With all the myriad problems afflicting the Bride of Christ in her human element today, it can be tempting to be caught up with problems about which we can do precious little. It is easy to be consumed with the sex abuse crisis, the corruption in the episcopacy, and the liturgical abuse at the parish just down your street. Social media can feel like a war zone, with every loony idea given a megaphone.
So often the deluge of negativity blinds us to the suffering around us. While there is surely enough suffering on our plates (and much we need to pray about), it would behoove us to look to a problem that has a more immediate impact and that we could solve in a more practical and direct manner.
There is a silent suffering in our culture today. It affects people of all religions, races, and classes. It affects many of the people on the internet who argue with you. Perhaps you have suffered from it yourself. It is a problem about which little is spoken — often by those suffering the most. The victims — and they are many — have little in the way of resources.
That problem is the loss of a beloved child through miscarriage.
Far more women (and their husbands) have suffered in silence from this terrible plague than many realize. It affects about 15–20% of American women. Someone you know has almost certainly carried this awful burden without your realizing it.
I have seen the crushed souls of this silent suffering. A woman’s pregnancy progresses, and she swells not only with human life, but with joys and plans and various dreams of what her future will be like with a special child God chose just for her. Then, with that cruelest and most agonizing attack of fate, she hears news from the doctor that her worst fears have come true. Her dreams are over. It is as though she must pass not from a gloomy dream to a sunlit morning, but from a gloomy dream to a darker nightmare.
In the weeks and months that follow, it is as though a little ghost haunts her home. The specter of all the dreams and plans for her little one haunt her existence.
Perhaps you know of her plight. But what could you possibly say to make things better? Best not to bring it up. After all, she’ll surely get over it. Perhaps she’ll “try again,” and God will somehow work His incredible magic by making this unfortunate moment go away. That’s the best way to think of it, right? A tragic moment best shuffled under the rug. Better luck next time!
Often unspoken is her husband’s suffering. He, too, doubtlessly dreamed many a warm and tantalizing dream about fatherhood. Now he has lost what was once his. He had a happy wife filled with the grace of the Holy Ghost and human life abundant. Now he has a wife caught in despair and in desperate need of comfort. He may be the only person who can talk to her about her loss. While a few embarrassed people may think of something to say to his wife, no one will think about comforting him. He’ll get over it, won’t he? The grief passes over his heart, and the silent suffering envelops him. He decides it’s best not to speak of it. Someone must be strong in his marriage, after all.
As we worry about the many problems in the hierarchy and the social media wars on whose front lines we feel compelled to fight, we miss a great opportunity to evangelize those couples who have suffered great hardship. By “evangelize,” I by no means suggest we preach a sermon to those who have endured this hushed plague. We forget that often, the greatest form of evangelization is simply being present to someone as they grieve.
There is nothing one can do to revive a lost child. We do not have the power of St. Peter in Acts 9:40. But we can and ought to help those suffering in silence.
We Catholics should be proud of our counseling services. We have created many resources for people who have considered abortion, and some of our glorious saints have established hospitals all around the world. But one area where we can do more to help those in suffering is to help those who suffer in silence. How could you help?
Here is the very best source I could find. The best way you could help is to read it and understand the do’s and don’ts.
I worry about the problems in the Church, and so should you. But as our lives wind ever down toward the end and Our Lord’s Final Judgment, we won’t care about some liberal Catholic blogger accusing us or our favorite writers of schism on the internet. We won’t care about a loony Sedevacantist parachuting in our Twitter mentions to accuse us of heresy. (And, God willing, we won’t be judged on our internal responses to these two groups!) We will be judged by our response to the least of these.
I want to make the Church — especially the traditionalist enclaves — a better place. We Catholics are excellent in remembering to pray for the intercession of the Holy Innocents, and well we should! But I challenge you today to remember the souls in Limbo. (I say remember, since the theology of Limbo is not spelled out, and it’s not clear that praying for them would do much good, as they are already in a happy place.) Let us pray for those parents who carry the silent suffering we know of and for those we don’t. Pray especially for those whom you love to argue with on social media who endure this quiet misery now. Pray that, as Catholics, we come to make better counseling services and show the world how pro-life we truly are.
Let us pray:
O Glorious St. Joseph, you defended the innocent Christ-Child from King Herod’s terrible wrath. Defend now, at this hour, all innocent children in their mothers’ wombs, and give us that sense of safety and comfort that you gave to your earthly spouse and to your adopted son.
Sancte Ioseph, Ora pro nobis!
M.B. Moore is a former blogger, soon to be published novelist, former I.T. guy, and business consultant. He is also a curmudgeon, trying hard to break ungodly habits and be a good Catholic. In fact, he’s trying to start a series of articles for “Happy Trads.” He long ago got off social media for the good of his soul and hopes you do, too.