Sue’s mantelpiece is crowded with framed photos of mothers and babies. There are more pictures on the sideboard and yet more on a small table in a corner of the sitting room.
You might think that Sue has lots of daughters and grandchildren and in a sense she has. For friendships have endured with many of the women she encountered in her many years of volunteering at a house run by a charity that supports women who find themselves pregnant and alone. Sue first found out about the house from a friend and offered to knit clothes for the new babies.
She then discovered that as an experienced mum she could, after receiving training, help women prepare for the birth of their babies and afterwards show them how to look after them. Some of the young residents hadn’t had the support of loving parents themselves and found the task of bringing up a baby quite terrifying.
Sue loved this work and her husband and three children got used to a succession of mums and babies popping in or joining them for meals. Sometimes, they came to stay and slept in the spare bedroom. Then, the modest terraced house felt crowded with the pram, the changing mat, the nappies and all the other kit babies need. Sue’s husband Tom would sometimes grumble at the times when a baby’s cries would wake him in the night. But mostly, Sue’s family were proud of her work with the new mums.
Sue’s children have left home now and Tom died last year. These days she looks at the photos of mums and babies and smiles. There’s Grace, now happily married with four children, Teresa who emigrated to Australia, Bea whose daughter Kirsty has just started at university and Jess whose life has lots of ups and downs but who keeps in touch through it all.
Many, many children owe their lives to Sue and their mothers are eternally grateful.
Scripture and Prayer
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Abortion Act. Pope Francis has said that he is well aware of the pressures that lead women to believe that abortion is their only option. The Pope explains that he has met “so many women who bear in their heart the scar of this agonising and painful decision. What has happened is profoundly unjust; yet only understanding the truth of it can enable one not to lose hope.” Understanding the truth of such situations with mercy has led Pope Francis to remind people that abortion is a grave sin but that “there is no sin that God’s mercy cannot reach and wipe away when it finds a repentant heart seeking to be reconciled with the Father”.
In the Sunday readings for the Day for Life, Moses reminds the people that God guides them through the vast and dreadful wilderness. In waterless places God can bring water from the hardest rock. There is always hope even in difficult situations and many mothers have spoken of the joy that an initially unwanted child has brought them. Moreover, as was the case with Sue, our small acts of kindness, can help change people’s lives.
This anniversary year of the Abortion Act provides us with an opportunity to reflect, to pray and to offer practical and emotional support to those in need.
We pray especially for those who have lost a child and for those who are concerned about their pregnancy. We also remember all unborn children. When Jesus speaks of his flesh as real food and his blood as real drink, his words suggest a close connection between the Eucharist and the Incarnation: the Word made flesh. Some nine months before his birth in Bethlehem, at the Incarnation, the new adventure of Jesus’s life on earth as a human being began. In his mother’s womb Jesus lived the invisible life of the tiny unborn child and so every human life from its very beginning is sanctified.
Prayers of the faithful
The psalmist reminds us that ‘it was you, God, who created my being; knit me together in my mother’s womb’ and Isaiah tells us that God never forgets us, so we pray….
For children who have died before birth. That their lives begun on earth for such a short time may enjoy the blessedness of eternity.
Lord, hear us…
For mothers and fathers to be. That they may find strength and joy in your loving, tender care.
Lord, hear us….
For those who cannot find peace or hope. That they may find consolation in the mercy of God.
Lord, hear us….
For those who hunger and thirst for justice. That hearts may be filled with the fire of your love so that we can build a truly human society.
Lord, hear us….
By Pia Matthews