A True Story

| 04-30-AD2013 | [18]

Leila Miller - True Story

A few years ago, I was part of a group that taught a “Back to Basics” class in our parish. The goal was to educate Catholics about the fundamentals of our faith, since so many of us received weak formation growing up.

My topic one night was contraception. I presented the biblical, historical and logical reasons for the Church’s teaching against contraception, and I also touched on the issues of IVF, human cloning, embryonic stem cell research, etc.

We had a lively discussion, the students were engaged, and I felt very good about the whole thing. I felt even better when a woman approached me after the class. She was energized and full of compliments. She thanked me for the explanations that I gave that night, and she told me that she had known in her gut that IVF was wrong. She went on to explain that she and her beloved sister had both struggled with infertility, and that her sister had ultimately turned to IVF to conceive her children.

“I tried to convince my sister not to do it, that it was against God’s law and Church teaching, but I didn’t have the right words,” she told me. “I am so happy that you are teaching about this! Thank you so much. People just don’t know, but we need to inform them. Nobody talks about this.”

In my excitement and pride, I basked in the afterglow of the “I-taught-a-good-class” high. Thank you, Lord, for using me tonight! I feel great! This woman understands the truth, and it is so good to be here together, of one mind, awestruck at the beauty of our faith!

Smiling, she continued: “Even though I also had infertility issues, my husband and I never considered IVF. We used artificial insemination to conceive our daughter. She is such a blessing! I am so grateful that we were able to conceive her in a way that didn’t go against our faith.”

My heart dropped. I was not prepared for that. I hadn’t mentioned artificial insemination in my talk.

I had about two seconds to decide what to do. I could let it go, but that wouldn’t be right. Not only would this lovely woman leave uninformed, but there were two or three students who had lingered and were listening. Or, I could tell her the truth, and then watch her happiness turn to… what? Anger? Indignation? Denial? Despair?

Quick prayer to the Holy Spirit, and then, with a softened voice and an apologetic look: “Oh…. I am so sorry to tell you this, but it is also wrong to conceive a child using artificial insemination.”

In an instant, the joy went out of her face, and she became very quiet….

I stumbled on a bit about the whys of it, was as gentle as I could be, assuring her that her daughter was a precious gift and was cherished by God and the Church no matter how she was conceived. The woman was very gracious, but I could tell that her mind was now troubled and that she wanted to be somewhere else. She thanked me again and she left.

I felt horrible, but I was looking forward to seeing her at the next class and getting a chance to talk to her again (she was a regular). Turns out, she never came back. We never spoke again.

A lot of things went through my mind, but primarily I was wondering if she had left the Church. I was saddened and disappointed at the possibility, but I eventually forgot about it.

Fast forward about a year or two. I am reading our diocesan newspaper and there is a feature story about IVF and related issues, several pages long. The article profiles Catholics who had undergone IVF treatments but have since come to understand and embrace Church teaching.

One segment profiled two sisters, both of whom had suffered from infertility. One had undergone IVF, and the other had been artificially inseminated. I looked at the large, full-color picture of the two smiling sisters with their precious children, and I recognized one of them as the woman from class!

The article filled in the rest of the story for me. In the interview, the woman said that she had gone home shaken from a doctrine class after she had learned that artificial insemination was wrong. However, she loved her faith and was prepared to defer to the Church. She later discussed all she had learned with her sister, and they both continued to study the issue. Ultimately, they both came to see the truth of Church teaching, and both women went to confession. They now educate others on the truth as often as they can.

The joy that both of them exuded in both the interview and the photo was simply awesome! I was relieved and elated.

The moral of the story? Witnessing our faith to others is often uncomfortable and even cringe-worthy in this culture. Sometimes, we would prefer to crawl into a hole and die rather than speak an unpopular truth to a skeptical or hostile crowd. But if we stay silent, we will never know what good God might have brought about had we spoken. For every ten people who reject what the Church proposes, there may be one who is transformed. And there may be others who initially scoff, but who even years later put the pieces together.

So, if you ever feel sick to your stomach or embarrassed to share a “hard saying” of our Catholic Faith (especially to fellow Catholics), please pray and push ahead anyway, speaking the truth in love. God is always ready to honor our feeble efforts!

© 2013. Leila Miller. All Rights Reserved.

About the Author:

Leila Miller is a wife and mother of eight children who has a penchant for writing and a passion for teaching the Catholic Faith in simple ways. This summa cum laude Boston College graduate also loves to debate atheists, advocate for special needs orphans, and attempt the matchmaking of young Catholic singles (not necessarily in that order). All of the above is accomplished on her three blogs: Little Catholic Bubble, Orphan Report, and the invite-only Catholic Moms Matchmaking.
Faith Filed in: Faith
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  • JQ Tomanek

    Leila, thanks for this story. Such a great example of courage and the fruits of it!

  • http://www.LiveCatholic.net Marcy K.

    Wow, amazing story. It reminds us what Mother Teresa said, we are not to strive to be successful but to be faithful. God will take care of the rest.

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  • K C Thomas

    A wonderful , meaningful article describing actual happenings. You are using your knowledge and time to teach our Catholic Catechism which many of our adults do not know. May God give you strength and grace to continue the great work. My prayers

  • Kate

    Yes Leila; Keep speaking out the truth, it does set people free from all the lies around.

