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“All This I will Give to You, If you Bow Down and Worship Me”: Bishop Theodore McCarrick, Saint Jacinta of Fatima, and the Reform of the Catholic Church

Thursday, August 2nd, 2018

– As a young man studying to be a priest in the 1980s, Robert Ciolek was flattered when his brilliant, charismatic bishop in Metuchen, N.J., Theodore E. McCarrick, told him he was a shining star, cut out to study in Rome and rise high in the church. – “He Preyed on Men Who Wanted to be Priests.” NY Times, July 16, 2018.

– …the devil took [Jesus] to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”                   -Matthew, 4:8

The month of July featured two events, over 100 years apart that in very different ways sent shockwaves throughout the Catholic Church.

On July 28th Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington, resigned from the College of Cardinals after credible allegations that the he sexually abused minors and adult seminarians over the course of decades.

Equally disturbing were reports that there appears to have been knowledge of his depravity by some in the Church’s Hierarchy. Yet despite this knowledge, McCarrick was allowed to continue his rise in stature and influence within the Catholic Church.

Amidst the sordid tales of perverted spiritual fatherhood, this excerpt from a NY Times story reveals a diabolical partnership of homosexual grooming and seductive nepotism  within the Catholic Church:

“Bishop McCarrick began inviting [seminarian Ciolek] on overnight trips…The two men would sometimes say night prayers together, before Bishop McCarrick would make a request — ‘come over here and rub my shoulders a little’— that extended into unwanted touching in bed.  Mr. Ciolek, who was in his early 20s at the time, said he felt unable to say no, in part because he had been sexually abused by a teacher in his Catholic high school, a trauma he had shared with the bishop.

Bishop McCarrick also took him to Yankees games. At one game, Mr. Ciolek said he was seated in George Steinbrenner’s box between the team owner and Henry Kissinger… Mr. Ciolek said that even though he just wanted to be a parish priest, Bishop McCarrick would frequently bring up how he ought to go to Rome and climb the church hierarchy.” (My emphasis)

McCarrick showed his young seminarian protégé a future aligned with the Bishop, an influential power broker and rising star in the Catholic Church.

The “very high mountain” of Matthew’s gospel, where Jesus was tempted by Satan, in this scenario is Steinbrenner’s luxury box set high above the baseball diamond of Yankee’s Stadium.

The Bishop was in effect telling Ciolek, “I will help you ascend to power in the Church, open your body and soul to my control, and all this I will give you…and more.”

The Heart of a Saint – Jacinta of Fatima

July 13 2018 was the 101st anniversary of the 3rd apparition of the Blessed Mother to the shepherd children of Fatima in 1917.  This particular apparition was deeply disturbing, and would have a lasting influence on seers Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco.

Lucia writes in her memoirs of the apparition of July 13, 1917:

“As Our Lady…opened her hands…rays of light seemed to penetrate the earth, and we saw as it were a sea of fire. Plunged in this fire were demons and souls in human form…floating about in the conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames that issued from within themselves…without weight or equilibrium, amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear…”

The vision of hell had a profound impact on little Jacinta. Sr Lucia shares:

“The vision of hell filled [Jacinta] with horror to such a degree, that every penance and mortification was as nothing in her eyes, if it could only prevent souls from going there.”

After the apparitions ended, Jacinta’s final journey involved both excruciating physical and emotional pain.   In one of her visits to see Jacinta in the hospital, Lucia asked her dear friend:

“Do you suffer much?”

“Yes, I do suffer; but I offer everything for sinners and to make reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”

Now More than Ever – The Church Needs Saint Jacinta

Jacinta’s yes to God’s will did not lead her to an owner’s box at Yankee Stadium to rub elbows with the rich and powerful.

It led her to suffer for the love of sinners, alone in a hospital bed, separated from her family.  She depended solely on the tender mercy and love of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

This radical message of sacrifice and reparation is foreign and even revolting to modern, enlightened man. What kind of God would ask a little child to die separated from her family, suffering excruciating pain from an open wound in her chest from tuberculosis?

The vocation of Jacinta cannot be understood apart from the profound and life-changing encounters with the Angels and the Blessed Mother at Fatima.

Lucia describes the supernatural power of those angelic apparitions:

“[The Angel] left us in an atmosphere of the supernatural that was so intense we were for a long time unaware of our own existence…we could not speak…our souls were completely immersed in God…The force of the presence of God was so intense that it absorbed us and almost completely annihilated us…the peace and happiness which we felt were great……On the next day, too, this same atmosphere held us bound, and it lessened and disappeared only gradually.”

Lucia goes on to share how this angelic apparition left an indelible imprint on their minds as he asked the children to “make everything a sacrifice, and offer it to God as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended…and for the conversion of sinners.”

It is important to understand the events of Fatima in the context of that tumultuous historical period.

In 1917 Europe was still experiencing the devastation of the First World War. The seeds of massive rebellion against God, of future war, genocide and famine were being nurtured and planted by sinful men.

These seeds would bear their toxic fruit in the rise of Nazism in Germany and Communism in the former Soviet Union, the outbreak of a Second World War, and the Cold War that followed.

The Fatima apparitions ended in October 1917 with the greatest public miracle since the resurrection of Christ – the Miracle of the Sun, seen by over 70,000 people. The Blessed Mother was doing everything possible to call the human family to face the grave threats on the horizon, and to repentance and conversion.

Fatima Today

Thanks be to God, the Soviet Union fell after the consecration of John Paul II in 1984, (as requested by the Blessed Mother at Fatima in the Third Secret.)  Widespread world war and catastrophic nuclear conflict between superpowers has, for now, been averted.

The Orthodox and Catholic churches in Russia and the former Soviet Bloc can once again welcome the faithful as the nations ravaged by communism struggle to spiritually recover after years of persecution.

