I’ve Confessed My Abortion…Why Can’t I forgive Myself?

February 13th, 2015

 

Seeds and Soil

Have you or someone you care about gone to Sacramental Confession or confessed to their minister/pastor the sin of abortion…yet they still struggle to forgive themselves?   Some will confess the sin multiple times hoping to find freedom from the guilt and pain.

This is common and is associated with the need for many women and men to go through a more intensive grieving and recovery program/process so they can find the deeper emotional and spiritual healing they hunger for.

The grace of confession and the forgiveness of Christ and the Church are certainly effective and a great blessing.  But it is important to keep in mind that abortion can be a very deep and intimate wound.  We need to build on the grace and healing of that confession which can serve as a kind of tilling of the soil in our hearts and souls setting the stage for additional healing and recovery work that the Lord in his mercy wants for us.

Fr. Ben Cameron, CPM is the Assistant General of the Father’s of Mercy and through his preaching and pastoral ministry reaches out to those suffering after abortion loss. Fr Ben serves as the spiritual director at Relevant Radio and on a recent radio program touched on this important issue.

Fr Ben shares in this  program a beautiful message of healing and holiness and touches on this issue of forgiving oneself and the benefit of an abortion recovery program.  Fr. Ben shares how God wants to reach out with his mercy to those impacted by the Shockwaves of Abortion. You will also hear in this program a number of callers, women and men who have experienced abortion loss that address some key issues in the healing and recovery journey.

Here’s a link to the program:

http://relevantradio.streamguys.us/IL%20Archive/IL20150127.mp3

I invite you to also consider the book Sharing the Heart of Christ which offers an easy to read overview of some key issues in recovery after abortion such as repeat confessions and self forgiveness.  The book is an excellent resource with preaching and counseling information and tools to help clergy, ministers, and counselors and lay people to reach out more effectively to the millions of women and men impacted by the Shockwaves of Abortion.

 

Can You Preach About Abortion With Truth…and Mercy?

January 27th, 2015

Peter Preaching

When you journey with women and men through an abortion healing program like Rachel’s Vineyard, at some point in the weekend you are likely to hear expressed some anger and regret at the silence about abortion from their church leadership.

Leslie shares:

If I had heard a message from my priest talking about how abortion impacts women, men, relationships and families…I may have been able to get help much earlier in my life…I may have been able to save my marriage and my children from living for years with this wound that was festering in my heart and soul.  That pain led me to do things and try to cope in ways that hurt not only myself, but those I loved the most. 

To be fair, our church leaders struggle with the same thing many of us do in our families, workplaces and churches:

-                 How do we address this sensitive topic in a way that does not hurt or alienate those that have been part of abortion decisions – especially those that have experienced the procedure and lost a child to abortion…yet does not compromise the moral truth that abortion is a grave sin against God and the dignity of the human person?

Is this even possible?

In fact Catholic and Protestant church leaders who have served in post abortion ministries like Rachel’s Vineyard, often have found the perfect balance of truth, justice and mercy in their preaching.  This balance is rooted in their experience of accompanying those wounded by abortion on their journey to healing.

Fr. Pat Scanlan P.P. has been serving in Parish ministry since his ordination in1977 for the Diocese of Cloyne, Ireland and has been a member of the Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat team in Cork since 2003.

The following interview with Fr. Pat is from the book Sharing the Heart of Christ:

Fr. Pat, how long have you been involved in post abortion ministry?

Since my ordination to the priesthood in June 1977, I have met with many women and some men who have been wounded by abortion. Almost invariably they were crying out for forgiveness and healing.  In my experience the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation marks a decisive step in their journey towards recovery. Yet I have always felt that they needed something more. What that something was, I was not so sure.   Yes the sin had been forgiven, but they had a deep need for healing and restoration.

 How did you get involved with Rachel’s Vineyard?

 In the summer of 2003, I had a phone call from a good friend Bernadette Goulding who shared with me her excitement at having discovered a movement called Rachel’s Vineyard. Everything she said convinced me that this was the answer I had longed for over many years.  I agreed immediately to become involved. 

