Shower Of Love Celebrates Greatest Gift Of All
Published: October 1, 2009
A shimmering punch bowl and a white cake hold court on one table, while another is laden with an array of festively wrapped gifts. Nearby a cluster of ladies is chatting, awaiting the guests of honor.
Before long, in they come, a young couple looking a bit flustered because they got lost on their way to the church. She is eight months pregnant and radiantly pretty. He is her boyfriend, and a little nervous as he is greeted by the roomful of women.
This is a big event at St. Thomas More Church in Decatur, and I’m delighted to be here. It’s the first baby shower that our church has hosted, and it is to honor a couple that decided to embrace life.
It was no doubt difficult for them because their story has all the ingredients that lead other couples too often to the abortion clinic: They are not married, and he recently lost his job. The temptingly easy path, at least on the surface, would have been to go the abortion route. But this couple is a shining version of a twosome who, through counseling and prayer, has decided to accept responsibility for their baby boy’s life.
Father Brian Lorei, our parochial vicar, stops by to meet the couple and give them a blessing. He also leads the group in a tribute to the Blessed Mother, “The Hail Holy Queen.” The words are a poignant reminder of the trials that our earthly life holds, for this world certainly can be a vale of tears. But we are also asking for Mary’s prayers “that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.”
People who support life efforts sometimes are criticized by the secular media for not helping couples financially once they decide to have the baby. In fact, though, there are many communities like this one at St. Thomas More that make an effort to assist the couple not only during the pregnancy but also after the child is born. There are many parishes that give generously to Birthright, a group committed to giving financial, spiritual and emotional support to new mothers and their babies – and this assistance doesn’t stop with the baby’s birth. There are also people who help young couples through the pro-life Christian ministry at The College Women’s Center in Decatur.
This shower is the first step in that ongoing support, for after we have had our delicious slices of cake and sipped our punch, it’s time for the couple to open the mountain of gifts.
Some presents come from parishioners who couldn’t attend the shower today, while others are from the ladies gathered in the room. As each gift is opened, the mother seems genuinely touched and appreciative, and the father carefully folds the tiny garments and places them gently back in the gift bags. When someone mentions that some gifts are from “anonymous,” the young man looks up to heaven and whispers, “Thank you, God!”
There are the big-ticket items that would be staggering for a young couple to buy: a car seat, a playpen that doubles as a crib, and a baby carrier. There are darling outfits that cause an outcry of “ahhhh” and “ooooh” throughout the room, and there are mittens, socks, diapers, bibs, bath lotions and gift cards.
When the games are played, prizes are given out, and the young lady-in-waiting wins one that seems so appropriate: a portrait of the Blessed Mother. She holds it up with a little smile and whispers, “It’s Mary.” Since nothing happens by chance, I have to conclude that she was meant to get that gift.
It is a lovely reminder of another unexpected pregnancy long ago, and another sweet girl who said “yes” to the gift of life. It is a reminder that our “Mother of Mercy” still prays for us and helps us stay true to our faith—and the promises of Christ.
Lorraine’s latest book is “Death in the Choir,” a mystery set at a church in Decatur. Artwork for this column is by Jef Murray. Readers may e-mail the Murrays, who are parishioners at St. Thomas More Church, by writing firstname.lastname@example.org.