This is oxygen for pro-life lungs. But the story doesn’t end here. Barrett is the first mother of young children ever to sit on the Court, and the size of her family speaks volumes. She and her husband have no less than seven children! Two of them were adopted, and the youngest of the biological brood has Down syndrome. Clearly they believe, as we do, that a child made in the image and likeness of God is something very special. They haven’t forgotten that God himself became a child!
The most remarkable part of the Barrett story may be simply stated. With four children under her wing and pregnant with a fifth, she was suddenly presented with the opportunity to undertake a second adoption. The decision was difficult given all that was already on her plate: a family and a professional life. She turned to prayer, and what is interesting is the place she chose for an important conversation with the Lord. She could have retired to her study, she could have gone to her bedroom, or even to a parish church where she might have knelt before the Blessed Sacrament. Instead, she opted for a cemetery where her feet would be firmly planted on the ground and her eyes fixed on the stars.
The Holy Spirit, hovering over the tombstones, swung immediately into action. She was soon reflecting not only on life’s difficulties, but also on how quickly life ends.
The outcome of the graveyard conversation is well known. She chose adoption, much as the Virgin Mary chose motherhood two thousand years ago when she gave her fiat to the angel Gabriel: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done unto me according to thy will.” We are fortunate to have the gist of the message Barrett received from on high because she publicized it for all to hear: “If life’s really hard, at least it’s short . . . What greater thing can you do than raise children? That’s where you have the greatest impact on the world.”
Barrett’s selfless choice, along with her courageous testimony, invigorated the pro-life cause in 2020. May it embolden us this year as we continue to make the Lord smile with prayer, fasting, and loving witness to the truth.
Frederick W. Marks, January 15, 2021
Marks is the author of Pro-Life Champion: The Untold Story of Monsignor Philip J. Reilly and His Helpers of God’s Precious Infants.