A mother’s love is more gentle than silk and more caressing than the morning dawn. It is more precious than diamond deposits and more beautiful than the most wondrous beauties of our world. It can be as tranquil as a spring. But if necessary it will fight for its own child the way the most skilled warriors fight for their loved ones.
Let me share a real story from life. It happened very recently. And there doesn’t seem to be anything unusual in it. But if you are oversensitive, please don’t read this story.
She is a mother of many children. And she loves children beyond words. God has blessed their family—they have six children. She brought up her children without melancholy and St. John Cassian’s Institutes: On DespondencyHow our fifth combat is against the spirit of despondency, and of the harm which it inflicts upon the soul.
“>despondency. With a bunch of children, she was always in a hurry to get to school or the church. With prayer on her lips and a warm smile on her face, she worked from dawn to dusk. She did it the way women had labored in Russia since olden times.
Trials, as it should be, visited them. They didn’t have their own home, and her husband’s earnings were quite modest. And she (a wonderful miracle!) would only say cheerfully: “As God wills, so it will be. Somehow, with God’s help, we will cope.” And God helped them all the time. She managed to open a kindergarten at home and received a salary from the State. All of her children received her motherly affection and attention. Plenty is no plague: they grew up together, from an early age in mutual communication learning important lessons for themselves.
And now she was bearing a seventh in her womb—the fruit of love and prayer, a dear and desired child.
Our world is so strange and incomprehensible. Some are horrified at the very thought of conceiving a child. Our world is contradictory. Some can’t even manage one child. And in their unexpected happiness—for every single child brings happiness, which is sometimes misunderstood or understood with great delay—they see an untimely and unnecessary burden. Others decide to have as many children as God gives them—as it had always been customary in Russia since time immemorial. That’s why God had always blessed Russia. And such people know with their hearts that where there are children, there is Paradise; and the more children the more Heavenly joy in the family.
She knew that. She knew that she was bearing a precious child. She prayed with complete trust in the Lord. But at some point she noticed that she was bleeding.
It should be added here that, being an active mother, she continued to work hard. But their large family was used to that. As the great poet Nikolai Nekrasov (1821–1877) rightly noted, there are women in Russian villages who are not afraid of fire and are able to stop a galloping horse. While working in the field they could give birth to absolutely healthy children. And their children were taught to work from an early age. However (as was often the case in olden times, too), we live in a world of pain and losses.
She did not want to lose her baby, and so, turning with all her heart to the Almighty, she also turned to doctors as well. At that moment she was fifteen weeks pregnant. The doctors diagnosed placental detachment and admitted the mother to the hospital so that she could keep her baby.
She asked all her acquaintances to pray for her and prayed herself. She also consulted with a priest. For the day and the hour could come when her baby would be born prematurely. His bodily existence would be incompatible with our world, and then she would have to struggle for his immortal soul.
We will never understand why God, having allowed a child to be conceived in his mother’s womb, didn’t allow him to be born at term and took him from our sinful world so early. The cause of any pathology and premature death is the fact that our world was corrupted by sin. We are heirs of a corrupted nature, and we bear the destructive consequences of sin. But even the most fatal consequences are included in God’s Providence Guides History SymbolicallyScripture depicts history symbolically because God’s providence guides history symbolically.
“>Divine Providence. How can we fathom this? The mystery of Providence will remain a mystery.
And that fateful day came. Her pregnancy resulted in what medicine calls a miscarriage.
He was born. He was only about fifteen centimeters (about six inches) long—a little human being. But so real, with fingers and toes. It was a baby boy—her desired, beloved son. His little heart was beating fast—she could see it. He was alive!
He fed from her through the umbilical cord. He found himself in the external environment too early and could not survive in our inhospitable, aggressive world. But there was someone with him who was trying to overcome external aggression, because she loved him infinitely—it was his mother. She looked at him affectionately, an infant so dear and priceless. But, realizing that there was very little time left, she immediately stretched out her hand to the holy water, which was right there on the bedside table.
She had spoken about all this with the priest in advance, and he had told her what to do and how to do it. She had been preparing for this and praying so that she wouldn’t meet this moment unprepared spiritually. Normal water would have been fine too. But she had brought some holy water with her because she had wanted everything to be holy in the sacrament. And now that moment came.
It so happened that there was no one in the hospital ward at that moment. And the mother perceived it as God’s mercy, because a great sacrament was being performed there—the spiritual birth of a little human being into eternal life. Her own flesh and blood, her sweet little one, who was now being born of water and of the Spirit (Jn. 3:5). And at that sacred moment there should be no fuss, no screams, and no running staff.
The Lord arranged that no outsider was present where the angels were receiving the newly baptized infant. In the sacred stillness, in the secret silence of the sacrament the mother performed Baptism.
“The servant of God Alexander is baptized in the name of the Father, amen; and of the Son, Amen; and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.”
With these holy words she poured holy water on her son’s head three times, and the grace of God washed him inexplicably and mysteriously. Glory to Thee Who hast shown us the Light! The Life–Giving Trinity, the Indivisible Trinity, Whose name is Love, allowed a newly baptized baby to be born into eternal life. Where death wanted to triumph a spiritual victory shone.
We don’t even guess what the Lord has entrusted us with. Human beings, created in the image of God the Creator, participate in the creation of new people. Let no one think that only the carnal is accomplished in the conception of a child. No, a wondrous mystery of God is performed there. Bringing from non–being into being is a gift from God, Who created the whole world out of nothing. Created in the image of God the Savior, people participate in the salvation of new people as well. Parents are entrusted with the lives of their children: parents name them; if they are wise enough, parents will also introduce them to the mystery of salvation. God calls parents to become like the guardian-angels of their children—that is, to protect them from sin and nourish them with the life-giving dew of the Holy Spirit. Let’s think seriously about how much is entrusted to us. So much that it is terrifying.
But let’s return to that ordinary hospital ward, which was transformed for a moment into a church of God and stretched its vault to heaven. Eternity was united with a few seconds of the sacrament so that the baptized infant would receive the blessings of eternity. Now it remained for the holy angels to receive the soul of the newly baptized baby from his weak body. His heart soon stopped beating. He departed from our sinful earth. But it was not such a great tragedy here as there could have been. For a baby, which is as pure as an angel, the true life is in Heaven. An indescribable, profound peace began to reign in his mother’s heart. Spiritual joy shone instead of despondency.
She thanks the Lord and believes that it is the greatest mercy of God. For the child has departed from the earthly world, having entered through the gates of God’s Paradise, given to us by Christ out of His great love.
They gave her the baby’s body, and she buried him in the cemetery next to her relatives. And the priest performed the funeral service over the baby according to the order proper in this case.
Our world is a mysterious arena of struggle. Good and evil come to grips in a violent battle. Eternal destiny is at stake, and the fruits of this warfare extend to our children as well. But, by the mercy of God, there are spiritual winners even here.
There is an image of God in every little child, just as the sun is reflected in a small mirror. And a child himself is a priceless Divine gift.
So, fight for the lives of your children. And fight even more vigorously for their eternal life.