Patty Knap calls herself a “born again” Catholic. She planned to be a wife and mother of four or five kids with several girls, but as life played out, she’s a single mom with two young adult boys. She counsels at a crisis pregnancy center, teaches CCD, takes online classes with the Avila Institute, and loves the beach, dalmatians, and America’s national parks. She also saves recipes in a pile until it gets big and then throws them out.
The Sisters of Life have written a charming new book for children, Look Again, Thomas!, that points us to the goodness in every person.
Based on a real little boy named Angelo Pio, the story captures the way children with special needs draw out our capacity to love without limits, in the way such children themselves do.
Angelo's mother, Gina, found out during her pregnancy that her child had Down syndrome. Feeling tremendous pressure to abort, Gina spoke to a priest friend who encouraged her to call the Sisters of Life. Gina moved in with the Sisters soon after and gave birth to her baby boy. This little boy has already brought nine years of unconditional love and joy to his family.
Sister Elizabeth Ann is a friend of Angelo and his mother. “I’ve always wanted to write and illustrate a children's book. I never really imagined the Lord would give me the opportunity as a Religious Sister. I'm so very grateful. As Sisters of Life we all want to spread the message that you are special, good, beautiful and sacred," said Sister Elizabeth Ann. "Every person, most especially, every child needs to hear that, so it was wonderful to be able to send that message through the pages of a children's book!"
"I can't tell you what a gift it has been to watch Angelo grow; his delight in the world never changes. He sees goodness everywhere. It suddenly dawned on me one day that Angelo is not the one with the disability - we are. Angelo, and other children with special needs, see the world and the people they meet every day with a purity and innocence that is how we are called to see the world. Angelo loves without conditions And he shows us all how to delight and wonder in the beauty and goodness all around us that we too often miss. He simply sees everyone and everything through God's eyes. As Gina will tell you, every day for Angelo is a day to wonder. When I thought about writing a book like this, Angelo quickly came to mind. He can teach us all how to live each day. And his blue glasses just added the right touch to the story."
The sweet story highlights the unique, beautiful, unrepeatable gift each person is to the world. All of us tend to make quick judgments when we meet someone, superficially by what they look like, what they can do (their capabilities) or what they own. We fail to meet the real person inside when we do this. And we deprive ourselves of discovering and delighting in that unique "something" that this person holds within that reflects some aspect of God never before seen. We deprive ourselves of the gift.
In a world that has lost a sense of the unrepeatable beauty and sacredness of every human person, we need to be people with eyes that see. The lesson of Thomas is to take the time to see beyond the surface, look for the goodness in others. See them as God sees them. He loves them unconditionally. He desires to be close to them. He wants them to grow and become more of who they ARE each day. We're reminded of the gift of encouraging others in their goodness, being that "shooting star" that leads others to Christ.
We're called to see the tremendous gift children with special needs are to the world, who bring out the goodness in all of us. They give us permission to laugh and cry and delight in the simple things that are really quite beautiful all around us each day.
The book is now available (www.SistersofLife.org), with the hope of reaching children of various faiths or no faith, Catholic as well as public schools. This is a second book for the pro-life order. The first, I Would Climb Any Mountain for You, is a heartwarming tale of a mother's natural devotion to her child, and includes developmental milestones for the unborn child.
The Sisters of Life is a religious community founded in 1991 by John Cardinal O’Connor for the protection and enhancement of the sacredness of every human life.