Green Room

The greatest of these is … love

posted at 12:12 pm on May 5, 2013 by

It was impossible for me to read this recent article in Redbook without thinking of the ubiquitous wedding reading from 1 Corinthians 13 on the nature of love.  We often think about this passage in terms of romantic love, but it has almost infinite application.  In this case, a young unmarried debutante from Philadelphia’s Main Line found herself pregnant in 1963 — and her parents wanted her to abort the child from a summer affair.  When she refused, they committed her to a mental hospital in an attempt to pressure her to get rid of the child — but young Julie Mannix perservered, out of love for the child:

I wrap myself even more tightly in my wrinkled camel-hair coat. Just then, I feel a vague stirring in my stomach. Seconds later, another soft flutter. I reach down and cover my belly with my hands. Here, in this room that smells of vomit and floor cleaner, my baby decides to announce itself for the first time.

Surrounded by strangers engulfed in grief, I feel a surge of joy. I’d steadfastly refused the abortion my mother had done everything in her power to get for me. Now I know for sure my baby is alive.

In 1963, abortions were illegal. Threats to the mother’s physical or mental health were the only grounds on which one could be performed. And when my mother informed me I was pregnant—something the family gynecologist had revealed to her, not me—she also told me that he had, conveniently, diagnosed me as severely depressed. In our circles of Philadelphia society, you were considered charmingly eccentric if you were given to extreme mood swings, romantic depressions, even the odd suicide attempt. Giving birth to a bastard child, however, was unforgivable. Although my mother was a staunch Catholic, she had so convinced herself that an abortion would save my future that she was able to justify an act she normally would have abhorred. I was committed to a private psychiatric facility, where an abortion could be performed legally. Except, much to everyone’s dismay, I wouldn’t sign the papers to authorize the procedure. I held out even after they moved me to the state hospital. I didn’t object to abortion on moral grounds; I just desperately wanted my child—a baby conceived in love, with a man I loved—to live. I had no idea what would happen to my baby, or to me, as a result of my decision. But I’d never felt such conviction before.

This is a story that has to be read in full.  It’s told not just from the perspective of the young unwed mother, but also from the daughter she gave up for adoption, and indirectly from the father who married young Julie and inscribed their wedding rings with the birth date of the daughter they didn’t know for decades.  It is, in short, an example of how love triumphed over fear, and how self-sacrifice and determination enriched the lives of countless others.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; 10 but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly,[b] but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

And kudos to Redbook for publishing this.  It’s undated, so I’m not certain when this first appeared, but it’s a wonderful testimony regardless of its publication date.

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Comments

I’m always astounded by the perpetual pressure on women to abort their babies. Sending her to a mental institution for refusing to abort reminds me of a line from Batman Begins, when Falcone asks Scarecrow when the nuts started running the nuthouse.

Stoic Patriot on May 5, 2013 at 1:33 PM

Mr. Morrissey, what kind of Catholic are you?
Translating ἀγάπη/caritas as love?
This is shocking: you sound like Wm. Tyndale!

Tzetzes on May 5, 2013 at 2:02 PM

Νυνὶ δὲ μένει πίστις, ἐλπίς, ἀγάπη, τὰ τρία ταῦτα· μείζων δὲ τούτων ἡ ἀγάπη.
Nunc autem manet fides, spes, caritas – tria hæc; major autem his est caritas.

Tzetzes on May 5, 2013 at 2:15 PM

Wonderful story!

terryannonline on May 5, 2013 at 2:25 PM

Beautiful story. What a wonderful and strong woman! :). I was having a crisis of faith and needed to hear about a real Christian.

Illinidiva on May 5, 2013 at 4:17 PM

I was having a crisis of faith and needed to hear about a real Christian.

Illinidiva on May 5, 2013 at 4:17 PM

I’m praying for you. God bless.

itsnotaboutme on May 5, 2013 at 5:35 PM

HEY ED ! ………………………………………..

This really should be promoted to the main page.

Thanks MUCH for posting it. : )

listens2glenn on May 5, 2013 at 5:42 PM

this story could’ve been written by my mother.

She faced the same thing–although it was 1967. Staunch Catholic mother, young teen girl found herself pregnant, and oh what a dilemma. My mother went away to a “hospital” for several months–a trip that was apparently somewhat common. The practice is chronicled in “The Girls Who Went Away”. My mother went on to get married in 1968 to my father, and then she went on to have 6 more children. She may, this summer, get linked up with the girl who she gave up for adoption and who is now in her mid 40′s.

thanks for posting this, Ed. It hits pretty close to home.

ted c on May 5, 2013 at 5:58 PM

I’m always astounded by the perpetual pressure on women to abort their babies. Sending her to a mental institution for refusing to abort reminds me of a line from Batman Begins, when Falcone asks Scarecrow when the nuts started running the nuthouse.

