Friday, September 21, 2012

Are You Pregnant - Or Are You With Child?

Ok, not to let Planned Parenthood off the hook here, with their deceptive use of words and terminology, but I would like to speak today of yet another odd, perhaps not heretofore considered, contribution to our clouded understanding of reality, due to words - that being today’s language itself.

We live in a modern, cold world, where science and technology have greatly altered our communication and our language - a world where people are computer literate, while they are almost completely illiterate in a classical sense. While computer readiness is part of early childhood curriculums today, philosophy, poetry, music appreciation and all the great writers - most of all – the art of critical thinking, have been largely left out of our children’s education.    
Socrates taught his students on the subject of reality:  “Truth is not subject to the whims and caprices of fickle human opinion,” one of my favorite quotes actually.  But is this true today?  Does our modern language reflect such?

Today’s modern Vulgate seems to be making it more and more difficult for people to discern what is real and what isn’t – what is truth and what isn’t.   With our ever-changing vernacular and lack of critical thinking, the original meaning of Shakespeare’s, “a rose by any other name, “might not be as easily understood by today's vaguery and ambiguity. Texting has turned back the clock on our language to the primitive grunts of Neanderthals. And the coarseness and vulgarity of certain modern entertainment has caused our civilization to regress into a primitive state of brutishness and ignorance.   

When we read the language and expressions of older generations, we many times experience far more poetic and meaningful usage of words, than our present dumbed-down vernacular. I watched an old Civil War documentary, where preserved letters from Civil War soldiers were read out to viewers. I was completely startled by how erudite and profoundly these soldiers expressed themselves to mothers, wives and sweethearts!       

Our scientific and technologically advanced generation has heavily influenced our vocabulary to be sure.  Terms such as interface, dialogue and relative, designed to be such great verbal aids to our communicative relationships, sound idiotic – and have lent nothing to our human intercourse with one another, in my humble opinion.  Indian sign language would be more effective.  And let's not forget psychology and its' role in how we speak and understand ourselves.  Today, you will hear people say “I’m depressed, where previous generations would have simply said, “I’m sad or melancholy.”   So many children today are diagnosed as being hyperactive and a variety of other maladies, when they would previously have been viewed as healthy, active, mischievous little rascals. Instead of being medicated, they would have had their buts paddled or sent to bed with no supper.     

We have seen ourselves as being in an age, where we have a much deeper understanding of the world around us and its’ realities. Yet I believe, in many ways, we are becoming less aware of these things - in spite of the fact that we've walked on the moon. 

Recently watching a movie on Elizabeth I, Queen of England, where Sir Walter Raleigh has a tryst with one of the queen’s ladies – I was struck by a touching scene in which the young lady attempts to make her condition known to her lover Raleigh; whereupon he immediately anticipates her with these lovely words – “You’re with child, aren’t you?”  Those words struck me through!  Not only were they so much lovelier than a modern beau saying to her, “You’re pregnant aren’t you?” – But they said so much more – so much more!

The term pregnant is a cold - scientific word - a term, used perhaps, by a much more scientifically advanced world than the one Sir Walter Raleigh inhabited.  Yet, Sir Walter’s generation’s limited scientific knowledge was nevertheless far surpassed by their generation’s deeper and more profound grasp of reality itself.  The two terms, “pregnant” and “with child” both describe the same reality – or do they?  One speaks of a biological state or condition – while the other speaks so much more profoundly of a change whereby the woman is no longer by herself, but suddenly accompanied by another – her child.  A reality wherein someone else is inhabiting her space.

It is one of the main reasons for post-partum depression ( another modern term), which scientifically speaks of  the simple fact, that the umbilical cord has been cut – and the mother and child will never again be as close as they were for those past 9 months.  For 9 months they both inhabited the same space. For nine months, her child listened to her heartbeat, while she felt her child’s movements stir within her.  I recall an experience with my 1st child - before any physical indications of being “with child” – I suddenly had the feeling one afternoon, that I was no longer alone in the room.  A few weeks later, after a visit to my doctor, I discovered why – for it seemed I truly was no longer alone – I was “with child”. 