But we would be very wrong to thing that Fatima is a message set in the past with no relevance to today. The dark spiritual, political and philosophical forces unleashed during that time continue to impact the Church and the world.  As I have written elsewhere, the ongoing abortion holocaust may have connection to the secrets shared at Fatima and the spread of communism.

Because we are immersed in this world, we can become blind to how we are gradually compromising with “the world.” How our lifestyles, entertainment, and moral choices are eating away at our faith.  This is as true for Cardinals and Bishops as it is for you and me.

If we were to be immersed in God’s presence, as described by Lucia, and see ourselves in the annihilating light of God – would this be an overwhelming experience of joy and peace as it was for the children?

Or would it make us repel in horror and pain as we see the true impoverished state of our souls.

Could that pain lead us to cling to our sin, and choose eternal separation from God, rejecting his salvation?

This all sounds crazy to modern ears.

And that is part of the seduction of the evil one.

We do not understand there is a battle raging outside of our awareness, outside of time, to create spiritual blindness, promote a virulent spiritual pride, and the worship of false idols, that leaves us at risk to reject the true God we will encounter at our death.

The vision of hell at Fatima was not shared to overwhelm us with anxiety and fear of damnation.  The Blessed Mother showed the children hell because of her great love for us and to inspire us to embrace sacrifice and mortification to save sinners.

And it remains an important message for you and me today – to impress upon us that there are grave threats to our eternal salvation – and move us to a radical re-orientation of our lives.

The Catholic Church, with all its shortcomings, offers clear moral and spiritual guidelines, and the powerful grace of her sacraments, to lead us safely to salvation.

A Return to Spiritual Basics

The children of Fatima, and especially Jacinta, revealed the mystical power of sacrificial suffering. This is not suffering rooted in self-hatred or psychological disorder.  This is not the suffering inflicted on innocent, vulnerable children and adults by manipulative, abusive men and women.

Rather, this is a free act of charity and love for those “in most need of God’s mercy.” It arose from the children’s intimate encounters with the majesty of God, the eternal joys of heaven, and the horrifying reality of eternal damnation.

It is a love that flows from the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ – a love that flows from the very heart of our Savior.

If our Church, its leaders, and laity are to follow the example of Saint Jacinta, then we must also pray in deep humility that the Spirit reveal to us anew the awesome and fearsome majesty of God.

Our prayer, and especially our liturgical worship, must help facilitate this powerful encounter with the Blessed Trinity.

Once again Lucia’s words remind us that behind this veil of bread and wine in our tabernacles and consecrated on the altars of the Catholic Church, rests the same majestic power of God that was mediated through the angelic apparitions of Fatima:

“[The Angel] left us in an atmosphere of the supernatural that was so intense we were for a long time unaware of our own existence. The presence of God was so powerful and intimate that even among ourselves we could not speak.”

From this profound encounter with the Blessed Trinity may we experience as a Church a renewed awareness of the grave threat that sin poses to our eternal salvation.

Perhaps it is time for Church leaders and the faithful to re-discover the spiritual benefits of the daily rosary, and introduce special days of fasting and sacrifice – not just during Lent – but throughout the year. Days of fasting from technology, entertainment, meat, etc.

We are in need of priests and laity that can help us make an intimate re-connection with the apparitions of Fatima, a healthy theology of sacrifice, mortification and reparation, and the spirituality of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

I believe knowledge of the latest scientific research and forensic information revealed in the Shroud of Turin, could be an important partner with the apparitions of Fatima in the reform and renewal of the Church.

A Church that is in the world – but not of the world.

A Church that is a bright beacon of light for the salvation of the nations.

Saint Jacinta, pray for us!

The Elephant in the Examination Room: Why Are Medical Professionals Reluctant to Talk to Women About this Common Medical Procedure?

Thursday, July 19th, 2018

 

By Lauren Kretzer

Seeing a new medical provider means you get handed the brown clip board from the receptionist with that tedious multi-page “new patient form.”

Some questions are quite detailed and frankly, embarrassing.

Others may make us squirm in our seats; e.g., weight, smoking, daily wine intake, etc.

But if you are like me, there is one question that hit me harder than any other; HAVE YOU EVER BEEN PREGNANT?

As someone who experienced abortion, and was unable to conceive as a result of complications from the procedure, the answer had ALWAYS been, “No”.

I didn’t think about it.

I didn’t agonize over it.

I simply answered, “No”.

This is the denial that marks the daily lives of millions of women and men touched by abortion.

Until someone breaks through that blindness and sheds some light on how abortion may have hurt you, and the good news of spiritual and emotional healing, you remain in the darkness.

I learned about an abortion recovery program, Rachel’s Vineyard, and made my retreat in March, 2013.  The program gently allowed me to lower my denial defenses built up over many years.  The experience cleansed the gaping spiritual and emotional wounds left from participating in the death of my unborn children.

This Doctor’s Visit…Is Going to Be Different

Fast forward to 2017. I went to see my primary care physician.  Her medical practice is part of the Abington Hospital network.  Because Abington Hospital provides abortion services, I was in conflict about continuing with my current doctor.

But I have been with this doctor for over 15 years and did not want to be hasty making the switch.   And I have always felt very comfortable with her.

Since that Rachel’s Vineyard weekend in 2013 I have grown stronger spiritually and emotionally.  In 2017 I became part of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign.  The Campaign has connected me with a network of other women and men called to share about their abortion loss and recovery.

Coming out of that foundation of healing and peace I decided that this medical appointment was going to be different.

This was going to be an honest encounter where I was going to share my “complete” medical history.

In my evaluation with the doctor she asked if I had any questions.

I told her, “There is something very important in my medical history that should be added to my records.”

I began to tell her about my abortions and some of the common emotional and physical complications many women suffer after the procedure.

