It is adapted from an out-of-print book by the same name....
.....given to me by my sister-in-law Christine.
I post in honor of my longtime online friend, Donna Marie, who is due in a couple of weeks with number 10? 11? Hard to keep up! :) God bless you, my friend!
"The period of approaching motherhood is above all else a time of spiritual awakening and maturing."
"Our young women should be encouraged to think of pregnancy not as nine months of shapeless clothes, swollen feet, in a word, a period which must be endured--but rather as nine months of very close, beautiful kinship with Almighty God."
"She knows that God has indeed been very close to her, that He has breathed an immortal soul into the minute particle of life she now carries beneath her heart. She cannot feel other than close to Him!"
"When she understands that she is sharing with God some small part of His great work of creation, then she is able to see that she, too, must accept a small part of His cross in the work of the Redemption. That is done by willingly and cheerfully accepting the sacrifice, discomfort, and even suffering that her pregnancy makes necessary."
We can seek to discover how to sanctify the period of pregnancy by imitating the Mother of mothers......the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The First Mystery: the Annunciation
Your Vocation in Life
• The fact is that your being pregnant, your raising a family, is the means God is giving you to save your soul and to assist in the spread of His kingdom.
• Motherhood is a vocation....But like any other vocation, it requires patience, perseverance, and a willingness to serve.
• You will have to exercise some self-discipline, certainly; but love will make it worth doing.
• Think each day that you and God are working together on a wonderful project.
• Be proud of the fact that your body has become a sanctuary in which you are sheltering and nurturing an immortal soul.
• Your pregnancy is a real privilege which many women have been denied. Do not feel that your reward comes only at the end, with the birth of your child; rather, it is with you constantly if you live each day as Mary lived it.
• Cherish each day of this very close relationship with God.
• For the woman who is with child, the Rosary should take on a new and intimate meaning---for in a very small and humble way she is sharing some of Mary's experiences.
• Indeed in Mary, not only motherhood, but pregnancy was sanctified for all time.
• Why not dedicate, then in a special manner these months of your life to Mary?
• Her beautiful words of joy in the Magnificat-- sung in thankful recognition for carrying Christ in her womb-- should become a part of your daily prayer during your months of waiting.
The Second Mystery: The Visitation
• About midway through your pregnancy you have the privilege of experiencing another one of God's miracles: the tiny creature growing inside you is making its first faint stirrings.
• But just as surely as your waistline expands, so too, will the abundance of grace within your heart, if all this is offered to Jesus through Mary.
• At this point in your pregnancy it might be well to recall that Our Lord's first miracle, while on earth, was actually performed while He was still in His Mother's womb (remember when Mary visits St. Elizabeth and St. John the Baptist leapt in Elizabeth's womb?).
• Mary will take a personal interest in you, as she did Elizabeth, especially if you are reverent and humble as Elizabeth must have been. So turn to her often, during the months to come, not only for consolation and help, but for the sharing of your joy.
• As your baby's movements within you make you conscious of its presence, pray the Memorare. Then, when that tiny hand or foot moves within you wherever you are, your heart will turn instinctively to Mary.
• What a rich heritage the baby has whose mother frequently receives Our Lord in Holy Communion and keeps close to our Lady while her child grows within her!
The Third Mystery: The Nativity
The Birth of Your Child
• Are you so completely concerned in making material preparations for your baby's arrival that you have lost sight of the deep spiritual significance of the main event?
• Bearing a child is truly a holy act if it is done in cooperation with God. It seems only reasonable then that much of your preparation be of a spiritual nature. At least you should think through the situation and try to formulate some Christ-like attitudes toward the day or hours preceding the birth of your child.
• If your due date arrives and you experience none of the physical symptoms of impending labor, BE PATIENT! Your baby may need a few days or even a few weeks more of tender, loving care within your body before it is ready to start life on its own.
• If you think in these terms, difficult as the added days may be, you will not fuss or fume to be relieved of your burden. You have waited nine months, surely you can wait a little longer when you realize it may mean a much better start in life for your baby. Think: God is giving you a few more days to be completely ready for the birth of your child.
