Becoming an Image of the Visitation

And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;  for nothing will be impossible for God.” -Luke 1:36-37

I have often found that when others learn of our struggle with infertility, they don’t know how to respond.  Often they want to journey with us and support us, but sometimes their words can be unintentionally hurtful.  Rather than rushing out to the hill country like Mary to rejoice with Elizabeth in her joy and her sorrows, they find themselves crippled in reaching out to us.  Especially when a friend finds themselves expecting a child, they often do not know the best way to tell us that is considerate of our struggles and at the same time allows us the opportunity to share in their joy.

Infertility is a very silent cross.  It is not something that you can see, like poverty, hunger, cancer, disabilities, and other visible crosses.  There is a silence that surrounds infertility because it involves a very personal matter.  And sometimes, when those with this struggle do speak up, they are dismissed.

I attended the Greater Cincinnati Women’s Conference on March 1 of this year with a beautiful woman who has become a great friend.  While there, I was sharing some of my struggles with some other women. I was also talking about my desire to build a ministry that would meet the needs of couples struggling with infertility.  An older woman, one of the speakers, overheard me talking and decided to involve herself in the conversation.  Her heart was coming from a place of true love and concern, and yet her words were hurtful.

At the time of the conference I had been married for thirteen months.  Upon hearing that I had only been trying for thirteen months she said to me, “Oh, don’t worry about it then! It’s only been just over a year and Dr. Hilgers gets 88% of his patients pregnant! You’re on the right track, and look, God has even given you a vocation out of this struggle! You’ll be just fine, don’t get too worked up about it.”

I felt crushed. I felt foolish for sharing my struggle with these other women.  I felt like my suffering didn’t matter, and that I was making a big deal out of nothing. I felt that because I’d only been struggling with fertility issues for a little over a year, that my infertility wasn’t a “valid” cross that I was carrying.  I started to wonder if it was all in my head.  I started worrying that perhaps my own stress and anxiety were the cause of our inability to conceive. I felt lost and embarrassed that I had even bothered to open up to these women. I thought that perhaps I was just being a drama queen and was complaining of my struggles unnecessarily to these women.

When people open up about their crosses, we have the beautiful opportunity to become an image of the visitation.  We have the option to set out and travel to the hill country in haste to rejoice with our brothers and sisters in Christ, to share in their sorrows, and to carry their burdens with them.  We have an opportunity to become an image of Christ to them and to recognize Christ within their hearts.  And when we dismiss the sufferings of others, either by saying that they haven’t gone through their suffering long enough, or not to worry, or that it isn’t a big deal, we miss that opportunity.

When Mary visited Elizabeth, Elizabeth rejoiced with Mary, saying “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.” (Luke 1:42-44)  She recognized Christ incarnate in the womb of Mary, as did her infant, John. Mary then responds by rejoicing with Elizabeth in the Magnificat,

And Mary said:

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
47     my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
48 For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness;
    behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.
49 The Mighty One has done great things for me,
    and holy is his name.
50 His mercy is from age to age
    to those who fear him.
51 He has shown might with his arm,
    dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.
52 He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones
    but lifted up the lowly.
53 The hungry he has filled with good things;
    the rich he has sent away empty.
54 He has helped Israel his servant,
    remembering his mercy,
55 according to his promise to our fathers,
    to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

Mary then remained with Elizabeth for three months.  She rejoiced for “she who was called barren is now in her sixth month.”  And though we do not know specifically  what happened in those three months, we do know that Mary loved Elizabeth with a perfect love.  Mary served Elizabeth in her need.  And we can guess that Mary helped Elizabeth when she was in pain, comforted her when she was weak, and tended to her with gentleness and attentiveness.

We need to imitate the Visitation, especially with those who are suffering.  Rather than dismissing someone’s struggles, especially with infertility, we need to acknowledge how difficult they must be.  We need to try to enter into their journey and understand that this has been a daily cross.  There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t think about our struggles in one way or another, because I have to track my cycle and chart every day.  Rather than telling them “Don’t worry about it!” or “Just relax!”, we need to acknowledge the struggles and pains of their heart.  We need to journey with them towards Calvary.  We need to look at them and see Christ suffering in them.  Even just listening can be an effective way to enter into another’s sufferings.  Speaking of things that have helped us in our struggles can be particularly effective.  For example, rather than saying, “Have you tried praying the Divine Mercy Novena?” look at them and say, “That pain sounds so difficult to carry.  I know when I’ve been struggling that I’ve found comfort in the Divine Mercy chaplet.” Acknowledge their pain, and give advice from a perspective of active listening rather than simply trying to fix their problem for them.

