"When Mary appeared in 1531 to St. Juan Diego, she encouraged him in the midst of his difficult situations to seek his total support in her: Am I not here, I who am your Mother? Are you not beneath my shadow and protection? Am I not the source of your happiness? Are you not in the hollow of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Do you need anything else?"
I would like to begin with a quote from Pope Francis' homily this past Divine Mercy Sunday.
“Dear brothers and sisters, let us be enveloped by the mercy of God; let us trust in his patience, which always gives us more time. Let us find the courage to return to his house, to dwell in his loving wounds, allowing ourselves be loved by him and to encounter his mercy in the sacraments.” Pope Francis, Divine Mercy Sunday 2013
When I read this, I was immediately reminded of Fiona, a post abortive woman with whom I corresponded for a number of months. Fiona was 96 years old and had written to Father Benedict Groschel who then passed her letter on to me. She was writing about abortions she had had more than 60 years prior.
Just think, for over 60 years she lived in the fear that she was not and could not be forgiven by God even though she had gone to confession. Talk about a living hell.
I saved some of Fiona letters and would like to share part of one with you tonight.
“I particularly wanted to write because many, many, years ago I had 3 abortions. I can truthfully say I am intensely sorry. These were awful sins. I confessed these, but it is so very long ago and my memory is so poor I do not remember if the priest gave me absolution. I think he did. I am working on forgiving my husband who is deceased and was an alcoholic. Do you think there can be forgiveness for me? I am praying and hoping."
Fiona and I exchanged letters for a time speaking of God’s mercy and post abortion healing, but then one day she wrote telling me I would not be hearing from her again because she needed to go live with one of her children who did not know about her abortions and she was fearful they would find out and hate her. I am sure Fiona has passed by now but I think of her often. There are countless Fiona’s in this world, women and men who live with the pain and reality of abortion for decades, but the good news is, “His patience always gives us more time. He is always waiting for us no matter what our sin.”
What a great message of evangelization to those who have been involved in an abortion. With over 55 million abortions, just think of millions of men and women separated from God, but, He is patient, there is hope and He is waiting for us no matter what our sin. Even the sin of abortion!
I am not going to lie; this work of post abortion healing is not easy. The devil attacks from every side because it is truly the work of bringing souls back to Christ. Just for a second, think of how many souls are lost to Christ because of abortion - women and men directly involved, perhaps grandparents, friends, doctors, nurses, the list can go on and on. Then think of how much the devil does not want them to be reconciled.
This work is a constant standing at the foot of the cross “dwelling in His wounds” because it is only there, in the deepness of his wounds that healing from the deep sin of abortion can be found. It is there that He won our salvation.
But, it is also a work of indescribable joy, for after the cross surely comes the resurrection. We are also so blessed to watch many who came to us full of despair, find joy in their lives again through the forgiveness and mercy of Jesus Christ. A God who can take their worst sin and use it to bring them to His merciful heart, transforming the horror of abortion into an act of indescribable love.
In truth it is amazing to see what God has done with Lumina, a tiny, hidden ministry, isolated in the view of the world, run with just one full time person, a part time social media employee, and the generosity of some volunteers, along with the wonderful priests who help us.
The scope of our reach can only come from God, as tens of thousands continue to be touched each year, through Lumina, by His grace. I find I cannot even really think about it, but continue to try to just stay out of His way, as His hand reaches out to touch those suffering, mother, fathers, and siblings, all of us!
Our Prayerful Remembrance service, which has been broadcasted on EWTN and done in St Patrick’s Cathedral, the Basilica in Washington, D.C., and numerous other dioceses is continuing to spread with Massachusettes, Minnesota, and Canada being our latest additions.
This past August I was blessed to be asked to do a workshop on men and abortion for the USCCB at their pro life director’s conference, where our post abortive men’s retreat manual was distributed. As a recent man who attended our retreat told me when he called, "I have been waiting for over 20 years to see something just for men." As a result of that conference, requests have come in to help other dioceses begin outreach to post abortive men.
Entering Canaan, the post abortive retreats I developed with the Sisters of Life, are spreading across the country and the world, with more and more asking for assistance in beginning them including Croatia and most recently a request from Columbia.
We also have recently received requests from 3 more dioceses interested in having Father Marisuz and I come to do priests trainings, which in turn reach countless souls as the priests then feel equipped to return to their parishes and speak on post abortion healing.