It says in the Bible, regarding the birth of Jesus: “When His mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, and before they came together, she was found to be “with child.” By  the Holy Spirit.” Matt 1:18.    Some recent modern biblical interpretations will use the word pregnant – but once again, I believe this is a mistake.  For the term, “with child” far more adequately describes the reality of the woman's situation.   Perhaps if we use the term, “with child” more readily today, women might more truly understand what is occurring within.  Perhaps, if we use the term, “with child”, they could better comprehend, that “their body”  now carries a little passenger on board.

Pregnant or With Child – which term do  you prefer?  

Monday, September 10, 2012

Our Daughter & The HHS Mandate

I watch her walk across the room, 24 years of age; lovely, sweet and strikingly beautiful to behold. Perhaps because she was named for the Angel Gabrielle, she possesses an almost angelic nature in her tenderness of heart and loving character to all. Bright, energetic and filled with life, with a sometimes mischievous humor, she is not just alive, she is a force of life; and I stare at her in amazement.  Why? And what does her life have to do with the HHS Mandate?

She is our 5th child - and it is not as if she is any more special than our other 4 children, who are each in their own way, unique, amazing creations from the hand of God; whom I love more than words can say. Yet this child, who came to my husband and I, 10 years after our 4th child was born, is a sign to me more than any of our other children - simply because – if not for the teachings of the Catholic Church, she would have never been! 

When I was pregnant with my 4th child, I was advised to see a different OB/GYN by someone very close to me, because, she told me - he was a “good Catholic doctor”. My own OB/GYN was a Jewish Doctor, with whom I had been very satisfied and comfortable; as my own grandmother had always told me, “Jewish doctors are the best”. Yet upon this woman’s persuasion, I figured I’d try her doctor. Each of my previous pregnancies, had come in rapid succession since the age of 25; so that now I was expecting my 4th baby at 30 years of age.  To my surprise & shock, my new “good Catholic OB/GYN”, immediately began pressuring me to have a tubal ligation after this 4th birth.  He did not simply ask if I wanted to have this procedure done, but repeatedly ‘insisted’ - commenting on how I was so young and pretty –  that having so many babies would burn me out and destroy my looks … yada, yada, yada.  I went back to my Jewish doctor and gave birth to my 4th child, with no pressure to tie my tubes.   

After the birth of our 4th child, though my husband and I remained faithful to Catholic teaching on contraception - for some unknown reason I did not get pregnant again for 10 years. During those 10 years, my husband and I began to experience marital difficulties, which many couples do, and so we sought the advice of a Catholic priest/counselor;  who - lo and behold - also began pressuring me to contracept.  The reasoning he gave was that, “with all the marital difficulties we were undergoing, the worst thing possible would be for me to get pregnant again.”  “What?”   “Even a Catholic priest is advising me to contracept?”  

Now, let me be honest here. Having one child after another in rapid succession was NOT easy! The pregnancies were extremely difficult, and I was getting thinner and thinner and weaker and weaker after each birth – on top of which I had developed a high blood pressure problem, which further complicated things.   Had I been tempted at times to use birth-control pills, so that at the very least, I could extend the time length between my pregnancies, allowing my body to recuperate a bit better?  You bet I was!  I watched my friends limit the number of children they had, so that they could advance monetarily, and get nicer homes and cars etc., while not only was I sick as a dog with my pregnancies, but my husband and I struggled financially, and were still living in a 2 bedroom apartment when we discovered we were expecting our 4th child!  Now, not only was a “good Catholic” doctor pressuring me to stop having children – but also a Catholic priest? 

So, were there moments when I considered their advice? After all, this was a Catholic doctor and a Catholic priest who were telling me to go against Church teaching and think about my health and my marriage! Yet, for some reason that I’ve never been able to quite put my finger on – except that I loved God and I loved my Catholic Faith, I could never fully act upon these temptations. Once I even dialed my OB/GYN’s office to make an appointment to get on birth-control pills.  But the minute the receptionist answered the phone, I hung up! I couldn’t go through with it.

