(Image credit: Master of the Spes Nostra, “Memorial Tablet With the Visitation”, c. 1500)
We should be in awe and be filled with a divine joy at the mere thought of a new child being brought into this world.
During one of my more admirable wanna-be-like-a-hippie moments in college, I stayed up almost all night working on a colossal oil painting. It was a cross-section view of a pregnant woman's belly. At that point in my life, I was not Catholic, and I don't think I was even going to a church of any sort every Sunday. However, I knew enough to remember to paint the hand of God “galvanizing” the womb of the pregnant woman (as I called it). It was a luminous yellow, exuding strength and wisdom. I wasn't necessarily raised pro-life, and I don't think “pro-life” was even part of my vocabulary, but instinctually, or perhaps by the grace of the Holy Spirit, I knew that the budding life inside of a mother's body was directly connected to, and dependent upon, the hand of Almighty God. The painting testified to the power and energy that the Creator gives to an unborn child, sheltered within its mother.
As I fast-forward about 17 years, I find myself, well, pregnant every year or two or three. Aside from the days where I am forced to run desperately from certain “enemy” smells (like raw pork) and consume a super weird diet (the only foods I can keep down) that makes St. John the Baptist's entrees look like a piece of cake (no pun intended), and all the other adventurous sacrifices that accompany this honored position in life, it's fabulous. I love bringing forth tiny, beautiful creatures, created in the image and likeness of God, the Supreme Being. Now that I am Catholic, I understand on a moral level the amazing things that are going on with me when I am pregnant – I participate in the mystery of creation, endowed with the blessing of bringing forth an immortal soul who is destined to reign eternally. The truth of that painting I did in college speaks to me time and time again. God is galvanizing babies inside of me, and in all pregnant women in the world, whether they want to admit it or not.
Being pregnant is a mega-gift. It's seriously grand! But if this is true, why don't people seem to get just how wonderful it really is? Why do even the best of Catholics roll their eyes when they realize a family member is pregnant... again?
When it comes to being part of the “haves” of society, being “somebody” heroic and experiencing the closest to Heaven on earth, pregnant women are definitely on the list. Why pro-choice advocates and other highly confused individuals just don't get this one is beyond me. Perhaps they are not just fighting for killing unborn children as St. Teresa of Calcutta so eloquently reminded us all, they are also just missing out on one of the most awesome blessings of life. I pray for them to be able to grasp hold of this gift that makes life worth living – it must fill them with angst to expend so much of their energy fighting for the cause of death. I know it would make me pretty pinched in the face if I didn't get to cherish the thought of unborn babies nestled in Mom, pregnant women full of joy, and the glorious like.
In Mulieris Dignitatem, St. John Paul II writes:
Motherhood involves a special communion with the mystery of life, as it develops in the mother’s womb. The mother is filled with wonder at this mystery of life, and ‘understands’ with unique intuition what is happening inside her. In the light of the ‘beginning’, the mother accepts and loves as a person the child she is carrying in her womb. This unique contact with the new human being developing within her gives rise to an attitude towards human beings – not only towards her own child, but every human being – which profoundly marks the woman’s personality.
And, as Dr. Alice Von Hildebrand shares in The Privilege of Being a Woman, the bond between a mother and her child cannot ever be underestimated.
The very soul of the woman is meant to be maternal... Maternity is a sublime calling, and even though man's ungrateful heart often forgets his mother's sufferings to bring him into the world and her endless devotion in order to bring him up, it is well-known that when a man faces death on the battlefield, his last words, his last thoughts are often directed to his mother. Dying soldiers scream, ‘Mother.’
So, the next time find out you or your wife or another family member is pregnant, don't bat an eye, or think of whining for a moment. I know firsthand the looming financial or emotional struggles that can snuff out the joy behind a positive pregnancy test. I know that when a woman becomes pregnant, she becomes vulnerable to all kinds of suffering. I have held two of my own dead infants in my arms and lost at least one more to miscarriage. I have had a terrifying emergency c-section and struggles with morning sickness that make a tsunami look somewhat pleasant. But, in spite of it all, we need to keep our eyes fixed on the truth that all babies are a mega-gifts from God. We should be in awe and be filled with a divine joy at the mere thought of a new child being brought into this world. A pregnant woman is a woman whom the Creator, the King of life and of love, has chosen for greatness.