Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Jennifer Hartline

1/12/2012 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Gabriel Santorum's life was too brief a moment, but his impact will be felt for eternity. He continues to testify to the immutable truth that human life is sacred and the child in the womb is all of us.

No one who has sneered their objection to what the Santorums did is actually afraid that they are weird or of unsound judgment. They're afraid that respect for the life of a "fetus" might catch on. They're afraid that a tiny baby's body might be seen as sacred and dignified, and then heaven forbid, the baby himself might be seen as human. Humanity denied to one can easily be denied to any or all. 

Highlights

By Jennifer Hartline

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

1/12/2012 (3 years ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Rick Santorum, Karen Santorum, Gabriel Santorum, abortion, death, life, Jennifer Hartline


WASHINGTON, D.C. (Catholic Online) - I had an incredible job once.  For almost two years I worked at Loma Linda University Children's Hospital, one of the best children's hospitals in the country.  (Think Baby Faye.) I was fortunate enough to be assigned to the Neo-natal Intensive Care and Labor & Delivery units as a resident chaplain.  It's one of the largest NICU's in the country, with some of the sickest babies in North America.  It's the premiere pediatric heart transplant hospital, and a Level-I trauma center.  It is an amazing place.

Life -- and death -- is around every corner at any given moment.  As one of the NICU's chaplains, I pretty much saw it all; the most severe birth deformities; the most serious diseases and illnesses; the most tragic circumstances; the most gut-wrenching grief.  I was a young, single woman with no children of my own, so I could not even imagine what the parents around me were going through.  I did my best every day to simply offer them support, prayers, hope, company, and when the darkest hours came, I learned how to witness their sorrow and not run from it.

I learned how to "sit with the pain" as one of the senior chaplains used to say.  Death is a part of life, and as life should be treated with reverence, so can death be handled reverently and humbly.  It's not at all easy to stand beside people whose child is dying before your eyes, yet it truly felt like an honor every time I was there for a baby's last breath; even as every heart in the room was breaking open, including mine.

On one such occasion, I was the only person there to cry.  A baby boy had been born too soon, and he had multiple serious birth defects, and his shell-shocked parents could not bring themselves to hold him as he died.  They asked me if I would.  They named him Thomas.  I sat in a rocking chair, alone in a surgical room, and cradled this baby as he slowly died in my arms. Thomas had almost no ribcage so I could see his heart clearly beneath his transparent, paper-thin skin.  I watched it beat slower and slower, and he never opened his eyes.

For 45 minutes I rocked little Thomas, sang to him, and told him he was loved.  I was sad for his parents, not just for losing their son, but for giving up the chance to spend those minutes with him, loving him.  Theirs was a double-loss; I so wish I had done more to persuade them not to give in to their fear.  I will never forget Thomas, and I will always cherish those 45 minutes.  They were holy and a gift to me.

One of the things I did regularly was take pictures for the grieving parents.  Many times I would dress the baby in a sweater that volunteers had knitted just for this purpose.  A little hat, some booties, a soft blanket, and a beautiful picture was captured.  I would also take some soft clay and make footprints or handprints.  What a powerful and humbling task it was to press delicate, tiny feet into the clay to make a mold for parents who would never again hold their child.

I held in my own hands perfectly-formed babies who'd died at 16 or 18 weeks of pregnancy and marveled at their beauty.  I learned how vital it was for their parents to see them, hold them, name them, and grieve their death the way they would any other member of their family.  Indeed, that child was no less a member of the family!  

For those who find something morbid or creepy about all the things I've just described, believe me, nothing could be further from the truth.  Reverence for the human body, both in life and in death, is healing and elevating, and is one of our better instincts unless it is systematically choked off by an inhumane psychology. 

We witnessed the latest evidence of this inhumanity in all the fretting and gasping aimed at Rick and Karen Santorum regarding the death of their infant son, Gabriel.

Isn't it ironic that our culture of death, those who champion abortion and euthanasia, those who see nothing at all questionable about cutting to pieces a tiny child in the womb are so squeamish about actually confronting a natural death?  These people are so troubled by a mother and father who choose to embrace their deceased child's body with tenderness, awe, and kisses.

Their lack of reverence for life carries over into a lack of reverence for death.

They find it disturbing that parents would allow his siblings to see, hold, and spend time with their baby brother after his death because their narrative says the child is less than a person; less than fully human; less than you and I.  They can't allow the idea to creep into the "mainstream" that a prematurely-born baby is actually a human being with a soul and a body that belongs to him! Gads!  What might happen if people thought that perhaps those little ones in the womb weren't just parasites or insentient masses of tissue?

The Santorum family's treatment of little Gabriel is "weird" to them because Gabriel had no value in their view.  Alan Colmes made that quite clear when he launched into his despicable mockery of the hours after Gabriel's death and the Santorum's grief.  Colmes taunted them on television for the sake of political points, referring to Gabriel as "it."  Gabriel was not an "it."  He was a baby boy, a son, who was beloved and precious in the eyes of God and his parents.

The abortion zealots are annoyed that Rick and Karen did not treat their son like an "it" or as merely a "fetus" and send him quickly to the morgue.  Lest more and more people get the idea that there's nothing wrong with holding and mourning their lost babies, they go into overdrive calling Rick "weird" and "outside the mainstream" and a man of questionable judgment. 

Well, really, what else can we expect?  Life that has no value while inside the womb will not suddenly take on value outside the womb.  If they would destroy the body before birth, why show kindness after birth?  Why hold lovingly that which you claim is a threat to your freedom and rights? Why risk gazing into the face of one whom you deem less human than yourself, less worthy of life?

