect-Life office, who heads Youth group, sings in choir, CCD teacher and Director of Religious Education, for some of them she’s the President of MCFL (Massachusetts Citizens for Life) who reforms the structure of the organization and gets people involved in politics for a more concrete way to reverse Roe vs Wade, for others she’s a speaker making presentations and handling debates at MIT, Harvard, Columbia… and for some she’s someone who heads to March for Life while taking doxorubicin with a white blood cell count of 1.82 while an average human should have a reading of 8. You name it, she’s got it. Isn’t this what we call ‘an incredible life’? and not to forget that all of this in just 41 years.

Edith Stein notes that “A woman’s destiny stems from eternity. She must be mindful of eternity to define her vocation in this world”. There can be no more perfect explanation for the vocation of women that has to be restored to its former glory in this critical time of 1,357,630,770 abortions (still increasing with every second) and Ruth’s life and work is an epitome of this vocation.

How much fear has creeped into the world. The fear of losing one’s life, the fear of losing one’s career, the fear of not having an identity, the fear of being unimportant, the fear of being unaccepted, the fear of being vulnerable, the fear of being unappreciated, the fear of being used, the fear of being weak, the fear of being forgotten, the fear of being ridiculed, the fear of subordination, fear of losing oneself, the fear of being last…It makes perfect sense to say that it is the ‘fear’ which has lead to divorce, abortion, drugs, euthanasia, armed violence, suicide and what not. It says “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear”– 1 John:4:18 how fitting!

         perfect

It does take real courage to be a ‘woman’ and an extra dose of audacity to be a ‘loving woman’. A woman who is not scared of doing dishes and fixing dinner, a woman who is not scared of having no time to fix her makeup, a woman who is not scared of being a stay-at-home mom and waiting on her husband,  a woman who is not scared of subordination, a woman who is not scared of losing herself in serving others, a woman who is not scared of her vulnerability. Because it is in this vulnerability will she discover the Christ crucified. It is this magnitude of powerlessness and vulnerability felt at the peak of giving oneself completely to death that saved the world.

This generation needs daring women. Women who can influence culture by their bold choices, women who are unafraid of giving and sharing, women who are fearless about sacrificing, women who are uncompromising of love, and women who have the nerve to overturn Roe vs Wade. This century needs daredevil women who will say ‘yes’ to life.

Women like Ruth Pakaluk who knew that ‘life’ when understood in terms of “a calling” has a truly different significance. By imitating the ‘yes’ of the Mother of God every woman’s ‘yes’ to life has the redemptive power to bring Christ into every situation to heal the wounded world of its fear.

Do not be afraid!

 when Love makes demands,

when love requires sacrifices !

– Pope St.John Paul II


Ruth Pakaluk died when she was 41 years old, of metastasis breast cancer. Her life can be best known from the first hand account of the letters, speeches and her husband Michael Pakaluk’s testimony  in The Appaling Strangeness of God’s Mercy. Her cause for canonization is open. Pray for Us Ruth Pakaluk !

My name is Maria Gracia Letizia

Hi! My name is Maria Gracia Letizia. You can call me Maria. I was fourteen weeks old when mom saw me first in the photo machine. Mom was little worried about me because Daniella the gynecologist showed my picture to her and said something was not alright. I love Daniella, she’s a very good doctor and intelligent too. Except for the fact that her photo machine couldn’t show how much I love mamma and dadda. So all Daniella was able to show mom was that I wasn’t quite normal. May be Daniella’s machine was missing something. Since I was inside mom I was able to sense her sadness. Something makes mom sad, it makes me sad too.

Daniella wanted to have additional pictures taken (3D ultrasound) to give mom further details about what they think is an anomaly. All these days before coming to this photo machine mom seemed very happy and excited for me. I came in her tummy within a month mom and dad were married. Maybe if I had come little later they would’ve been happier? Well, I was told being there inside mommy meant bringing God into our home. But I never meant to scare them.

The next day mom went to Daniella by herself to take special pictures since Dad was at the hospital. Now they were sure of what they saw. They said I had Anencephaly. A portion of my brain, skull and scalp was missing and I would die soon after birth. Doctors told mom to take the therapy and the therapy was to get rid of me. They call it therapeutic Abortion. Mom was quite terrified. Because she could see that I was doing all I can, to grow and love and yet the doctors have no cure for me except Abortion. So much hoopla for science, You cannot cure something, destroy it!

chiMomma does smile when I kick and wriggle. She would call dad and show how I move around in her tummy and they both would smile and kiss. But now that the doctors saw that I don’t have part of my brain something had changed. Well I don’t see any change. I love them more and every day my excitement to meet them is ever increasing and Daniella’s machine proves useless. Nobody was able to trick my mom into getting rid of me. She was firm in her love.

