The doctors discovered early on in the pregnancy that Thomas's brain was growing outside of his skull, a condition known as encephalocele. And, you know what they said, my faithful Catholic readers and others? That's right: would you consider a termination? Of course, the implication is that there is no value in bringing a child that probably will not live long into the world.
What's the worst that can happen though? He dies in utero. Fine, that happens sometimes even with no apparent trouble. I will never, ever send a soul to the limbo of the infants, though.
Last night, we at the Four Pillars meeting offered our decade of the Rosary for Mrs. Butler and baby Thomas Joseph at 5 PM, as that was the scheduled time for her C-section. 10 minutes later, their son was born. And 10 minutes later he was brought into the world.
Our pastor Father Beach was there in the OR to baptize little Thomas. Oh, God bless him! This was a situation that clearly constituted an emergency. Do you know any priests who would instead take on this duty themselves, to conduct it in a more usual course? Well, I know at least one. Deo gratias, he is my pastor.
The important part to me was that Thomas breathed for a few seconds, just enough to pronounce, "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." Just enough to wash away the stain of original sin forever, and to clinch for him the beatific vision through the faith of his parents passed down to their son.
I spent the night at the Michalaks, and when we heard the details, I made sure we prayed the Te Deum. Oh yes, this was a moment of thanksgiving. Yes, it was sober, but God gave him time to be held by his family members.
Today, after eighteen hours in the world, Thomas Joseph entered eternal life, dying as his mother held him. Can I say that he entered eternal life? He died without the stain of original sin on his soul, and he had no capability to commit actual sin. Honestly, this whole instant canonization formula of the Novus Ordo Missa pro defunctis and shooting for purgatory mentality has utterly wrecked my conception of this problem. Sorry, rant endeth.
The doctors, for good reasons, didn't think he'd live that long. But, God works in ways above and beyond modern medicine.
On Facebook, Fr. Beach said that he will never forget this baptism, and this little gem, which makes most sense if you read Mrs. Butler's blog:
No doubt, the loss of a child is painful beyond my ability to imagine. I can't help but think, however, that there is some consolation in the knowledge that all he experienced in this world was love.My goodness, I'm crying while I write this (and did earlier today), and I'm at a state in life where I must agree with Father's first statement, so I can barely imagine what the family is going through...there will not be a dry eye in the church.
The Butlers are such a tremendous example of love. Might their love be continue to be perfected, so that they might all be reunited as adopted children of Almighty and Merciful God after the Last Judgment.
Our Lady, lift them to your Son, through your Immaculate Heart. I stand with Our Lady at the foot of the Cross, suffering. Pray a Rosary and offer your Mass for them, please. And no, I do love the Requiem Mass. I do love the Dies Irae, but sometimes, it's not exactly an appropriate sequence: