And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. Today, we celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Based in both Sacred Scripture and Tradition, it is the day we remember that Mary was conceived without sin by God’s redeeming Grace. It is a holy day of obligation for Catholics and it is a very special day for my family.
In the summer of 2003, I suffered a miscarriage. It was my second pregnancy loss. I had two toddlers at home that provided great solace and distraction to me, but, my heart grieved for the child I had prayed for and my body grieved for the child I could not hold and nurture. Pregnancy loss challenged my faith. It also made me desire my faith more. So, I spent more time in prayer and my husband and I sought ways to immerse our family in our faith. In the early spring of 2004, we decided to make a pilgrimage to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. We attended Mass and confession and we toured the beautiful Shrine. It is a very special place. I was still grieving and so desiring of another child to add to our family. And, at age 37, I was considered advanced maternal age, so my ability to pray with confidence in God was faltering.
The Mass we attended was sponsored by the Knights of Columbus and the Bishop was the celebrant. My two toddlers were rambunctious and enjoying the melodic echo that their random screams and giggles made. So, my husband and I had to leave the sanctuary and walk them around in the back of the church. After Mass, the Bishop came out of the sanctuary in a grand procession with the knights in all of their regalia and walked right up to my husband and me. We were embarrassed and thought he was going to ask us to keep them quiet next time. But, instead, he smiled at the children, and said, “They are the reason we do all of this.” He graciously posed for pictures with us. Needless to say, the pilgrimage was a boost to our family morale and, now, we don’t make a trip North to grandma’s without stopping by.
In the weeks following our pilgrimage, I started to experience the familiar signs of new pregnancy. And, it wasn’t long before I knew that we were expecting a child. It was a time of great joy but tinged with anxiety because I had already lost two babies. I made a great effort to feed my faith at that time. I had no guarantee of the outcome of this pregnancy, but whatever happened, I knew that I did not want to lose my faith.
The pregnancy progressed normally and after we crossed the threshold of the first trimester, I was relieved of my anxiety and was able to enjoy the precious time with my baby in my womb. We announced it to our two children. My oldest daughter wanted to nickname the baby, so we let her. She chose the name Rose Petal. We did not know if it was a girl or a boy. But, it was so precious that we went with it.
On December 8, 2004, I gave birth to Rose Teresa. My husband and I look back on our pilgrimage and feel that we may have been given a signal grace in the form of a beautiful baby, born on the feast of the Immaculate Conception of our Blessed Mother. Although, there is no specific catechism on signal graces, they are a promise give to us by Mary. And for me, they are guide posts or signs along the way that tell me I am headed in the right direction. And, I can only see them by the supernatural light of faith.
I believe we all are given signal graces to guide us on our journey of faith. Do you have a story to share about a time when your faith allowed you to see a sign from God?
Shiela is a widow and mother of five children from elementary to High school. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor and art therapist but her primary vocation is to be a mom. She discovered apologetics while cruising around social networks and finding her faith under attack. She approaches apologetics with humor and everyday stories and hopes to ignite a fire of joyful catholic culture that will spread throughout the world. In the wake of her husband’s death, she will be sharing her grief journey.