The first Rachel’s Vineyard weekend in Ireland was held in Cork in October 2003. We were very fortunate in that from the outset we had the blessing and support of my bishop… I have participated in about fifteen weekends since that time.

Can you share from your experience serving as a member of the Retreat Team?

Being involved in these weekends certainly ranks among the most rewarding experiences of my priesthood.  The essential role of the priest on a Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat is to be present… to them as they journey through their pain and grief towards hope and healing the priest is making present the gentle compassionate Christ who cares deeply for his wounded sisters and brothers.

It is not an exaggeration to say that on each weekend we experience miracles of grace. The participants usually arrive bowed down by too many years of grief and self –loathing. Slowly, gradually as they enter into the process of the weekend they get in touch with, express, release and reconcile deep painful post abortive emotions.

 The Sacrament of Reconciliation, which is made available to those who want it on Saturday night, is a beautiful experience for both penitent and priest. Both begin to realize the truth of the statement “The church is a hospital for sinners and not a hotel for saints.”   As they leave to return home on Sunday afternoon, many of them will have experienced the Mercy of the Lord at a very deep level. A grace that is truly amazing has touched wounded hearts and made of them beloved disciples who will in turn become instruments of his compassion to others. Some, because of their new found freedom, will in due course speak out and become part of a grass roots movement that will one day replace the present Culture of Death with a Culture of Life. I feel I am one of the most privileged of priests to have had this experience so many times and I encourage all priests, deacons, and seminarians to “come and see” at least once.

 How has your work in post abortion healing impacted your preaching?

Prior to my involvement in Rachel’s Vineyard I often felt a bit scared at the prospect of preaching the Gospel of Life. I was conscious that in any congregation there may be one or more who had experienced abortion, and I was never sure how to effectively proclaim the truth while at the same time witnessing to compassion. The truth without compassion is a lethal weapon particularly for wounded souls. Compassion without the truth is a cruel deception. Now I actually enjoy preaching the Gospel of Life. I know from my experience of Rachel’s Vineyard that the Gospel is truly Good News for these women and men, who have fallen victim to one of the great lies of our time. I usually tell my congregation that what I want to share is what I have learned from women and men, who have had abortions and how the Good Shepherd is waiting to embrace, heal and forgive them. I share in a gentle compassionate way   that abortion wounds the lives of mothers and fathers. I know that if there are women present who have had abortion they will identify, and realize that the church wants to help them. I have had people come to me afterwards to find out more about Rachel’s Vineyard.  For the remainder of the congregation, when I then proceed to present the church’s teaching on the right to life of the unborn it is but an obvious and positive conclusion to be embraced, once they have heard a little about post abortion syndrome. 

The Harvest is Plentiful!

You can see in Fr. Pat’s feedback the awesome possibilities for ministry and evangelization if we can expand the outreach in our churches to those suffering this loss.   Sharing the Heart of Christ is a great resource for Priests, Deacons, Counselors and Laity in ministry to those suffering after abortion.  The book provides a brief overview of some key issues in ministry to those with abortion loss, but also pastoral concerns and sample homilies to assist in preaching about this topic with truth, sensitivity and mercy.

Here’s what Bishop Robert Vasa had to say about the book:

Sharing the Heart of Christ provides an assurance of hope for genuine healing and peace for those afflicted with many manifestations of unresolved post-abortive guilt, grief and shame. This work helps us further understand the nature of the abortion trauma, the reason for its persistence and the possibility of healing. It is a book filled with hope. Here we learn how the healing power of God’s grace coupled with sound psychiatric principles can and does, in the midst of a Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat, produce an abundant harvest of healing and peace. I had the privilege of participating in a Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat several years ago. The power of the experience continues to have an impact upon me. May God bless and reward your good work. - Robert F. Vasa, Bishop of Santa Rosa, CaliforniaShare this blog with your minister, priest or pastor today…better yet get them a copy of Sharing the Heart of Christ.

