There was nothing in the perpetual Eucharistic adoration chapel that December night that led me to believe that anything special might happen. In fact, the hour is usually pretty uneventful. The time is spent in quiet prayer, adoration, reflection, and writing. Little could I predict how my time before the Blessed Sacrament that evening would change my life forever and lead to grace, in more ways than one.
It had been more than six years since I first began going to weekly adoration, and while it was my time spent in prayer before Jesus Christ in the Sacrament of the Eucharist that had led me from Lutheranism to Christ and His Church, I was beginning to take Christ for granted.
That evening Christ was where he always was, in the consecrated Host sitting in the gold monstrance in the front of the chapel. Our Lady of Guadalupe was in her place, off to Christ’s right. The hour had been a good one; I had not fallen asleep. At the end of my hour as I prepared to leave, Jamie came in.
During perpetual Eucharistic adoration someone is in the chapel 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Jamie had the hour right after mine and had come in to replace me.
Jamie and I usually only smiled at one another, but this night Jamie spoke to me. She excitedly shared with me that she and her husband were expecting and asked for my prayers.
I knew from an earlier conversation that Jamie had had with my wife Mary that Jamie and her husband had been trying unsuccessfully to conceive for several years. As Jamie explained her story, she said she had expressed her frustration to the priest in the confessional and he had asked if he could bless her womb. She agreed, and in a matter of weeks they were expecting.
Mary and I understood infertility. We had endured one miscarriage, and our previous three children had not come easily. Little did Jamie know that Mary and I had again been trying unsuccessfully to conceive. However, upon hearing Jamie’s story, Mary called the associate pastor and arranged to have him bless us after a weekday morning Mass.
On that day, Father Mark gave us both a beautiful blessing and we went on our way.
Mary and I had started using Natural Family Planning immediately after our marriage, eleven years earlier. We particularly enjoyed NFP because it was in accord with Church teaching and enhanced communication in our marriage. Not only was it a completely natural and healthy means of family planning, but we discovered it to be 100 percent effective in helping us to postpone and achieve pregnancy. It brought the added benefit of making us very attuned to Mary’s cycles, and thus allowed us to accurately pinpoint ovulation and conception.
Because of this we were able to tell that it was within a matter of days following Fr. Mark’s blessing that we had conceived just in time for Christmas.
Our joy in learning that we would be expecting a Jubilee baby was compounded when we learned that the projected due date was in mid-September, very close to my own birthday.
A bit of background here: because of the circumstances surrounding my own conception, I had been threatened with abortion while still in the womb. So as my child’s due date approached I felt confident that God was going to work another special little miracle. Sure enough, we were blessed with a grace that flowed from that night so many months earlier in front of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. Elena Grace was born on my 33rd birthday.
While at adoration recently, I gave thanks for our new baby and I prayed for all of the other mothers we know who have given birth during this year, or whom are still expecting. As I prayed, I was able to count 27 in all. My wife and I know more expectant couples now than we have ever known at any previous time in our lives. Others whom we know have said the same thing. We are in a year of births. God is raising up an army.
How appropriate this is during the Great Jubilee.
From his earliest days in the chair of Saint Peter, Pope John Paul II has said that God would pour out tremendous conversions and graces upon us during the Jubilee Year. The Holy Father wrote in his 1994 apostolic letter Tertio Millennio Adveniente (Toward the Third Millennium) that “the future of the world belongs to the younger generation, to those who, born in this century, will reach maturity in the next, the first century of the new millennium.”
Do we believe what he has said? I have only to look at my new daughter to realize that what the Pope has said is true. What more precious grace can there be? What more precious gift can the Father give to us during the Jubilee year than the gift of life?