So, at the age of 39, just when I thought I was too old to get pregnant, and in the middle of the marital counseling sessions with the Catholic priest, who was advising me to contracept, my husband and I got the surprise of our lives, when we found out there was going to be a new arrival!  Needless to say, I stopped the counseling sessions with the priest, and my husband and I focused on the arrival of a new life, instead of our dumb marital difficulties, which suddenly seemed to evaporate. In fact, things turned out quite the opposite of what the priest warned, “that it would be the worst thing for me to have another baby given our marital difficulties.”  And - I might add - in spite of what the Catholic doctor had warned me, my looks had also held up quite well for a 39 year old mother of four.   

So, back I went to my little Jewish OB/GYN, who had always respected my own personal belief system, and would never consider pressuring me to go against it, even though he himself always said he was not religious. He had many Hasidic Jewish patients, who also came to him with very large families, so he told me, he was very familiar with and fully respected, people’s religious convictions, and would never think to pressure me to go against mine. Here was a Jewish doctor respecting my beliefs, while a Catholic doctor and a Catholic priest, were pressuring me to go against them. One never knows where encouragement or support is going to come from in this world; and the fact that my Jewish OB/GYN respected my beliefs, was a great encouragement for me to remain faithful to them.

In fact, when professionally, my Jewish doctor had to offer an amniocentesis to determine Down Syndrome, due to my advanced age – and I responded - “no thanks, I will love my baby no matter what,” I will never forget, with what fatherly affection, he squeezed my foot and said, “good for you.”  A short time after he delivered our beautiful 5th child, he died of cancer. And even though he had always told me, “he was not a religious man”, I think his respect and support for the religious beliefs of others, was his ticket to heaven – along with the copious prayers I offered for his soul.

So, at 40 years of age, she came into our lives – this lovely little girl - who might have never been, had it not been for the teachings of Holy Mother Church and a little Jewish doctor, who supported my choice to hold fast to those teachings.

She was the joy of our hearts – my husband’s and mine - as well as our 4 older children, who were all school age by that time.  Had I been scared to start all over again with a newborn? I don’t know why – as I had 4 babysitters, who were more than willing to coddle and care for their youngest sibling.  We ended up donating the beautiful crib we had bought for her, as she never slept in it – but meandered from one bed to another as she took turns sleeping with each of her siblings.  She only had to stand up in her crib and let out a little cry, and they jumped to their feet and took her into their beds.
So, with all the hub bub over the HHS Mandate, I once again consider, with the most profound wonder, the life of this lovely young woman, our 5th child, whose very existence is a testament to the teachings of the Holy Catholic Church – the Church which has stood firm against the use of artificial contraception - in a modern world wherein many of her own members participate in the practice - and some of her own priests and Catholic doctors advise the use of it –  yet Her teachings never waver.

How many times have I told our daughter Gabrielle, that she exists precisely because of the teachings of the Catholic Church, which I persevered in remaining faithful to, against all odds. How many times, have I thought to myself, “what if I had not been Catholic - or, what if I had listened to that Catholic doctor or even that Catholic priest?”  This amazing and beautiful creature would have never been!  It sends shudders through me to this very day!  Who am I, or anyone else for that matter, to say that she should never have been? Even though we humans participate in the awesome act of creation, am I or anyone else, the author of life?   

Now, Obama’s HHS Mandate wants to put that Church and her teachings in handcuffs – to force her to go against those teachings - the very same teachings which are responsible for the very life of our beautiful daughter!

I actually feel sorry for Obama and his minions. They are so blind to the amazing power of our reproductive faculties.  How Obama can speak of the love he has for his own daughters, yet how many other daughters, and even sons, might he and Michelle have known? How many other amazing Gabrielle’s are there that might have been?

As a very young girl I learned a hard lesson of life – that being – that those who have lost something, always want to see others lose it too.  Obama and his minions are not happy to simply deny themselves the many blessings of the gift of life, but they seek to take it away from others as well, by shackling the Catholic Church so that her teachings are meaningless and impotent.  

But each time I look with wonder at my beautiful daughter – I know that Her teachings are not meaningless – and the life of our lovely daughter Gabrielle, will always be a living testament to me that the Catholic Church’s teachings are the voice of Christ Himself.  I’m glad I listened. 

P.S. The Angel Gabrielle announced the birth of Christ Himself.  What a perfect name for our little girl.