Mom broke the news to dad about me. she was worried that dad would want to get rid of me soon. Sometimes I don’t understand mom. I’m here as an answer to their prayer because God told me there are two beautiful people down there whom you should meet and in seeing you they shall see me. I was here to show them the way to heaven. Because, one day my mom was going to be A Saint.  love2

The whole world was against me. The doctors, the relatives, friends and even some people at the Church. They considered me a misfortune. They accused that I was a punishment from God for something mommy did. Nobody thought I was important or that I had such a marvelous task of bringing heaven down to earth. Nobody thought I was made with greatness as enormous as bringing someone into eternity with me, a grace which is quite unusual and a task which is so burdensome for many. Mom and Dad had to fight the conventional views of pregnancy and in fighting for me they were fighting for God. That I don’t have to have brains to be loved, that I don’t need to be healthy without any defects to be loved and that there are no conditions for love. God was using Mom and Dad to show the world of His unconditional love.

Having me wasn’t an easy task. Momma had 6 liters of fluid in her belly. People say other mommas with normal babies had only 1 liter. This made breathing difficult for her so the doctors wanted to get me out soon to avoid any hurt. I was 35 weeks then. Mom wouldn’t agree even now. She was firm in meeting me as God wanted her to meet me. In His time, as He planned. She refused injunctions or cutting open the tmmy. And there I was born beating all the odds on June 10 in a natural way. The doctors failed to check if I was alive or dead and assuming my parents wouldn’t want to see me they rushed me to a separate room. But Daniella wouldn’t allow. She placed me in dad’s arms.

I wouldn’t grow up to go to school or make them proud, I won’t be able to take care of them when they get old, I won’t be able to play around make them laugh or smile, I won’t be even long enough for them to celebrate. Yet, they loved me. This is the perfect school of Love that The Father had planned for them. Cristina (mom’s friend) said when I was born mom and dad were prepared to face the worst, not for such a beauty.

chia2

I was with them for half hour and Fr.Vito baptized me. There was a shower of kisses from everyone: nanna, aunt, uncle, simone, christina, fr.vito. Nobody wants to let go of me. I was important. I remember It was time for me to go to Heaven. Dad placed a Tau cross around my neck and took me to the mortuary. They didn’t want to let me go but here I was to open the gates of heaven for them. That in the painful journey of accepting me and loving me they took part in the agony of Jesus who did what The Father told Him for the sake of love.

The world showed them Abortion, which they say was an easy way out, that everyone had to be perfect in order to be accepted, that you need to have brains and all organs, beautiful, strong, smart, capable in order to be loved and that it’s waste of time caring for babies like me. And so fearing the loss of one’s own life they choose to end the life of another. Someone said the opposite of Love is not hate but possession. How true! And, mom and dad proved the world wrong. They gave me the freedom to live as long as I was able to. They accepted me as a gift from God and in doing so not only did they give me the gift of life but, they gave themselves as a gift. And this was the first step for my parents in their journey to heaven. And here I have a saintly mother Blessed Chiara Corbella Petrillo.

They were proud of me. They let me live for 252,800 minutes/5880 hours/245 days/35 weeks  to breathe, think, dream, share, and listen. To experience their love for me, of their struggle to save my life of their prayers to let me live. They fought for my dignity. They reminded everyone they encountered that I even though little, even though so poor in every terms meant so much and most importantly I am a person. In this world where millions of abortion take place: throwing off babies in dustbins, burning their body to create energy, using them as byproducts for cosmetics, medicine and research, avoiding children as inconvenience and calling us names like ‘clump of cells’ my parents proved I mattered most, and in welcoming me they stood witness to what love is.

“We were content to hold you in our arms, for even half an hour we were fine. We were not able to stop looking at your nose, the same as mine, and those little hand and those little feet. We did not have much time to tell you too many things; that we love you, we know that you know it, but perhaps you do not know that you were born for eternity and that am not your father, nor she is your mother. Think of that! The one who desired you is also our Father. I know it is a little complicated, but soon you will understand: Life is marvelous, for this also we sought you. It does not matter how much time we spend together; to us matters what you shall be. Here each thing does not matter really; we can make do with less of everything. What is necessary is to know the Father; it is to prepare ourselves for this encounter. And you were born ready, I do not know how to tell you how proud we are of you. We accompanied you as far as we were able. Now you shall know the father, Maria Gracia Letizia, Joy of our life.”  

– Papa Enrico and Mamma Chiara. (parents letter to Maria Gracia Letizia)


 

If I had aborted her, I do not think that I would have remembered the day of abortion as the day of celebration, the day in which I had liberated of something. It would’ve been a moment that I would have tried to forget, a moment of great suffering. But the day of Maria’s birth I shall always recall as one of the most beautiful days of my life and I shall tell all my children that they have a special sister who is praying for them in Heaven.

– Bl.Chiara Corbella Petrillo

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