Yesterday I wrote about how it is the specific vocation of the laity to consecrate the temporal order to God.
One way I think we could make a huge pro-life witness would be to supplant the Baby Shower ritual celebration with more Blessingways.
Blessingways are celebrations for pregnant women and unborn babies that focuses on celebrating the pregnancy, pampering the mommy and welcoming the child. Typically every guest will bring some item that reminds them of the mom; this can be a bead, for instance, which would be strung into a bracelet or necklace for the guest of honor. Craftier women than me bring quilt squares which are sewn into a quilt for the baby.
Prayers, intentions, blessings can be said. The USCCB released in 2008 a Rite for the Blessing of a Child in the Womb, which a priest or deacon can perform. But we could easily use the prayers, readings or intentions as part of our own prayers for the mother. It is so encouraging that they made this; here is an excerpt:
God, author of all life,bless, we pray, this unborn child;give constant protectionand grant a healthy birththat is the sign of our rebirth one dayinto the eternal rejoicing of heaven.Lord, who have brought to this womanthe wondrous joy of motherhood,grant her comfort in all anxietyand make her determinedto lead her child along the ways of salvation
There are prayers for the father as well and Scripture passages. A Blessingway need not be specifically religious, but in my opinion, a spirituality rooted in the Faith of Christ makes it weightier, deeper and more meaningful.
Mommy can be pampered with henna designs on her belly, pedicures or anything else fun.
Gifts can be brought too, but aren’t the focus.
Most importantly, Blessingways are for every baby, first or tenth, not just the first the way showers tend to be.
Baby showers are fine; they are fun and cute, and they certainly fill a need. A first time mom does indeed need a crib-full of baby gear from carseats and strollers, which can get pricey, to bibs and onesies, which add up as well, and showers help young moms especially stock up without breaking the bank.
Acknowledging the good of baby showers, we should still emphasize Blessingways as a less materialistic counter-part. Having a baby is a material and medical event, but it is much more than that. It is a personal and spiritual even that will change forever the way a mother views the world, and a Blessingway celebrates those aspects better with a more personal group of friends and family with a clearer focus on the value of the baby and the mother.
Especially as Catholics, who tend to have more than the standard “two then through” number of children, conceiving the third can generate a very mixed social reception in non-Catholic circles. Thirds and beyond tend not to be celebrated much and as a mother, it can be a little sad and discouraging.
Blessingways help remind everyone that this new child is just as unique and wonderful a gift as the first one. The party is something to look forward to, just like the baby. In a pro-life community, there should be no pregnancy without a party.
Imagine how a Blessingway could impact a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy. The world tends to shun, shame and criticize these women, but she has made a courageous decision to keep the baby, and that child will be just as life-changing and perspective-altering a planned bundle of joy, or more so.
So in my sphere, that of wife and mother and Catholic, one place I can help consecrate the world to Christ is to through Blessingways, to celebrate every life. It reminds people that life is worthwhile and worthy celebrating!
Each of us are called especially to bring Christ to our unique place in the world. How can you consecrate your little patch of earth?