Monday, May 14, 2012

The "Mass of the Angels"

Most things in life are trifle compared to the death of an infant child, but  happy are we who believe in the  "Mass of the Angels" for our little children, called home so early into the arms of Jesus.

As I've mentioned before, our parish family has been in mourning, all praying for a miracle (if that is what God's desire for this wee one was to be), our little baby "Marie", who's body was buried last week. 

Two days after her early baptism, Marie was rushed to a children's hospital over an hour away from their family, when it became apparent her breastfeeding actions were all too much for her, the toll was draining her heart, physical evidence became traumatic, and an urgency to perform medical tests were a necessity.

When the discovery came, that of "Edwards syndrome/Trisomy 18", it stunned everyone who had only two days before, gathered and shared in the joy of her first sacrament. 

I am so very thankful to Jessica for posting so many beautiful moments with her new baby Andrew this past January. She has personally blessed me - so very much with all her posts from his baptism. 

The gorgeous and most perfect baptismal blanket posted with her baby in the photos inspired me to contact the fabulous folks at "Catholic Embroidery", and have a similar keepsake created by their loving hands. These folks dropped everything to offer much prayer, coupled with an immediate order shipping within 24 hours, such fabulous service. I can't say enough about the folks who assisted us during this timing, and I highly recommend their services for any personalized embroidery items. (Thank you so much again Mary!)

In my absolute haste to assure immediate delivery upon receipt over to Marie's family, I quickly (sadly) realized I never took one moment to snap a photo of it for my own heartfelt blessing keepsake. The family were so very pleased, accepted the beautiful gift, absolutely adored it, wrapped their little girl up, then cuddled her close to their hearts.

Death was knocking at this wee babe's door, yet she proved in the end to be a fighter, and with her efforts, she blessed everyone who met her even more, allowing all the stages of grief before her passing, such a healing timing to be sure. 

The first week of Lent, doctors allowed her to go home, to be cared for and nursed by her family, with the help of a visiting pair of nurses for a bit of relief, but all were preparing for the inevitable. She was never far from our minds, not ever. 

Marie received all the sacraments possible; Extreme Unction, and even Confirmation, so rare to hear of this offered to a baby. 

Instead of passing early, she hung on, her mother spending every single possible moment with her, several appointed parishioners visited daily to assist with the family's homeschooling, doing laundry or whatever hands were welcomed to offer. Marie blessed everyone, bonding an entire parish, all wrapping a prayerful hedge of support around the family. 

On Easter Sunday, a respite offered Marie's mother the opportunity to attend mass where her younger son was to receive his First Communion. She sat in the pew as usual in front of our family, and shared with me that it was a huge miracle in itself her baby was able to be home with them at all. Instead of tears this day, a peaceful acceptance for God's will towards this child was in the mother's eyes now, the entire family open to whatever was to be. If that was even possible, it now was for them. 

And then, suddenly, Marie took a turn, her heart slowly beginning to cease beating life in to her wee body. When the family was absent from mass one Sunday morning, everyone just "knew" what was beginning to happen. Fervent prayers rose from the congregation, all could feel the silent acknowledgement of what was occurring, and one could also hear a pin drop with strangely quiet babies, children who sat perfectly well in their pews, and parents bowing their heads with thoughts far away. 

Last week, our parish family happily gathered again, this time to support the family and perform the corporal works of mercy of burying the dead. On our drive to the funeral, I shared with our children they might never again attend such a mass as this one, for it is a rare thing to be honored to attend such a "Mass of the Angels". I also explained why it's a time of joy for this baby.

Our priest offered a few words on the reasons for this beautiful mass, that there was to be no sorrow this day, only joy at the knowledge little Marie is already in heaven with the angels and saints.

Breathtaking was the church when arriving there, all immediately noticing the efforts of one special elderly woman who had been with Marie daily, for she had wrapped large and lovely white floral garlands around the outdoor stair railings, and made the little white rose wreath of flowers which was placed on top of the casket. 

Joy and grief in one day was a little confusing, and yet so comforting by day's end.

To You, O Lord, we humbly entrust this child, 
so precious in Your sight. 

Take her into Your arms and welcome her into paradise, 
where there will be no sorrow, no weeping nor pain, 
but the fullness of peace and joy with Your Son 
and the Holy Spirit forever and ever. 


As if an entire parish wasn't offered enough by the gift of much grace this day, profound love and beauty reigned high by day's end. When we were leaving and saying goodbye to the family after the luncheon reception, Marie's mommy asked our daughter if she could please hold her own wee baby, our granddaughter.

Our grandbaby attended with her mommy.

In that moment, I felt such joy, a joy to be able to witness the scene, joy that our own grandbaby could offer this mama a special moment. A happy tear of two began trickling down, a smile cracked my lips, and then, my heart gave a little bittersweet lurch when she moved cheek to cheek, closed her eyes, and offered a loving kiss before handing her back. Like myself, my two daughters present at that scene will be forever touched by this quiet hallway moment, away from the crowds of the day.

This heartfelt blessing showed the beauty of an aching mama's heart coupled with the knowledge and acceptance that her baby is in a better place. This mama who now cradled our little one, was a woman of who was obviously heartbroken, but filled with peace. She was the same mama who had offered loving support towards our daughter, her family had attended our grandbaby's baptism during their own daughter's tougher early times, both women praying for one another the past few months. So touching!

Sometimes there are no words, just blessings to cherish forever. Sweet Marie, how you have blessed so many! We will never forget you, always in our hearts.