 

 

The Fruit of Abortion Healing: Blessing the Churches with Fervent Disciples

January 20th, 2015

Mary at Tomb

The Fruit of Abortion Healing – Blessing the Churches with Fervent Disciples

When a woman or man participates in the death of their unborn child, part of the damage from the Shockwaves after the procedure can be seen in a deep wounding of their relationship with God and the church.  Deborah grew up in a loving and faith filled family.  She loved God and had always had a personal relationship with him, but now that relationship seemed torn… Deborah shares:

 [After the abortion]… “I found it difficult to go to church, and slowly I started not going,” she said. “I felt like an outcast. I just didn’t feel I deserved God’s love at that point, so it was really hard going to church.” (From the Colorado Catholic Herald)

A key component of the Shockwaves Initiative is spreading the Good News that these wounds can be healed and the Church is waiting with open arms to welcome them home.

Emma Boe is the Project Rachel Director and Rachel’s Vineyard Coordinator of the Diocese of St Petersburg Florida.  Emma shares:

One of the wonderful fruits of abortion healing that I have seen is the large number of our alumni who respond to a call to serve in their churches as catechists, pro life volunteers, lectors, homeless shelters etc.  

When a spiritual and emotional healing program safely opens the abortion wound to the light of Christ, there are miraculous encounters with the Lord.  One of the fruits of this healing is the number of alumni that become involved in Church ministry and service.

There is a vast mission field of mothers, fathers, grandparents, siblings, friends family and abortion providers who have participated in, or have been deeply affected by the death of an unborn child.  All would greatly benefit from the forgiveness and healing of Christ and his church found in post abortion healing programs like Rachel’s VineyardFrom this act of mercy, forgiveness and healing will emerge men and women on fire with the Gospel and ready to serve God’s people according to their gifts and calling.

Visit the Shockwaves website and learn more about how you can partner with us in sharing the truth about abortion loss and the Good News of healing.

Silences in the Churches About the “Shockwaves of Abortion”: Deadly for the Unborn…and their Parents

January 6th, 2015

Silence in the Churches

In January 2015 Healing the Shockwaves of Abortion will be launched with a press conference and a historical event at the steps of the US Supreme Court after the March for Life with a visible and dramatic representation of the vision for this year long initiative.

The Shockwave Initiative will reveal how abortion impacts not only the child, the Mom, and the Dad, but entire families, including grandparents and siblings. Moreover, the wound extends to friends who were involved in the abortion decision/procedure, to the abortionists and their staff, to pro-life people who tried to stop the abortion but couldn’t, and to entire communities.  The Shockwaves initiative presents a vision and resources for communicating this in a new way to our churches, families and nation devastated by abortion loss.  (Be sure to visit our Shockwaves Website for an in depth introduction to the initiative.)

Because January is also when many Churches observe Sanctity of Life Sunday  the Shockwaves Initiative will focus in a special way this month on Churches and pastors.

Silence from the Churches and silence from our Pulpits about abortion can at times wrongly  communicate the following:

-                  This is not an area of concern of the Church and it’s best to just move on from that abortion experience, leave it in the past and never talk about it.

-                  Abortion healing is not an important part of Church ministry…like feeding the hungry.  The Church doesn’t care or want to get involved.

-                  The only message of the Church (if they actually ever hear a pro life message) is perceived as one of condemnation of abortion (and hence in their mind a condemnation of all who have abortions.)

Truth is,  the silence of the Churches enables the denial, the isolation and suffering of those with abortion loss.  This silence and lack of awareness and understanding allows the after-abortion symptoms to continue to extend out from the wounded heart of the mother and father.  This has a powerful impact on personal, emotional, and physical health, as well as marriage and family life…and the mission of the Church.  Half of all abortions are repeat procedures, related to unresolved trauma from first abortions.  Education within a message of hope and healing can be life saving for thousands of unborn children and their parents.

Be Not Afraid! Break the Silence

The Church is greatly diminished in its mission by this silence…and greatly empowered in its mission when proclaiming the Gospel of repentance, healing and restoration in Christ. 

Abortion has gravely wounded the Body of Christ.   When we expand our understanding of those impacted by this loss…a large part of our church communities have been directly impacted by abortion

  • All those impacted would benefit from hearing the truth proclaimed with love and compassion.
  • It is important that people learn of the common symptoms and issues people struggle with after this loss and the personal, marriage and family impact.
  • God’s people desperately need to hear the good news of abortion healing in the Lord. A testimony at an appropriate time in your church service is a personal and powerful way to reveal the suffering after abortion and the effective healing programs that are available.
  • Shockwaves will feature an excellent internet based healing resource, www.Abortionforgiveness.org, that generates trusted abortion healing programs in one’s area by entering a zip code.

[The month of January is a perfect time to share a message of hope and healing. Go to the Shockwaves website where you will find Sample Sermons, Bulletin Inserts and a downloadable brochure.]

Led Zeppelin – Sexual Revolution and Abortion

October 28th, 2014

Led Zeppelin IV

The sky is filled with good and bad that mortals never know.

- The Battle of Evermore from Led Zeppelin IV

This week marks the second wave of Led Zeppelin releases including remastered and expanded versions of the British rock legends’ fourth and fifth studio albums, 1971′s Led Zeppelin IV and 1973′s Houses of the Holy. Led Zeppelin’s unnamed fourth album, often referred to as “Zoso,” went on to sell 23 million copies in the U.S., making it the third most successful album ever.  Led Zeppelin IV features some of the perennial staples of classic rock radio including the epic “Stairway to Heaven.”

Like many young men journeying through the jungles of adolescence in the 1970’s, Zeppelin became the soundtrack for my own coming of age. Composer Jimmy Page layered walls of guitar orchestration married to the musical alchemy produced by his hand-picked fellow band members; the mystical lyrics and wailing unrestrained libido of lead Singer Robert Plant; accomplished musician and composer John Paul Jones; and the one who laid down the Thunder of the Gods, the late drummer John Bonham.

The music of Led Zeppelin reveals some key and sometimes paradoxical messages of their music but also reflected in the lives of many of their generation. On the second Led Zeppelin album you find the anthem of male sexual conquest “Whole Lotta Love.”  You also find at the close of side two, a tender love song Plant penned about his wife at that time, “Thank You.”  On their fourth album you hear the sexual braggadocio of the blues/rock masterpiece “Black Dog” followed by the poignant, nostalgic and spiritual tones of Stairway to Heaven…ear numbing anthems of sexual revolution…and the longing for the innocence and simplicity of the hippie ideal.  This paradox was also reflected in their lives as country gentleman and family men when home and a horde of sexual barbarians when travelling with the band (though many of these accounts while based on some truth are now thought to be highly exaggerated.)

The power and mystique of Led Zeppelin is not only based on their talent as composers and musicians but also came from being plugged into the zeitgeist of their times. This was an age of a naïve trust that the advancement of personal liberation and exploration was the greatest ideal of an evolving mankind.  At the same time the youth of this period chased a longing for deeper emotional intimacy and spiritual communion in the shark infested waters of sexual liberation, drugs and social revolution.

The sexual, social and musical revolutions of the 1960’s and 70’s produced some amazing music. What Led Zeppelin and the other musical and social architects and promoters of sexual revolution failed to understand, is the connection between unrestrained sexual liberation and social chaos, disease and death.  But look more closely at the music and lyrics of Zeppelin (some which borrowed themes and imagery from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings) and you will find that there were deeper and darker battles being waged between lust and love, light and darkness, heaven and hell:

The Sky is filled with good and bad mortals never know…The dark Lord rides in force tonight, and time will tell us all. Oh, throw down your plow and hoe, Rest not to lock your homes. Side by side we wait the might of the darkest of them all.– Battle of Evermore

St Paul wrote something similar a few thousand years earlier:

  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  (Ephesians, 6-12)

Led Zeppelin was a powerful musical focal point for the emerging social and spiritual forces being unleashed during this time period. They not only gave a voice to those forces, but along with other musical groups of that period they helped till the spiritual and social soil, fanning the flames of the cultural and sexual revolution of the 1960’s and beyond.

Zeppelin reigned at a time when the “powers of this dark world” St Paul speaks of seduced and manipulated political, religious and legal leaders to embrace the end-game of the sexual revolution… legalization of abortion in 1973.  Since that time over 55 million of our fellow citizens have been lost to abortion…and countless men and women have been deeply damaged by the participation in their death.  

The power and beauty of the music of Led Zeppelin remains and transcends the sometimes darker influences on some of the band members and their lifestyles, especially when touring.  Lead Singer Robert Plant is known for his preening and sexual posturing when performing with Zeppelin, but he also wrote some of their more compelling lyrics.  The continued allure of Zeppelin is that the beauty, power and message of their music at times reached out to awaken the listener to consider that there was something more beyond the silly sexual posturing of Plant and the whole sex, drugs and rock and roll lifestyle.

The lyrics of the classic Stairway to Heaven, remind us that as we continue to rip apart the fabric of western civilization…we better take some time to assess the costs of unrestrained individualism and sexual liberation:

Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run There’s still time to change the road you’re on.Stairway to Heaven

Fifty Five million dead…millions more wounded.

Let’s hope and pray…there’s still time to change the road we’re on.

 

 

 

Synod on the Family: Abortion Is a Stealth Missile Attacking Marriage and Family

October 6th, 2014

Holy Family

The much anticipated Extraordinary Synod on the Family opened Sunday at the Vatican.  In the opening mass for the Synod Pope Francis shared this with the assembled Bishops:

Assemblies are not meant to discuss beautiful and clever ideas, or to see who is more intelligent… They are meant to better nurture and tend the Lord’s vineyard, to help realize his dream, his loving plan for his people. In this case the Lord is asking us to care for the family, which has been from the beginning an integral part of his loving plan for humanity.

The Popes comments reflect the urgency of the situation and the challenges facing the family. We do not have the luxury of a synod that merely debates “beautiful and clever ideas” that are disconnected from the real world experience of families in our contemporary society.

The issues central to Churches in the developing nations (where the majority of Catholics reside) will often differ from those in the Western world, where we find a preoccupation with possible changes on ministry to Divorced Catholics.   There is a danger that in our focus on this contentious issue…we are missing the very large and very influential elephant in the family room.

Understanding the Impact of Abortion on Marriage and Family Life

With the continued pressure from Western nations to expand the access to abortion in African, Asia and Latin America, it is essential for the Synod to be aware of the  relationship between the symptoms of complicated grief after abortion and marriage and family life, especially here in the United States.   A failure to understand and learn more about this intimate connection between abortion and the challenges facing couples and families…would be a tragic missed opportunity for the Church and its leaders.

Since 1973 the United States has experienced an unprecedented historical event…a self-inflicted population reduction of over 55 million of its people through the availability of widespread legal abortion. What we have learned during this time is that abortion not only takes the life of an innocent child, it also has a powerfully toxic effect on relationships, marriage and family life.

Sharing the Heart of Christ

This should be no surprise. Sharing the Heart of Christ is an excellent resource for clergy, counselors and laity in ministry with those suffering after abortion. In this book we learn that abortion is very much a “relational wound”:

 These symptoms of post-abortion loss do not occur in isolation and can significantly impact marriage and family life. Abortion creates a relational and spiritual wound. A healthy marital relationship is marked by a deep bonding between husband and wife with a foundational trust that leads to vibrant and satisfying emotional, spiritual, and physical intimacy.   Abortion is a traumatic death experience that is closely associated to relational/sexual intimacy, creating a profound fracture of trust that strikes at the heart of a relationship.  Because of the nature of this wound, secrets, [trust and anger issues] and extra marital affairs are not uncommon for persons with abortion in their history. – Sharing the Heart of Christ: Chapter Two Cultivating the Seeds of Trust

Later in that same Chapter you will find this following excerpt from an article originally published in the Fairfield County Catholic.  As you read this brief account, consider how essential this information is to the Synod on the Family, where in the United States alone, there have been over 55 million abortion procedures:

Fairfield County Catholic (FCC):Why don’t you begin by explaining the circumstances that drove you to an abortion?