Their reaction is only logical, but that is why I hope it alarms people.  Those who have cruelly criticized Rick and Karen Santorum for revering the life and death of their son have unwittingly given us a clear view of what's behind their curtain, so to speak.  It's a heartless continuum. Humanity denied to one can easily be denied to any or all.  All that matters is the will of those who have the power to "choose."

No one who has sneered their objection to what the Santorums did is actually afraid that they are weird or of unsound judgment.  They're afraid that respect for the life of a "fetus" might catch on. They're afraid that a tiny baby's body might be seen as sacred and dignified, and then heaven forbid, the baby himself might be seen as human.  They're afraid that if too many people realize that mourning the loss of a very small baby is appropriate and good and necessary, then folks may begin to question the narrative that killing a baby is a legitimate "right."

And from there, the entire facade of "choice" comes crashing down.

Gabriel Santorum's life was too brief a moment, but his impact will be felt for eternity.  He continues to testify to the immutable truth that human life is sacred and the child in the womb is all of us.

-----

Jennifer Hartline is a grateful Catholic, a proud Army wife and homeschooling mother of three children.  She is a contributing writer for Catholic Online.  Visit her online at Wake Up, Deborah! and MCH. 

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2015
Universal:
Scientists: That those involved in scientific research may serve the well-being of the whole human person.
Evangelization: Contribution of women: That the unique contribution of women to the life of the Church may be recognized always.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More U.S.

Islamic State's seduction, recruitment of Americans under scrutiny Watch

Image of At least 25 Probable American recruits have been detained since January.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

U.S. prosecutions of would-be recruits to Islamic State has grown exponentially. ISIS has used both brutality and perceptive propaganda to attract members worldwide, in ways that are far more sophisticated than al-Qaeda and other jihadist adherents. LOS ... continue reading


'Man of peace, tenacity and courage,' Cardinal Francis George dies aged 78 Watch

Image of Polio during childhood had left the prelate with a weakened leg and a pronounced limp throughout his life. With his death, the College of Cardinals has 223 members, of whom 121 are under 80 and thus eligible to vote for a pope.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Retired Archbishop of Chicago, Cardinal Francis George has died after a decade of battling cancer at the age of 78. The first native Chicagoan to head the archdiocese, he is being remembered as "a man of peace, tenacity and courage" by his successor Archbishop ... continue reading


Genetic rescuing considered for shrinking wolf population on remote Michigan island Watch

Image of

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

There are only three wolves left on Isle Royale, a small island in Michigan Lake's Superior, according to biologists. Researchers said that they do not know what to do or what should be done in order to save the wolves from dying and disrupting the ecology. MUNTINLUPA, ... continue reading


Another scandal shakes Hillary Clinton's presidential ambitions as IRS reports she took millions from foreign governments Watch

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has taken another hit to her reputation with new information coming out that could compromise her chances at becoming president or even the Democratic nominee. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Recent information has ... continue reading


Controversial 'Killing Jews is Worship' posters soon to be seen plastered around New York City Watch

Image of

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

After being the center of a legal debate, posters with the statement, "Killing Jews is Worship that draws us close to Allah" are going to soon be seen plastered on New York City buses and subways due to the victory of American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) against ... continue reading


Where will the next big quake be? It may not be in California Watch

Image of The American midwest is seeing a rise in the number of earthquakes, likely caused by fracking for oil and natural gas.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Central and eastern portions of the U.S. have been suffering from a spate of earthquakes over the last few years, and the U.S. Geological Survey believes that human activity may be responsible for this uptick. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Geological ... continue reading


Bishop Robert Finn's resignation officially accepted by the Vatican Watch

Image of Bishop Finn served a two-year suspended sentence and the diocese was fined $1.1 million. Finn remained at his administrative duties until just recently and did not serve any jail time as a result of the conviction.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Vatican has announced the resignation of Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St Joseph. "The Holy Father has accepted the resignation of Bishop Robert W Finn from the pastoral governance" of his diocese, the Vatican said in a statement. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


'Spill all of their blood' Suburban American girl joins ISIS, encourages others to terrorize 'non-believers' Watch

Image of Hoda Muthana was described as a quiet girl in school.

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Hoda Muthana, 20, shocked her entire suburban community when she joined the extremist Islamic State back in November. Muthana was allegedly brainwashed by the terrorist group when she fled to Syria using her university tuition fee. The young American refused to go back ... continue reading


5.3 MILLION chickens euthanized on Iowa farm as bird flu epidemic devastates Watch

Image of

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The H5N2 bird flu virus took its biggest toll on a farm in northwest Iowa, in Osceola County. There are seven other Midwestern states that have been hit by the virus. The number of deaths in chickens and turkeys caused by the bird flu virus has been counted to around ... continue reading


Defend Marriage! Sign the Pledge in Solidarity for Marriage, Join the March

Image of Did you read that these defenders of marriage faced tear gas and clubs from the riot police of the French Socialist regime? They sang La Marseillaise, the French National Anthem, and called for the resignation of the President. Most US news sources did not even report on the Paris March. It was led by a growing movement in France called La Manif  Similar marches have occurred in Taiwan and around the world.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

One of the leaders I have the privilege of calling my friend is a great evangelical Christian and constitutional lawyer named Mat Staver. Mat is the Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel and Liberty Counsel Action.  We have joined together on many fronts, ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Peter 5:5-14
5 In the same way, younger people, be subject to the ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 89:2-3, 6-7, 16-17
2 for you have said: love is built to last for ever, ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 16:15-20
15 And he said to them, 'Go out to the whole world; ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 25th, 2015 Image

St. Mark
April 25: The second Gospel was written by St. Mark, who, in the New ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter