Madonna del Parto [detail] by Piero della Francesca (c. 1460)
A nicely done piece by Kathryn Jean Lopez at The Catholic Thing:
He will have the most amazing set of lungs.”
Paul Stefan James lived for only forty-two minutes – with a heartbeat, but never taking a breath. It seemed like a cruel coincidence that his mother’s Chicken Soup for a Mother’s Soul calendar had those words to offer on his birth date.
But within about a human gestational period, a maternity home would open in his name, and the first baby born to a mother housed there arrived a year after Paul’s birthday. “This is his lungs,” said Paul’s father, Randy James, standing in the hearth of one of the four maternity homes run by the Paul Stefan Foundation in the state of Virginia. “And it is amazing.”
“I was just told to drop the subject and drop the baby as soon as possible,” Shama Khan, one of the mothers who have called a Paul Stefan home her temporary residence, remembers. Shama’s family was ashamed of her and her unwed pregnancy and just wanted it to be gone. Feeling as if she had no other options, Shama went, alone, for an abortion.
“After what seemed like an eternity in the waiting room,” she recalls, “I was then taken into an exam room and asked to watch a short video in preparation for the ‘procedure.’ The video made it seem like it was a quick in-and-out procedure and that I’d have my life ‘back to normal’ in no time. Next the doctor laid me on the exam table and began the exam and ultrasound. I couldn’t see anything but could hear a swishing sound. I asked what that sound was and the doctor replied it was a heartbeat. I thought to myself, ‘A heartbeat? Really? At only 5-7 weeks?’”
Christianity seems weak just now, as it seemed in 1425 to a peasant girl, and might seem in every age. But whether it is really weak and incapable of meeting the challenges of the time depends less on what we think constitutes strength and much more on the strength of real charity.