Updated: Jan 8, 2019
The focus on self-preservation is a growing phenomena: preserving our comfort, our status, our youth, et cetera. We’re willing to give of ourselves to others, but there often lies a line which we are hesitant to cross because it requires just too much; it pushes our boundaries.
Perhaps it seems too much because we live in a country which only claims to work for the benefit of the marginalized, leaving our most vulnerable--the unborn, the sick, and the elderly--physically, spiritually, or emotionally helpless via abortion and euthanasia. It feeds us the “get out of discomfort or pain free” card, numbing our morality and true selves, leaving people weak enough to actually believe that they “cannot handle this pregnancy,” or “bear the pain any longer,” or “remain in this body.”
We are becoming increasingly self-centered because we have forgotten where we come from, the life we are called to live, and the greatness we are capable of. Many of us are complacent and simply don’t care.
I find that the most compelling evidence to faith lies in the witness of the great men and women who live(d) humble lives, knowing that their life is not their own, but that of a Creator. They know that God loves them, and in obeying Him, they are free to truly live.
Meet Gianna Beretta Molla:
“St. Gianna Beretta Molla was an Italian pediatrician born in Magenta in the Kingdom of Italy on October 4, 1922. She was the tenth of thirteen children in her family.
In December 1954, Gianna met Pietro Molla, an engineer who worked in her office. They were officially engaged the following April, and married in September 1955, making Gianna a happy wife.
In November 1956, Gianna became a mother to her first child, Pierluigi. Their second child, Maria Zita, in December 1957, and their third, Laura, in July 1959.
In 1961, Gianna became pregnant with her fourth child. Toward the end of her second month of pregnancy, Gianna was struck with an unimaginable pain.
Her doctors discovered she had developed a fibroma in her uterus, meaning she was carrying both a baby and a tumor.
After examination, the doctors gave her three choices: an abortion, which would save her life and allow her to continue to have children, but take the life of the child she carried; a complete hysterectomy, which would preserve her life, but take the unborn child's life, and prevent further pregnancy; or removal of only the fibroma, with the potential of further complications, which could save the life of her baby.
Gianna was quite clear about her wishes, expressing to her family, "If you must decide between me and the child, do not hesitate: choose the child. I insist on it. Save the baby."
On April 21, 1962, Gianna Emanuela Molla successfully delivered by Caesarean section.
The doctors tried many different treatments and procedures to ensure both lives would be saved. However, on April 28, 1962, a week after the baby was born, Gianna passed away from septic peritonitis. She is buried in Mesero.
Gianna was beatified by Pope John Paul II on April 24, 1994, and officially canonized as a saint on May 16, 2004. Her husband and their children, including Gianna Emanuela, attended her canonization ceremony, making this the first time a husband witnessed his wife's canonization.
For a more thorough reading, visit Catholic Online.
We forget--or sometimes do not know--that love is sacrifice. It is the death of self for the benefit of the other. This is typically a death to worldly comfort, though sometimes, and in St. Gianna’s case, literal death.
St. Gianna wanted to live. She understood that life is sacred from the moment of conception to natural death, yet she heroically chose to protect the life of her child. God could have provided a miraculous healing, allowing both lives to be saved, but He didn’t. Instead, St. Gianna’s prayers from Heaven have helped save the lives of many here on earth, through the grace of God. The two recorded miracles supporting her canonization can be read here, and you can read more testimonies online.
I want to take a moment to commend the women who sacrifice their lives each day for the benefit of their children. I hear too often, “I don’t want more children because I want to focus on myself and my career.” That’s fine, but it is to the former that I say,
Thank you. Thank you for the humble, day-to-day service of your family. For putting the needs of your husband and children over your career. It leaves you with no worldly glory, but God is truly pleased; you have answered the call to be fruitful and multiply, not only physically but emotionally and spiritually. Thank you to the moms who are judged for staying at home. The ones who wonder what else they could be doing, if not for their family. It is you that I pray for--you that gives me a sense of what it means to be a woman, giving her life for her loved ones. Thank you to the moms who love being moms, even when it hurts, and even when they don’t feel like it. The ones who grow in strength each day as their boundaries are pushed far beyond what they thought possible. Another thank you to the dads who emotionally and spiritually support their wives--we couldn’t do it without you. If you have been a less-than-supportive husband--start now, you slacker ;)
Thank you both for trying your best to raise faithful families. I pray you continue your walk with Jesus. For some of you, I pray you start.
Sometimes life throws us a curve-ball, but be not afraid. You have the Communion of Saints to pray for you, and a God who has a plan for you. The only thing we can know for sure if that living the Way of the Cross will be uncomfortable, yet the necessary path to our journey Home.
Ante and I are always encouraging the youth we work with to ask questions, dig deep, read a lot, and strive for truth. We want to help raise young people capable of intelligent conversation, without succumbing to rage upon disagreement. We remind them that they have free will; they can do whatever they’d like with their lives, but there is the path to virtue and righteousness which is in line with the Will of God. It is the moral, good, and healthy path. It is the correct path on which we choose what is right over what is comfortable. We teach them that no one is perfect and we all stray from the light. Thankfully we have a merciful and always forgiving God who reminds us that we are worthy of love and innately drawn (and called) to stand for Truth. It is only in doing so that we discover our true selves.
Life will bring unexpected surprises. Life will give you deep, unfathomable pain. Know that there is NOTHING--no suffering too deep--that you cannot endure with the Love of God.
I'll leave you with this quotation from St. Sebastian Valfre: "When it is all over you will not regret having suffered; rather you will regret having suffered so little, and suffered that little so badly."
May God Bless you and your families with faith, wisdom, and courage!