  • http://ConvertJournal.com George @ Convert Journal

    This is a wonderful story. Many folks avoid “confrontations” at all cost and indeed it is at all cost. At these moments, remaining silent may increase popularity but it is not charitable. Fraternal correction, made in love and kindness, allows us to be an instrument of the Holy Spirit.

    Leila, your setting was special here, but I think about how often many of us are engaged in conversation where all manner of things are mentioned that we know are wrong, yet “let them pass”. Those moments are lost opportunities to show real love.

    • Micha Elyi

      Because students interpret a subject matter expert’s silence on an assertion made by the student as implicit approval of that assertion, Leila Miller was obligated to correct her student’s misunderstanding.

      Those of us who do not have the authority that comes with being an acknowledged subject matter expert on a topic must make a prudential judgment whether or not to attempt on-the-spot fraternal correction. One must be sure of what one says. Sometimes a simple, “I disagree” is the most one can say. Other times even that is too much. One must be able to offer fraternal correction without rupturing ones relationship with the person one is correcting or driving that person away from the Church.

    • http://ConvertJournal.com George @ Convert Journal

      Micha, one does not need to be an acknowledged subject matter expert in order to know and articulate basic Church teaching. Fear of explaining something in a less-than-perfect way keeps far too many people quiet. That is almost always interpreted as implicit agreement, at least subconsciously.

      The key to fraternal correction is charity to the other person. There are many ways to correct someone without making them feel chastised or threatened. FWIW, I wrote about this topic here.

  • http://www.anabellehazard.blogspot.com Anabelle hazard

    Thank you Leila for writing this inspiring article. You inspire me so much.

  • Rose of Sharon

    Leila, How did you advise these sisters in regards to the sins they carry on their souls? Unabsolved sin is direct disobedience to God’s Commandments. What if one is involved in a fatal accident this day? We know God is merciful, and we know justice must be served. I think you would have served the sisters much more appropriately by advising them to see a legitimate priest or bishop ASAP. Also their spouses need to be advised appropriately. Why are lay people doing the work that priests and bishops ought to be doing?

    • http://www.littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com Leila

      Rose of Sharon, maybe you missed part of the resolution of the story?

      Ultimately, they both came to see the truth of Church teaching, and both women went to confession.

      They were and are absolved of their sins.

      The first woman was not a friend or confidante of mine, and I did not council her privately on her sins at all, since we spent all of two minutes talking, with others surrounding us. However, as a part of the Back to Basics classes that she had attended up to that point, the discussion of mortal sin and confession would have been included. The fact that she was so very sad leaving our discussion points to the fact that she understood the gravity of the sin (which I had equated, in our after-class discussion, to the other mortal sins we had talked about that night during my original talk).

  • Rose of Sharon

    Leila, Yes, I missed it about the sisters’ confessions. Thank you for pointing out my error. What about the husbands?

    Sadly the glue for the faith for the “People of God” are mostly women and not the priests and religious.

  • http://www.littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com Leila

    Rose of Sharon, I am going to assume that the women told their husbands. That seems to me a given. And considering that they told their stories in full color to the diocesan paper with photos and names, I am sure their husbands were very much aware of all of it.

    I am not sure what diocese you live in, but we have wonderful priests here in mine, praise God, and incredible women religious. It is the job of the whole Body of Christ to evangelize. And the first and most important thing you and I need to do is become holy ourselves. Saints are the best evangelizers.

    • Rose of Sharon

      Dear Leila,
      Several years ago I discovered the sexualized catechetics that is being taught in the parochial schools with imprimaturs. At first I did not want to even acknowledge its existence, but the second time it was made known I could no longer ignore how our youth are being used as fodder to destroy the doctrines and dogmas of Catholicism. Since then I’ve taken steps to try to bring awareness. There is an amazing stronghold over the people of God, clergy and religious. Resistance to exposing what is destroying souls is easily discoverable, but shockingly silence prevails. I fear that I can already see your post that everything is OK in your diocesean schools. It’s a common response. Nevertheless, who will risk renouncing the pro-contraceptive, pro-abortion, pro-homosexuality mentality built into the fabric of the U S bishop’s schools? Youth are being taught they have the right to their choice of sexual gratification beginning in kindergarten of the parochial schools. Are you aware of Randy Engel who wrote the book, “Sex Education the Final Plague”? She details the meaning of raising the new barbarians.

      Here are some websites about the series “Growing In Love” taught in parochial schools:

      http://www.unitypublishing.com/Newsletter/Innocence.htm

      http://www.motherswatch.net/content/view/12/6/ – Part 1
      http://www.motherswatch.net/content/view/15/6/ – Part 2

      Who will defend the loss of souls of our youth from the collaborating teachers who cooperate in teaching this rottenness, and from the men who mandate it?

  • mccheese0

    Seriously, how can taking advantage of advances in science to bring new
    and Christian life into the world be a sin? I often wonder if evil
    doesn’t make war on holiness within humanity via vows of celibacy among priests and
    nuns as well as doctrines against life – opposing IVF and AI for instance – that cause absolutely no
    harm to people nor violate even the spirit of scripture. Be fruitful
    and multiply says the Bible. But people who don’t confront the
    misfortune of infertility reserve that just for themselves, and whatever
    holiness might be written in God’s genetic code disappears a bit
    further from existence, to the delight of those who oppose the continuation of holiness in the world. At risk of sounding a little whacko, It’s not unreasonable to think that maybe Satan be behind such doctirnes that grow in our imperfect and arrogant church.