St. Philip Neri Roman Catholic Parish Blog.

Encouragement and Hope

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I have always had a bit of a conflicting view about prayer. For instance, in the Gospel of Matthew (21:22), the writer says “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” I truly believed that.

But I also have wondered many times why an all-loving God would look with favor on someone who prayed, or was being prayed for, and take no notice of one of God’s other children who had no one to pray for them.  It didn’t make sense to me.

My inner conflict about the mystery of prayer became very real early in 2007.  We were eagerly anticipating the birth of a new grandchild, due in mid-June of that year.  We were shocked when my daughter Hillary went into early labor, and on March 18, gave birth to a 2lb. 9oz, 14”, beautiful red-headed baby girl, Alexandra Louise.  At 28 weeks gestation, she was a “micro-preemie”.  As delighted as our family was to have this precious little one, we were all well-aware of the complications facing a child born so early.  One of the first things I did just before, and in the days following Alexandra’s birth, was contact my brothers and sisters in our community of faith to ask for prayers for her, her parents, and our whole family.  As I received email notes, cards and phone calls, I copied all the words of prayer, encouragement and support, and gave them to her parents to read as they kept vigil with Alexandra.  We still have every good wish and prayer that was sent along, and read them (somewhat teary-eyed) from time to time.

AlexandraAlexandra’s weeks in the NICU were not without difficulties. Shortly after she was born, she had two setbacks common to premature babies. She had a heart problem, which could have resulted in a surgery (quite scary for such a small baby) but it was resolved with medication.  She also had a brain bleed, but after a CT scan, it was found to be a low grade bleed, with long term results unknown.

On May 18, 2007, two months after her birth and still one month away from her actual due date, my daughter Hillary and her husband Kevin welcomed home their growing baby girl. She weighed 4lbs 8oz the day she was discharged.  Alexandra has a tenacious spirit which has served her well. She has cerebral palsy in her legs, a result of the brain bleed.  She has spent many, many hours at physiotherapy and in leg braces.  But she can walk, and there are absolutely no other complications from her prematurity. She is very bright, articulate, feisty, and an absolute joy in our lives.

I still am confused at times about prayer.  Did God intercede and look favorably on her because we were praying , while letting another baby, perhaps in the next incubator, not do so well because no one was praying for him or her? I don’t think so.  However, I think the prayers of so many were there to give encouragement and hope to our family.  We felt so supported and cared for by a wide community of faith. At the same time, I hope that the wider community praying for her was reminded of God’s great love for all people.  As it says in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians:  Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” Our prayers for Alexandra’s well-being were certainly answered.

(Photo is Alexandra’s pre-school photo, taken in September 2010)


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    Julie Anne Hilton May 25, 2011

    Thank you JoAnne- your reflection is beautiful, and captures so many thoughts and emotions that I have also experienced with our Alexandra! Your faith and insight are inspiring.

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