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Infertility: Learning to bear spiritual fruit

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For a couple longing to bear a child, it can be a tremendous challenge to find themselves learning to bear a cross instead. One in six couples in the U.S. faces infertility, a cross that can affect the mind, body and soul. Infertility can be a treacherous, emotionally-fraught journey, further complicated by the myriad illicit treatments such as in vitro fertilization and insemination that lure couples with the promise of a child but disregard human dignity. 

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MASS OF INTERCESSION
A Mass of prayer and intercession will be offered for couples struggling with the cross of infertility and pregnancy-related difficulties on Thursday, April 19 at 7:45 p.m. at St. Timothy Parish, 5400 S.W. 102 Ave., Miami. All are invited to show your prayerful support. Reception with Catholic infertility-related resources following the Mass at the parish’s McDermott Hall West. This event is co-sponsored by the Family Life Office of the Archdiocese of Miami. For more information, contact catholicinfertilityjourney@yahoo.com.  
National Infertility Awareness Month in April can serve to remind us that the Catholic Church has blessed us with the gift of her rich teachings on the subject of infertility, and has encouraged physicians and other medical professionals to seek ways of treating infertility holistically, via methods such as NaProTechnology, which strives to discover and treat the underlying reasons for infertility. 

When my husband and I faced infertility, we knew the Church had a lot to say on the subject, but we longed for a comprehensive resource that could provide medical facts, Church teaching and spiritual support. In short, we just wanted to feel like we weren’t alone. In answer to this desire and to support other Catholic couples who were also experiencing infertility, I joined with my friend, Carmen Santamaría, to write, “The Infertility Companion for Catholics: Spiritual and Practical Support for Couples,” just published by Ave Maria Press. The book includes treatment options for Catholics, a chapter on how infertility affects marriages, a discussion on how family and friends can help, as well as prayers and other resources.

Here is an excerpt from the book written by Carmen which discusses the cross of infertility:

“One of the most powerful emotions I have experienced during my struggle with infertility is fear. Many times I’m simply afraid of being denied my desire to have more children. I know God knows my heart and the raw emotion I feel, but I grow tired of being told ‘no’ again and again. I want a different answer, a different outcome. My heart longs to be a mother to more children. As I continue to pray that his will be done in hopes that his will is for us to have more children, I often recall that God tells us to trust in him. ‘Even the hairs of your head have all been counted. Do not be afraid’ (Lk 12:7). I have to choose to have faith. I choose to have faith in God. I choose to know that God knows our deep desire to parent more of his children. I choose to live out the life he has asked us to live, honoring him. It can be scary, but I trust that, if God is taking care of the hairs on my head, he is surely in control of my fertility. As C.S. Lewis said in one of his letters, ‘We’re not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.’ This act of accepting God’s will and striving to live joyfully amidst the pain of infertility is how we respond to God’s call to ‘take up one’s cross’ (Mt 16:24).”

The journey of infertility is a painful one but our archdiocese is providing its prayerful support with a Mass of Hope and Encouragement for Those Touched by Infertility on April 19. For those of us experiencing infertility, it is not in our control to ensure the journey will bear fruit in our wombs, but it is up to us to ensure that this path will bear spiritual fruit.


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