I was a big fan of Joan of Arcadia back in the day. (I’m still disappointed it was pulled after just two seasons.) I loved how Joan—and the audience—never knew whose voice God would use to speak to her.
Tonight, as my nine-year-old son read to the four-year-old (and the seven-year-old eavesdropped), I thought of Joan. It seemed to me that God was speaking through my eldest son. He was reading Heaven is for Real for Kids, the children’s adaptation of the story of Colton Burpo, the little boy who visited heaven during an emergency surgery and came back to tell about it. He even met his older sister there, the sister he had never met on earth and hadn’t known about, the sister whom his mother had miscarried.
Hearing my son read this to his brother seemed like God was tapping me on the shoulder, reminding me of what we have to look forward to.
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Death and grief, by nature, test the strength of one’s beliefs. Baby loss can challenge beliefs on a whole new level. When we lost John Blaise, it was hard enough to lose a child, but we also found ourselves delving more deeply into our Catholic faith, getting a crash course on what was and what was not taught and condoned by the Church. We found that not all of our local leaders followed certain doctrine, and we found that upsetting, particularly at a time when we were emotionally lost. Still, for all our struggles, we came out stronger, more faithful, and knowing we had a saint in heaven praying just for us.
As a Roman Catholic Christian, I believe my tiny boys, through God’s grace and mercy, are in heaven. They are saints (with a little “s”), not angels. (Angels are not human, and humans cannot become angels. They are, for lack of better terms, different “species.” Though, often, in the baby loss community, our little ones who have died are referred to as “angels.” Sadly, sometimes this causes some confusion and bruised feelings.) Our loved ones who have made it to heaven are all “saints.” So that means John Blaise and Alexander are among those ranks.
Some Catholics like to bring up “limbo.” I get upset by the idea. “Limbo” is the belief that unbaptized babies do not go to heaven but go to a separate place of contentedness and happiness. This is NOT a part of Catholic doctrine. How many popes need to cover that for it to go away??
Anyhow, I’m tired, so forgive my non-linear thoughts here…
Sometime after we lost John Blaise—I think it was while our oldest was preparing to receive his First Holy Communion—I had an a-ha moment at mass. All my life I have heard (and later, recited) the creed at church, stating our belief in the “Communion of Saints,” but I guess I hadn’t considered the full weight of that idea. Then one Sunday at mass, I realized that meant that my little boy was right there, at the Eucharistic celebration with us.
It is a sign of my brokenness that in that moment I found more joy in that thought than the belief that Christ Himself was there too—He was THE reason any of us were there.
Since then, I have found special comfort in going to Mass. I am part of the Communion of Saints as are my husband and boys, all of them. And all together we celebrate the gift of the Eucharist.
That is what this life and the next are about.
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