She looked at me with compassion, but did appear a bit taken aback. The doctor agreed to add it to my records.  I was pleased when she told me, “In the future, if a patient shares with me a history of abortion, I will be sure to ask them how they are doing emotionally.”

I shared some pamphlets and contact info with the doctor for anyone looking for emotional and spiritual recovery for their abortion loss.

I spend the next couple of days praying for this physician, that her heart and mind would open up to the physical and emotional damage many women suffer after abortion.

“How Many Children Do You Have?”

Now here we are a year later and time for my annual check-up.

This time I did not see my regular doctor. Instead, I saw a nurse practitioner, Susan.

Susan pulls out her lap top and begins to ask me a bunch of questions. It is clear she is using a very detailed but standard questionnaire for physicals.

She even asked me if I ever smoked. When I told her, “yes as a stupid teenager” she went on to ask me how much I smoked – and the ages I started and quit.  That was over 40 years ago!

Another question. Have you ever had surgeries?

I am thinking major with general anesthesia…so I answered no.   Then she said any surgeries?  Wisdom teeth?  Yes, I had my wisdom teeth out (30 years ago).

I then told her, “Susan, there are also two surgeries that I had that should be in the records. I had two abortions.”

This revelation clearly shook her up as she fumbled at the lap top.  She was very quick to respond, “No I do not see them…they do not need to be in the records.”

I replied “I had requested them to be there.”

Avoiding any eye contact, she went on to the next question on her form.

Much to my surprise, a minute later came the question…are you ready for this?

How many children do you have?

I told her that I lost two children to abortion and that the reason why I do not have living children today is very likely due to the physical damage caused by those abortions.

For a second, she looked angry, annoyed, and horrified at the same time.

But being professional, she composed herself and said, “We don’t need that information.” She then went on to the next question.

I left there feeling sad and angry because when it comes to abortion, the “right to choose” takes precedence over “the right to complete, accurate medical information and care.”

Abortion is looked at as some medical “non-event.”

Yet it is a life-changing experience, and certainly a medically significant part of the medical history of millions of women.

I thought about that nurse practitioner, Susan, as I processed our encounter in the days after my appointment.

Perhaps her reaction comes out of her personal history.   It is quite possible, given her role at Abington hospital, an abortion provider, that she may have helped in some way to facilitate the death of unborn children.

It is possible a family member, even her daughter had one. Or maybe she herself had lost a child to abortion, and what I shared touched that sensitive wound in her heart.

I am grateful for my journey to recovery and connecting with the Silent No More Awareness Campaign. This equipped and empowered me to find my voice, and share the truth about my abortion losses.  It has empowered me and many other women to openly share our experiences, bringing light to the darkness, even behind the closed doors of the doctor’s examination room.

 

Let That Light Shine! 10 Ways to Promote Your Abortion Recovery Ministry

Friday, July 6th, 2018

 

By Susan Swander and Kevin Burke, LSW

  1. Meet with your Pastor/Minister

Contact the pastor or another minister active in your church. This kind of personal connection is important.  You or someone on your team can share about a past abortion, faith related struggles after the procedure, and how abortion recovery was such a blessing.

Most pastors are not sure how to address the issue of abortion. Some fear hurting or alienating those that had the procedure.  Your personal sharing will be a valuable education about the issues women and men struggle with after the procedure.  It can also open the door to a ministry partnership as you assist the pastor in reaching out to those in the congregation hurting after abortion.

2. Notices in Church Bulletins

Susan shares: “In the fall of 2003, I saw a small box ad in the local Church bulletin. It said something about healing for women and men who had abortions – and it referred to a Rachel’s Vineyard weekend in our area.  It gave a website and phone number. The website really spoke to me and I registered for one of their weekend programs.”

3. Testimony During Church Services

Susan: “I had such a powerful experience of emotional and spiritual healing from the Rachel’s Vineyard weekend I attended. After careful discernment, I felt called to share my story.  I have shared my testimony of pain and hope at a number of churches throughout Oregon.  I have been moved by how many fellow church-goers also suffer after abortion, or know someone who does.”

4. Create an uncluttered, engaging, easy to navigate website so people can learn about your ministry. Donors are often interested in helping out with such a project and a tech savvy person from your church community could assist with set up.

5. Connect with the local Christian radio stations in your area – and some national shows as well. Let them know you have women and men who can share about abortion loss and recovery – this is especially helpful around the time of the March for Life, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and for Catholic Christians in the month of October (Respect Life Month) when media are more open to our message.

6. Social Media   Cultivate a current team member, volunteer, or alum from your abortion recovery ministry to help develop a social media presence on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Once you get the hang of it this is an effective way to create brief messages and images to promote recovery resources and share about your ministry.

7. Tear-off flyers on church bulletin boards, pamphlets and drop cards that provide info on your website and contact number.

8. Contact your local churches, seminaries, and catholic/Christian educational institutions. Let them know you are available to share with their students and ministers-in-training about abortion loss, the ways this can impact women and men, and the road to recovery. This is a great way to help them better understand and reach out to their future congregations.

9. Connect with the campus ministry and pro-life groups at secular colleges in your area and offer to come share your testimony with the students, how to best reach out to abortion minded students based on your experience, and resources for recovery for those that had abortions.

10. Planting Seeds, Support, and Networking

Come together regularly as a team and pray for God’s Spirit to give you wisdom, discernment and patience. Consider becoming part of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign and find women and men in your area who are called to speak out about abortion loss and recovery.   This is a great way to find support and network with others in your area and nationally that share a heart for this outreach.

Keep in mind that people often need to hear messages about abortion loss and recovery multiple times before they are ready to take that next step, and reach out for help. It can be years before that seed you planted bears fruit.