Mary: Joe and I were both in college, and had been dating a couple of years. The first time we had intercourse, I got pregnant. I came from a large family and my parents, who were devout Catholics, made a lot of sacrifices for my education. I was too ashamed to tell them I was pregnant. There was no one to reach out to.

FCC:Couldn’t you reach out to your boyfriend?

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. 

FCC:Most couples break up after an abortion because the guilt and pain are so great. Yet you stayed together and got married. You were clearly very much in love. How did the aftermath of the abortion affect your marriage?

Mary: We still loved each other, and we were committed to our marriage. 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. 

FCC:You are both practicing Catholics, raising your children in the faith. Didn’t you talk to a priest about what happened?

Mary: After years of this, it became apparent that it was something I had to deal with. I had confessed my abortion to three priests over the years. After the fourth priest, I began to accept that God could forgive me. 

Joe: There were years and years of anger and heartache and being distant from God… I think men are so proud, they don’t see what they’ve buried. It was all kept inside and it was destroying me. I deliberately did things to keep my own self-esteem down. I considered suicide. At one point, I remember walking downstairs with a gun and a suitcase; Mary stopped me. 

FCC:What happened when you went into the Rachel’s Vineyard retreat?

Mary: It felt confidential, safe, welcome. There was an overwhelming sense of peace knowing that so many people were praying for us. Everybody there, although each story was different, the pain was there. With them, we were able to let our guard down. 

Joe: I didn’t want to go to Rachel’s Vineyard to begin with. I walked in there on a Friday evening thinking, “I’m going to re-live all this stuff I’ve been avoiding for so long.” I think men are reluctant to go to these things openly and be part of it. 

FCC: Why was this retreat so effective, when you had both already been to Confession and received absolution years ago?

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 sat there and literally cried during some of the sessions. I was able to express my anger of myself at my total lack of courage…I feel reborn. I’ve been accepted by God, by my wife, and, most of all, by myself…

FCC: Where do you go from here?

…Joe: I’d like us to be as close as we can possibly get. I’d like to re-kindle a courtship, to walk hand-in-hand, spend more time together – and more time together in prayer.

The Family Impact

In many of the testimonies of women and men after abortion loss, you will find similar themes; mistrust, displaced anger, resentment, difficulty with intimacy and sexual dysfunction.  When a mother or father has an abortion in their past, and it is drawing upon so much negative emotional energy…does this impact parenting and family life?

It would be impossible that it would not have a significant impact.  All of us know how challenging it is to maintain a healthy marriage and family life in today’s culture.  It is all the more daunting when a mother and/or father are deeply compromised in their capacity for healthy communication, trust and intimacy because of an abortion loss.  Keep in mind that nearly half of all abortions are repeat procedures. Also consider that many grandparents, siblings and extended family may have been involved in some way in the abortion decision/procedure of their family member and depending on their role in the child’s death can also suffer emotionally and spiritually.

As I read these words of the Pope from October 4th,  I thought of the millions of couples with an abortion in their history:

 May the wind of Pentecost blow on the Synodal works, on the Church, on the whole of humanity. May it loose the knots that impede persons from encountering one another, may it heal bleeding wounds, and rekindle hope. May it grant that creative charity that make us love as Jesus loved. Then our proclamation will rediscover the vivacity and dynamism of the first missionaries of the Gospel. – Pope Francis’ Discourse Saturday October 4th at the Vigil of Prayer for the Synod on the Family

Let all Catholics and Christians of every denomination join our Holy Father in this prayer. May the Holy Spirit inspires the leaders of the international Catholic Church, so that they may be convicted of the importance of healing the “bleeding wound” of abortion and so protect and strengthen our families, both in the West and in the developing world.