Infertility is an intimate and heavy cross.  Because it is so personal, it is difficult to speak candidly to others about it.  Many are simply unaware of how their comments can be hurtful, even when they are trying to help.  I am part of a few online support groups for women struggling with infertility, and so I asked them what was helpful and hurtful when trying to walk with them in their journeys.  I found a singular theme in what they said was helpful: don’t be dismissive to our suffering and have an awareness of the impact of your words.

Just the other day my husband and I attended a marriage enrichment opportunity.  The man greeting us asked us if we had kids yet, to which we said, “No, we’re still newlyweds.” It was the easiest response. Of course, there is nothing wrong with that statement.  It’s a common conversation starter. But be aware that even that question can be a reminder to those with this struggle about their cross. What truly hurt was what followed, when the man said, “Oh that’s smart, waiting a bit.”  Nicholas then interrupted him and told him, “No, we’ve been trying. We want children.”

Journeying with others means not making judgements on some of their most private decisions.  Family planning should not be fodder for casual conversation.  Even those who don’t have infertility but have the opposite struggle can be hurt by remarks on family planning.  Saying to “fertile myrtle”, the woman with three kids under three who is pregnant yet again, “Was this one planned or a surprise?” can be invasive and potentially a reminder to her of how deeply overwhelmed she is and how much fear she carries about being able to be a good wife and mother with four children so young. Saying to the family with two children undergoing private financial hardships, “So when is the next one coming?” could be a reminder of their deep desire for more children and their harsh reality that they can’t handle another one yet.  Journeying with others means accepting their situation as it is and looking at them with concern and love and simply saying, “How are you doing?”

When I was discerning with the Sisters of Life I learned about their Visitation Mission which met with women in crisis pregnancies.  One sister said something particularly impactful: “When we sit down to talk to these women, the first thing we ask them is ‘How are you doing?’ Often we are the first person to ever ask them that question. They pour their hearts out to us, and we just listen, letting them know they are loved.”

Just listen to us.  Let us know that we are loved. Let us know that you see us struggling. Remember us on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, for we pray for our children every day and love them, though they are not yet in our arms. For those of us called to adoption, we pray that our children may be safe and loved wherever they are, for we do not know how or when our children will come to us and it is possible that they are already on this earth.  Pray for us, dear friends. Pray for us, ask us “How are you doing?” Give us the opportunity to open up about our struggles, and if we are ready, we will.  And then when we’ve finished talking, if you are lost as to what you should do, just ask “Is there any way I can help you? How can I journey with you in this cross?”

Most importantly, just be aware. Be aware that there are those struggling to have a child. Be aware that not every married couple without children is contracepting. Be aware that dismissive comments such as “You’re so young!”, “Just relax!”, or “Don’t worry!” are hurtful. Know that giving advice such as “Have you tried x?” or “have you thought about adoption?” can feel invasive and doesn’t acknowledge our sufferings. Be aware that the way you announce your pregnancy to your friend could be hurtful.   Some women prefer an email and text so they can mourn privately and then still respond to your announcement with joy. Some families would prefer that if you are a close friend, that you call them or tell them in person, depending on the distance.  You know your loved ones, so consider their needs and their situation when you decide how to share your good news.  But tell them directly.  And then invite them to journey with you through the joys and struggles of your pregnancy.  Challenge them to imitate the Visitation with you.

