During my last two pregnancies, I was a very nervous momma, and without any specific reason. I just always worried about the “what if?” scenarios. I have no history of miscarriage, nor were there any major health complications like there were during author Kathryn Anne Casey’s pregnancy with her firstborn son, who was diagnosed with SPINT2, a genetic condition leading to many complications. But my history of worrying was why the title of a new book, “Peace in Pregnancy: Devotions for the Expectant Mother” (OSV, $14.95), jumped out at me.
Despite the fact that I’m not growing a little human right now, I knew I needed to strive for greater trust in God and his good plan, calling to mind that my children have been entrusted to me but that they are not my own, they are God’s.
Through this devotional for both new and seasoned mothers, I found what I was looking for. I found encouragement and hope.
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The quest for beauty
Kathryn, a mother of five children on earth and three in heaven (two of whom passed away through miscarriage and another stillborn from birth defects caused by anencephaly), says that grief set her “on the quest for beauty.” She writes about this quest so eloquently in her devotional. This is a book to turn to when you find yourself looking down instead of up, a book to turn to when worrying about the “what if?” of pregnancy and motherhood.
She writes in a blog post: “Peace is more than the absence of conflict. It is more than being at ease. It is seeing in the middle of the storm, someone to anchor us, someone to trust, to know that somehow, someway, it will be okay, maybe not in this life, maybe not for years. … We do not know. …We want to know. We desperately want to know, but it actually will be okay if all we can do is ‘wait and see.’”
Peace is found in accepting God’s will, not in our fluctuating circumstances.
This book provides reflections, prayers, stories from saints who were mothers themselves, meditations on the Rosary and Stations of the Cross, as well as Night Prayer and Liturgy of the Hours.
The reason I think this book is so helpful is because, from conception on, the life we are gifted with is ultimately in God’s hands. We may be blessed with that life for a couple of weeks, a couple of months, but hopefully, our entire lifetime. “Pregnancy teaches us to watch and wait,” Kathryn writes, and she teaches us how to do that well.
A whole section is devoted to saints who were mothers. I loved the prayers Kathryn wrote in this section, asking the saints for their intercession. In her prayer to St. Monica, she wrote: “Help me remember that my vocation to motherhood is to be the mother not only of my child’s body but of my child’s soul.”
Or her prayer written to Servant of God Chiara Corbella Petrillo, who died at the age of 28: “Help me to understand that the path to peace does not mean difficult times will not arise, or that I cannot grieve or cannot be angry, but that there is a way forward. Please show my heart the way to offer my past to the divine mercy of God, to beg his grace for the present moment, and entrust my future and the future of my child to his loving providence.”
In the section on the Rosary she writes a description on each mystery of the Rosary with an accompanying reflection, prayer and, my favorite, a beautiful work of art, including Henry Ossawa Tanner’s “The Annunciation”, Raphael’s “Transfiguration” and Caravaggio’s “Flagellation of Christ.” This book had me constantly turning back to the index of sacred art to learn more about the paintings so wonderfully laid out throughout the pages.
A way forward
Remember: When the Lord blesses you with life within you, nothing again will be casual or small, as the Sisters of Life are fond of saying. You have been entrusted with an eternal soul. As hard as it is, pray that you can be present to this gift. This is Jesus inviting you to trust in his goodness and rejoice in the miracle he has worked in your life.
I write these words for you, just as much as I write them for myself. Jesus is inviting you to lean on him, to rest upon his chest. He is with you.