Our sibling retreats are the talk of the town as more and more siblings reach out and desire to come for healing. As one siblings from our last retreat said, "The Lumina Sibling Survivor Retreat was a turning point in my life. The day’s gentle, intent pace; Eucharistic focus, and intimate setting allowed time to stop and expand, encompassing both the pain of the past and hope for the future. … It was so strange and deeply comforting to be in a place where the central spiritual wound of my life was acknowledged and soothed, not idolized, but transformed through a call to acceptance, forgiveness, healing, and celebration of my youngest sibling’s brief life on earth and eternal life in Heaven, where she or he now intercedes before the face of God for the healing of my whole family.
Now I know that this wound I bear is becoming like Christ’s wounds: welling up with God’s love so that everyone – my mother, father, all my siblings, and the generations before and after us – may be drawn to Him. – “
Tens of thousands of others continue to be reached through Luminas social media, our web site, blog, Facebook & Twitter which are now expanding thanks to the help of Tricia who has been working with me a few months, but who, believe it or not, I just met in person today!
It is exciting, and humbling. It is awe inspiring, at times painful, and miraculous. It is God!
I am so grateful for all of you because we could not do this work without your support.
I often speak of how amazing it is that God used my son who I aborted not only to bring me to Him, but to call me to this work. Out of the depths of despair He freed me, and no one can take that experience from me. It is that experience that gives me the faith, trust and desire, to let others who I know are suffering as I did, know about the goodness of God.
Most people feel called to save the babies, and that is right and good, and we should always do that, but we are also called to save souls, souls that may be separated from God for eternity. I sometimes feel like we are walking through the battle field picking up the dead while stepping over the wounded. Imagine if we could bring all the wounded to the healing power of God, how He would use them to stop the war against the unborn whether that is by publically speaking, silently ministering, or just healing in order to have healthy families that nurture the gift of life.
As we prepare this advent for the Glorious Expectation of birth of mercy Himself, let us remember He came into the world to save us from our sins. He suffered and died on the cross and rose from the dead for our salvation. Let us trust in His patience, which always gives us more time. Let us find the courage to not only return to His house ourselves but to dwell in His loving wounds, in order to bring others to His house allowing them be loved by Him and to encounter His mercy. Thank you!
I love the Advent season. It has become a real resting place, a "glorious expectation" of the coming of the Christ Child into our midst. But it was not always like this. Being a post-abortive woman, for years I found Advent and the Christmas season a time of great anxiety and sorrow. In the joy of the birth of Christ experienced by so many, I experienced nothing but fear, dread, and unending pain. I was always relieved to greet the New Year knowing I did not have to deal with it all again for another 12 months.
If you think about it, it's an understandable reaction. Feeling unforgivable and alienated from God, certain of eternal condemnation, why would anyone who was post-abortive want to "prepare the way" for Christ? Meeting Christ meant judgment and the flames of hell. It meant the fulfillment of everything I feared and felt about myself. The entire season spoke of my sinfulness.
Unlike Mary's fiat, I said "no." My "no" to God's gift of life was loudly resounding in my head. How could I appreciate Mary's courage, faith, and complete unselfishness when I had the complete opposite reaction? The shame was all-consuming.
Instead of the joy of the birth of a son, I was reminded intensely of the destruction of my unborn son. The grief and guilt it brought to me was overwhelming. While choirs were singing "Joy to the World," I was certain Christ's coming meant I would be alone to suffer, with no one to love and no one to love me.
While others shopped happily for gifts for their children, I was reminded of the child who would never get to experience Christmas joy, sit on Santa's lap, or open a present under the tree. The void was immense and seemed impossible to fill.
Things are different now. As I learned to take the focus off of myself and put it on Jesus, I came into a personal relationship with Him. I learned of His unending mercy and forgiveness in the face of my contrition for my abortion. Far from a damning God, I came to know His deep desire for my healing and my union with Him.
Instead of a dread of Advent and the Christmas season, I came to understand that it was in this act, the birth of Mercy Himself, that my salvation began. The immense void I had experienced slowly filled with His love and mercy, and I grew to know He came to this earth for me, a sinner, so that I could share eternal life with Him and my unborn child.
Yes, now Advent speaks to my heart of a "glorious expectation" of peace, joy, love, forgiveness, and mercy. This grace is not just for me but for all who trust in Him, no matter what their sin.
If you are post-abortive or suffering from other sins that keep you from the joy of the Advent, take your focus off of yourself and place it instead on Christ, born for our salvation. If you do, I promise you, you will not only feel joy but a glorious expectation!
On Holy Thursday this past year, Pope Francis urged the clergy to go out among their flock and know the people they serve like “shepherds living with the smell of the sheep."
“This I ask you," he said, "be shepherds, with the odor of the sheep, make it real, as shepherds among your flock, fishers of men.”
