Thursday, July 28, 2016

Our baby died and went to heaven...

I haven't written for a while. I am sorry about that because now it feels like I have too much to say to include it in one post - but I want to share. So grab a kleenex and take a peak into our life...

On July 18, I shared this announcement:
Dear family and friends,
It is with very heavy hearts that we write to inform you that our little unborn baby has gone on to heaven. At my 18 week ultrasound, there was no heartbeat, no movement and no blood flow. We were not able to tell if the baby is a boy or a girl yet. We will know on Wednesday when I go in for the induction (yes, I will go through full labor).
Peter will be with me all day on Wednesday in the hospital and the boys will be at a friend’s home. When we told the boys, the three oldest were just torn apart in sadness. Please pray for them. And for us – we will forever carry this little emptiness where our baby should have been.
We will name the baby on Wednesday and he or she will be entombed at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, which gives us much peace. Our baby will forever rest in Our Lady’s arms.
For those local to us, we are obviously cancelling the baby reveal party on Saturday, which is heartbreaking. As you also know, we are moving in August. Some have asked how they can help. Meals would be helpful. Offering to come play with the boys would also be helpful. If you can help pack or clean, please let me know. I know I will be in mourning for a bit and these next few weeks will be most painful to get myself going to do what needs to be done for the move and for the comfort of my dear boys.
Thank you for your prayers and your love. There was nothing on the ultrasound that they could pinpoint was a reason for the baby’s passing. We may know more on Wednesday; we may never know. All we can do is trust our loving Father who thought this precious angel too good to have to live in this world. God gives us these children as gifts for us to care for and love, but they are His children first. My heart is broken and full of sorrow, but I know that God embraces our little one and that at least is some comfort.
In our Father’s hands,
Theresa and Peter
On July 20, 2016 I shared this:

Our little baby boy "Giorgio" -PierGiorgio Matteo Martin was born into heaven at 2:53 p.m. July 20, 2016.
He is named after Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati (who loved others so passionately) and St Matthew (whose name means "gift from God").
He will forever be in our hearts though we cannot hold him in our arms.
We will entomb him at 10 a.m. this Saturday, July 23, at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse in the Memorial to the Unborn. All are welcome to the ceremony.
Baby Giorgio Martin, pray for us.

After the Entombment Ceremony Saturday, I wrote this reflection:

I feel so empty... It was raining today. It felt right. Even the heavens were crying - the thunder echoed my heartbreak... and my soul was able to feel a calm by the sound of the rain - as we were waiting for the time to approach I held the casket of my child and closed my eyes. My heart found comfort in heaven's tears and being so close to my baby's body. Knowing this is the last time I will rock him, I swayed with the sound of the wind and rain. People arrived - so many more than we expected (we felt so loved) - I was overwhelmed. I thought I was going to collapse from heartache - but all the prayers of all of you, those praying from afar as well as those with us, sustained me. As I wept, I felt a strength around me holding me up. Then the time came to take the little blanket off the casket and place the casket in the tomb. How I wanted to scream - this isn't right! It's all a bad dream, someone tell me there has been a terrible mistake - but I placed it into the tomb. I'm glad I did it. I needed to be the one who did it. But oh how hard that was to actually let him go...
Thank you for praying for us, we feel your love and prayers and they are helping us get through. This has been the most difficult week of our lives - and yet it has also been full of mercy and grace. Today was the day I had planned a big baby reveal party - and instead I had to bury my baby. I'm saying too much probably - I'm sorry if I'm ripping at your heart too, but some things I feel compelled to share.
As I lay to sleep tonight, I remember what I was doing last night as I held my sweet, precious baby Giorgio's body in my hands one last time. And tonight my arms are empty ... Jesus, help me. Jesus, heal me. Jesus, I trust in you.
From last night:
Got him ready tonight ... placed him into his final resting place in his casket. That's the last time I'll be able to "take care of Giorgio." I don't think I could have cared for Christ more lovingly... Only to realize that as I did this while sitting on the couch in the playroom, this would be his only time in a playroom.
I never get to see him throw a tantrum or bonk his big brothers' heads and laugh. I never get to help him stack his blocks or race his cars or let him listen to my heart with his doctor kit...
We have to physically let him go tomorrow, placing him in the tomb at the Shrine. And even though I'll never be ready, it has to be happen.
And it will. And I will carry him there. & Peter and I and all our boys will cry uncontrollably - we have been these last couple days; I can't imagine what we'll be like tomorrow. But it's okay. They can cry as much as they need.
We will leave his little body there, but his soul is with Jesus. And he will always be in our hearts...
And we will remember him as we strive with his namesake to live with courage and excellence - "Verso l'alto!"
Oh Jesus, have mercy on us and on the whole world...

And I think that catches you up ... please pray for our family - we are so heart-broken and trying to cope with grief as we pack to move to Bismarck, ND...

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Bible is your Love Story

(originally published in The Courier...)

That sounds crazy, right? To most people, the Bible is an old book full of old stories, wars, and all sorts of ancient things that don’t touch their daily life. Yet, the Bible is the living word of God! It holds more truth for our intimate lives than we could possibly imagine.