 

Crossing The Border of the Womb: Understanding the Emotional Fireworks of the Left on Immigration

Monday, July 2nd, 2018

By Kevin Burke, LSW

In late June  thousands gathered across the U.S. to protest the Trump administration’s border policy. Rallies in Portland turned violent and had to be shut down by police.

US Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) recently urged her supporters to harass members of the Trump administration in public places. At weekend rallies she called for the impeachment of President Trump.

Immigration is perhaps the most contentious issue that defines an increasingly divided electorate.

While there are reasonable differences on immigration policy across the political spectrum, the reactivity of the left on this subject makes substantive and reasoned dialogue impossible.

The reaction of Trump opponents to the President’s immigration policy, especially the the supposed cruel separation of children and families at the border, may actually be partially rooted in a repressed personal and national trauma.

Understanding The Shockwaves of Abortion

Many of our nations leaders in business, academia, media and government have promoted “reproductive rights.”

Millions of our fellow citizens have participate in the death of their unborn children.

Countless others have served as accessories to abortion – e.g., driving a friend to the procedure, paying for it, or persuading a pregnant woman that abortion is the only reasonable decision.

Large segments of the population have lost an unborn son or daughter, grandchild or other family member to abortion.

Trauma and Weak Personal Borders

The Shockwaves of Abortion impact people across the political spectrum.

But when we look at the liberal left, particularly those who are most reactive on the issue of immigration and border concerns, this is a group of people that are zealously pro-abortion.

We know that women who are traumatized by the invasive procedure, especially those with previous abuse, can for a time lose a sense of healthy personal boundaries and respect for their own bodies.

This  traumatic separation of parent and child can lead to self-destructive and abusive behaviors and relationships.

Another way that caring women and men can deny and displace their disenfranchised pain and grief from abortion is by involvement in various forms of political activism and charity work.

There is often an unconscious need to atone for the death of the unborn child that helps to fuel their human rights and charitable activities such as advocating for victims of human trafficking, immigrants and justice for the poor.

Others focus passionately on issues such as animal rights and the environment. Some promote abortion rights to continually validate their own personal abortion decision.

How Abortion Trauma Helps Form the Immigration Policy of the Left

Just as some women can struggle with personal boundaries and self-destructive behaviors after abortion and other abuse, so too can a political movement that is zealously pro-abortion.

Liberal politicians and activists advocate an open borders policy that fails to protect the interests of  citizens and taxpayers.  Such movements tend to reject their own national heritage and culture.

Nations and their citizens can share a collective unconscious need to atone for the death of their unborn children.

In the U.S., intense outrage is focused on the supposed cruel separation of parents and children at the border.

Yet we ignore the violent separation of mothers and their unborn children as their babies cross the border of the womb to the outside world dismembered and broken by the procedure.

Some European nations are no longer preserving and valuing what is best in their culture and heritage as collapsing birthrates and uncontrolled immigration threaten the very existence of some countries.

Restoring National Sanity

The symptoms suffered after abortion are rooted in the inability to express and process the feelings and memories from the abortion event, and come to a place of healing and peace.

The heart of recovery involves going through a safe process to express those painful feelings and memories, repentance of one’s role in the abortion, and most importantly, reconnecting in love with the aborted child or children.

Hopefully, as we continue to share the truth about the impact of abortion and resources for healing, we can step back from national divorce, and come together once again as a nation.

 

Straight Talk About a Serious Health Concern for Fathers

Friday, June 15th, 2018

By Kevin Burke, MSS

Psychologist Michael Addis writes in Atlantic magazine of a life threatening illness for some men.

You are probably thinking… prostate cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes?

All important health care concerns.

But this illness often remains hidden because the symptoms lead men to embrace a shame-based silence about their pain. This silence leaves men isolated and vulnerable.  Some would rather die than reveal their suffering to a family member, colleague or friend.

Dr Addis was working in an inpatient psychiatric unit where he met Patrick. Dr Addis shares that Patrick presented as a handsome, successful looking man with no previous mental health history.

He was surprised to read in his chart that Patrick’s son recently discovered his father sitting on a coach in their family room…with a loaded gun to his head.

Initially the interview skated along on a superficial level revealing little of what led Patrick to such an obvious act of despair.

Dr Addis realized he needed to challenge Patrick: “Can we be straight with each other and cut out the BS?”

Patrick opened up about a series of business failures that led to an increasing disparity between his wealthy lifestyle, and the reality of his financial situation.  Things got so bad that he was unable to pay the mortgage for his large suburban home.

As Patrick’s depression increased, he created an illusion for family and friends that he and his business were just fine – even as his economic and emotional prospects were in free-fall.

Dr Addis reveals:

[Patrick] couldn’t face working, but he also couldn’t face telling people how bad things had gotten. Instead, he got up each morning, dressed as if he was going to work, forced a smile for his family, and either drove around the city or sat at a local coffee shop all day reading the newspaper. Eventually the depression became so overwhelming that he saw no other way out.

Deadly Isolation

Why didn’t he open up about his financial difficulties and depression with friends or family?

Patrick shares:

I should have been able to handle it…I fell apart and turned into a sniveling little boy… ‘Oh Mommy, please help me?’ I couldn’t let people see me like that.

A Newsweek feature on male depression reveals that “men often view asking for help as an admission of weakness – a betrayal of their male identities….”

Men learn from the schoolyard to the boardroom that revealing vulnerability, and an inability to handle emotional or physical pain, is a big mistake that can lead to ridicule and shame.

The idea of the solitary male hero is an entertaining and sometimes inspiring image in an adventure movie.

But the real world can be a mine field as men struggle to negotiate the challenges of modern life. Sometimes, men benefit from sharing their burdens with trusted family and friends.

Others need to reach out to their clergy/minister, a counselor, mentor or support group – safe places where men can share their pain, and find healthy strategies to cope with the challenges they are facing.

