As parents, we are called to raise Saints. That is our most important role!
Today, I have been praying for so many intentions that it has been a marathon of prayers for a multitude of intentions…
I have been praying for the private intentions of some very dear friends and for the health of those who were sick last year – my dear friend Nancy, Vanessa, Vita, and of course, my beautiful little niece. I have been praying for those who have lost a loved one recently – especially for the families of little Saint Baby Charbel and little Raphael and Andrew and for the lost souls of Purgatory – who though they can pray for us, cannot pray for themselves. Then, there are prayers of thanksgiving – for so many intentions, but especially for the mothers who have safely welcomed their children in recent weeks. Prayers in thanksgiving for God Himself! And, of course, there are the prayers for my family and yours…
While I am praying for all these intentions, one particular intention comes to mind. I pray for the mothers of children with additional needs. These mothers need prayers more than any mother ever would. Such mothers must fight for their children and fight the limitations of their children’s bodies endlessly over the course of a lifetime.
But they are not alone. They are in good company.
In praying for those mothers, my mind is drawn to another very brave mother – Elizabeth, cousin of Mary, Wife of Zechariah, Mother of John the Baptist. She endured! She will help these mother’s now if we ask her to.
For Elizabeth understands endurance…
When Elizabeth remained childless for many decades throughout her marriage – even until into her old age – her faith endured. She – like Sarah wife of Abraham – surely had no Earthly hope of giving birth to a child of her own. Surely, she – like so many couples plagued with infertility today – suffered for each baby that she saw and though she was happy for the parents, felt the pangs of loss in the vision of every pregnant woman. And yet – look at her faith. Imagine how impossible a child seemed to Elizabeth and Zechariah. It was laughable. So laughable that when the ANGEL appeared to Zechariah, he – like Sarah – REFUSED to believe the message of God – even from the mouth of God’s own messenger!
Elizabeth’s pregnancy required her endurance. What a pregnancy that would have been! Not only was she what we in modern medical terms would call a geriatric mother, but her husband was suddenly struck mute! What stress. With hindsight and through the Gospel, we know that Zechariah eventually regained his powers of speech – but neither he nor his wife would not have known that at the time! How stressful!
Elizabeth’s pregnancy was so difficult, that Our Blessed Mother – pregnant herself with Our Lord – went to her cousin to help her during the final trimester of her pregnancy. Imagine the journey. There were no buses or trains or cars. Our Lady most likely walked or rode in the back of a cart. The roads were dusty and dangerous and there could have been wild beasts and bandits who could have attacked her. And yet, still – Out Lady went. Why? Because endurance is really really hard work!
Sometimes, so that we can endure, we required help from a friend so that we can go on...
When this happens, Our Lady comes to our aide – and she brings Our Lord!
But the story did not end there. Elizabeth was required to continue to endure. She was an older mother with an older husband. She still needed to raise a good man. Babies – children – are hard work. Though they are the most wonderful gift in the world – each child requires all their parent’s efforts to be formed into an adult worthy to be called a child of God. You cannot just have a baby and then turn your back and expect the child to raise itself. Children take time and effort and it is almost always unappreciated and unacknowledged work.
Elizabeth did her job well – so did Zechariah! Their son, John, was the last prophet of the Old Testament and the instrument through which God purified all the water of all the world – through the Baptism of Christ – so that forever afterwards we could be Baptised and born again as Temples of the Holy Spirit to become children of God!
So, when I pray for the mothers who must endure with their children who require more, I look to Elizabeth. She endured.
And how wonderful it is that she did! For we have only to look at the Heavenly glories her endurance brought to her!
She was the mother of a Saint!
If only we could all be as lucky as Elizabeth, because regardless of our children’s needs – their sanctity is the only thing that could ever matter anyway!
For with prayer everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.