Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Annunciation and Infertility

I was sitting in Mass today, which is a very good place to sit, and I was listening to the readings that I have heard many times before and the Gospel whacked me straight in the heart. It was a pretty personal whack so I apologize in advance if this post is hard to follow.
Here, you read the Gospel and see if anything strikes you.

LUKE 1:26-38
26 And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth,
27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.
28 And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
29 Who having heard, was troubled at his saying, and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be.
30 And the angel said to her: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God.
31 Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus.
32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the most High; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father; and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever.
33 And of his kingdom there shall be no end.
34 And Mary said to the angel: How shall this be done, because I know not man?
35 And the angel answering, said to her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
36 And behold thy cousin Elizabeth, she also hath conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren:
37 Because no word shall be impossible with God.
38 And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

Now, I am not a biblical scholar, at all. But I do have a blog so I am going to share with you what struck me.

Mary asks the angel HOW she will conceive. How is this possible? It seems to me that the angel gives her two answers.

The first answer is practical. How will this happen? "Well, the Holy Spirit, the breath of life, is going to breath on you and you will bear life." Ok. Good. That would almost be a complete answer, right? How is God going to work this, well, he will do what he does best and create LIFE!

The second answer is testimonial. The second answer is the one that struck me almost speechless. It is calling on a witness. And an infertile witness at that. It was the witness of this infertile couple that showed Mary how God was going to change her life and the life of the world through her. Whenever I read and heard this passage before my mind always went right to the meeting of Mary and Elizabeth and really the first meeting of Jesus and John. I thought that the angel mentioned Elizabeth to get Jesus to John. And I am sure that this is a part of it. But I was touched by the idea that the answer to Mary's question of 'How is this possible' was the witness of an infertile woman. And it was after Mary received these TWO answers that she declares "Be it done to me according to thy word."

So this passage became a challenge to me. Am I allowing God to use my infertility as a witness? As a witness to how the impossible is possible with God. Because remember Elizabeth was infertile before there was NaPro or Facebook support groups and she was infertile until PAST her fertile years. She 'aged out' in a sense. I have been dealing with infertility for 4 1/2 years. Sometimes everything seems hopeless. Elizabeth could have dealt with infertility since she was 16 and now she is, what, 50? Possibly older? She would have been living with infertility for 34+ years. How hopeless that must have seemed. But God uses the barren to give witness to the possibility of life!

Lord, use me to inspire someone else's Fiat! Let this be my fiat!

Let my Life bear witness to YOUR WORD!

Updated 03/26/13
I was laying in bed last night am describing this insight to my husband who said, "Well, yay! And it is only after SEEING Elizabeth that she sings out the Magnificat!" Mary's strength to carry her son to the cross is confirmed, yet again, by the witness of the infertile woman who was faithful to God's Promises.

I also want to highlight that I don't think you ever have to have a child after infertility to be this witness. As Rebecca is fond of repeating, and it always inspires me, the spiritual presides the physical. Elizabeth had life in her heart before she had it in her womb. The physical life is a reflection of the spiritual life already present; it makes visible the invisible!

My final point was to share that at this mass I felt like God was speaking directly to me. The homily was beautiful and mystical; very Theology of the Body, about how the Incarnation is a call out to humans to become divine. (I especially liked the reflection that Father had on how Christ didn't come as an animal or a plant, but as a human and so making everything human divine!). Yesterday was also the first time I can remember a prayer for all those struggling to conceive in the prayers of the faithful!

It was beautiful to be mentioned in the prayer of the Church. So often this is one of the things that makes me bitter, not being noticed in the struggle when it seems that everything else IS!

So, anyways, just some add-on thoughts!


  1. Ummmm...do you realize what you did here?

    I'll wait.... ;)

    Think TOB 3....

    Service of life....

    Um, yea, you just put that final piece into the puzzle! Remember those conversations about we "stand in the face of the culture of death and say that life has meaning"?

    This was the piece we were missing - and I'm not surprised in the least that it was you that found it :).

    My heart needed this today my friend, thank-you!

  2. But what if I don't want to be that person to stand in the face of culture. Why do I have to be Elizabeth, why can't I be Mary? I know we all have our cross...but mine is becoming increasingly harder to hold up, I'm falling.

    1. Do you mind if I make this another blog post? I started responding because your question rages in my heart consistently and It started getting really long! So I think it would be better as a post. But only if you are ok with it.

  3. This was beautiful...like in John, the blind man was not punished but used to show the glory of God. I had a friend deal with infertility that seemed to have this attitude, when she didn't conceive for years and her secular friends would tease her, "where's your baby, you should be pregnant by now!" and her response was always "you'll see. God has a plan. He has it figured out." I almost cry just thinking about that faithfulness, especially since my response is more like....WHAT is going ON God?!? Of course, that story is in hindsight but, allows room for God to work...

  4. It's hard to be Elizabeth... I hope someday to have her same miracle... But hard in the waiting to see what God is going to do in our life.

  5. Clearly, you are a witness. This post is a witness. Beautiful!

  6. Great post. I am new to your blog, but your words struck me today. Just what I needed to hear. My prayers are with you as continue to use your faith to heal others!