I have been very blessed for many years to work with Father Mariusz Koch, CFR, in many different capacities. From trainings for priests, to running postabortion retreats, to pilgrimages. He has been my friend, my co worker, and most importantly, my priest.
I have watched him as he ministers to others, whether it is a post abortive woman or man, a sibling, a priest at one of our trainings, his CFR brothers, his niece Natalie or before her death, his mom.
When Father had his health scare I was doing a retreat in IL and at the airport when I picked up the message from one of the brothers. I remember feeling paralyzed. Partly because of worry for him, and selfishly, I could not bear the thought of losing him. I cannot think of many who I love more than him. Why? Because I have witnessed him.
I have seen him treating sinners no different than saints. I've witnessed him being the face if Christ to so many. A genuine love projects from him, not because that is the way he should be, but because it is the way he truly is! Self giving, hard working, compassionate, and loving, never saying no to anything I ask of him (and believe me, I ask a lot) but being willing always to serve if it is possible, no matter who asks him.
So, here we are today, honoring him for his work with those post abortive whether it is with Lumina, at our Entering Canaan retreats, or Rachel’s Vineyard. I know those who have been blessed to know him would all say the same.
So, In Honor of Father Mariusz:
“For always being a 'shepherd who lives with the smell of the sheep,' by your compassionate listening and constant reflection of the love and mercy of God. Thank you for bringing the healing power of Gods grace to those suffering from abortion.”
I received this article from a man who suffers from mental illness. I do not know him, (or at least I do not know if I know him) so I have no idea of the context or way he speaks of abortion, but if nothing else at least in individual therapy he should be able to voice how he feels and speak of anything that is bothering him.
I thought he hit the nail on the head regarding the attitude of most mental health professionals in regard to post abortion. As many of you know,we are often told to "forget about it" , "it is in your past", "That is not the cause of your problems" etc etc. I am sure many of you will agree. In Any case I thought it was well worth passing on...
Do You Have Limitless Trust In God's Mercy?
"This God, who became a child, wants our helplessness and weakness to lead us toward the complete abandonment of ourselves to Him. He wants to lead us to a limitless trust in His mercy."
What a great night at Lumina's 2nd Annual Advent Dinner where we honored Father Mariusz Koch, CFR. Father and I have worked closely for about 15 years doing post abortion retreats, trainings, and presentations on healing from abortion. It is with Father that I began the retreat days for post abortive men and also retreats for siblings of aborted babies. Father Mariusz is also active in the Rachel's Vineyard ministry and has a true heart for those who are post abortive.
It has truly been one of my greatest blessings to have him as a friend, co-worker, and priest and I thank God for him daily!
Here is a little video that was put together for the Advent Dinner that offers a look at the work of Lumina!
Many thanks to all who came and made this an amazing night!
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be on his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:2
In this day and age we are often left feeling that it is hard to find any kind of peace. Threats of terrorism, political division, the demise of family values, poverty, violence, and for those post abortive, bouts of shame, anxiety, guilt and grief make the concept of peace seem unattainable. At times it is even difficult not to despair. The answer, however, comes in not focusing on those things, but on keeping our eyes on Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.
As advent approaches and the Christmas season comes upon us, let us always remember our peace is not of this world. It is not fleeting depending on what events are happening in the world. It is grounded in the One who was, is, and always will be. The One who came that we may have peace, not just any peace, but His peace.
"Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful." John 14:27
May you always gaze on Jesus and may the peace of Christ permeate your heart this Christmas season and always.
Are you or someone you know suffering from the wounds of abortion? There is hope, there is healing. Visit the Lumina Website for more information.
Entering Canaan A Sacramental Journey to an Inheritance of Mercy for those Suffering from a past Abortion.
Lumina Hope & Healing After Abortion A post abortion ministry of Good Counsel, Inc., Lumina provides groups, retreat days, trainings, public speaking, & referrals to post abortion ministries, professional therapists and clergy.
Abortion Recovery International ARIN is an affiliate association, dedicated to connecting and assisting like-minded abortion recovery centers, programs and services; as well as individuals working within the field.
Ramah International Assistance for those hurting from post abortion syndrome through communication, resources, and local referrals.
Project Rachel The Catholic Church's healing ministry for those who have been involved in abortion.
National Office of Reconciliation and Healing A network of researchers and psychotherapeutic professionals working in the field within the U.S. and abroad, consulting on the formation of post-abortion support services within secular and religious settings.
Rachel's Vineyard Rachel's Vineyard retreats combines a unique and creative process for psychological and spiritual healing.
Safe Haven Ministries Safe Haven is a peer site for those who have had abortions to find comfort, hope, understanding, and healing.