I would like to take the time to thank those that have been a true image of the Visitation to us.  These are people that have entered into our journey with us, encouraged us, and helped us to know that we are loved and supported.  The man who asked us if we had children later apologized to us after the event, recognizing how we had been hurt, and so I would like to thank him.  I am going to avoid last names here since I don’t have permission to use them, but I would like to thank my dear friend Grace for her constant friendship and support.  I would like to thank my parents and Nick’s parents for their love and prayers. I would like to thank Rebekah, for being a true friend to me, opening up to me about her fears, and for listening to me.  I would like to thank one of Nicholas’ dear high school friends, who knew about our struggles and announced her pregnancy to Nicholas with true consideration for our struggles.  I want to thank all those that have prayed for us. And I would like to thank all of the people that have opened up to us about their struggles after reading these articles. You have made us feel deeply supported and loved.

Finally, I would like to thank a couple with whom Nicholas and I hope to become dear friends.  Devynn and Clifford, thank you for opening up your lives to us. Devynn, thank you for inviting me to the Women’s Conference.  Thank you for listening to me as I poured out my heart.  Thank you for sharing your own fears with me. And thank you to both of you for so considerately telling us about your joyful pregnancy and then inviting us to journey with you through it as your little baby’s soon-to-be godparents.  The two of you were a true inspiration for this post, as it was your invitation that began to show me how imitating the Visitation is a true model for ministering to those in their sufferings and their joys.

To all those that have sought to be with us in our joys and sufferings in this journey, thank you. Keep imitating the Visitation with all those whom you meet.

For it is our sincere hope, that at the end of this journey, we will be able to rejoice with one another saying, “This is the sixth month for her who was called barren;  for nothing will be impossible for God.”

This is the fourth post in a series for National Infertility Awareness Week. The other posts are below.

Infertility as Disease: Accepting and Navigating the Medical Side of Infertility

Gratitude: The Gift Amidst the Cross

Put Out Into the Deep

A Cross Not Without Purpose

Put Out Into the Deep

I remember sitting in the doctor’s office where I was shown a chart of normal hormone levels throughout a woman’s cycle.  The doctor told me, “These are the normal levels. These are yours.”  And as I looked at the second line, I realized that where my progesterone and estrogen were supposed to be gradually rising before dropping off slowly like a bell curve, that mine dropped down in a nearly vertical line.  I knew enough about ovulation and conception to know that successful conception and implantation for a baby would be rare at those levels. I then understood that the severe pelvic pain I felt after running and at other times resulted in part from these low hormone levels.  That was the reason I was there after all: the pain.  I was too young to worry about having a baby, and yet, it was at 16 that I found out, though it wasn’t explicitly stated, that for me, having a baby would more than likely necessarily involve hormone support.

The issues with the pain seemed to get better, and eventually I stopped the progesterone support for the pain. When I thought I was going to be a sister, or nun, the knowledge that my hormone levels were off and that having a baby might be difficult for me didn’t really bother me.  In fact, I used it as a sort of confirmation that I might be called to religious life.  I thought, “Well, since having biological children might be difficult for me, then perhaps God is calling me to a spiritual motherhood.”  Of course, I hoped that my levels had improved with age.  I hoped that it was just a passing thing that happened because my adolescent body hadn’t quite figured itself out yet.  And I hoped for those things all the more when I began courting Nicholas and knew that I would end up marrying him.

I remember the first time I told Nicholas about my experience with NaPro Technology as a teenager.  It came up because we were talking about NFP and children. I told him about how odd I felt learning NFP at 16 so that the doctor could figure out why I was feeling pain. And then I told him that I feared future struggles with infertility.  I told him my hope that the issue had resolved and my deep fear that maybe it hadn’t.  He listened, and though he too was wary, he assured me that God would carry us through whatever struggles we went through.  And so when we were married, we knew that infertility might be a struggle for us.  But we clung to hope that it wouldn’t be.

I remember my first “two week wait”.  Before then, I had thought that pregnancy just happened.  I hadn’t really considered the waiting that was involved.  I hadn’t thought at all about the wondering that would happen between that week of fertility and the week that the next cycle was due.  I hadn’t thought about all the hope that could build up in those weeks, only to be brought disappointment when the next cycle arrived. And I hadn’t thought about the fact that because these were cycles that a couple went through the same roller coaster of emotions each month.

This reality felt like a slap to the face.  I wondered why no one had told me about this stress during my marriage prep.  I wondered why infertility hadn’t been talked about either.  And I was angry that people talked all about the struggles of using NFP to avoid pregnancy, but didn’t talk at all about the emotions and struggles that come with trying to have a baby.