 

 

 

 

Teens 10 times More Likely to Attempt Suicide After Abortion

September 16th, 2014

Suicide

A very important article from Live Action news features Fr Frank Pavone on abortion and suicide. Fr Frank’s comments were offered in relation to the recent commemoration of World Suicide Day:

…Reports say that the risk of death from suicide within a year after an abortion is more than seven times higher than the risk of suicide within a year after childbirth.

Author Lauren Enriquez, mentions that youth are the most vulnerable to suicidal thoughts and actions after abortion. We think we are saving young people from the challenges of single parenting by making abortion accessible to them in our communities.  But the physiological and psychological changes of adolescence puts them at higher risk of not being able to process the complex and powerful emotions unleashed by participating in the death of their unborn child.  In addition, they often feel powerless when encouraged or at times pressured and coerced by boyfriends, parents, counselors and others to see abortion as the only solution to their unplanned pregnancy.

In addition to being the most visible pro life priest in the world with Priests for Life, Fr Frank also serves as the Pastoral Director of Rachel’s Vineyard.  He has first-hand knowledge and has personally encountered many women and men who struggled with suicidal and self-destructive thoughts and behaviors after their abortion loss, putting a human face on the statistics mentioned in this article.

Here is the full article with some important statistics on suicide and abortion

 

Emotional Castration: Telegraph Story Reveals Man’s Abortion Trauma

September 12th, 2014

 

Car Wreck

From the September 12, 2014 edition of the Telegraph comes a clear and compelling presentation on the experience of a man facing an unplanned pregnancy who is trying to prevent the child’s abortion.   It speaks volumes about the rights of men in “legal” abortions and the trauma men can experience.  Please read and share.

Tony Perry writes:

Following the recent UK release of Obvious Child, the Daily Mail columnist Bel Mooney yesterday shared her personal experience with abortion and declared that her decision to terminate her unborn child was “no big deal”.

However, for many, abortion is a big deal that can leave regrets long after that choice is made.  It is also a choice that has an impact of men an as well as women, even though the media rarely presented the experience of abortion from a male point of view.  Perhaps the general assumption is that abortion doesn’t really affect men. 

Perhaps I would have shared that assumption had I not lived through it myself.

Read the rest here.

 

 

Post-Abortive Father Responds to Robin Williams: Uncomfortably Numb Story

August 21st, 2014

 

Repentant Man

Amidst the firestorm of reaction to my blog last week on the death of Robin Williams, I wanted to share this letter that came in from a father who lost his daughter to abortion:

Hi Kevin,

I wanted to thank you for sharing about Robin William’s abortion and how this may have contributed to his struggles with addiction and depression.   I know from personal experience as a post-abortive father that depression can occur when a man loses a child to abortion.

In my case the depression was closely related to the lie I was encouraged to believe…a lie that said that abortion was the best solution to a pregnancy that occurred at a difficult time. I was encouraged to believe that my child in the womb was ‘just a fetus’ and not a human being.   By agreeing with this prognosis regarding the pregnancy I was able to agree to the abortion that my partner wanted to have.

Agreeing with the abortion did not change the reality that I was a father of this child. What did occur was that I became the father of a child that I did not protect, take responsibility for and enjoy a relationship with. I became the father of a child that lost its life because I did not protect her from the lie of abortion rather than the father of a child that I helped to nurture and to grow into adulthood.

The reality of what had exactly transpired as a result of the abortion set in over time. As I came out of the delusion that I was in because of believing a lie I began to see more clearly the results of agreeing to an abortion as the solution to the challenge of parenting. By believing the lie I was enabled to abandon the responsibility of protecting my daughter and as a result had abandoned the opportunity to nurture her and provide for her as she grew into an adult.  I had rejected the responsibility to protect my unborn daughter, I had lost the opportunity to provide and nurture her into adulthood, I had lost the relationship that would have grown out of tending to these responsibilities and I was full of shame and humiliation as a result. This shame, humiliation and grief left me in a state of hopelessness despair and yes depression.

