As a follow up to the 10 Commandments post, I thought I'd add a concrete way for an infertile Catholic to examine their conscience in preparation for the sacrament of reconciliation, specifically with infertility as the focus. It has helped me to regain perspective and stop thinking in a victim mentality.
Examination of Conscience for infertile couples, based on Luke 10:27.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:27)
Part One: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind.
Do you find yourself near constantly worried about your infertility? Do you spend the majority of your time weighing options, lamenting disappointments, planning next steps? Is your mind so consumed with planning for parenthood that you do not pay sufficient attention to other areas of your life? Do you feel that if only you had a child, then your life would begin, then you’d be happy? Do you find yourself angry at God for not granting you the wish for a child? Or for taking away the child(ren) you had for a time? Do you divert the majority of your funds to fertility treatments? Do you divert the majority of your time to researching your diagnosis, prognosis, treatment options? If you were to weigh the number of times you daily think about your future child versus the number of times you think about glorifying God, would your concern for a child outweigh your desire to glorify God? Do you feel incomplete, unfulfilled, less-than because you are not a parent? Are you therefore seeking in parenthood what can only be found in God?
Part Two: and your neighbor as yourself
Have you found yourself in competition with other hopeful adoptive parents, even to the point of sabotaging their efforts to match with a birthmom in hopes of diverting attention to yourself as a candidate to adopt their baby? Do you find yourself judging others as unfit parents? Do you neglect your duties to be generous to others because you are pinching pennies in the hopes of affording more and more fertility treatments that do not have any reasonable guarantees of success? Have you allowed strife to enter your marriage as you focus all your energy on trying to become a parent, neglecting your duties to your spouse? If you’re struggling with secondary infertility, have you allowed your desire for more children to interfere with the relationship you have with your current children? Do you in any way make them feel as though they are not enough for you? Do you find yourself generally short-tempered or uncharitable towards others because you feel bitter over your unfulfilled desire for a child?
For a thorough and surprisingly (for me, anyway) sensitive overview of Catholicism on infertility, I highly recommend "Embracing the Cross of Infertility" by Dr. Marie Meaney: http://www.hli.org/files/