And sometimes, it felt like I was drowning in my emotions.

Nicholas wrote me a letter and handed it to me the morning of our wedding.  The final line read, “Let’s go get married, our children are waiting for us.” I want to sob even as I type that line.  Because now, I feel like I’m waiting on them. I feel like I’m waiting on God.

Charts cover my deep blue dresser next to green, yellow, red, and white stickers. They remind me that it is time to take the progesterone that is in the steel refrigerator downstairs and the estrogen in my small bathroom. Another glance reminds me that I need to go to the hospital today to get my blood drawn to check my hormone levels. I do this every month; it is now routine. I am now used to the needles, I am now familiar with which arm is the easy stick and which is the difficult stick, and I know when the nurse is struggling to draw blood without hurting me. There is a familiar script that the nurse and I go through. Often she comments that my blood doesn’t clot well. I laugh and tell her that my dad has commented on the same thing. Sometimes we talk about how I hate needles and used to faint when I was stuck with one, and then we both laugh as I tell the nurse that my father, an anesthesiologist, is afraid of needles.

I wish I could tell you that I am going to give an outsider’s perspective on National Infertility Awareness Week. I wish I could tell you that this hasn’t been my reality. I wish I could tell you that this has been easy for us. But since we were married in January 2016, we have been open to life. And no babies have come.

We started seeing a NaPro doctor in May, four months after our marriage, because of my previous medical history of low progesterone and low estrogen.  We found out that I was still dealing with that. And we hoped that it would be a simple matter of giving me the hormones that my body wasn’t making.  Maybe it still is and it’s just taking time.  Since then, I’ve started Clomid.  I’ve had an ultrasound to check for ovarian cysts. I’ve had an HSG to check that my fallopian tubes were clear.  And after talking to my doctor, we’ve scheduled a consultation with a NaPro surgeon for possible endometriosis.  It’s the only thing that seems to fit my symptoms at this point.

I get my blood drawn every month. I have a list of medications to take. And it feels sometimes that medicine is invading our bedroom and sometimes I just want to scream, “Enough!”  But that’s what infertility does. It makes you feel like you’re drowning. And yet, the waters we drown in are not without purpose.

One in eight couples struggle with infertility. Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive within a year or multiple miscarriages for women under 35.  NaPro Technology, a system of treating infertility in line with Catholic morality, defines infertility as the inability to conceive after six months of fertility-focused intercourse. Infertility is a disease, as there is something that is preventing the reproductive system from functioning as it ought to function. Couples can struggle with primary infertility (the inability to conceive a first child) or secondary infertility (the inability to conceive a child after a first has been born). Either way, infertility is a true cross that brings inconceivable grief. (I despise puns, and when showing this draft to my husband he remarked, “This is the saddest pun I’ve ever read.”)

And yet, I hear the call amidst the crashing storm, amidst the drowning waves of my emotions: Duc in altum. Put out into the deep.

And I am tempted to look at the Lord as Peter did and say, “Master,  we have worked hard all night and caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets” (Luke 5:5). I am tempted to look at Christ and seeing the strong wind surrounding me exclaim, “Lord, save me!” And yet, our Lord turns to us, “[stretches] out his hand and [catches us], and [says] to us, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?'” (Matthew 14:31)

Christ is using this struggle to call me to a radical trust. I have been broken by this struggle, and that is good.  Because in my brokenness, I am able to turn to Christ more deeply. I am able to look at the Cross and say to Jesus, “Can you not see that I am drowning beneath the waters of infertility, tied down by the weight of this Cross?”  And Jesus smiles at me and lovingly says, “Yes, but the water you are drowning in is the sea of my Mercy. The Cross you carry is My Cross.  Your pain is my pain. Come to the water. Come and drink, and have new life within you. Come and drown in my mercy, and be renewed by it.”

It may seem counterintuitive, but I have found deeper life in my struggle with infertility. I have found a deeper desire to rely on my husband and on the Lord, something that is particularly difficult for me.  I want to have control.  I don’t want to rely on others or ask for help, because I often view that as weakness.  And while it is deeply humilating for me to say that my husband and I need medical help to have a baby, it also points to the deeper truth present in the Body of Christ: that we all have need of Christ and that we all have need of the other members of the Church.