Men and Abortion-Emotional Quicksand

Financial crisis and depression are not the only emotional quicksand that can entrap isolated men.

A past abortion can also leave men emotionally reeling – without the support and information needed to negotiate this life-changing experience.

Often the unresolved grief and shame from a past abortion can combine in a toxic synergy with other painful issues; a history of family dysfunction and/or divorce, past abuse or molestation, addictions to drugs, alcohol, sex or pornography.

Over time this accumulated pain can lead to a crisis where men find themselves isolated and overwhelmed.

Given the current abortion statistics, (close to 60 million since 1973), millions of men have participated in the death of their unborn children.  Some are powerless to stop an abortion they do not want.

Jason Baier shares the devastation when he was powerless to prevent his partner’s abortion:

I…would often break down and cry from depression…I was angry all the time…stricken with panic attacks…No one seemed to understand or know how to deal with my loss.

Jason was isolated, in great pain, and unable to find the support he needed. He reached a point of desperation and despair.  He decided to take a bottle of prescribed sleeping pills and “never wake up.”

Fortunately he experienced a moment of spiritual grace that held back his hand, and released a deep seismic explosion of fatherly grief from the loss of his child.  Jason began a process of abortion recovery that brought him to a place of reconciliation and peace.

End the Isolation – Reach out For Help

If you are a father struggling to reconcile this secret area of shame and pain, there are people who understand what you are going through, have been there, and want to help you find reconciliation and peace.

It all starts with that first step; send that email, make the phone call.

It’s not easy…especially for men.

But this act of humility and courage will change your life.

The blessings of that healing experience will benefit not only you, but your loved ones, friends and colleagues.

Resources for Healing:

Enter your zip code and find healing resources near you.

Find a mentor for one-on-one support from a man in your area.

 

 

 

Skating Around the Truth: An Editor at “The Atlantic” Responds to Man’s Letter One Year After An Abortion

Friday, June 8th, 2018

Atlantic Cover

By Kevin Burke, MSS
LORI GOTTLIEB is a contributing editor at The Atlantic and a psychotherapist based in Los Angeles. Readers submit questions to Gottlieb and ask for advice and guidance.

In a recent entry entitled Dear Therapist: I Don’t Know How to Feel About My Girlfriend’s Abortion, a male reader writes to Gottlieb:

“About a year ago, my girlfriend got pregnant and we decided right away that we should get an abortion. I was only 19 and she was 24…”

As is typical after abortion, the romantic relationship was terminated along with the pregnancy.

The young man shares that after the procedure:

“…we were overwhelmed by a sea of emotions that neither one of us could deal with properly, and splitting up was the solution we found…A little more than a year later, we’re still friends and see each other regularly, but this subject never comes up…”

While he assures the therapist that he made the right decision and is relieved, he is still wonders if he should try to speak to his former partner about his feelings – and worries about the future impact of the abortion on their lives

Gottlieb’s response is kind, and in many ways helpful.

However she reveals a common blind spot shared by many medical and mental health professionals when dealing with a client’s past abortion:

– Most are ignorant of the complex, and potentially far reaching impact of being part of abortion decisions and procedures – even when there is relief and no conscious regret associated with the abortion.

– They do not understand the short and long-term benefits of abortion recovery programs for women and men.

Skating Around the Truth
This young man, while confused, understands clearly that abortion is not a simple medical procedure like the extraction of a tooth. His concern about future relationships touches upon the truth that abortion is a life-changing experience.

His letter to Gottlieb reveals that he is ripe for a more comprehensive understanding of the abortion event. While he claims to have no regrets, and consciously this may be true, there is much more going on here.

Anniversary reactions related to the abortion are very common. Many women and men have some confusing and painful abortion related feelings, nightmares, depression and anxiety around the time the child would have been born, or on the anniversary of the procedure.

This letter is written to the Atlantic psychotherapist about one year after the abortion. This is likely part an anniversary reaction.

But here is a key issue in this young man’s story that the therapist missed.

Why is the young man’s abortion related anxiety focused on his partner?

Why does he want to connect with her and talk about the abortion and feelings associated with that experience?

He wants to speak to the one person who will understand what they experienced together and share their feelings and memories about the abortion. He may be concerned for her and want to be reassured she is ok.

But, on a deeper level, he focuses on the relationship and his former lover – because their relationship is the life-line and connection to the child he lost to abortion.

In her response, Gottlieb rightly affirms the young man’s emotional experience and the challenges couple’s face when trying to communicate about this life-changing event.

But the therapist, in her attempt to minimize the abortion, inadvertently touches on the heart of abortion recovery ministry:

“You’ve had an abortion, but you didn’t lose a child you’ve held in your arms…”

More accurately stated…abortion denied this couple the opportunity to hold this child in their arms and share the love of a mother or father with their baby.

Abortion Disrupts an Intimate Relationship
Abortion is often presented as a contentious political and social issue, in the context of reproductive rights, or as a private personal medical decision between a woman and her health care provider.

But abortion can be best understood in the context of relationship.

Thirty years in abortion recovery counseling and ministry have taught us that deep within each woman or man there is a hidden love for the aborted child, and an emotional and spiritual hunger for re-connection with their son or daughter.

Many of the conflicting and painful emotions and self-destructive behaviors that sometimes follow abortion can be understood as calling attention to this loss and a need for reconciliation and recovery.

The heart of abortion ministry is gently guiding mothers and fathers through an abortion recovery process, so they can acknowledge the truth of what has been lost.

When parents go through an abortion recovery program, they are able to safely re-visit their memories and feelings about the abortion event. The special exercises and spiritual support of programs like Rachel’s Vineyard help participants come to understand, and intimately experience, a new reality:

The emotional bond of love between parent and child, often denied for many years, is now resurrected and firmly rooted in their maternal and paternal heart.

