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Monday, February 1, 2016

A Time for Prayer

Throughout January, I felt that many of our days were rushed. What parent isn't overwhelmed with school, activities, cleaning, laundry, and the like?  In January, I worked quite a bit more than I had been, and with all of our routines and scheduled activities, the month was just here and gone. Most mornings, Natalie wakes up early and then gets Jeremiah up to watch a cartoon and have breakfast.  I get up shortly thereafter and check if Isaac is still sleeping.  He usually sleeps until about the time his nurse arrives, but this morning he was laying awake in his crib, and whined when I tried to sneak past him out of the room to grab a cup of coffee before getting him up.  After the nurse arrives, we spend the next 45-60 minutes on Isaac's treatment and getting him ready for the day.  Some mornings, Natalie has preschool or gymnastics.  Once a week we try to get to the Song and Story time, and on Sundays we go to Mass. Isaac has therapy 3-4 times a week, and he naps for 1-2 hours every afternoon. When I work, I try to be back home before he wakes up from his nap, because he tends to wake up kind of grumpy.  We have dinner by 5, so Isaac can join us at the table before we start the bedtime routine around 6:00.  We have the kids in bed a little after 8, and then we have an hour or two to finish some chores, make Isaac's formula for the night, and relax before heading to bed.  Some nights, Isaac needs to be repositioned every hour or two and gently patted before he falls back to sleep.  Other nights, he doesn't make a peep for hours, except maybe to coo or giggle at a dream. I really don't mind waking up to those sweet sounds...

One night, as I was standing by Isaac's crib, patting him and stroking his hair until he fell back to sleep, I was hit with an overwhelming sense of love and gratitude and awe.  I thought about how incredible it is that a person, my son, would be here on this earth, and his sole purpose was love- to be loved and then to love.  Then I thought, 'well, who isn't here to be loved?'  People accomplish great things, or they accomplish small things. People are a joy to be around, or maybe they try your patience.  What a person can or can not do, what he says, what she does- like it or not, people are here to be loved.  Isaac just makes it easy to both love him and adore him; caring for him is a joy.  But love doesn't necessarily mean joy and feelings of adoration. It usually means a choice, making the choice to give a person what he needs, to care for someone spiritually and physically, and to do it even when it hurts or goes against your natural tendency to avoid that person.  The unborn, the elderly, the dying, the homeless, the foreigner, the disabled, the criminal, the politician, the weird kid in class, the annoying co-worker. We all have someone that needs our love, our choice, our joy.  Isaac is special because, to strangers, he is different, sick, disabled; but he inspires great acts of sacrifice and charity and generosity and compassion.  He inspires Love.  I am grateful beyond words that God gave him to Jeremiah and me to know and love as our son.  I am also grateful that, with his life, he gives others opportunities to grow in faith and hope and charity.  Thank you for responding to those opportunities. I hope that everyone who reads this update will think of yet another person who needs your love (perhaps someone who isn't as easy to love as a bright-eyed two year old boy), and make the choice to love.

I would like to ask another favor of everyone reading this who is willing to pray.  Tomorrow, February 2, begins the Novena to Our Lady of Lourdes.  Isaac's birthday is also the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, and I ask that everyone pray the novena with the intention that Isaac continues to grow, remains healthy, and for his miraculous cure.  I rarely think about a cure anymore, because I think Isaac is perfect just as he is, but I still have dreams of waking up some morning to see that he has rolled over, taken his mask off his face, and fallen back asleep in whatever position he wanted, breathing on his own.  Our Lady of Lourdes is one of the many names we Catholics give to Mary.  This one is due to apparitions that began on February 11, 1858, in Lourdes, France.  The site of the apparitions has become a pilgrimage site, especially for people seeking physical and spiritual healing.  Miracles have occurred there!  I have holy water from the spring at Lourdes, and I bless Isaac with it every night.  A novena is prayed for the nine days leading up to the feast day.  So I invite you to begin tomorrow, and set aside a few minutes of prayer for Isaac and our family!  Below is a link to the novena, and below that I will copy the first day's prayer.  If you are not Catholic or just don't feel comfortable praying to Mary, remember that we are asking for Mary's intercession with her son, the same way that she interceded on behalf of the bride and groom at the wedding feast in Cana. Her intercession is powerful, and it produces results even greater than wine.  Even greater than really good wine!

Novena of Our Lady of Lourdes

Day 1, February 2
Be blessed, O most pure Virgin, for having vouchsafed to manifest your shining with life, sweetness and beauty, in the Grotto of Lourdes, saying to the child, St. Bernadette: "I am the Immaculate Conception." A thousand times we congratulate you upon your Immaculate Conception. And now, O ever Immaculate Virgin, Mother of mercy, Health of the sick, Refuge of sinners, Comforter of the afflicted, you know our wants, our troubles, our sufferings deign to cast upon us a look of mercy.Image of Mary at Lourdes
By appearing in the Grotto of Lourdes, you were pleased to make it a privileged sanctuary, whence you dispense your favors, and already many have obtained the cure of their infirmities, both spiritual and physical. We come, therefore, with the most unbounded confidence to implore your maternal intercession. Obtain for us, O loving Mother, the granting of our request.
  (state your request)
 Through gratitude for your favors, we will endeavor to imitate your virtues, that we may one day share your glory.
Our Lady of Lourdes, Mother of Christ, you had influence with your divine son while upon earth. You have the same influence now in Heaven. Pray for us; obtain for us from your Divine Son our special requests if it be the Divine Will. Amen.Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.
Saint Bernadette, pray for us.

DAY ONE 
O Mary Immaculate, Our Lady of Lourdes, virgin and mother, queen of heaven, chosen from all eternity to be the Mother of the Eternal Word and in virtue of this title preserved from original sin, we kneel before you as did little Bernadette at Lourdes and pray with childlike trust in you that as we contemplate your glorious appearance at Lourdes, you will look with mercy on our present petition and secure for us a favorable answer to the request for which we are making this novena.

(make your request)
O Brilliant star of purity, Mary Immaculate, Our Lady of Lourdes, glorious in your assumption, triumphant in your coronation, show unto us the mercy of the Mother of God, Virgin Mary, Queen and Mother, be our comfort, hope, strength, and consolationAmen.
Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.
Saint Bernadette, pray for us.

End each day by praying the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  Amen.

Hail Mary, full of grace,
the Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of they womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, mother of God,
pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen,

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end. Amen.

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