1) "Truth comes with graces attached." One of my favorite sayings.
I was honored to be present a week ago when Senator Rick Santorum delivered an inspiring, profound speech to hundreds of us at the Arizona Right to Life gala. I learned a lot about the man, his family, and his political and spiritual journeys (which often overlapped). There were few dry eyes when he talked about the son he and Karen lost, Gabriel, and the daughter they were expected to lose, Bella, who has Trisomy 18. Most children with Trisomy 18 are aborted, but the Santorums chose to love their little girl for as long as she lives, which has been a miraculous, joyful four years so far.
In Santorum's concluding remarks, we witnessed the power that comes from living one's faith with integrity. He read part of an article written by Time Magazine reporter Joe Klein last March, back when Santorum was vying for the Republican Party's presidential nomination, and when he was labeled, hammered, and dismissed by the press as the "extremist" on social issues. Klein and Santorum "do not share the same values" as the senator said with a wry smile (Klein is a secular liberal), and so we can begin to appreciate how extraordinary -- how grace-filled -- was this moment in journalism.
I have included an abridged version of Klein's article here, and I think you'll see what I mean.
March 5, 2012
Bob Schieffer of CBS news is the gold standard for sane and solid in American TV journalism, and on the morning of Feb. 19, he was clearly nonplussed by extreme comments Rick Santorum had made about prenatal testing ("ends up in more abortions"), public schools ("anachronistic") and the President's position on the environment (a "phony theology"). "So, Senator," Schieffer began, "I've got to ask you. What in the world were you talking about, sir?" At such a moment, the overwhelming majority of American politicians would go on the defensive, hem, haw and respond with "What I really meant to say was ..." Not Santorum. He didn't seem at all flustered. He vigorously restated the positions he had taken--in some cases, eloquently. He was especially vigorous on the subject of prenatal testing, citing studies that show that 90% of Down-syndrome babies are aborted. Schieffer asked whether Santorum wanted to turn back the clock on science and ban such testing. No, Santorum replied, but the federal government should not be promoting procedures like amniocentesis, which "are used for the purposes of identifying children who are disabled and in most cases end up [being eliminated by] abortions."
Santorum has become an inconvenient candidate even for those who agree with him….
Most Republicans aren't going to want to battle Obama on contraception and prenatal testing….
And yet … there is something admirable about Santorum's near Tourettic insistence on bringing up issues no one else wants to talk about. His position on education--that parents need to spend a lot more time supervising their children's schooling--draws stifled groans from the overworked parents in his audiences, but he's right: parents know best how their children learn. His emphasis on the importance of intact families is undoubtedly correct as well; every major study since the 1960s has shown the disaster that results from out-of-wedlock births. Even Santorum's use of prenatal testing raises uncomfortable issues for many people. It was a sonogram that helped determine that the Santorums' son Gabriel needed microsurgery in the womb to clear his bladder. Rick and Karen decided to fight for Gabriel's life, which nearly cost Karen her own, and they passionately embraced the child during his two hours on earth. They have spent the past three years caring for their daughter Isabella, whose genetic defect, trisomy 18, is an early-death sentence. "Almost 100% of trisomy 18 children are encouraged to be aborted," Santorum told Schieffer.
I am haunted by the smiling photos I've seen of Isabella with her father and mother, brothers and sisters. No doubt she struggles through many of her days--she nearly died a few weeks ago--but she has also been granted three years of unconditional love and the ability to smile and bring joy. Her tenuous survival has given her family a deeper sense of how precious even the frailest of lives are.
All right, I can hear you saying, the Santorum family's course may be admirable, but shouldn't we have the right to make our own choices? Yes, I suppose. But I also worry that we've become too averse to personal inconvenience as a society--that we're less rigorous parents than we should be, that we've farmed out our responsibilities, especially for the disabled, to the state--and I'm grateful to Santorum for forcing on me the discomfort of having to think about the moral implications of his daughter's smile.
The takeaway for Santorum's rapt audience that night, and for all of us who believe in the sanctity of human life?
Live and speak your faith, dear friends, and do not be embarrassed or afraid. You will often never know the lives you've touched. In this case, Senator Santorum had the uncommon consolation of seeing in print how his own loving witness pricked a dulled conscience and softened a hardened heart. I will never forget Joe Klein's words, which illustrate that truth is indeed inconvenient, but that it always comes with graces attached.
And in the spirit of loving the least among us (instead of destroying them), I am dedicating the rest of the Takes to those children who were not as lucky as Bella Santorum, and who, because they are seen as defective, have no loving families to cherish them. Please consider adoption, and if you cannot adopt now, please share this link with others.
2) Gianna has just turned four years old. She has a heart condition, but is doing well after surgery. She is developing normally.
|Click my cute picture for more information.|
3) Anne, who should be someone's princess. She is four years old with epilepsy and a moderate mental delay. And she is beautiful and worthy. Please don't let her be transferred.
5) Mack is four years old and described as happy and active. He likes his ride-on toys and loves to play with others. The orphanage is no place for this sweet child! He belongs with a family of his own.
6) Kolya, oh how he makes my heart ache. He is 12 years old already, and has been waiting too long. He was born the same month and year as my own son. From the description on his profile: "Kolya – very delicate and sensitive child who catches every touch, every word or a smile. He may long to sit next to a nice [person] and just hold hands, enjoying the warmth."
|Stay strong, Kolya!|
7) Arina P. looks so sad, so lost. She is six years old and has a calm nature. Her adoption grant is up to $7300, which would be a great help towards getting her home where she belongs. Imagine Arina with long flowing hair and a smile! Surely her mama is out there?
Today there is a bonus Take…
8) Christiana (known as "Carissa" on RR) has a loving family coming for her (praise God!), but they have a long way to go before they can take her from the Bad Place.
Recently, her soon-to-be mommy, Lisa, lost her own mother, which I wrote about here:
Anyone who has lost a mother will understand. Please pray for the Matthews family.
Finally, if you have never shared these orphan stories before, maybe today can be the day! If you have facebook, it's super simple. Just click the little "recommend" button at the bottom of this page, then put your cursor over the "post to facebook" button that pops up, then close your eyes and click it as fast as you can! Ahhhh!!! There, it's over! That was easy! And you might have saved a child's life. :)
Have a great weekend, and thanks to Jen for hosting!