Next week we will be begin the season of Lent. I love this time of year, because it focuses on the ultimate sacrifice and the great love and mercy God has for each one of us.
We have a beautiful Eucharistic Prayer of Reconciliation in the Catholic faith that says, "When we were lost and could not find our way to you, you loved us more than ever." How beautiful that when we were lost, He did not forget us but, He loved us more than ever! Something so hopeful and comforting. We may not have seen Him or knew He was there, but He tells us He is always there - loving us!
Who is more lost than a mother walking into an abortion clinic to participate in the death of her child? Abortion goes against everything a mother should be and do. It is so completely unnatural. A mother's natural inclination is to protect and nurture.
The reason abortion is still so controversial after over 41 years of legality is because everyone knows in their heart that it is not a good thing, even the women walking into the clinics.
With 57 million abortions in our country since 1973, we all know someone who has had an abortion whether we realize it or not. A day does not go by that we don’t hear something about abortion in the news, it is in front of us daily.
Consequently, we are a wounded nation. Not only are there millions of babies who have been denied their right to life, but there are millions more people whose lives have been stripped of their dignity, living in grief and shame because of abortion. Mothers, fathers, and even the siblings of these babies are suffering because they wonder why their brother or sister is dead and they are alive. Postabortive siblings may worry about a parent who is depressed or unattached because of an abortion they had in their past or if their very name would have been the same if their sibling had lived. There are millions of grandparents mourning the loss of their grandchildren through abortion, and yes, society as a whole is suffering.
We have seen the threats to life increase on an immense scale this past year and abortion continues to be the hot button of the health care debate. There has been talk of a "middle ground." What middle ground can there possibly be when it comes to a person's life? There will never be peace or compromise on abortion. How can you compromise taking a human life and the devastation caused by killing the unborn and damaging countless other lives. Every life is impacted by abortion.
I often hear people say, "I cannot understand how can anyone have an abortion.” It is something many people cannot even fathom doing.
I usually reply, “Thank God you can not understand. Thank God your husband did not threaten to leave you if you did not abort, or your parents did not kick you out of the house and deny you their love. Thank God you have not been filled with fear by a boyfriend who is threatening you if you do not abort, or telling you if you love him you will get rid of the baby. Thank God you never aborted because you felt like you could not afford another child, or you got an adverse diagnosis and were told you would be selfish to give birth. Thank God!"
Of course, none of these reasons justify abortion, but we need to understand that women do not walk into a clinic joyfully. After 20 years of doing post abortion work I can tell you, most women walk into a clinic not because of their "freedom of choice," they do so because they feel they have no choice.
The 40 Day Vigil for Life vigil is a beautiful witness which has had amazing results across the nation thanks to the grace of God. As a participant in a 40 Days Vigil, we are called to be a sign to those who are lost, as the Eucharistic prayer says, “loving them more than ever." We are called to care as much for the soul of those participating in an abortion, the mother, father, perhaps grandparents, clinic escorts, and yes even the abortionist, as we do the unborn child, both when they are going in the clinic and when they are coming out.
We need to offer women in crisis pregnancies help, but we also need to reach out to all those suffering as a result of a past abortion, so that they can come to see that forgiveness and healing is possible and they can have joy in their lives again.
I would like to share a little with you about someone who I believe is a living saint. Monsignor Philip Reilly of the Helpers of God's Gods Precious Infants. For those of you who may not know who he is, Monsignor Reilly began The Helpers of God Precious Infants, a group of people who pray in front of abortion clinics. Monsignor himself prays outside an abortion clinic every day. He prays and fasts from when he rises until he gets home from the clinic.
Right now, Monsignor has cancer from standing out there day after day in the sun. For me, he speaks so truly to our role at an abortion clinic whether it is with the Helpers or 40 Days for Life.
“The reason we go out is not primarily to save the physical life of the child, though we want to do that, absolutely, but if that becomes our primary purpose we will become limited in what we will achieve and we are going to misunderstand why God wants us to be there. Our purpose will determine the instrument that you use so if your purpose is to save the physical life of the child then you are going to measure your success on whether the physical life was spared. But the real purpose should be the salvation of souls, the abortionist, people working there, the mother, boyfriend, all people who brought her there… God wants the mother and the people who bring her there. God loves them.'
God willing - the mothers will spare the life of the child, but the mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus is present on Calvary in you and me. It took a death, His death to convert many. It is Jesus who is going there, to calvary, in us to bring about conversions. Jesus and Jesus alone can overcome death and error and darkness with His love, be an instrument of Jesus Christ..convert with love and prayer..be there in love, be Christ to them, meek, gentle, kind, treat them with dignity, no shouting, no protesting, enter into the mystery of the meekness and power of God!”
It took a death, His death to convert many.
I believe that, for I too am post abortive. I know what it is like to walk into a place that is going to take the life of your child. But, I also know that the death of my son Joshua from abortion is the very thing God used to convert me teach me about His love. Not that He ever wanted the abortion, but in His mercy He turns even our worse sins into good.
My son also brought about the conversion of my mother, my father who forced me to abort, and countless others who his death has touched through my work in postabortion ministry through both Lumina and the Entering Canaan Ministry.
There is another Eucharistic prayer in our Church which says, “God of love and mercy, you are always ready to forgive, we are sinners and you invite us to trust in your mercy.” He does not force us - he invites us. He tells us it is there, we need only to come to Him who “loved us more than ever.” What comforting words, especially for those who have been involved in abortion.
It took Calvary to redeem the world, for the blood and water to flow from the Jesus and bring our salvation. I know I am capable of any sin were it not for the grace of God. Each of us are. We are all weak human beings in need of God's mercy. God's grace is there for each of us, the woman going into the clinic, her unborn child, for the father, the grandparents, even for the abortionist.
May we each be a sign of that mercy as Jesus is a sign for us, to bring about not only an end to abortion, but as Monsignor Reilly said, the salvation of souls.