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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Hope.

We still think about him. It still hurts, even with the so far, so good news about our newest addition. Good Friday was particularly tough, as the loss came back with raw, gouging force.

We call the one we lost Edmund, because in my guts I know he was a boy. I see him playing with his doting older brother, barrelling around the house like a two-legged wrecking ball.

But it was not meant to be, for reasons which will remain mysterious while we dwell in this vale of tears. The dreams died.

So the recent discussion of Limbo has hit home, with the usual suspects left and right using the theologians' work as a chance to score rhetorical points in the Catholic civil war.

I have no particular objection to Limbo. But I don't see a problem with the theologians' work, which simply says that parents of unbaptized children have hope.

Not a certainty, not a free pass, not happy-clappy sentimentalism and definitely not an excuse to put off the sacrament or to convert it into an ultimately-meaningless initiation ceremony, but hope.

Hope.

I don't see where this is a problem, not when there is baptism of desire. Yes, I know that the article says only adults can have the desire for baptism. But the Tradition also demonstrates that the parents can ask of Christ what their children cannot.

There are three telling episodes in the middle of the Gospel According to St. Mark which stand out: the raising of Jairus' daughter in Mark 5, the exorcism of the Syrophoenician woman's little daughter in Mark 7 and the exorcism of the boy after the Transfiguration in Mark 9. In each case, the parents begged Christ in faith to heal children who were incapable of asking for His help on their own. In each case, Jesus delivered the child. We would have baptized Edmund, as we have all of our children, but that proved impossible. Now we have to ask Christ to do what we could not--in fact, to do what only He can do, whether the recipient is born or unborn. And we have hope that that will happen.

Hope is enough.

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