The Agony in the Garden
Fruit of the Mystery: Accepting God’s Will
“We shall find our little ones again up above”
by Jennifer Kenning
“I’m sorry, I cannot find a heartbeat.”
My heart began to race. I couldn’t believe it. I had just felt her kicking during early labor at home. When did this happen? I was 37 weeks and 2 days pregnant today, surely this couldn’t happen at this stage.
A lump in my throat kept me from speaking. My voice shook when I quietly asked the doctor, “I would like to see a priest.”
Once I got settled in my room, the only thing I could think to do, was to pray. For some reason, the only prayer I could muster up were the words that Our Lord prayed during the Agony in the Garden. “Father, if thou wilt, remove this chalice from me: but yet not my will, but thine be done.” (Luke 22:42, Douay-Rheims)
My body was shaking in fear. Tears came and stopped again. I turned my heart to the Lord and I prayed, “I don’t know why You are asking me to go through this. But if this is the Cross You have chosen for me, give me the grace to accept it. I humbly ask You to help me carry it, because I cannot do this alone.”
It was 2am on a Sunday, April 8th, 2018. Divine Mercy Sunday. I had just concluded a novena asking the Lord that my little Anastasia Faustina would be born that day so that by her life, she would bring many souls to Heaven, particularly my mother. I wondered why the Lord didn’t want to answer my prayer.
My husband was at home with our ten-month-old son, and the doula that I had hired for this labor was on her way. The nurses informed me that the priest would be here in the morning and that they would make sure he would come to see me before Mass.
As the daylight broke through the night, I was heavily advanced in labor. I was at 7-8cm dilation when a priest knocked on the door of my hospital room. He was very old, with a strong cowboy accent. We spoke of my novena intention. We spoke of her name, Anastasia Faustina, in dedication to the Saint so intimately entwined with the feast of the day, Divine Mercy Sunday. The priest offered words of comfort, and told me, “I will give you Holy Communion now. I want you to close your eyes in prayer and I will leave. Ask the Lord to be with you.”
I closed my eyes. As the host touched my tongue, something incredible happened. I found myself immersed in the brightest sunlight. I saw a magnificent city made of clouds and sun. A young woman stood before me. She was beautiful, with brown hair, and she wore a garment made of pure sunlight. She smiled at me, and I knew it was my daughter. Next to her stood Our Lord. He too, wore a garment made of sunlight, and He smiled at me with a smile of unearthly joy and kindness. He took her hand and said to me, “Do not worry, she’s here with me. And I will give you everything you need to get through this.”
I opened my eyes, and it was all gone. The only thing that remained was an unearthly peace in my heart, as I had never felt before. It gave me courage to get through this labor, just as Our Lord had promised me. The memory of the vision gave me strength.
Normally, births are loud with many people rushing around and the baby’s screams filling the room. When Anastasia was born, the silence was deafening. She looked so peaceful, as though she was dreaming. When all the hospital staff left me alone with her, the grief and sadness overwhelmed me. I held her close and just sobbed. “Lord, You gave her to me for nine months. Now I give her back to You.” It was the most difficult prayer I ever had to pray.
Anastasia Faustina was baptized in the traditional Latin rite within an hour of her birth. Her funeral Mass followed ten days later. I wanted it to be perfect for her. I had so looked forward to planning her baptism, her first birthday cake smash, ballet recitals. But her funeral was the only thing I could plan for her, and so I wanted it to be special. I do not know why the Lord needed me to go through this pain. We cannot try to understand the ways of the Lord. This is the Cross he had formed for my shoulders to carry, and I was now given the choice to take it up and ask the Lord to help me carry it to Heaven.
Alternatively, I could reject it, and Him for allowing this pain into my life. I chose the former, because the pain would be there either way. This lifetime is a but a blink of an eye in eternity, and I was willing to suffer a thousand lifetimes if it meant I could spend eternity in that magnificent city made of sunlight with Our Lord, and my daughter, who I miss so much. The words by St. Zélie Martin, a Saint who became a dear friend to me in the weeks to follow, have given me much comfort, “We shall find our little ones again up above.”
The peace that had filled my heart during that vision has remained with me every day since. All I have left of my daughter is a lock of her hair which I wear in a locket around my neck, and the memory of her smile in Heaven. I know that this grace was given to me as a great consolation. In the end, the novena I had prayed with the intention that by her life, she would bring many souls to Heaven, has been answered.
Except it wasn’t other people’s conversion and salvation, but my own.
About Jennifer: Jenny is a Catholic homemaker, wife and mother to 4 children, ages 4.5 and under. She and her husband live on a 3 acre homestead with their 35 chickens and several meat rabbits. They also grow much of their own fresh produce and apothecary. Her blog, http://www.SimplicityEverAfter.com, is all about teaching families to take back control over the nutritional value of their food by using permaculture gardening methods.