Category Archives: women

Children are not things.

It’s a short step from the belief
that every child should be wanted
to the belief that a child exists
to satisfy our wants.

— Leon R. Kass

A PRAYER FOR THE SANCTITY OF UNBORN LIFE

O our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ, Who in the beginning fashioned man out of the dust of the earth and breathed into him the breath of life so that he became a living soul, Who knowest the time of life and name of each even from his mother’s womb, Who numberest even the hairs of our heads, and Who keepest a watchful eye over every living thing in Thy creation, do Thou now look upon Thy creation which Thou hast fashioned according to Thine own image, and grant to those who are in their mother’s wombs and to their mothers the protection that Thou gavest Thine own Virgin Mother when she carried Thee, and fill them with the Holy Spirit even as Thou once filled Elizabeth such that John the Forerunner leaped in her womb at encountering Thee.

As Thou becamest incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became true man, hidden within the veil of Thy mother’s flesh, joining Thy divinity with our humanity, join Thyself now with us and all Thy human creation through Thy grace. As Thou didst enter into the womb of Thy Mother, be present also in the wombs of all mothers, with them and with their children. Protect them from all assaults of the evil one and his foul spirits, that in due time all may come unto Thee, as Thou didst say, “Suffer the little children, and forbid them not to come unto Me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

O Thou Who at Thy birth heard the weeping of Rachel in lamentation, who would not be comforted for her children were no more, crying out at the slaughter of the innocents by the wicked Herod for Thy sake, hear also the weeping of all those who lament the deaths of Thy little children, who cry out for Thy love and peace in the midst of terror and inhumanity.

As Thou once granted true contrition of heart to David and to Manasseh and to Peter, Who sinned against Thee, grant true repentance to all who in malice or greed or desperation or hopelessness or ignorance sin against Thee and Thy creatures in the untimely taking of their lives. Receive their tears as the tears of the Publican, which flow from the depths of their hearts, as Thou didst receive David, who had taken life unjustly, and Manasseh, who had permitted the worship of idols, and Peter, who thrice denied Thee. Receive them as the Prodigal, with eagerness and rejoicing, clothing them with the robe of holiness and glory and celebrating with them the feast of faith.

Speak words of justice into the hearts of our rulers, that they may be guided by divine wisdom in protecting and nurturing life in every good way. Give strength and love to those who minister to all who suffer in desperation and need, granting through them every spiritual and earthly blessing. Protect the widows and orphans and the abandoned, be father to the fatherless and hope to the hopeless, raise the young, protect the bond of marriage in peace and concord. Remember the forgotten and bring them to mind in all of us who pray unto Thee. Grant eternal rest to the fallen, and raise them up at the last day.

O Christ our God, Who knowest all in our depths and receivest the supplications of Thy servants Who call out to Thee in our own transgressions and imperfection, hear this our humble prayer and give us all Thy divine blessing from on high, for Thou art ever glorified with Thy Father Who is from everlasting and Thine all-holy, good and life-creating Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

The morning quality of yes.

YES

I love the word
And hear its long struggle with no
Even in the bird’s throat and budging crocus.
Some winter’s night
I see it flood the faces
Of my friends, ripen their laughter
And plant early flowers in
Their conversation.

You will understand when I say
It is for me a morning word
Though it is older than the sea
And hisses in a way
That may have given
An example
To the serpent itself.
It is this ageless incipience
Whose influence is found
In the first and last pages of books,
In the grim skin of the affirmative battler
And in the voices of women
That constitutes the morning quality
Of yes.

We have all
Thought what it must be like
Never to grow old,
The dreams of our elders have mythic endurance
Though their hearts are stilled
But the only agelessness
Is yes.
I am always beginning to appreciate
The agony from which it is born.
Clues from here and there
Suggest such agony is hard to bear
But it is the shaping God
Of the word that we
Sometimes hear, and struggle to be.

-Brendan Kennelly

 

A dream of walking.

“My dream, even now, is to walk for weeks with some friend that I love, leisurely wandering from place to place, with no route arranged and no object in view, with liberty to go on all day or to linger all day, as we choose; but the question of luggage, unknown to the simple pilgrim, is one of the rocks on which my plans have been shipwrecked, and the other is the certain censure of relatives, who, not fond of walking themselves, and having no taste for noonday naps under hedges, would be sure to paralyse my plans before they had grown to maturity by the honest horror of their cry, ‘How very unpleasant if you were to meet any one you know!’ The relative of five hundred years back would have said ‘How Holy!’”

― Elizabeth von Arnim, Elizabeth and Her German Garden

You who have stood at the bedposts.

We have a new baby in my parish, over whom we are rejoicing, though we haven’t met him yet; he has a few weeks to go before being brought to church on the traditional 40th day after birth. It’s a good time to post this poem that I only recently discovered. 

Every baby coming into the world is a unique event, and my own feelings about births I’ve been present for have also been various. The group of people who have been appointed, as it were, to participate, each in her own way, bring all their personalities and prayers, and God is always present. 

I’m sure that many of my readers also retain impressions and images from standing by the bedposts (or lying in the bed), during or just after childbirth. None of the photos I might put here (the one above is from the internet) are much good by comparison with the golden moments that remain our personal possessions, even if with time they lose their crispness in the mind.

“Nothing else was ever so important.”

BEING BORN IS IMPORTANT

Being born is important.
You who have stood at the bedposts
and seen a mother on her high harvest day,
the day of the most golden of harvest moons for her.

You who have seen the new wet child
dried behind the ears,
swaddled in soft fresh garments,
pursing its lips and sending a groping mouth
toward the nipples where white milk is ready —

You who have seen this love’s payday
of wild toil and sweet agonizing —

You know being born is important.
You know nothing else was ever so important to you.
You understand the payday of love is so old,
So involved, so traced with circles of the moon,
So cunning with the secrets of the salts of the blood —
It must be older than the moon, older than salt.

~ Carl Sandburg (1878-1967)

Here’s a little something about Carl Sandburg’s own children.