Pia de Solenni writes how the Telegraph here in the UK have reported on the most popular things children ask Santa to bring them. Up there at the top children ask for a sibling. In their loneliness and innocence they ask Father Christmas to bring the child they so long for to add to their family and be the love and company they long for.
I read this only a few minutes after hearing a mother phone Dr. Ray Gaurendi looking for a way to tell her family, especially certain members, that she was expecting her fifth child. Instead of being overjoyed at another baby they would be snarly about it, as they had already been with previous children. Even though she said they were Catholic, who undoubtedly heard how Joseph, and Mary pregnant with Jesus were turned away from the Inn, they were happy to slam the door on this family because another child was on the way.
At number 10 children were asking for a father and at 23 on the list they asked for a mother. Among the horses, cars and stuff of Christmas children were asking first for a family.
Meanwhile two people phoned up who had many siblings, one of whom, lady who was one of 12, was now dying. She had her family around her for support and in turn wanted to offer something back in letters or words of comfort.
Dr Ray mentioned that he had come across many elderly people, alone and lonely because they had chosen not to have few or no children. It’s especially sad when you consider those people who can’t have children or manage only one or two pregancies and would give anything to have more.
It’s funny that some people try and undermine the historicity of the slaughter of the innocents when Herod sent soldiers to kill the children of Bethlehem in the hope that the slaughter would include the new King of the Jews. They say they can’t find other references outside the Gospel of Matthew and so Matthew must be wrong, for someone else would be bound to notice this.
We live in a world where technology is so great I can send a message to friends in America and Australia and it gets there almost instantaneously. We have more information on the internet than we could possibly deal with. News programmes saturate the airwaves with banality and politics every minute of every day in every time zone. An yet many people seem still unaware of the Gospel. They don’t know about Jesus, or even about the children in their own neighbourhood.
We have the Gospels to tell us about Jesus and there is nothing in history or tradition that would give us reason to think Matthew lied in his report on the killing of the toddlers and babies in Bethlehem. It is most likely that the story came from the lips of Jesus or His mother themselves.
It was recently reported that babies are routinely killed in our NHS hospitals, that a baby’s life was only saved because she was weighed with an accidental pair of scissors that tipped the scales in her favour. So many stories are out there- and how many of us know those stories or care about them? I am quite sure there are many more that I have never seen or heard of.
BAPTISM OF DESIRE
The feast of the Holy Innocents is the day mothers who have miscarried babies, had still births and those who had abortions can remember their little ones and ask for God’s love and mercy for them.
Some parents are blessed to be able to baptise their baby before they die, but most of us have lost our children before they could be baptised. This often leads parents to worry about their eternity, especially in light of St. Augustine’s thought that the innocent unbaptised entered a place of limbo, an eternal happiness but not the full blessedness the saved can hope for.
The Church teaches three baptisms. The ordinary form is the baptism of water and oil that we see so often at Church. Water is pours over the baby, child or adult and the words “I baptise you in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” are spoken in obedience to Jesus command in Matthew 28.
The next form is called Baptism of Blood. This is the baptism that catechumens and other’s not yet in the Church receive should they die for love of Christ as marytrs.
Finally there is the baptism of desire. That is someone who would have been baptised if they could have, but died before the opportunity was offered would be saved through their desire to do God’s will and receive baptism.
I don’t know, but I wonder if many of us who have lost babies pre-term or before we could get them baptised, can hope that our desire as parents counts as a baptism of desire for if they had lived we would have taken them to be baptised.
I don’t know – but we can trust in God’s mercy and I have no doubt at all that we will all get to meet up with our children in the end. So there is more joy than sorrow in the end.
Every single child is a blessing no matter how long or short a time we have them.