Through it all, I hear one call, “Duc in altum—put out into the deep.” Peter went fishing, but caught nothing. Christ asks him to go deeper, to trust, despite the fact that they have caught nothing all night.

I await the day when I am able to put out into the deep, to trust the Lord’s Mercy with infinite hope, to believe in his promises, and then be rewarded as Peter. I want to look at Christ and say, “Lord, at your command, I will lower the nets. I will trust in your promises and your Mercy. I will trust that you have plans for my welfare and not for woe. I will trust that you have plans for a future full of hope.  I will stand at your Cross, I will be with you in this storm, and I will await the resurrection and the calm.” For after Peter put out his nets into the deep, “they caught a great number of fish and their nets were tearing.  They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come to help them. They came and filled both boats so that they were in danger of sinking. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, ‘Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.’  For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him and all those with him.” Luke 5:6-9

All were astonished at the Lord’s greatness and mercy.  I await the day that I may walk out onto the water trusting in the Lord’s goodness, and be astonished by the abundance of graces, blessings, and gifts that He pours out upon me. And so each day, each week, each month, I step out of the boat again. I cast out into the deep again.  Sometimes I drown, and that’s okay. I try to imitate Peter in his radical trust, knowing that the Lord is good and He will answer me. For though I am carrying this cross with Christ and my husband right now, I know that there will be the resurrection.

 

This week I am going to be releasing a series of posts for National Infertility Awareness Week.  It is my hope that this series may provide comfort to those struggling with infertility, while being a tool for those who have friends or loved ones with this struggle.

You can read the second post here: Gratitude: The Gift Amidst the Cross

 

Untying our Hearts

 

In November 2014, Mother Agnes Mary of the Sisters of Life sits in a Victorian armchair in the parlor of Villa Maria Guadalupe, speaking to the young women on the most recent discernment retreat.  She explains that she is delighted to have met us all, and that she is confident that Christ will be with us no matter where we may go.  But then she speaks words of caution.

A former psychologist and professor of psychology, Mother Agnes warns us of seeking our vocation for the wrong reasons.  She explains that as we go through life, we pick up and carry various things.  Sometimes those things help us, and other times the things we carry drag us into the ground.  And when we enter into a vocation, be it religious life or marriage, those around us are left having to carry our baggage with us. She makes it clear that prior to pursuing our vocation, that we must carefully examine our baggage-our scars, our traumas, our prejudices, our fears, our anxieties. And even when we try to let go of our baggage, there is always some that is invisible to us and yet starkly visible to others.

That is when we must begin untying our hearts.  We must lay our fears and desires at the hands of the Blessed Mother.  We must give up our dreams and plans and allow ourselves to blindly follow Christ.  We must pursue a deep vulnerability with Christ and our spouses, entrusting our hands and hearts to our King and the one for whom He created our heart.  We cannot untie our hearts by ourselves, however, and so we must entrust the Blessed Mother with the knotted ribbon of our lives.

I have fears and dreams, worries and joys, sufferings and triumphs.  I long to be a good wife, yet I fear of failing.  I long to be a mother, yet am scared of the possibility of infertility.  I long to let go of my anxiety, but my baggage holds me down. I long to love Christ with a perfect love, and yet I find myself struggling each day in my imperfection.

In letting Mary untie my heart, I give her all of these dreams and worries.  I give Jesus, through His Mother, my whole self, my whole identity. And I trust, that through her intercession, that the knots that so deeply bind my heart, the knots that cause me my deepest worries and anxieties, the knots that prevent my heart from loving, will be undone.

When I have struggled with forgiveness, when I have been bound up by my own stubbornness, when I have been paralyzed by anxiety, Our Lady Untier of Knots has help to remove the knots that bind my heart.  It is one of my favorite images of Our Lady because it helps me to entrust Mary with my life with simplicity and humility.  I do not have to name my problems, I do not have to understand my heart, I merely have to go before the Blessed Mother saying, “Mother Mary, look upon this heart that so wants to love your Son and yet loves so little. Remove the knots that prevent me from loving.”

