When it’s better not to know

This morning at Mass, we heard the readings for the Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of the Unborn. My pastor used the optional reading: Matthew 18:1-5, 10-14.

In his homily, he spoke about our desire for physical perfection: how people spend billions of dollars and devote countless hours to the pursuit of physical beauty.

Father then mentioned that people’s desire for physical perfection has extended toward their own children, that he has encountered many women who confided that they were advised that their unborn child might have some imperfection, based on a prenatal test, and that they resisted the doctor’s gentle (or not-so-gentle) suggestion to abort their child — only to have their child born perfectly healthy. How many others were there, he wondered, that had not approached him (or his fellow priests) to discuss this? How many others took their doctor’s advice at face value?

Pixabay (2016), CC0 Public Domain

How many children were sacrificed on the altar of perfection on the basis of an inaccurate prenatal test?

A friend of mine had that test and received that unwelcome news that something might be wrong with her child. She spent the rest of her pregnancy agonizing, wondering if her child would be ok. Today, that child is a young teenager, a leader in her school, a hard worker, an honor student, and a talented baker. Who knows what else she’ll be capable of as she grows up and explores her interests?

I didn’t hear the rest of the homily, because I started wondering what would happen if prenatal tests were developed that could pinpoint conditions that were not congenital, but ones toward which an unborn child were genetically predisposed.

What if there had been a test that would have told me that my youngest child would develop Type 1 Diabetes sometime during his childhood?

It wouldn’t have been a deal-breaker for me. But for someone who has been conditioned to expect perfection at any price, it might be.

I know how my life has been changed because TheKid is in it, and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world (much as I may rant about his legendary talent for missing the school bus).

What if there had been a test?

So what?

He’s still my child. Taller than me, but still my child. Not perfect by any means (diabetes or no diabetes), but still my child.

If I had known, what would I have done different? Not too much, but there would have been a whole lot more worrying.

I was considered “advanced maternal age” when I was pregnant with TheKid, and I refused all testing for anything that couldn’t be fixed before birth (at that time, that means I agreed to an ultrasound to rule out spina bifida and a blood-glucose test to rule out gestational diabetes).

Sometimes it’s better not to know.

… and whoever received one child such as this in my name receives me (Matthew 18:5)


Copyright 2018 Barb Szyszkiewicz

#WorthRevisit: A Wise Choice

For Worth Revisit Wednesday, I’m thinking about Mass. TheKid is attending theatre camp, so I can’t easily make it back here on time for daily Mass. There are two closer churches that I can attend, and while they’re not “home,” a Mass at some other parish is better than no Mass at all.

On Friday, I attended the Church Where Everybody Knows Your Name. Or at least Father does. At the end of his homily he asked mine. A woman in front of me turned around and said that Father likes to know everyone’s name. Then, during the prayer of the faithful, he named every single person in that building (at least 50 people!) I was amazed.

Father H

Let’s look back at a one-liner today, from 2007. I miss Father H’s homilies!

Father H, in his mini-nugget of wisdom that passes for a homily at daily Mass, told us that “Every time we hear the Gospel at Mass we are left with a choice.” (chew on THAT for a while–he’s right!)

worth revisit

I’m linking up with Reconciled to You and Theology is a Verb for #WorthRevisit Wednesday, a place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link up with fellow bloggers!

On the Feast of St. Matthias: Make a Splash!

At Mass today our pastor’s homily centered on St. Matthias.

He observed that the apostles wanted to choose a good man to replace Judas, and that the 12 apostles paralleled the 12 Tribes of Israel from the Old Testament.

He also observed that we know very little about St. Matthias, the man who was chosen to replace Judas after Jesus’ death and Judas’ suicide. All we know about him is that he was picked. He’s not famous like Peter and Paul. But he was picked to carry on the ministry, to “go out to all the world and tell the Good News.”

Our pastor commented that we are very much like St. Matthias. We’re ordinary people. We’ll probably not make a big splash in the world. But we can–and should–make a little splash in our own little corner of the world. We can–and should–live our lives with the intention of doing good for others, doing good in the name of God. We can–and should–take the opportunity to perform works of mercy–both spiritual and corporal.

Corporal Works of Mercy

Feed the Hungry
Give Drink to the Thirsty
Clothe the Naked
Welcome the Stranger
Visit the Sick and Imprisoned
Bury the Dead

Spiritual Works of Mercy

Counsel the Doubtful
Instruct the Ignorant
Admonish the Sinner
Comfort the Sorrowful
Bear Wrongs Patiently
Pray for the Living and the Dead

While we have time, let us do good!

Words to live by

I am enjoying Father H’s homilies at daily Mass this Lent. He begins each one by reminding us that in Lent it is more important to pay attention to what our Lord Jesus Christ is telling us in the Gospel of the day than it is to worry about “giving up this or giving up that or not doin’ this or not doin’ that.” Father H tells us daily that sacrifice is a good thing, but it is only a first step–there’s not a lot of point to it if we are not putting the Word of the Lord into practice.

Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes


I remember reading The Song of Bernadette when I was in high school. It was from my parents’ collection of Reader’s Digest Condensed Books.

This morning my children’s school celebrated Mass in honor of the day. (Instead of First Friday Mass, the school chooses feast days of certain saints and celebrates Mass on those days. And the children learn about those saints ahead of time!) Today the deacon preached about the Gospel (the wedding at Cana) and how the Blessed Mother told the waiters to do whatever Jesus told them to do. Then he told them the story of the apparitions at Lourdes, and how Saint Bernadette also did the will of God. Finally, he reminded them that they, too, should do whatever Jesus tells them.

I never did get around to reading the full version of The Song of Bernadette. But I think it’s time I did.

Turning the Other Cheek

This morning Father H. gave us some interesting background on the story behind the story of “turn the other cheek.”

He explained that every culture has its own signals that are used to insult other people or so display superiority. In our culture, as he put it, we put up our hand to salute someone without using all our fingers. In Jesus’ time, if you wanted to insult someone, you would use your open right palm to slap someone in the face.

But if you wanted to show that you were ready to reconcile with someone, you would slap them, backhand, on the other cheek.

So Jesus’s urging his disciples to “turn the other cheek” was really urging them to always approach others with a spirit of reconciliation–to be ready to forgive. (And by the way, you were really putting someone on the spot with that attitude, because they would be shamed if they refused you that reconciliation). As Romans 12:21 says, “Do not be conquered by evil but conquer evil with good.”

I’m not always certain whether my kids are listening to the homily, but Middle Sister paid good attention today. When we were in the kitchen making lunch, Big Brother and I were teasing each other about something, and I pretended to swipe at his face with the back of my hand. Middle Sister said, “Mom, you used the wrong slap! You just told Big Brother that you want to be reconciliated!”

Remember Who You Are

Father H is on a “sign of the Cross” kick again. He reminded us today that at Baptism we are claimed for Christ when the priest signs us with the sacred oil. So, he said, the sign of the Cross helps us remember who we are–and whose we are. And that’s why we use this gesture often, in our liturgical and sacramental lives.

Remember who you are.

Remember whose you are.

Today’s Homily: Our Lenten Task

AND NOW…it’s time for another installment of…

“What did we learn from Father’s Homily today?”

During Lent, we should look to the catechumens and follow their lead. They are preparing intensely for their upcoming Baptism at the Easter Vigil. We who are already baptized are preparing to renew our Baptismal promises at Easter.

Easter is about celebrating Christ’s resurrection with a renewed commitment to live the Gospel.

If this is not new to you, great! But it was new to me. Thanks, Father H!