The Bible is God’s love letter to you – to YOU! Sacred Scriptures is just packed with love and marriage. Did you ever think about the fact that it begins and ends with a marriage celebration? In Genesis, we see the creation of humanity in God’s image: “male and female he created them.” This is from the first creation story (Gen. 1:26-27). Man and woman together are the image of God. The second creation story emphasizes this further as God says “it is not good for man to be alone” and God makes woman. Now is that full image of God reflected again in man and woman (Gen. 2:18). And this is the first wedding – and that marital relationship is the reflection of God. This shows us that God’s love is nuptial; in other words, God’s love is as love in a marriage.

In the final book of the Bible, Revelations, all of Sacred Scripture ends with the wedding feast of the Lamb. Who is the Lamb of God? We know this from Mass – it is Jesus Himself! And who is the Lamb’s bride? His bride is the Church – you and me. The final purpose of God’s salvation history for humanity is to bring us into union with Himself! (CCC 260). It is a beautiful, marital union between bride and bridegroom – drawing us into His divine life and into His sonship with the Father.

What if I told you that the Old Testament, was also about God wanting to bind His people into a marital union, a nuptial covenant with Himself? Some could get lost in the events and wars; even the great moment of the Sinai Covenant where God spoke to Moses and made a covenant with them, this could be seen as a great, powerful God leading His people. Yet, it seems to resonate as a story of a ruler more than a lover.

However, the prophets open our eyes to what the story is all about. Isaiah says, “your Maker is your husband … For the Lord has called you like a wife …” (Isaiah 54:5-7). Again, in Ezekiel 16: 7-8, 11-12, we read: “you grew up and became tall and arrived at full womanhood … you were at the age for love … I plighted my troth to you and entered into a covenant with you, says the Lord God, and you became mine…” YHWH, the Lord, took Israel to Himself as a bride.

Do you remember how the story goes though? That bride betrayed her covenant with YHWH. And God wanted to scorn her, but forgave her and promised a savior – one that would renew the marital covenant with His people and atone for their sins: a bridegroom messiah! (Jesus is your bridegroom! He is the one who will lay his life down for you and give Himself to you…)

This may seem strange, but even John the Baptist speaks of Jesus as the bridegroom. When some ask John if he is the messiah they’ve waited for he says, “I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.  He who has the bride is the bridegroom; the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice; therefore this joy of mine is now full” (Jn. 3:28-30). What a vivid picture John gives us! He is not the bridegroom, but the “best man,” the one who is “the friend of the bridegroom” and the one who ought to rejoice with the bridegroom.  And he brings this image home as he affirms that indeed “this joy of mine is now full.”  The best man is rejoicing because the bridegroom has arrived and it is Jesus.

St. Paul takes us even further into this mystery as he says, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her … This mystery is a profound one, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church” (Eph. 5:25-26, 32). The cross is the moment that Christ gave Himself up for His bride. He became one flesh with His bride.  (As the bridegroom, the husband of the church, He gives a most profound example. Being a good husband is not about forcing one’s will on another; it is about being the one to lay bare every selfish ambition, every ounce of pride and give yourself completely over to your bride in an absolute gift of self in love.) 

John reminds us of this: “Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end” (Jn. 13:1-10).  He loved them.  God is love (1 Jn 4:8). That is who He is and how He acts.

The great mystery that St. Paul referenced is the very fact that the cross is the marriage bed of the Lamb of God.  Scott Hahn illuminates this in his discourse “The Fourth Cup.”  Jesus was not merely celebrating another Passover but inaugurating the new covenant (Lk 22:20) as a wedding meal.  The first two cups are towards the beginning of the meal, then they eat roasted lamb and unleavened bread. The third cup is the “cup of blessing,” which is the cup Jesus blessed and we receive at Mass in the Eucharist (1Cor 10:16).  After they have all had a chance to drink from the third cup, they sing several psalms and go out into the garden.  The fourth cup, which is actually called the “cup of consummation” is missing in the Last Supper’s feast!  Jesus extends the meal all the way to the cross when He says, “I thirst.” He receives the bitter wine and consummates the covenant with His bride. Where Adam sinned, Christ was sinless and took on our shame. 

In that moment, naked, bare, He gives Himself to His bride. “When Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, “It is finished”; and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” In the Latin He says, “consummatum est”  – it is consummated; it is complete. He gives Himself completely to us, His bride.  He gives His body, His blood and His very life – all to be united to His bride and bring us into His life.

And how do we receive this selfless gift of love? How do we accept the bridegroom’s gift of his whole self? When we receive His body and blood in the Eucharist at Mass, we are participating in that moment! Mass is where the past, present and future collide! The Mass is the wedding banquet of the Lamb! It is not the Lion of Judah on the cross, but the Lamb of God. He is waiting there to give Himself to each human person in the deepest love. Let us no longer take the Eucharist for granted, but instead approach the altar with trembling love as a bride approaches the bridegroom. For His cross is His marriage bed, and He waits with passionate love to give Himself to you and draw you into His divine life! “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Rev. 16:9).