The spiritual relationship with their child in this life, and the hope of reunion in eternal life to come with the Lord is a source of great consolation and peace.

This is the peace and resolution that this young man hungers for.

________________

[Keep in mind, some women and men, often many years after the abortion, are surprised by an intense desire to re-connect with the partner of their aborted child – perhaps on Facebook or other social media.
On a deeper level, this is calling attention to the need for  reconciliation of that abortion experience, and the development of a spiritual relationship with their aborted child/children in an abortion recovery program.]

–  Drexel University Professor Arthur Shostak, Ph.D., conducted a survey of 1,000 men who accompanied wives or girlfriends to abortion centers and found the following: One in four men considered abortion to be a participation in the death of their unborn child; Slightly over 80% said they had already started to think about the child that might have been born (29% think of the child “frequently”); Many cried during the interview process.  [Shostak, Arthur. Men and Abortion: Lessons, Losses and Love . Praeger, 1984.]

For more information on how abortion impacts men, resources for recovery and research on men and abortion contact the Men and Abortion Network.

Divorce is on the Increase Among Aging Baby Boomers – Boomers Had the Highest Abortion Rates Since Legalization – Is There A Connection?

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018

senior couple sitting on sofa at home

The first of the Baby Boomers were in their early twenties when the Supreme Court passed the Roe V. Wade abortion decision to legalize abortion in 1973.

The Boomers, as they entered into their peak childbearing years, would go on to have the highest rates of abortion in the last 45 years.

Abortion crossed the 1.5 million a year mark for the first time in 1980 with 1,553,900 … and the high for the decade of 1,590,800 reported in 1988. … The U.S. abortion ratio reached its peak in 1984, with a figure of 364 abortions for every thousand live births.

Now, as Boomers are aging, Jocelyn Elise Crowley writes in The Week that “even though divorce rates across all age groups have stabilized, the number of gray divorces (i.e., divorce after age 50) has dramatically increased.

Currently, about one out of every four divorces is gray.

Crowley interviewed 40 men and 40 women and asked them why, at this point in their lives, they were divorcing.

The primary reasons that women shared for divorce were their partner’s infidelity, verbal abuse, and addictions to drugs, alcohol, and pornography.

Men’s reasons were different and focused on areas like their spouse’s money management (over-spending) and resentment over differences in parenting philosophy.

The Baby Elephant in the Room

There is one very important question that Jocelyn Crowley could have asked those women and men of the Boomer Generation facing gray divorce:

 Have you experienced a pregnancy loss (abortions, miscarriages) either prior to or during your marriage?  What was that experience like for you…for your partner? 

The Impact of Abortion on Relationships

In my book, Tears of the Fisherman, I share an interview with Mary and Joe about an abortion they had when Mary was in college, prior to their marriage.

Here’s an excerpt:

Mary: I told Joe I was pregnant, and that I would have to get an abortion. I was waiting desperately for him to say something, to tell me we’d manage somehow. It never happened.

Joe: I knew it was wrong, but I was silent. I never stood up for the baby. I prejudged her, and decided that her mind was made up. I was angry with her for choosing an abortion.

Mary: My feeling of anger at Joe was pushed down for so many years that I didn’t even recognize it. But it was there all the time. I took my anger out on him without ever recognizing where it came from.

Joe: There was a lack of trust in our relationship. I blamed her for the loss of the baby. I did things that purposely hurt her. I drank a lot, I gambled, I did a lot of things to escape into a private world where I wouldn’t feel pain.

While there can be many factors that contribute to marital problems, you can see in Mary and Joe’s case how this complicated experience of loss  led to problems in their relationship.

Fortunately, when the couple attended an abortion recovery program Rachel’s Vineyard, they were able to begin the process of emotional, spiritual and relational healing they so desperately needed:

Mary: My big breakthrough came when I was able to express my anger at Joe. He had never realized that the abortion had any connection to our behavior. We were able to forgive each other, and to have our baby forgive us.

Joe: I was able to express my anger toward myself at my total lack of courage. Once I released that, it’s easier to accept and take ownership for the acts that I did… I feel reborn. I’ve been accepted by God, my wife, and, most of all, by myself.

The Harvest is Plentiful

Each marriage and the individual and relationship history that couples share is unique. In some cases it will be better for individuals or spouses to attend separate Rachel’s Vineyard weekends or other abortion recovery program.

For others like Mary and Joe, making that journey together will be a powerful and rewarding option. When you contact your local site they can help you discern the best option.

Given the abortion rates among Baby Boomers, this is a vast mission field for the Church. Boomers are approaching a time in their lives when they become more aware of their own mortality.

They have experienced the loss of parents, the aging and separation of living children, and the challenge of careers. They are ripe for taking a step back and revisiting an area of their lives that, while buried for many years, has actually had a long-term, profound effect on their lives.

While there is pain in opening up this wound from the past, those that make the journey will tell you that the rewards that flow from the healing experience can bless all areas of your life.

This dark and often shame-filled place in your heart and soul can be the entryway for God to touch you intimately and powerfully.

It offers an opportunity to shed new light, awareness, and understanding of how abortion impacted your life, marriages, and parenting, as well as how it may have contributed to your relationship problems.

For churches, this is an abundant harvest just waiting to bear fruit.

The first step is in raising awareness.

If you are a clergy, pastor, or volunteer minister in your church, here are some ways you can reach out to the Boomers with abortion loss:

– Have a woman or man share their personal experience. He or she can give a brief presentation as part of your service or at a separate gathering. You can find a speaker in your area by contacting the Silent No More Awareness Campaign.

– Share videos and pamphlets with helpful information and resources about after abortion healing.

