Ask Elizabeth, February 2021
Beautiful readers, The Fruitful Hollow is thrilled to introduce our Ask Elizabeth series! Once a month we will drop an image or question box on our Instagram and Facebook pages asking for any questions you may have about infertility. We will then select a few questions for one or more of our writers to research and answer for you. Thank you for all of the questions so far! We hope you find our answers helpful.
Where did the name “The Fruitful Hollow” come from?
Lauren jokes that God “hit her over the head” with the idea for this ministry. Her mind was flooded with different images that eventually had a clear theme and took form as this mission. There are some wonderful Catholic infertility resources out there so what’s different about ours? After looking through several websites, articles etc., and taking it to prayer the answer became clear. There is a need for a resource addressing the “now” of infertility. A resource to give couples a way to live a fruitful life while they wait for a child, even if they do not go on to become parents. Then the Hail Mary came to mind.
Hail Mary, full of grace,
the Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.
“Blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.” We know that Mary lived a fruitful life even after the death of her son. If you search a thesaurus for the word “fertile”, you will find the synonyms “fruitful” and “pregnant”. That’s it! God is still calling us to be “fruitful” even now when we are… barren? No. Empty? No. Hollow… maybe.
Looking more at the word “hollow”, you will find among definitions from Oxford Languages: “without significance”. I think often women who struggle with infertility really relate to feeling insignificant. The reality could not be further from the truth, but it is a common theme. Well, we are here to reject that idea. So welcome to the juxtaposition of The Fruitful Hollow! We will always strive to help you be fruitful, even NOW.
How do we wait? I believe that God will bless our marriage with a baby whenever He decides, but I want to know how to wait for it.
What a fantastic question! Oh, the wait! It’s tough, but learning how to wait and be fruitful in that time is so important! Upon reading your message, I immediately thought of Saints Zechariah and Elizabeth (the parents of John the Baptist). Let’s take a look at Luke 1:6-7, 11-16.
“Both [Elizabeth and Zechariah] were righteous in the eyes of God, observing all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren and both were advanced in years… the angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right of the altar of incense. Zechariah was troubled by what he saw, and fear came upon him. But the angel said to him, ‘Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of [the] Lord. He will drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will be filled with the holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb, and he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God.’”
As you know, with God all things are possible. We can look to Zechariah and Elizabeth as an example. They lived their life observing all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord, and they were righteous in the eyes of God. They were fruitful in the wait and the angel told Zechariah that God had heard his prayers! At this point in the story, the couple were too advanced in age to expect children. Who knows how “old” their prayer was at this point in time. Maybe they would have considered it an unanswered prayer.
When I hear the word “wait”, what I really hear is “stop” or “pause”, but I would like to challenge you to change that word association to “prepare”! Actually, historically speaking, “waiting” in the Bible was worded more as “waiting upon”, as a servant who is waiting upon the head of the house, ready to jump up at command, like Jesus’ parable of the servants waiting at home for the master to arrive (Luke 12: 35-40). I know too well how the time of waiting can be discouraging, hopeful, exciting, and sorrowful all at the same time. So, sister, prepare and act!
God has created you for a purpose beyond being a mother. Act. Prepare your soul for what God has in store for you! Spend time with God in prayer and speak to him honestly about how you feel. He can take it! Ask Him what he is calling you to do in the meantime. Are you being called to grow in spiritual motherhood? Are you called to take time to check in on the new mothers in your life to see how they are doing and support them? Are you called to join a Bible study or small group? Are you called to begin a new prayer routine or Catholic book? Are you called to create something beautiful with hope for the future? Are you called to take this time in life to work on your holiness? Whatever you are being called to do, do so with joy and turn the often agonizing wait into a fruitful act. The Lord’s plan for Zechariah and Elizabeth’s life had to be so much better and more fulfilling than they could have even imagined. He loves YOU just as much. We do not know His plan, but in the wait (for whatever that may be), choose to grow in holiness, prepare your heart, and always strive for an abundant life in Christ.
Our love and prayers are with you,
How do my husband and I partake in marital intercourse if we know that conception will not come forth?
The short answer is: wholeheartedly and joyfully! The teaching of the Catholic Church is very clear on the purpose of marital intercourse. I grabbed my copy of The Catechism of the Catholic Church (published in the United States by Image, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York) and wanted to share the rich language that it uses.
“Conjugal love involves a totality, in which all the elements of the person enter - appeal of the body and instinct, power of feeling and affectivity, aspiration of the spirit and of will. It aims at a deeply personal unity, a unity that, beyond union in one flesh, leads to forming one heart and soul; it demands indissolubility and faithfulness in definitive mutual giving; and it is open to fertility.” (CCC 1643)
Wow, so much to unload there! Let’s read that last part again… “open to fertility”. Being fertile is NOT a requirement for Catholic marriage or even martial intercourse. However, being receptive and open to life (not using contraceptives) is. Sister, sex is for so much more than just trying to make a baby! It is one of the many beautiful gifts of marriage. It connects (quite literally) your husband and yourself and is meant to form a lasting bond. It is created to bring pleasure! Please note: to experience pleasure in a procreative way is not shameful, it is a gift of your marriage, and it is God-given.
“The fruitfulness of conjugal love extends to the fruits of the moral, spiritual, and supernatural life. [...] The fundamental task of marriage and family is to be at the service of life. [...] Spouses to whom God has not granted children can nevertheless have a conjugal life full of meaning, in both human and Christian terms. Their marriage can radiate a fruitfulness of charity, of hospitality, and of sacrifice.” (CCC 1653, 1654)
Please feel free to contact us at any time if you have questions for Ask Elizabeth. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Ask Elizabeth” or get in touch with us on social media. All questions will be kept anonymous.