Baby Cate was a tiny little thing - only 7 months on earth - but I stand in awe of the impact she made. She wasn't expected to survive past 5 months in utero, but she sure trumped those odds. She probably never uttered a single word, but the words written about her have impacted and inspired over 70,000 people. She couldn't walk, but during her short earthly mission she travelled (via the Internet) as far as Zambia, Uzbeckistan, and China. She never earned a single dollar, never drew a paycheck, never made a contribution to a local charity... but her very life has enriched the lives of tens of thousands all across the globe.
She was completely dependent upon machines and medication at the end of her life. Her little heart stopped functioning on its own nearly 2 weeks ago, and still our hearts waited in expectant hope, praying for a miracle.
It was not to be.
From a worldly perspective, Cate was a failure. A drain on society, a waste of resources, a mistake. Had her parent's opted to abort early on, upon learning of her grim prognosis, all of this needless suffering might have been...avoided. All the time, the money, the medical resources poured into the tiny body of a child who would not see her first birthday. Surely these could have been spent elsewhere, with greater impact...
But Cate's impact can't be measured in dollars. Her contributions will never show up on a bank statement, will never be the subject of a major motion picture. Because Cate didn't move mountains; she moved hearts.
Cate never had the privilege of receiving the Eucharist on earth, but now she stands at the throne of the Blessed Sacrament Himself. She watches with delight as thousands of the brothers and sisters she left here on earth encounter her story and then, falling to their knees, encounter He who authored her story.
Cate the Magnificent, as one commenter called her, was a small thing, but she had a monumental task to achieve, and in a very short time. She didn't have a moment to waste, and so she didn't. As is evident in the loving reflections penned by her mom and dad, not a moment of this child's life was spent in vain, not a precious minute slipped by without purpose. Especially towards the end, when the hour grew late.
Let us pray for the grace to live our own lives in light of eternity, heeding St. Catherine of Siena's words to "be as we should be" in order that we might "set the world on fire"
And let us pray for eyes opened wide enough to see the greater reality into which our own small roles are woven. Let us remember that not one of us is useless so long as the One doing the using is the Creator of the universe. And let us remember Baby Cate, her family, and their heroic example of obedience and humility.
Can't wait to meet you, Cate.