– Include some of our Inserts and short messages in your church bulletin

If you or someone you love is experiencing marriage and family challenges, and you suspect that abortion may be a part of their story, please have them visit our Shockwaves of Abortion website to learn more.

Children in Foster Care and Children in the Womb Have Something in Common

Friday, May 18th, 2018

The concept of drug problems in youth.

Because of the opioid epidemic, record numbers of children are coming into foster care:

Every 15 minutes a baby is born substance-exposed. Nearly 50,000 will enter care this year, more than ever before…

Author Darcy Olsen writes in National Review that now more than ever, the system is in serious need of reform:

The purpose of foster care is to provide temporary safety for children, but for thousands it has become a life sentence.

Like pre-born children in the womb, children in foster care are denied some of the “basic constitutional rights we cherish as Americans.”

In America, the criminally accused have a constitutional right to counsel and to the speedy disposition of their cases; these children don’t.

And the legal protections afforded these children are decidedly weaker than those given to their abusers.

As the judge in one of my severance hearings said, “I’d like to remind everyone in the courtroom that mom’s rights are constitutional, and baby’s rights are only statutory.”   

Darcy Olsen is a foster mother and founder and CEO of Generation Justice, which works to extend constitutional rights and protections to foster children.

Olsen shares:

I fostered “Emma” as a newborn. She is still a ward of the state as she nears her sixth birthday. Statistically, Emma is more likely to end up in prison than to be adopted.

Or consider a teenager I know. “John” entered state care in diapers. He was never returned home or adopted. He’s lived 16 years in the system — in 48 different homes.

Like the nearly 60 million preborn children who have died in the womb, children in foster care are often denied basic constitutional rights.

There are the lasting consequences for these children and for our society.

The author presents some promising developments in Arizona indicating that change to existing laws is possible – changes that protects vulnerable children.

Arizona’s has enacted new legislation that can be used as a model to guide lawmakers nationwide.

Please read Olsen’s full article in National Review:

America’s Flood of Opioid Orphans

Women with a Past Abortion Loss can Celebrate Mother’s Day?

Friday, May 11th, 2018

Mother Baby Connection

By Kevin Burke, LSW

Susan Swander, a Rachel’s Vineyard team member in Oregon shares:

“Yes, Mother’s Day can be a hard day for women with abortion loss. But it can also be a day for those women to celebrate being mothers.”

How is it possible that a secret and shameful event from the past…can be a cause for celebration?

To understand this good news, we first need to explore the heart of the abortion wound.

So many of the symptoms women and men struggle with after abortion such as depression, anxiety, addictions, and relationship problems are rooted in the following:

– Abortion attacks the unique relationship between a mother and her unborn child

– A woman who has experienced abortion loss has within her heart, soul and body a powerful desire to reconnect in love as mother with her aborted child or children.

– Given her role in the child’s death, the circumstances of the pregnancy and trauma associated with the procedure, it can be very difficult to sort through the emotional aftermath and pain to find peace and reconciliation.

The Intimate Relationship of Mother and Child

Until that bond between parent and child is re-established in an abortion recovery program, women and men may develop substitute relationships with things like substances, work, and sex as a way to cope with repressed grief and the complicated feelings that often accompany the abortion experience.

Often these symptoms lead to the process of traumatic re-enactment resulting in repeat abortion procedures (close to 50% of all abortions are repeat procedures.)

Abortion is an especially sensitive wound for women given their unique role in pregnancy and childbirth. With conception, a mother’s body is quite aware that there is a very small child growing in the womb.

The female body is anything but “pro-choice.” From the beginning she begins the intimate process of nurturing and protecting the developing life that resides within her.   A woman’s body is clearly pro-baby and pro-life.

We know that pressure from the baby’s father, other family members, fears and anxieties about motherhood, and challenging circumstances can lead parents to see abortion as the only way to resolve an unplanned pregnancy.

Yet, even when a conscious decision to abort seems the only possible solution, (which of course it is not), and she experiences a sense of relief after the procedure, a mother is still deeply injured when she participates in severing that intimate relationship as the mother of her unborn child.

Thanks to the mercy of God and the physical resurrection of Jesus, our Christian faith gives mothers the sure hope that while there may have been a physical separation with the child (or children), she never stopped being the mother of her unique and precious child.

When parents go through an abortion recovery program, they come to understand and more importantly, intimately experience a new reality. The bond between parent and child, which was denied for many years, is now resurrected and firmly rooted in their maternal and paternal heart.

The spiritual relationship with their child in this life, and the hope of reunion in eternal life to come with the Lord, is a source of great consolation and peace.

Susan shares:

So many women who have had abortions never thought of themselves as mothers, if they didn’t have any living children, until after a healing program like Rachel’s Vineyard. And even someone like me who does have a living son, after doing my Rachel’s Vineyard retreats, Mother’s Day became a day for me to honor and celebrate my three aborted children & one miscarried. So, now I have five children that I rejoice in.”

 

Lenin, Fatima, and the Annihilation of the Unborn

Wednesday, May 9th, 2018

lenin-and-fatima

For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder…  (Matthew 15:19)

Last May 13 we celebrated the 100th anniversary of the first appearance of the Blessed Virgin Mary to the shepherd children of  Fatima, Portugal in 1917.

The apparition featured the greatest publicly witnessed miracle since the resurrection of Christ.

In October of that same year of 1917, Vladimir Ulynov (better known by his alias Lenin) led the atheistic communist Bolshevik party to power in the Russian Revolution.

The Blessed Mother warned at Fatima of Russia spreading her errors across the globe, and the threat of another catastrophic war with grave consequences for humanity.

But Fatima is not just a fascinating historical event to commemorate and quickly forget.

As you will see, the messages and warnings of Fatima continue to have special relevance and urgency for our times.

Revolution Rooted in Rage

The seeds of the Russian communist revolution were planted in Vladimir Lenin many years before the Bolsheviks seized power in October 1917.

