Saturday, December 6, 2008

God's Divine Providence

(Brendan and Molly)

We have waited for a period of time after the death of our son, Henry Blaise, to share with you a very special grace that we have received from our Lord, one that is both very personal and very powerful. This grace consists of being allowed by our Lord to have direct understanding that His gathering of our son to Himself is a part of his plan for our family to grow closer to Him in holiness. The personal nature of the means by which we were given this understanding made us wonder whether it should be shared, but at the same time the power of it means we are compelled to share it. We know that sharing this grace will give added comfort and understanding to our family and friends who are mourning Henry's loss with us, and we also know that it will increase the faith of many others who, like all of us, wonder at times whether God is really in control and whether He really does work all things together for the good of those who love Him.

In July of this past summer, while still early in pregnancy, Molly went on a women's three-day silent retreat at the St. Paul Seminary, the major seminary of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. This retreat was an Ignatian retreat, where the retreatants used the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola to reflect on scripture and be guided by a spiritual director (in this case priests from the seminary) in prayer and reflection. During this retreat, each day Molly kept a detailed diary of all of her thoughts. Molly's main prayer during this retreat was that God would show her ways in which our family could grow in holiness. She also brought with her the book Abandonment to Divine Providence to reflect upon during the retreat.

The Holy Spirit moved in Molly in a very special way during this retreat, and the following is a directly transcribed, word-for-word excerpt from Molly's diary.

The first words written in Molly's diary, on Thursday, July 10th, 2008, were:
“The goal of our life is to live with God forever.”
- St. Ignatius

Our only desire should be to choose whatever it is that leads to the deepening of God’s life in me.
After further notes and reflections on talks the priests gave that day, Molly recorded the following thoughts on the next day of her retreat:
Friday, July 11, 2008

Yesterday, during confession, Fr. Laird prayed that my suffering would be fruitful and that I would find healing. Although I noticed his words, I didn’t make much of them at the time, although I did leave feeling that I wasn’t really suffering or in need of healing. At the beginning of my time with Fr. Sirba, he again prayed for healing and while I recognize that I do have some general fears, particularly regarding the souls of my children and the ways my actions may lead them in the wrong direction, I don’t feel as though this particular fear weighs me down heavily. Then I wondered whether there was some other area that needed healing, one that is yet hidden from me. Or perhaps, that soon I would endure a kind of suffering that required healing. I mentioned to Fr. Sirba that I so delve into family matters that I wonder what I would be left with if it were taken away – which is why I need to keep the Lord in clear view and use my vocation to live His will rather than get so caught up in my “mundane” tasks of every day and forget to be with the Lord. (These things also have been clear in my reading time).

So then, during Fr. Laird’s talk this afternoon, I began, without really realizing it, to write the name, Henry Blaise, the name we have chosen if this child is a boy. Just as I wrote this, Father said “God told Abram to sacrifice His son for Him.” (or something to that effect.) It startled me a bit and I began to wonder if perhaps God would be asking the same thing of me. What if something is “wrong” with this baby that will prevent his long life? (I’m not totally convinced as of now that this baby is a boy. I did write Greta Jeanette later during the talk, but all of these things make me wonder…) Then I asked myself if perhaps we’d learn something at the ultrasound (and if we did I became convinced that we should find out the gender of this baby.) All kinds of possibilities came into my mind like stillbirth or heart problems, etc., etc. And also I was convinced in my mind that the baby might need to be baptized immediately. Amazing how a mind can come up with “the worst” – but perhaps was God preparing me for something? I’ve always thought that in case of tragedy, I would be a total wreck, unable to tend to the needs of my children. Or that I would care for them with such a burden that I would feel torn between my grief and my duty and crumble under the pressure. Earlier this morning, I had walked to a statue of Christ with the reference below reading Matthew 28:30 – “Come to me all who weary…” I thought it appropriate for me during this time of spiritual and physical rest. I had wanted to read the surrounding scripture, but forgot the reference, so I walked back out there this afternoon. I came back to my room and began reading what I thought was a few verses before, but later realized I was in the wrong chapter Mt 10:26.

“So, have no fear of them; for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, utter in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim upon the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s will. But even the hairs on your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven…”

More to follow. Time for rosary.