• Relax, take things a little easier, pray your Rosary more devoutly. The Church urges us to prepare for all important events of our life by prayer. Since an actual retreat at this time is probably out of the question, think about entering into a spiritual one......by receiving the sacraments with your husband more frequently, saying extra prayers together, some spiritual reading and meditation.
• Certainly, this is a more Christ-like way of spending the final days of your confinement than in bitterness, complaining, and self-pity......which will only leave you tired out and exhausted.
• Ask Mary to help you in these final days. She understands your feelings and problems. She was forced to make a long and arduous journey just days before the birth of Our Lord.
• As labor progresses, keep your Rosary in your hand. The feel of the beads will do much to relax you. The more relaxed you are, the less discomfort you will feel. And do offer it all up, especially for the Poor Souls.
The very words of the Our Father and the Hail Mary, said slowly and fervently, will strengthen you and give you faith. For when you say, Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name: You are expressing your trust in God who created the infant you are at this moment bringing into the world and who is allowing you in a very humble way to share with Him the joys of creation.
Thy kingdom come: Realize that this child you are bearing, after it is baptized, will add one more precious soul to God's kingdom.
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven: Look at your crucifix as you say this part of the prayer. Have faith that the good God who hung for three hours on the cross will see you through this very natural, beautiful --but sometimes trying-- experience, and will give you the patience to do His will now at this moment and during the hours ahead.
Give us this day our daily bread: Ask our Lord to give you the strength and courage you need for this delivery. Ask Him to watch over your baby, to guard and guide it on its journey into this world.
And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us: Beg forgiveness of the sins of your past life and offer all your discomfort at this moment in atonement for them. Tell our Blessed Lord how very much you wish to start life anew as you assume your new role in life....that of a mother.
And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil: Pray that the good God who blessed motherhood for all time by preserving His own Mother free from all sin, will help you and all mothers to overcome temptation .....especially, at the moment, the temptations of fear, discouragement, and impatience; and that He will make you strong and worthy of the wonderful title of Christian mother.
As the hour draws near for the birth of your child, the tempo of the work increases. Hard work and perseverance are expected of you at this stage. All of this is a part of God's plan. It is His wonderful way of bringing a new life into the world.
"A woman about to give birth has sorrow because her hour has come. But when she has brought forth the child, she no longer remembers the anguish for her joy that a man is born into the world."
How true indeed were those words of our Lord! What joy will overflow your heart when you hear the wondrous cry of your newborn child. All else is indeed forgotten when you look for the first time at this beautiful creature which you have earned the right to call your own child. How happy you and your husband will be when you receive into your arms this precious bundle....a part of you, a part of him......a soul fresh from the hand of Almighty God.
All true love tends to be creative, it seeks an outward expression of its overflowing. This child is an expression of your love for one another, and through it God has truly blessed you by giving you the privilege of parenthood.
The Fourth Mystery: Presenting Jesus in the Temple
Preparing for Baby's Baptism
• Like Mary, you must plan to bring your child to the church, to receive the sacrament of Baptism.
• This is your first serious obligation as a parent. Remember that in your hands rests the responsibility of your child's soul!
• This day must not be delayed for trivial reasons. Be willing to cooperate with the Holy Ghost by arranging for Baptism at the earliest possible date.
• You anxiously awaited your baby's physical birth.......anticipate with even more eagerness his spiritual birth.
• Just as you were filled with happiness on the day our child was born, so too will an even deeper sense of satisfaction and abiding joy be yours the day he receives the gift of eternal life in the sacrament of Baptism.
• Since this is such an important event in your child's life, it is only right that you make some serious and thoughtful plans for the day. For the "spiritual" layette, consider the Baptismal robe, the beeswax candle, announcements, copies of the Rite of Baptism for all present.