In January 1886, when Lenin was 16, his father died of a brain hemorrhage.  The loss of the families stabilizing father figure appears to have played an important role in Lenin’s embrace of revolutionary ideology.

After the death of his father, Lenin renounced his belief in God.

Russia under the Tsars provided few outlets for healthy political expression and intellectual freedom.  Lenin’s older brother Alexander, like other disenchanted Russian intellectuals, was seduced by Marxist revolutionary ideology.

In March 1887 Alexander was part of an unsuccessful plot to assassinate the Tsar.   Alexander and his co-conspirators were executed.

The death of his brother Alexander led to an embrace of Marxist philosophy, economic theory and revolutionary politics.

Lenin’s smoldering grief and hatred of the Russian Monarchy metastasized into a lust for power through Marxist revolution.

Angels and Shepherd Children

In Fatima Portugal, as men like Lenin were orchestrating communist revolution, another story was unfolding.

In 1916 three shepherd children were visited by an angel as they tended their sheep.

As the First World War raged on in Europe and blasphemy and atheism were spreading like a malevolent virus, the Angel of Fatima declared to the shepherd children:

I am the angel of peace.

Pray with me:  

“My God, I believe, I adore, I hope, and I love You. I ask pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope, and do not love You.”

In the aftermath of this angelic visitation, the children were unable to speak for a time as they were so overwhelmed by the powerful presence of God.

The Angel gave the timely plea for the children to make sacrifices, “in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifferences by which [God] is offended” and for the conversion of sinners in danger of eternal separation from their Creator.

Later in the apparitions Mary revealed a frightening vision of hell to the children. The mother of Jesus spoke of her sorrow at the potential loss of so many souls that were falling into grave sin.

Yet this was surely also a warning that the sin and arrogance of men promoting new anti-Christian and pagan ideologies, were summoning the powers of hell upon the earth.

In the same apparition where the children were shown this terrifying vision of hell, the Mother of Jesus warned:

The [First World War] is going to end: but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the Pontificate of Pius XI (1922-1939.) When you see a night illumined by an unknown light[1], know that this is the great sign given you by God that he is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father…

The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated. In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world”.(7)

Tragically men continued to offend God as they unleashed hell upon the earth. The forced famine in the Ukraine under communist dictator Stalin, the persecution of Christians, the horrors of Nazi terror, and the threat of nuclear war were just some of the diabolical fruit cultivated by the satanic deceptions embraced by men like Lenin and Hitler.

The Errors of Russia and the Abortion Holocaust

Many years later, we can see in the fall of the Soviet Union in March 1990 a fulfillment of Mary’s promise of a future conversion of Russia.

With the fall of the Soviet Union, the threat of nuclear annihilation was reduced considerably.

But do the errors of Russia only refer to the evil of atheistic communism?

Since the 1960’s the consumerism of the western world, partnered with the unfolding cultural and sexual revolutions, has led to the rise of practical atheism and pagan morality.

The deadliest fruit of these errors has dark roots in the former Soviet Union.

Geoffrey Strickland, J.D., J.C.L., who serves as the Rome Office Director for Priests for Life, shares about the roots of abortion in the former Soviet Union:

Russia was the first country ever to legalize abortion up to birth without restriction and also developed and promulgated technology to this end.[1] Russia and areas formerly controlled by the Soviet Union have the highest abortion rate in the world.[2]

 Further, those countries sharing in the political and ideological legacy of Russia at that time such as China, Cuba and others continue to carry on this violent imperative.[3]”

 “Thus “various nations” – the innumerable children of every race, creed and culture – have indeed been “annihilated” through the fundamental error of abortion and the faulty logic behind it, namely that a human child is not a human being.”

Over 1 billion unborn girls and boys have been aborted around the world in the last 100 years.

In China and India, sex selection abortions have killed 160 million unborn baby girls.  The imbalance of men to women is having unforeseen consequences for these societies.

My Immaculate Heart Will Triumph!

Such massive deception and death can leave us numb and tempted to despair.

But evil, death and despair will not have the last word.

The Mother of Jesus assured us that in the end, “My Immaculate Heart will Triumph!”

But Mary wants our prayers, rosaries and acts of sacrifice and reparation to play an important part in this great victory, the final consummation of the victory of her Son Jesus over satan and death at Calvary.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XIV comments on the conclusion of the famous Third secret of Fatima entrusted to visionary Lucia:

“The concluding part of the ‘secret’ … is a consoling vision, which seeks to open a history of blood and tears to the healing power of God. Beneath the arms of the cross angels gather up the blood of the martyrs, and with it they give life to the souls making their way to God

… As from Christ’s death, from his wounded side, the Church was born, so the death of the witnesses is fruitful for the future life of the Church…

The vision of the third part of the ‘secret,’ so distressing at first, concludes with an image of hope:

 No suffering is in vain, and it is a suffering Church, a Church of martyrs, which becomes a sign-post for man in his search for God.”

This message from Benedict XVI has special relevance and consolation to those parents involved in the abortion of their children, and the millions of preborn children who lost their lives in this holocaust and are now with the Lord.

Thanks to the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus, there is the hope of repentance and restoration.

The blood of the innocent unborn children lost to abortion, and the tears of their parents, can be a fruitful source of conversion and new life for the Church.

As Benedict XVI wrote, no suffering is in vain when united to the cross of Christ.

[You can find an excellent and informative overview of the Fatima apparitions here at EWTN.]

[1] Sr. Lucia believed that an especially intense an widely seen aurora borealis, which appeared in the sky on January 25, 1938, was the “unknown light” to which Mary had referred. The celestial phenomenon could be seen throughout Europe and as far south as Australia, and across the Atlantic to Bermuda and parts of the United States.