Supper has just finished and I can see how it is truly the silence that draws me deeper. For if I were to have an opportunity to socialize, it would be an excuse not to reflect on the things God is revealing to me. The spiritual reading tonight again dealt with abandonment to God’s will. I could never have for myself chosen a more appropriate book to accompany my weekend. The reader, towards the end read something like “would you not sacrifice your child if it be my will?” and then “come to me all who labor and are burdened.” Obviously there is a common thread being woven. I sometimes wonder if it is my own imagination – and I do know I have the ability to imagine the worst. Now these things beg more questions – would I be willing to sacrifice in this way? God could only mean it for good. I suppose I would – but I don’t want to! The thought of losing ANY of my children is unbearable and causes me to wish I had control over what was happening with them even now. Can I let God care for them? Surely He can care for them better than I… and perhaps that is all He is asking (please, let it be so!) I can hand over control. I can put my children in God’s hands. But, please don’t take them away. Please don’t be telling me that perhaps your will is for me to lose one of my children so that through that sacrifice I may be a saint. Am I the only one hearing this specific thread woven together? Surely you have this for me. But I need clarity.

After returning from the retreat, Molly discussed with me her experience and we both hoped that this was simply a test of faith. On December 1st, 2008, at 6:37am, our new baby, a boy, Henry Blaise Koop, was born and found to have passed away, brought by our Lord to be with Him in heaven. I baptized Henry within moments of his birth.

While we continue to mourn this great loss, we pray that the purpose for which the Lord took Henry to be with Him is fulfilled in our family. God has provided us comfort and understanding through this special grace.

All praise, glory, honor, and power be to our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.


Sarah said...


Mrs. Bubbles said...

Incredible....thanks for sharing this very personal witness to God's love for us, even in the midst of deep suffering. Continued prayers for you all.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing. I am so sorry for your earthly loss and so grateful for heaven's gain.

I too have had opportunities of grace such as yours, and I know God's will has been fulfilled through you and will continue to unfold in your journey to Him.

I also know the pain of the absence of a child, the loss of things hoped for. Again, I know of the eternal gain from such sorrow and God's great mercy and grace for us.

Thank you so much for sharing it gives me great hope and consolation to know I am not alone in what I experience in prayer and suffering!

Kat Brown said...

Such faith you both have. Blessed IS your children and your home for such examples of an open heart and soul. The Lord truly works and speaks through you both.

God bless you in your grief and may he bring you new hope and life as Christmas approaches quickly. May you find new joy in the holiday this year.

Kristina said...

Thank you so much for sharing. I find it so hard at times not to question God's will for us, especially when it causes such pain. I keep praying that the Lord will take pieces of a broken heart and fashion together something beautiful.
Our Christmas novena is being prayed for your family this year (as well as our own.) May God continue to be your source of strength!


Sirach21 said...

Wow... that's some pretty powerful stuff. I am amazed at the faith that you and Brendan have shown throughout this. I can't imagine how painful this must be for both of you and how hard it must be to offer your trust up to God during this tough time. You are both an inspiration to me and to everyone who knows you!

God Bless,


Therese Z said...

I was jolted to cruise to your blog and find this sad news. I'm so sorry for your loss, and so grateful that God's Grace has worked in you the way it shows in your postings.

LeeAnn said...

I hadn't checked in on your blog for a while...I am so sorry to hear of your son's death. But so encouraged to hear of your strong faith. Blessed be God forever.

Sara Freund said...

It has been a while . . . but know that I will be praying for you. Thank you for having the courage to publish your most personal encounter with Our Lord. It's a reminder that always He is speaking to us, preparing us, calling us; and asking us to trust Him. In this season of promise and fulfillment, may you receive blessings as Abraham did for trusting in Him!

Esther said...

Dear Molly & Brendan,

I found your blog quite by accident (via Gregorian chant listed in your interests), and have been moved by your posts regarding your son, Henry Blaise. I pray God will comfort you in this loss; there are no words I can say that match the magnitude of your grief, other than I will offer prayers for you and for him.

My children are almost grown (my youngest will be 18 in a couple of weeks) and my child-rearing days are nearly over; you are just beginning. It is wonderful to read of your desire to live out God's purposes for family; even that you're building a home to reflect this! Keep up the good work - your faith encourages me!

God be with you. Pax Christi.

Jackie Parkes said...

I will pray..have added your blog to my links God bless

Jennifer @ Conversion Diary said...

Thank you for sharing this deeply touching story. God bless you guys, and you will be in my prayers.