In writing this blog, I hope to explore some of the knots that bind my heart.  I hope to explore the struggles of the saints and how they entrusted Mary with their heart. And I hope that you may also come to know your heart more deeply while discovering the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Where are you going?

Reposted from my blog Aut Quo Vadis

I have been in Rome, the Eternal City, the City of Seven Hills, for nearly two weeks now, and I have had to do more challenging things in these past two weeks than in much of my life.  I have had to learn to be comfortable eating in a restaurant by myself, working through a language barrier, navigating a new and strange city alone with limited street signs and at times poor mapping directions, locating a supermarket and walking back with my groceries, figuring out where to buy various things such as pillows or blankets in a city with no Target, using a foreign ATM, and surviving crossing the chaotic Roman streets as Vespas whiz past pedestrians on streets never intended for modern vehicles.  I am learning independence.

Yet in the midst of learning independence, I become deeply aware of my total dependence.  As I read shampoo labels in Italian, introduced myself to shop owners, navigated a city with no order, and established new friendships, I knew that I could do none of it.  I become more aware of my glaring vulnerability, my inescapable incapability, my distinct dependence.  I am drawn deeper and deeper into silence amidst chaos.  I stand amidst the grandeur of human accomplishment and as I stare in awe at the vastness of my surroundings, I have a deep sense of my littleness.  I kneel in confession eclipsed by the vastness of St. Peter’s Basilica, as the priest asks, “What is God’s will for your heart?”  And in that moment, amidst the tomb of St. Peter, surrounded by the majesty of the magnificent Basilica, aware of the saints that had walked those halls, I could only answer: “To love.”

When I boarded my plane to Rome nearly two weeks ago, many had asked me, “Where are you going?”  And my answer was simple—”I am going to Rome.”  But I knew in my heart that I wasn’t just going to Rome.  I knew Jesus was calling me into the desert, into silence, into new life, but I knew not how He intended to accomplish that.  And so last night, I found myself going to Santa Maria Basilica to do my usual holy hour—yet something was going on in the Church, and I didn’t feel comfortable praying in the midst of community prayer.  I found myself wondering, “Where will I go?” as I remembered another church not too far that had its doors wide open at night.  I walked into the Church, and Jesus was there, staring at me in adoration as there was exposition at the time.  I had been starting to feel overwhelmed and worn down by all the work independence required, and as I stared at Jesus, I knew where I was going.  I knew that I wanted to love more deeply, to pray more fervently, to give more generously.  I knew within my heart that I could accomplish none of what I desired, that even the act of breathing required grace, that I was nothing before the King of my Heart, and yet He looked at me with Love and Mercy.  I recalled the words of the priest in confession—”What is God’s will for your heart?”—and I recalled my response—”To love”.

To love is to allow Christ to first love us.  How can we give what we do not have?  And so we are totally dependent on Christ— Author of Life, Source of Love, Fountain of Mercy—to love others.  Christ pours out His Love for us at the Cross.  His Love pours forth as Blood and Water from His Heart as a fountain of Mercy for us, but we must come to the Cross to receive His Love.  The Cross is not easy, and we are continually journeying towards the foot of the Cross with Christ.  It is only through a total trust in Christ’s Plan of Mercy and Love for our hearts that we can come to the Cross, which is death to self and renewed life in the Love of Christ.  There will be many points of anxiety, numerous occasions where we turn away, moments when we refuse the heavy burden of self sacrifice.  Yet Jesus continues to pour out His Mercy upon our hearts, to invite us to do the impossible and walk on water, and when we drown, we drown in His Mercy, our hearts being purified, before Jesus pulls us back up again.

I do not know how Jesus will use my time in Rome, but I do know where I am going.  I am continually striving to go to the Cross with Mary at my side.  In a city of great accomplishments and human achievement, I am made aware of my littleness.  In a city of saints and martyrs, I am made aware of my sin.  In St. Peter’s Basilica, I come to know the beauty of the Catholic Church.  I know that I will fall many times as I strive to walk toward the Cross with Jesus and Mary, but I know that each time I fall, Jesus will pull me up.  I do not need to fear walking alone, for I know that I am little, and my littleness assures me that I continually walk with Jesus and Mary, my Mother.

Aut quo vadis—Where are you going?