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New Babies and Unsung Heroes

Michael J. Matt POSTED: 8/22/11
Editor, The Remnant  

 ( There’s no sense trying to hide the fact that we’ve really dropped the ball this month where The Remnant’s publishing schedule is concerned.  The latest issue of The Remnant was delayed to such an extent, in fact, that we had to petition the postmaster to allow us to break The Remnant’s bi-weekly publishing schedule for the first time 44 years. He was gracious enough to allow us to publish two issues in one, without violating our permit, so long as I assured him it won’t happen again.

There are a number of reasons why we found ourselves in this predicament, not the least of which was the early arrival of our seventh child, Michael Ignatius Marie, who decided to make his entrance in dramatic fashion a full ten days ahead of schedule.

Baby Michael was in something of a hurry. The doctor didn’t make it in time. The nurse was in a panic.  The dad was in shock.  Come to think of it, the only ones to keep their heads throughout were the baby himself and his mother.  To give you an idea of how it happened—my wife and I arrived at the hospital after 1 am, and the baby was sleeping in his mother’s arms by 3 am. No  anesthetic, no drugs, even the high-tech delivery bed hadn’t been broken down. There just wasn’t time.

“This baby is coming RIGHT NOW!”, my wife politely roared in a voice that should have raised the dead. 

“Okay, Sweetie,” replied the nurse, who apparently didn’t realize that when the mother of 7 says it’s time, it’s time. “Do you have any allergies? Do you smoke?”

When Michael was born a few moments later, the only attendants on hand were that same nurse and yours truly (who couldn’t possibly have been more stunned). Of course, husbands are pretty useless in labor and delivery rooms even under the best of circumstances. In an emergency--well, they might as well give us the drugs.

Michael Ignatius was born on the 31st of July and he was baptized one week later.  You might say he hit the ground running.  And things have been a wee bit chaotic ever since, which is why I must apologize to Remnant readers who’ve been trying to figure out what happened to us.  Where’s The Remnant been? 

I ask your patience as we try to catch up, despite little sleep and even less office help than before, since the “volunteers” (my slightly older children) now have their hands full trying to make room for the new arrival while helping the Remnant’s accountant (my wife) prepare for the first day of home-school in a few weeks.

I have no idea how they do it—these home-school mothers.  And it’s not just my wife, of course.   There’s a veritable army of them standing on the frontlines of defense in this escalating war against Christ and all things Christian. They’re the heroes nobody’s talking about.

Yet there they are with their large Catholic families, like it’s 1951 rather than 2011.  There they are, night after night in the nurseries, with darkness closing in around them figuratively and otherwise, babies asleep in their arms. With wars and rumors of wars an ever constant in their lives, the future for those babies is terrifyingly uncertain.  Invest in gold, they’re told!  Stock up on food! Keep your passports up to date!  Don’t vaccinate your children! Look out for predators!  Home schooling won’t be legal much longer!

Lesser men, I think, would likely not be having babies in times like these. Even Holy Scripture warns them to watch their backs:

When therefore you shall see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place: he that readeth let him understand…let them flee to the mountains: And he that is on the housetop, let him not come down to take anything out of his house: And he that is in the field, let him not go back to take his coat. And woe to them that are with child, and that give suck in those days. (Matthew 24: 15-19)

Undeterred, they walk in Mary’s footsteps, with courage no mere man possesses.  They endure the mockery of the feminists and the scorn of the 2.2-kids per family “conservatives”.  In unprecedented financial crises, they have no money and no promise of any in the future. The price of gas to fuel the SUVs and vans needed to move their little troops from pillar to post has obliterated whatever was left of their retirement accounts. To find a Latin Mass on Sunday many of them drive an hour or more, one way. The cost of groceries and health insurance causes their openness to life to become nothing less than a pure leap of faith—but they leap anyway, even when they’re asked to do that which their good mothers never were: Educate their own children at home!  Since  Catholic education these days means loss of Catholic identity by Grade 8, homeschooling is the only option for most of them. Like Ruth and Esther they work in those fields too, by themselves, all day, every day and for the next twenty years of their lives.

Heroic?  Without a doubt! Their neighbors smile patronizingly; their government threatens; their local school district superintendents hound; even their priests cajole them to enroll in Catholic schools, like “proper Catholics” do.  But without rancor or bitterness they hold their ground. They are, after all, Catholic women! They dismiss the grateful praise of their husbands as overdone, as they laugh, love and pray their way through life with an army of little ones in tow. They  don’t see themselves as heroes. Just mothers doing what mothers have always done. 

Never mind that the future of our civilization may well depend on their perseverance in this sacred, God-given mission to succeed where the Church and State have failed. If they were to give up tomorrow, the sun would set on what’s left of Christendom.  And though they rarely complain, their husbands know their sacrifices.  My wife (who will likely banish me to the couch for a week when she discovers I’ve published the next few sentences) spends most nights in a chair beside the new baby’s old crib, recently installed at her bedside because there is no room for a nursery in our home anymore. The baby nurses in her arms; her rosary often dangles from her fingers, though, exhausted, sleep no doubt overcame her long before the fifth mystery. No matter. Their guardian angels--his and hers--will finish it for them both as they finally get some sleep. After all, in a few hours the house will be awake again, the home school will spring into action, and the 3- and 5-year-olds will have a list of needs a mile long.  No school bus is coming, no daycare, no time off.

“Me time” for Mommy?  Maybe in her dreams!

St. Frances of Rome was tending to her babies one day when she grew fearful that she wasn’t giving to God the things that are His. “Most of the time I feel like a yo-yo, pulled and spinning in every direction and getting absolutely nowhere.  What do I have to give you, O Lord?  Just interruptions and distractions, bits and pieces of trying to do your will. Why would God bless me when I can’t sit still long enough to pray to him?”

“Because,” her guardian angel replied, appearing to her suddenly and from out of nowhere, “you showed your love for Him by doing exactly what he wants you to do—loving and taking care of your family.”

With the family under attack in every quarter today, what fool would not stand in admiration of the Catholic mothers who love and care for large families when the whole world stands against them! They lead their children through the darkness, showing them by example what it  means to be a woman, teaching them how to enlist in the army of God. William Ross Wallace got it exactly right:

Woman, how divine your mission

Here upon our natal sod!

Keep, oh, keep the young heart open

Always to the breath of God!

All true trophies of the ages

Are from mother-love impearled;

For the hand that rocks the cradle

Is the hand that rules the world.

Here’s to Catholic mothers everywhere—the last line of defense!  And  I’d  like to present to you,  readers and friends of The Remnant, the newest member of the Catholic resistance-- my son and your future editor (Deo Volente), Michael Ignatius Matt…

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