Food for thought on adoption and family

‘But Christians, at any rate, are called to recognize as kin, as their own flesh and blood, those with whom they do not share traceable genetic material. A history of relationship, commitment sustained over time, is what forms and sustains the bond of father and mother with their children.’

Gilbert C. Meilaender, Not by Nature but by Grace: Forming Families Through Adoption, p 11

On marriage and raising children (changing nappies is holy work)

“Now observe that when that clever harlot, our natural reason (which the pagans followed in trying to be most clever), takes a look at married life, she turns up her nose and says, “Alas, must I rock the baby, wash its diapers, make its bed, smell its stench, stay up nights with it, take care of it when it cries, heal its rashes and sores, and on top of that care for my wife, provide for her, labour at my trade, take care of this and take care of that, do this and do that, endure this and endure that, and whatever else of bitterness and drudgery married life involves? What, should I make such a prisoner of myself? O you poor, wretched fellow, have you taken a wife? Fie, fie upon such wretchedness and bitterness! It is better to remain free and lead a peaceful, carefree life; I will become a priest or a nun and compel my children to do likewise.”

What then does Christian faith say to this? It opens its eyes, looks upon all these insignificant, distasteful, and despised duties in the Spirit, and is aware that they are all adorned with divine approval as with the costliest gold and jewels. It says, “O God, because I am certain that thou hast created me as a man and hast from my body begotten this child, I also know for a certainty that it meets with thy perfect pleasure. I confess to thee that I am not worthy to rock the little babe or wash its diapers, or to be entrusted with the care of the child and its mother. How is it that I, without any merit, have come to this distinction of being certain that I am serving thy creature and thy most precious will? O how gladly will I do so, though the duties should be even more insignificant and despised. Neither frost nor heat, neither drudgery nor labour, will distress or dissuade me, for I am certain that it is thus pleasing in thy sight.”

A wife too should regard her duties in the same light, as she suckles the child, rocks and bathes it, and cares for it in other ways; and as she busies herself with other duties and renders help and obedience to her husband. These are truly golden and noble works. . .”

Martin Luther, “The Estate of Marriage” (1522)

To sing yourself or your baby to sleep

Now rest beneath night’s shadow
The woodland, field and meadow,
The world in slumber lies.
But you, my heart, awaking
And prayer and music making,
Let praise to your creator rise.

The radiant sun has vanished,
Its golden rays are banished
From darkening skies of night;
But Christ, the sun of gladness,
Dispelling all our sadness,
Shines down on us in warmest light.

Now all the heavenly splendor
Breaks forth in starlight tender
From myriad worlds unknown,
And we, this marvel seeing,
Forget our selfish being
For joy of beauty not our own.

Lord Jesus since you love me,
Now spread your wings above me
And shield me from alarm.
Though satan would devour me,
Let angel guards sing over me:
This child of God shall meet no harm.

My loved ones, rest securely,
For God this night will surely
From peril guard your heads.
Sweet slumbers may he send you
And bid his hosts attend you
And through the night watch over your beds.

Paul Gerhardt, ‘Now rest beneath night’s shadow’ (Lutheran Worship Hymn # 485)

Advice from a monk to a child about fear

“Dragons and all other creatures that serve the Devil only seem big as long as we harbour fear within ourselves. But if a person seeks God with such earnestness and desire that he enters into His power, then the power of the Devil at once suffers such a great defeat that his instruments become small and impotent. Dragons and evil spirits shrink until they are no bigger than goblins and cats and crows.”

From the novel Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset (p 34)