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  • Writer's pictureJulie McKay, FCP

Open to Life

On Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, the priest will often ask the mothers or fathers in the congregation to stand for a special blessing. Blessings are, of course, great, but I want to speak to those who feel like they can’t stand up or who stand and feel a pang of grief as they do. The ones who long for biological motherhood or fatherhood. The ones whose children are already in Heaven. The ones whose families are split between earth and eternity.

For many, hearing phrases like “open to life” bring up images of big Catholic families with 6+ kids. But openness to life can look different for different families. If you are not using contraception or contraceptive practices and are inviting God into your discernment of family planning, most likely you are open to life. For some families, they must avoid pregnancy temporarily or permanently for financial, medical, psychological, or other reasons, even if they long for another child. For other families, infertility has limited the

number of children they can have or has meant they cannot have biological children. For others, the earthly family that outside observers see is smaller than the total number of children split between earth and eternity due to miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant/child loss. Each couple must discern carefully whether they are called to avoid or achieve pregnancy in any given cycle. Every couple is called to be open to life, but not every couple is called to have the stereotypical 6+ kid “big Catholic family.” Not every couple will be able to have as many children as they long for.

So to the man or woman sitting in the pew and feeling a mix of emotions when there is a blessing of mothers or fathers or parents, God sees you. He sees your pain. He sees your heart which is hurting, even if it’s rejoicing at the same time. I can’t say what He’s calling you to. Maybe He’s calling you to biological parenthood. Maybe He’s calling you to adoptive parenthood. I know He calls each of us to spiritual motherhood or fatherhood, a beautiful call with many different manifestations. I know He’s calling each of us to holiness, sainthood, and Heaven. You are no less precious in His eyes if this call to stand causes you deep pain.

Wherever you’re at in your fertility journey, our practitioners are here to help you navigate it.

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