• You and your husband, and any other family, could prepare by reading the text of the baptismal rite as well as the parts of Holy Saturday liturgy that tell of the blessing of the Baptismal font and the blessing of the Paschal candle. It will help you to realize more deeply your dignity as Christian parents.
• Ask the priest for the Blessing for a Mother After Childbirth. This is a beautiful means of offering thanks to God for a safe delivery of your child.
• Sponsors: Give serious care and thought to the selection of your child's godparents. The first requisite: they must both be practical Catholics, that is, people who in their own lives have shown a deep appreciation for their religion. Sponsors represent Mother Church herself. They must assume the responsibility of your child's education as a Catholic in the event that you are unable to do so.
• Give your baby the name of a saint at baptism, someone he may point to with pride, imitate in his daily life, and pray to later as his special intercessor in heaven. Learn about your child's saint so that you may begin telling him about his patron as soon as he is old enough to enjoy stories. Many Catholic families follow the beautiful custom of naming the first daughter Mary and the first son Joseph.
• Meditate on this: When your child receives the sacrament of baptism, he becomes a son of God, an heir of Heaven, a very real and vital member of the Mystical Body of Christ. He is no longer your child to do with as you wish, but a very sacred trust from Almighty God. Just as Mary accepted as her lot in life the prophetic words of Simeon on the day the Child Jesus was presented in the temple, so too, you as parents, must willingly accept from Almighty God all the sacrifices, sorrows, and work that will be required of you as parents.
From the words of Pope Pius XII: "The souls of children given to their parents by God and consecrated in Baptism with the royal character of Christ are a sacred charge over which watches the jealous love of God. The same Christ who pronounced the words, 'Suffer the little children to come to me,' for all His mercy and goodness has nevertheless threatened with fearful evils all who give scandal to those who are dear to His Heart."
The Fifth Mystery: Finding Jesus in the Temple
What will your child be like after twelve years?
• Have you made any plans for the early training of your child? God is entrusting into your hands a human soul, whom He loves with an infinite love. You and your husband are His "agents" in guarding and guiding it during its first-all-important formative period.
• Before you become involved in baby's schedule, why not take some time to think about what you would like to accomplish during your baby's infancy and childhood? A thoughtful consideration of these things will not only give you a goal to strive for, but a deeper understanding of life that will see you through the trying first months of baby's existence. Those first few months are trying, especially to the inexperienced mother. It cannot be denied. An infant demands your almost constant attention.
• Unless there are unusual circumstances, you will consider it your special privilege, as well as your duty, to devote yourself to the unfolding of your child. Since Mary is our model, let us remember that it was she that cared for her Child. It is unthinkable that she would have left him to the care of strangers.
• Since you are now on the very threshold of Motherhood, it would be wise to give some serious thought to "Motherhood as a Profession." It is your function according to nature, and it is your privilege in the order of grace.
• In bringing up a child to its full perfection of body and spirit, you are cooperating in a unique way with the Holy Ghost.
• Perhaps in these days of comparative quiet before baby comes, you can take the opportunity to do some helpful reading on the subject.
• Following Venerable Pope Pius XII's four point program for sanctifying family life might be a good place to start:
• Build a common prayer life: pray with your children. Teach them the habit of daily prayer time from birth.
• Build a common work life: Teach your children from their earliest years to help about the home.
• Build a common social life: Let your family plan activities as a unit.
• Develop a deep sense of family loyalty: Let your child know that they contribute something unique to the family group, and to think of the family good.
• If you resolve right now, at the very outset of your career as a mother, to build your family life on such a set of principles as these suggested by Venerable Pope Pius XII..........keeping constantly before you the humble home of the Holy Family as your guide and inspiration.....rest assured that with Mary's help you will bring your child to his Confirmation Day, worthy to become a stalwart soldier in the army of Jesus Christ.
Adapted from the booklet, Sanctifying Pregnancy: In the Light of the Joyful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary by Margaret Place, 1954. If you click on this link, you can find a pdf version of the booklet in its entirety. My article above is an adaptation.
In the sweet of Mary,