By Veronica Szczygiel, Ph.D
“This is my brother,” my 3-year-old niece Jacqueline said, gently patting my sister’s eight-month pregnant belly. Then she proudly showed us the plush lion she planned to share with her new sibling.
The time leading up to a baby’s arrival is full of excited anticipation, logistical preparation, and a little bit of trepidation. Though not a mother myself, I joyfully witnessed five women in my extended family circle welcome six children, with the seventh on the way. Each was beloved from the beginning, even before birth.
I am so grateful that in the Catholic Church, a baby is a blessing, not a burden. What a refreshing perspective! We see an example of this with the extraordinary conception; Mary and Joseph demonstrated how to build a Holy Family.
Growing a family through pregnancy is consecrated through Mary herself, who is “blessed” and “full of grace.” She was specially chosen by God to carry and deliver Him incarnate into our broken world, and through her experience, all mothers — and motherhood itself — are sanctified. Women have the grace-filled privilege of supporting new life in the womb. All con- ceived new life is lovingly created by God for a specific purpose.
We are all already unique, named, and called by God long before we are even born. What an amazing declaration of love from our heavenly Father!
Fatherhood, too, through St. Joseph, is sanctified. He was the caregiver and protector of his family, supporting Mary through her pregnancy, finding a safe space for her childbirth, and shielding his family from Herod’s executionary forces by fleeing to Egypt. Truly, Mary and Joseph are model parents.
I watched my happy family during my sister’s recent surprise baby shower. I pray that every child is beloved and embraced by their family. I pray that every mother and father are as excited to welcome their children.
Seeing such love for an unborn child and knowing God’s intimate love for us from our initial creation, I couldn’t help feeling deeply disturbed that we live in a society that normalizes the killing of those who cannot protect themselves.
This Father’s Day, please join me in praying that all children, through the supportive love of their parents, live a life of abundant blessings–and actually have the chance to live it.
Let us pray for the conversion of hearts who are contemplating or supporting abortion, so that altogether, we can cultivate a true culture of life, one that builds up and nourishes the kingdom of God from conception to natural death.
Veronica Szczygiel, Ph.D. is the assistant director of online learning of the Graduate School of Education at Fordham University.