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Previous owners Michael and Sheila O'Brien joined our family for the joyful moment we took possession of our new home. The children are holding spring flowers.

It was about a year ago when I contacted our landlord to ask if we could continue renting for another year. Having rented from him for a few years already, I was pretty sure he would say “Yes.” When he replied that he needed the house to entertain guests that coming summer, I pleaded with him, telling him we were expecting again and a move a couple of months prior to the due date would be very difficult for my wife Erin and the baby. But he would not change his mind. He congratulated us for the new baby and said we had to be out in five months.

Both Erin and I were in despair. Having five children already made it almost impossible to find someone who was willing to rent to a ‘crazy large family whose parents obviously don’t know how to control themselves.’ And buying a home with a mortgage was out of the question because of our student loans that always upset the financial ratios. And believe me, we had tried everything to get a mortgage, from local banks, to national banks, to mortgage brokers. It was always the same No, No, No.

It was about a year before this new pregnancy that we had decided to make a deal with God. We told him that if he wanted us to buy a house, he would have to meet three conditions:

1. The house would have to be a place of beauty where we would be happy to raise our children and be able to do some small-scale farming, like raising chickens and goats and growing a garden.

2. The owners would have to want to sell the house specifically to us, seeing us as a perfect fit for their home.

3. The financing would have to work out.

It was a tall order, but it gave us peace knowing that if God wanted us in a home, he would make it clear to us by fulfilling these conditions.

Now, with our landlord closing the door on us and the banks already having closed the door on us, we had no option but to pray that God would provide a place for us to live, even if it meant living in a cave in the middle of the forest (we said, half seriously). One of our daughters helpfully suggested that we could simply live in the car. Would we have a home in which to bring our newborn child? It was a painful question to face.

But then something unexpected happened a few weeks after having our landlord turn us down. It started one night when Erin noticed blood. Four days later the cramping started. The following morning, Erin passed the placenta and amniotic sack, all intact with a tiny baby inside about the size of two peas. Everything fit in the palm of her hand. At 12 weeks the baby should have been about 3-4 inches, but we could tell that she was much smaller. I immediately baptized the baby. Then we held one another and our little baby and cried.

We named her Perpetua Christina Marie. We later discovered that she had died at about 6 weeks, which would have been just around Christmas.

It was painful to tell our children of the loss. We told them that their little sister had been called home to heaven, much sooner than we would have liked. We told them that she had joined her brother Gabriel and her sister Jacinta and that all three of them were now praying for us and helping us become holy so that we could all be together one day.

We showed the children Perpetua’s remains. We could see the tiny little head with little black dots for eyes. We could see her tiny arms and legs and her little feet. The kids took holy water and each of them blessed Perpetua. I kissed her before wrapping her up in preparation for burial.

Our grief over her loss was great, but it was mingled with a strange joy that God was somehow doing something bigger than the eye could see… In his will was our peace…

I must now switch gears and tell you about a local Catholic couple who had been dropping hints to us for some time now that they could “just see” our family in their country house. They were good friends of ours who had already raised their children and were ready to move into something smaller and closer to town. And it was a beautiful house with about two acres of farmable land. The house had a feasting hall with a stone fireplace. The property included a grove of majestic maples and was a two minute walk from a small lake teaming with fish. There was even an impressive hill out back that would make a perfect toboggan run in the winter.

I remember when it suddenly hit Erin and me that two of our conditions regarding our deal with God were met with this house. But we did not even begin to get our hopes up since we were sure the finances would never work out.

It was a few days prior to the miscarriage that we began a nine-day prayer to St. Joseph, asking him to intercede on our behalf for a financial miracle from God. It was during this novena that, out of the blue, my older brother who lived thousands of miles away contacted me, saying he had heard about our financial woes and had a friend who had connections in the banking industry who might be able to help us. I called my brother’s friend and explained our situation. I was given the name of a person to call at a national bank.

The day Erin miscarried was the day I was supposed to speak with this person at the bank. Sensing there was more happening than could meet the eye, I decided to make the call that day. The person I spoke with was the first to look seriously at our real financial situation and see that we could actually afford mortgage payments. Days later we were astounded to be “pre-approved” for a mortgage from the same bank that a few months before had rejected our application for a small loan to buy a car. We were approved a few days after the miscarriage and the day after finishing our novena prayer to St. Joseph.

All the pieces were now coming together quickly. It seemed to us that God had fulfilled his side of the deal superabundantly. He had found us a lovely home surrounded by natural beauty. The owners wanted nothing better than for us to live there. And we now had a green light on the finances. It seemed almost unbelievable to witness how all the knots became untied.

We took possession of the house May 1st, the feast of St. Joseph. I carried Erin across the threshold while the children frolicked around the yard picking the daintiest spring flowers you ever did see. The owners joined us in our joy. It was truly a paradise moment.

Throughout all of this, Erin and I discerned that someone special besides St. Joseph might have been pulling strings for us someplace on high. And it was not too hard to figure out who. This whole journey to our new home began when we asked our landlord to continue renting because we were expecting. When we lost our baby, both Erin and I believe she went straight to God and pleaded with him to come through on the deal we had made with him. And we both believe that God listened real closely to her and was moved by what she had to say.

We now live in a place we call “home.” It is our “forever” home where we will raise our family. Here we will love, laugh, cry, eat, sleep, and pray. Here we will raise our children and teach them about the mysterious ways of God and how if they put their trust in him, he will always come through in the end.

We will always grieve the loss of our daughter, but at the same time, we have this inkling that she is still with us, watching over us, doing “her thing” with God to pull off something amazing for all of us here on earth. We have no doubt that Perpetua is still very much part of our family, contributing her unique gifts to the flourishing of the whole. We sense a real and almost tangible spiritual closeness with her.

I often talk to my daughter Perpetua. I thank her for putting us on the path that got us to our home. I thank her for bringing our needs to God. I often ask her to intercede for us regarding anything related to the house, such as the success of the various renovations we have undertaken since moving here – drilling a new well, putting insulation in the ceiling of the feasting room, and upgrading the heating system. Believe it or not, she has come through for us every time.

As I reflect on Perpetua’s short life and her much too short stay with us, I am reminded of a verse from Scripture that seems to describe her relationship to our family: “And a little child shall lead them…” (Isaiah 11:6). Yes, this little child led us to something wonderful, and continues to lead us towards things the eye has not seen nor the ear heard (1 Cor. 2:9). We are grateful for the gift of her life.

Pete and Erin live with their five children in Combermere, Ontario. They will be welcoming a new baby in February. They are glad to have a home in which to welcome this new life.

Editor's Note: As has been our custom for over a decade, LifeSiteNews is again this year publishing Christmas reflections by our staff. For a full listing of this year's reflections, click here.