Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Jennifer Hartline

1/12/2012 (2 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 (2 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'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for September 2014
Mentally disabled:
That the mentally disabled may receive the love and help they need for a dignified life.
Service to the poor: That Christians, inspired by the Word of God, may serve the poor and suffering.



Comments


More U.S.

Who Are the Mother and Brothers of Jesus? We Are Watch

Image of The Father of Jesus becomes our Father also, as we enter, through Him, into the inner life of the Trinity. He underscores this truth right before He ascended when He instructed Mary of Magdala to tell the disciples

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

In this exchange, Jesus opens up for those with eyes to see and ears to hear the deeper interior importance and meaning of the motherhood of Mary  and the interior meaning of all family relationships renewed by the Holy Spirit. He gives to those with ears to ... continue reading


Pope Francis names Bishop Blasť Cupich to replace ailing Chicago Archbishop Watch

Image of Ill from liver cancer, Cardinal George said at a news conference in Chicago that

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis has chosen Spokane Bishop Blase Cupich as Chicago's new archbishop. The ailing Cardinal Francis George welcomed his pending retirement after his 17 years of service, with only the highest praise for his successor. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) ... continue reading


World population could hit 11 billion by 2100 new study reveals Watch

Image of Africa will see the largest population boom, going from 1 billion to 4 billion by the century's end. Asia will also likely rise a bit, but will peak at 5 billion by 2050 and decline.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A United Nations-led analysis published on September 18 has revealed that the world's population may reach 11 billion by 2100, which would mean two billion more people than previously expected, largely due to high birth rates in Africa. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


As death toll passes 2,600 U.S. lawmakers worry about spread of Ebola Watch

Image of Red Cross workers in Guinea in protective gear. Currently, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia are the worst nations worst hit by the West African Ebola outbreak.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Legislators in Washington are becoming increasingly concerned about the spread of Ebola and worry that it could become more contagious and potentially spread into the United States. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - President Obama's new plan to put 3,000 U.S. ... continue reading


Obama gains support from House to further fight against ISIS Watch

Image of President Obama, with the support of the House of Representatives, may now start arming and training Syrian groups to fight the Islamic State, and will continue to strike targets in Iraq.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

While President Barack Obama told Americans-in somewhat ambiguous terms-last week that he intended to destroy the Islamic State, as of September 17, he promised that the United States will not fight another ground war in Iraq. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


Values Voters: What We Can Learn from Ted Cruz Being Booed at the In Defense of Christians Conference Watch

Image of Senator Ted Cruz from Texas was the keynote speaker at what was billed as a Gala Solidarity Dinner. Sadly, it certainly did not demonstrate solidarity between Christians. A small group in the assembly, rudely and loudly, reacted negatively to some of the words Senator Cruz spoke as he expressed his convictions concerning the persecution taking place in this land which is properly holy, precisely because of its role in God's loving plan of salvation for the whole human race.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

The events of Wednesday, September 10, 2014, at the Inaugural In Defense of Christians Gala make abundantly clear that there is a serious and urgent need for values voters to meet and discuss the crisis in the Mideast and ways in which we can work together to ... continue reading


Our Age Need Rebels of Love: The Christian Church is the Real Counterculture Watch

Image of As a young man I rejected secularist, atheistic humanism - but not humanism itself. As I studied the early Church fathers I came to understand that the true humanism is authentic Christianity, the kind professed, in word and deed, by the early Christians. As I read early Church history I was brought back to the mother church of the entire Christian movement, the Catholic Church. I came to believe that she offers the theological anthropology, ecclesiology and world view of the early fathers of the Church. I also came to believe that she was the real counterculture.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

We can - we will - change the culture of the contemporary West, if we are willing to suffer, struggle and offer ourselves to the Lord for the task. His power, the power of the Holy Spirit, working through us, will accomplish what we can never accomplish on our ... continue reading


What is a Catholic Deacon? Bishop Kevin Rhoades Gives the Answer Watch

Image of The Most Reverend Kevin Rhoades, the Bishop of the Diocese of Ft. Wayne-South Bend, presiding over the Mass of Ordination to the Diaconate of six new Holy Cross Deacons

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

It is a privilege to ordain you permanent deacons.  No, I didn't make a mistake.  Don't worry: you are scheduled to be ordained priests next year by Bishop Jenky!  But what happens today in the sacrament of Orders is not something transitional; it ... continue reading


ISIS among us! New York man sought to kill Iraq war veterans Watch

Image of Mufid Elfgeeh, a 30-year-old, Yemeni born man who lived in New York, attempted to send three people to Iraq to fight for the Islamic State, and purchase firearms to kill veterans from the Iraq War.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A Yemeni born food store owner in upstate New York sent funding to the Islamic State and attempted to sent three jihadists to Syria to fight alongside the terrorist cell while plotting to perpetrate attacks against American troops who had served in Iraq. LOS ... continue reading


Father Frank Pavone: 16433 Children Buried in One Grave Watch

Image of Fr. Pavone prays at the graveside of the children

By Fr. Frank Pavone

For many years, this mass grave had no marker or headstone, just as the children have no names. But now there is a stone, and we are going to name the babies. Supporters of abortion do not want people to see mass graves in our midst. It's too disturbing a ... 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, Proverbs 21:1-6, 10-13
1 Like flowing water is a king's heart in Yahweh's ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 119:1, 27, 30, 34, 35, 44
1 How blessed are those whose way is blameless, who ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 8:19-21
19 His mother and his brothers came looking for him, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 23rd, 2014 Image

St. Padre Pio
September 23: Francesco, named in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, was born to ... 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