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 June 2015
Universal:
That immigrants and refugees may find welcome and respect in the countries to which they come.
Evangelization: That the personal encounter with Jesus may arouse in many young people the desire to offer their own lives in priesthood or consecrated life.


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


Comments


More U.S.

On this Fourth of July, We Need a Declaration of Dependence Watch

Image of The real promise of the Declaration of the Declaration of Independence now cries out for those who believe in its promise to stand up for its true meaning and work to restore the unique experiment in ordered liberty which it offers for future generations.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

The Declaration of Independence was the birth certificate of the United States of America, a Nation often called the American Experiment because of the very fact that it was founded upon principles. The words are still memorized by schoolchildren and can bring a ... continue reading


Learning from the Wonderful Witness of 'Doubting' Thomas Watch

Image of Thomas the doubter became the Thomas the model believer, an example for each one of us. He is a great beacon of light for all of us as we cry out with him, MY LORD AND MY GOD!

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

What conclusion, dear brethren, do you come to? Surely it was not by chance that this chosen disciple, was missing in the first place? Or that on his return he heard, that hearing he doubted, that doubting he touched, and that touching he believed? It was by ... continue reading


Catholic Church in U.S. has weathered adversity before - and will emerge triumphant, historian says Watch

Image of As bishops warn of current threats to religious liberty in the United States, Catholics can take heart that such challenges have faced them before, and they have persevered, one Church historian says.

By Matt Hadro, CNA/EWTN News

As bishops warn of current threats to religious liberty in the United States, Catholics can take heart that such challenges have faced them before, and they have persevered, one Church historian says. Washington D.C. (CNA/EWTN News) - "It's okay to realize that ... continue reading


After same-sex unions legalized, polygamous Montana trio demands same Watch

Image of The 46-year-old Nathan Collier owns a refrigeration business in Billings. He married 40-year-old Victoria in 2000. His second wife, Christine, was wed in a religious wedding ceremony in 2007 without a marriage license in order to avoid bigamy charges.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It was bound to happen. After the Supreme Court ruled same-sex unions legal in all 50 states, other proponents of non-traditional arrangements are clamoring for equality under the law. Nathan Collier, along with his wives Victoria and Christine have applied at ... continue reading


350-pound dolphin accidentally lands on cruise ship severely injuring woman Watch

Image of

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

To kick off the summer break and celebrate Father's day, a family went aboard a cruise that ended with a traumatizing accident. As the cruise started to sail back to the harbor, a group of dolphins started to swim alongside the boat. However, as the passengers started ... continue reading


Episcopalians overwhelmingly vote to let same-sex weddings in churches Watch

Image of Episcopalians voted overwhelmingly this week to allow religious weddings for same-sex couples.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Episcopalians voted overwhelmingly this week to allow religious weddings for same-sex couples. The Episcopal Church has long been on the forefront of equal rights for homosexuals, ever since electing it first openly gay bishop 10 years ago.  LOS ANGELES, ... continue reading


TERROR LEAK: ISIS learns of FBI command centers across U.S. for Fourth of July Watch

Image of One such likely ISIS candidate, 23-year-old Alaa Saadeh, was believed to be part of a group interested in detonating a pressure cooker bomb at a New York landmark.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It appears that an important bit of counter-terrorism may have landed into the wrong hands. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, or FBI is installing command centers around the nation to prepare for possible terror attacks for the coming Fourth of July holiday ... continue reading


Remaining U.S. troops in Afghanistan 'feel forgotten' Watch

Image of Several US Troops felt abandoned and forgotten by the US government

By Linky C. (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A total of 10,000 American troops remain in Afghanistan. These troops believe they have been forgotten by the Obama administration, as the US Government shifts its attention to ISIS. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - The US Troops, 10,000 men and women left ... continue reading


Risk for massive earthquake in California increases as scientists find dangerous helium coming from fault zone Watch

Image of

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Researchers recently discovered helium leaking from a giant fault in the Earth's crust near Los Angeles, as well as discovering an increase in chance for California to have an 8.0 magnitude earthquake. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - They did not expect the ... continue reading


United States prepares for Fourth of July amidst threat of ISIS attacks Watch

Image of The U.S. Government prepares for possible terrorist attacks this coming Independence Day celebration in the U.S.

By Linky C. (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Three days before the United States' Independence Day, the FBI has already began setting up command centers in all of the 56 field offices across the country prior to the fourth. The U.S. Government is preparing for possible terrorist attacks and terrorist threats that ... 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, Ezekiel 2:2-5
2 As he said these words the spirit came into me and ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 123:1-2, 2, 3-4
1 [Song of Ascents] I lift up my eyes to you who are ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 6:1-6
1 Leaving that district, he went to his home town, ... Read More

Reading 2, Second Corinthians 12:7-10
7 Wherefore, so that I should not get above myself, I ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 5th, 2015 Image

St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria
July 5: Cofounder of the Barnabites. Born in 1502 in Cremona, Italy, ... 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