Stoic Patriot on May 5, 2013 at 1:33 PM

.
In those days (and probably still today), ANYTHING ……. that would constitute an embarrassment to an upper-crust, “blue-blood” family would always be “resolved” one way or another ….. out of sight, out of mind.
If your condition / situation somehow constitutes a public shame to your parents, you would lose all personal VALUE (kinda’ like Rosemary Kennedy).

listens2glenn on May 5, 2013 at 5:59 PM

BTW, i didn’t find out that I had an older sister until 5 years ago. My mother had hidden it from us for most of our lives.

ted c on May 5, 2013 at 5:59 PM

ted c on May 5, 2013 at 5:58 PM

.
Thanks for sharing that, Ted’.

listens2glenn on May 5, 2013 at 6:01 PM

BTW, I followed Ed’s link to the complete story at redbookmag.com, and found myself very disappointed to learn Julie’s father is Dan Mannix.

I liked ‘The Fox And The Hound‘ very much (Dan’s book, NOT the movie). His book was obviously by someone who understood responsible hunting, knew all about wild animals, and the outdoors.

The “flavor” of the book is much better than the movie, if you’re someone who’s experienced with wildlife habits and habitat.

listens2glenn on May 5, 2013 at 6:17 PM

Christos Anesti!

deimos on May 5, 2013 at 6:46 PM

BTW, i didn’t find out that I had an older sister until 5 years ago. My mother had hidden it from us for most of our lives.

ted c on May 5, 2013 at 5:59 PM

Wow. So, it sounds like from your first post that you haven’t met her yet. Do you plan to? How did you cope w/ the news, btw?

inviolet on May 5, 2013 at 6:48 PM

Wow. So, it sounds like from your first post that you haven’t met her yet. Do you plan to? How did you cope w/ the news, btw?

inviolet on May 5, 2013 at 6:48 PM

No, I haven’t met her. One of my sisters and my aunt have met her. When I heard the news, I was shocked/stunned.

ted c on May 5, 2013 at 6:56 PM

ted c on May 5, 2013 at 5:58 PM

Since I am from the time when girls went to homes for unwed mothers, and I knew a few, this seems like a very happy ending to me. I hope that we have gotten to the point where adoption would be seen as noble. Unwed pregnancy certainly has lost its stigma so there really isn’t a good reason not to consider adoption. I’m still a believer that, in current times, with the number of contraceptives available, choice begins before the conception.

Cindy Munford on May 5, 2013 at 7:09 PM

A powerful story.

But, to me, the villain was Frank, who violated his marriage vows and set into motion this entire vignette.

unclesmrgol on May 5, 2013 at 7:33 PM

Our two kids are adopted. They are adults now and our eldest decided to seek her birth parents. They were still grieving after all these years but now they know. I always wanted to thank her birth mom for making the right decision and took the opportunity one day. It is the only decision one can make. My daughter has married a wonderful man and we have been blessed by two beautiful full of life grandkids. If you believe in God, you can see how relationships blossom and how life grows more relationships with God. He created us to be in relationship with Him and each other. The relationships lost by 52 million aborted babies is astronomical. Abortion is wrong. This story is a testimonial of what happens when one does the right thing and makes a stand for right. Thanks Ed…this adoptive dad had a tear in his eye. Wish I could e mail this to my daughter

crosshugger on May 5, 2013 at 9:16 PM

Such a beautiful story.

ninnuh on May 6, 2013 at 9:34 AM

I’m praying for you. God bless.

itsnotaboutme on May 5, 2013 at 5:35 PM

Thanks.. I’ve been trying to reconnect with the Catholic Church and attend Mass regularly over the past few months, but the last week just drudged up all the bad memories of the Church that I had growing up.

This was a sweet story with a very happy ending. I’m especially glad that the ex-lover ended up marrying Julie rather than being just a two-timing cheater.

Illinidiva on May 6, 2013 at 9:37 AM

1 Corinthians 13 is arguably the most beautiful chapter in the Bible, but at weddings and here it is out of context. It should be taken as a part of 1 Corinthians 12-14 about spiritual gifts, what they are and are not, and how they should be exercised in the body of Christ.

jclittlep on May 6, 2013 at 11:45 AM

1 Corinthians 13 is arguably the most beautiful chapter in the Bible

So, be patient with the moonbats. Be kind. Never envy that they get away with double standards; never boast that your views are better; never be rude. Never insist on your own ways, even especially when you try to excuse them by saying they are the ways of the god. Do not be irritable. Do not resent. Never resist. Rather: Bear all things. Endure all things.

kunegetikos on May 6, 2013 at 1:02 PM

Very touching story. My best girlfriend is an adoptee, as was her younger brother. I admit that I was a bit surprised to learn she and her brother were adopted in the first place; don’t know why … guess it hadn’t been in my experience up until then.

Out of an innocent curiosity many years ago in high school, I remember asking my girlfriend if she ever thought about searching for her birth mother; she said she pretty much didn’t want to know.

I don’t know whether she knows now or had to find out whenever she had the first of her four children — she told me that although she was healthy and everything was proceeding normally, she was still considered high-risk, since her doctors couldn’t determine her medical history.

PatriotGal2257 on May 6, 2013 at 1:19 PM

to deimos (and everyone else)

Alithos anesti! :)

Katja on May 7, 2013 at 1:12 AM