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Father Muench Says...

Learning about life and family

December 15, 2021

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

During the time of Advent, I think a great deal of St. John the Baptist. John prepared the world for the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. This part of the story fits in so well to the Christmas time. At the first Christmas, John the Baptist was only a few months old. He was Jesus’ cousin. He was born just a few months before Jesus.

Many of you know well the thrill and joy of holding a newborn. I have had that experience, but you know that. I bring it up every Christmas. My nephew, Paul, and his wife, Susan, invited me to accompany them to the birth of their second child. It truly was one of the most exciting days of my life. Truly! When Susan invited, I remember her saying to me, “You have something to learn” and experience.

That day began with a long drive. I was at home in Ticonderoga. My secretary told me as I returned from a parish visit that something was beginning to happen in Syracuse. I took right off. I wasn’t going to miss this. I got there in plenty of time.

For various reasons, I was the only one that was accompany them. So, off we went to St. Joe’s Hospital. I want you to know I was rather impressed with the room and all that was to happen that evening. As Susan and Paul checked in, I noticed the nurses chatting, and I overheard one saying, “My goodness they brought their own priest.” I did make certain to notify them that I was family.

After they were settled, Susan decided to go for a walk. I was to notice that the mother was always in charge. After a while, Susan said it was time. The doctor and nurses got everything organized. I have been asked if I started praying. I must admit I did not. I was simply too absorbed with all that was happening. I do remember one of the nurses moving close to me. She said she would describe all to me. I really think she was worried that I would do something outrageous.

I learned so much that day. I must admit that I truly did realize exactly about the “pain of birth.” Watching Susan, I realized that birth was a time of pain, such pain that a mother accepts in love as she gives birth. I must admit that I quickly realized that my own mother had loved me so much to accept such pain to bring me into the world. I want you to know that since them, I pray often to and for my mother in gratitude for all she accepted the day I was born.

I was allowed to hold this newborn baby, my new great nephew, soon after his birth. I did pray in that moment – attempting to find the words in my own heart and mind to properly welcome him into our family. It was a special moment for me.

Now I must tell you all this was 22 year ago. I still remember each and every thing that happened that evening. It seems like yesterday. I have told this story rather often since – like 42,000 times over the years. It was an exciting day for me.

I remember well the love that filled that room and that whole evening as I joined this young couple – a wife with her husband standing near supporting her – as they brought this new child into their family. I remember Paul and I stopped on the way home for a cup of coffee after they got Susan and the baby settled. Did I tell you they named him Will? Paul and I had so much to talk about. I still had many questions. Paul was filled with hopes and dreams. It was quite a night! I had learned so much about life and all that family means.

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