Having just celebrated the feast day of St. Francis de Sales (Jan. 24), and in this month dedicated to the celebration of life, here is a prayer written by St. Francis for his sister-in-law, Marie-Aimée, the daughter of St. Jane de Chantal who was married to Francis’ brother Bernard.
The prayer is found in the French-language edition of the Complete Works of St. Francis, and was translated by Alexander Pocetto, and provided by the Salesian Center for Faith and Culture.
Oh! eternal God, Father of infinite goodness, who established marriage for the increase here below of the human race and the re-peopling of the heavenly city above, and who has principally destined our sex for this duty, even desiring that our fertility be one of the marks of your blessing on us, here I am kneeling before the face of your Majesty that I adore, thanking you for the conception of the child it pleased you to give life in my body. But, Lord, since this has seemed good to you, extend the arm of your providence to completing the work you have begun. Bless my pregnancy with your perfection and carry with me, by your continual assistance, the baby you have produced in me up until the time it leaves this world. Then, God of my life, be my help and with your holy hand support my weakness and receive my baby, keeping this child as it is yours by creation until it is yours by redemption so that when the baby is baptized, it will be placed in the bosom of the Church, your spouse.
Oh! Savior of my soul, who while on earth loved little children so much and often took them into your arms, receive my child and adopt it into your sacred family, so that, having you for a Father and calling you Father, your name be hallowed in my baby and that your kingdom come to abide in my child. And so, O Redeemer of the world, I vow, dedicate and consecrate this child with all my heart to the obedience of your commandments, to the love of your service and to the service of love.
And, in as much as your just anger made the first mother of human beings along with her sinful posterity subject to the pain and suffering of childbirth, O Lord, I accept all the pain that it will please you to permit me to experience on this occasion. I only ask by the sacred and joyful birth of your innocent Mother, to be merciful to me, a poor and worthless sinner, at the time of my painful delivery. Bless me with the child it will please you to give me with the blessing of your eternal love. I ask you this very humbly and with perfect trust in you goodness.
And you, O Blessed Virgin Mother, my dear Lady and only Mistress, who are unique in honor of all women, receive and protect in the lap of your maternal and incomparable gentleness, my desires and supplications so that they may please the mercy of your Son to answer them. I ask it of you, O most lovable of all creatures, begging you by the virginal love you have for you cherished chaste spouse, St. Joseph, by the infinite merit of the birth of your Son, by the very holy womb which bore him and the sacred breasts that nursed him.
Oh! holy angels of God, designated to guard me and the child I am bearing, defend us, govern us, so that by your assistance we may finally come to the glory you enjoy and with you praise and bless our common Lord and Master, who reigns forever and ever. AMEN.
St Francis de Sales (1567-1622) is a doctor of the Church. His Introduction to the Devout Life was written for the laity in the early 17th century and is still viewed as a classic.
Motherhood is an extraordinary part of the role of women in the life of the world. But, in a 2004 letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Church teaches that “this does not mean that women should be considered from the sole perspective of physical procreation.” Instead, our faith teaches that the genius of women is a “capacity for the other,” a “deep intuition of the goodness in their lives of those actions which elicit life, and contribute to the growth and protection of the other.” (Bishop James Conley, writing on women’s rights as human rights)