Because no one is closer to God than a woman about to give birth ...
My grandmother would remind me each time I was expecting and when my time was drawing near of what her brother, a priest, told her right before each of her six labors: “No one is closer to God than a woman in labor.” My grandmother is now 101, and she can still recall her brother and spiritual advisor strengthening her with this reminder.
Fr. Tom, her brother, had been a young Jesuit Scholastic doing missionary work in the Philippines when World War II struck. The Japanese invaded; Fr. Tom was imprisoned for his faith in a war camp, and left to starve. When he finally returned to America after the war, malnourished and suffering from malaria, he found my grandmother close to her delivery date. “Please pray for me while you’re in labor,” he humbly asked, “that God will strengthen me.”
From that point on, my grandmother always brought special intentions with her when she went into labor, and she taught me to do the same. Praying for others during labor is a wonderful way to focus one’s breathing and keep one’s soul focused and aware of the sacredness of the moment. Offer up any pain you experience for your special intentions. I have also found with each of my labors that I have never felt closer to the communion of saints.
It is a rare moment, as one labors with the Creator to birth a new life, that the veil between heaven and earth feels much thinner and we may find our saints, our great cloud of witnesses, have never seemed closer. You can do your own personal litany of saints by simply calling upon the holy names of your patrons, such as “Bless this child, Padre Pio. Be with me, St. Therese.”
As the two souls and bodies prepare to separate and bond in a new way, now is a well-appointed time to ask for special blessings for your soon-to-be-born little one and for the love you will share, as well as to ask for the strength you and your spouse will need to parent that child. Besides praying for your child and soon-to-be expanded family, place before God the special intentions you choose to bring with you (I recommend trying to limit them to three, just so you can truly focus on each one).
Along with any prayers that you say often or are personal favorites of yours, here are 12 beautiful brief prayers — a few of them super short and others a bit longer — for the different stages of your labor:
Very short prayers
“O Mary our Mother, be our haven, be our peace on the pathways of life.” – Pope John Paul II
“O God come to my assistance, O Lord make haste to help me.” St. Benedict’s brief prayer adapted from Psalm 69:2
“Jesus, I trust in you!” Five powerful words, from the Divine Mercy image of Jesus, serve as an aspiration (short prayer).
“Admirable Is the Name of God” These six beautiful words are a brief and powerful prayer of reparation to the Holy Face of Jesus. Our Lord revealed this to Sr. Mary of St. Peter: “O if you only knew what great merit you acquire by saying even once, ‘Admirable is the Name of God,’ in the spirit of reparation for blasphemy!”
Slightly longer prayers
An important prayer that Jesus gave to Sister Mary of St. Peter, a Carmelite nun in France, in August of 1843 for the reparation of blasphemy (insulting or disrespectful thoughts or behavior) against His Holy Name.”
May the most holy, most sacred, most adorable,most incomprehensible and ineffable Name of Godbe forever praised, blessed, loved, adoredand glorified in Heaven, on earth,and under the earth,by all the creatures of God,and by the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ,in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. Amen.
Hail Mary,Full of Grace,The Lord is with thee.Blessed art thou among women,and blessed is the fruitof thy womb, Jesus.Holy Mary,Mother of God,pray for us sinners now,and at the hour of our death.Amen.
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.
Glory be to the Father,and to the Son,and to the Holy Spirit.As it was in the beginning,is now,and ever shall be,world without end.Amen.
Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God’s love commits me here, ever this day be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen.
O my God, I love you above all things with my whole heart and soul, because you are all good and worthy of all my love. I love my neighbor as myself for the love of you. I forgive all who have injured me and I ask pardon of those whom I have injured. Amen.
A Prayer to All the Angels and Saints, Often Said Before Mass
Angels, Archangels, Thrones, Dominations, Principalities, Powers, celestial Virtues, Cherubim and Seraphim; all Saints of God, holy men and women, and you especially, my patrons: deign to plead for me that I may have grace to offer worthily this sacrifice to almighty God, to the praise and glory of His Name, for my own welfare also and that of all His holy Church.Amen.
A Prayer of Consecration for Your Child to the Infant Jesus
O Infant Jesus, our beloved King, through the hands of Your loving Mother, I consecrate (name), my child to You. Place him/her under Your protection, save him/her from illness and all harmful influence. Keep him/her pure and permit that he/she may grow, like You, in grace and virtue before God and men. Bless (name), Infant Jesus. Amen.
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