My self-esteem plummeted.  I hated myself for the emotional pain I was feeling for something that was supposed to be a benign experience. I hated myself for not knowing better, for not performing better and I began to be angry with those who had encouraged the abortion, with those who had performed the abortion and with those who stood idly by as it was occurring. The shame and guilt of my involvement encouraged me to keep this to myself.  This isolation fed the depression that I experienced after that event.  I abused drugs and alcohol as a way to cope with the depression and pain I felt.

Healing started to come when I acknowledged what had happened in the abortion. It began to grow as I shared my guilt with others and received God’s forgiveness. It grew more when I experienced healing weekends with Rachel’s Vineyard and realized that I was not alone with my guilt, grief and depression.

The depression began to lift even more as God gave me the opportunity to take responsibility for a child through adoption. Now I can speak fairly freely about the pain I went through due to my involvement with abortion, and the subsequent depression that had accompanied it, because I know there is a healthy way out. Booze and drugs did not alleviate the problem although I thought they would when I used them to cope with the difficult emotions that accompanied the experience. Facing the experience as it was, the death of my daughter, was the beginning of moving to reconciliation and healing which included yes the healing of some of the depression.

Parents involved in abortion decisions need to realize there is help for them if they face their experience in the light of reality.    An abortion recovery program can help them face the painful but liberating truth, grieve and honor that child lost to abortion, and experience the forgiveness of Jesus.  Consoled by this faith, they can look forward in sure hope to meeting their children in heaven who are there longing to be reunited with their parents.  With further healing I was more able to end the silence and share the truth that my child is gone from this life, but she is with the Lord and I will see her one day.

God bless, you Kevin for telling the truth.  May all post-abortive parents face their experience in light of the truth. May they receive the forgiveness that is available so they can bring a blessing to their aborted children the day they enter the gates of paradise to join them in the forgiving pleasures of heaven.

Sincerely,

Dr. Scott Miller, M. Counseling, M. Divinity, D. Min

 Out of his own healing journey, the Lord has given Scott some insight towards ministering to men and women who have suffered the pain of losing a child through abortion. During his years ministering in residential addiction treatment programs, Scott was introduced to many young men who had lost children to abortion.

As a complimentary ministry to Rachel’s Vineyard, Scott developed the House of Esau program as a place where men can begin to confidentially allow their post abortion dilemma’s to be acknowledged, released and received so their souls can begin the journey of being healed from their abortion experience. House of Esau™ focusses on helping men heal from their “father wound” and the resulting sexual brokenness and pain-managing lifestyle. We offer a non-judgmental environment where men can find the compassion of Christ in a supportive, non-threatening context. For additional information about House of Esau™ ministries, email us at: silverlion@live.ca.

 

Grieving the Loss of Rachel’s Vineyard and Silent No More Leader Mike Stack

August 15th, 2014

 

Mike Stack

 Mike Stack, Site Leader for the Detroit Rachel’s Vineyard ministry, and former  Regional Coordinator with the Silent No More Awareness Campaign passed away on August 14th.  Mike was a Missionary of the Gospel of Life and served as a Coordinator of the Southfield 40 Days for Life Campaign.

Mike died on the feast of St Maximilian Kolbe, the great Polish priest who gave his life for a fellow prisoner at Auschwitz-a married man with children.   His death also falls on the Vigil of the Assumption of our Blessed Lady.   How fitting as Mike had a beautiful and fatherly heart of faith and love for Christ, his Blessed Mother and the Church that he shared so generously in his life.  Anyone blessed to be touched by his ministry to vulnerable young woman facing an unplanned pregnancy, or those wounded by abortion loss, can attest to the faith, courage and gentle love of this man of God.

Below I share two articles by Mike that will reveal some of the beautiful ministry of this man.  The first reveals the relationship of his vocation as an ultra-sound technician at a Pregnancy Resource Center and his ministry in Rachel’s Vineyard.  This is an extremely important testimony as it points to the level of grief for those who are intimately involved in the death of the unborn, well beyond the immediate impact on the parents.   Even front-line pro lifers trying to prevent these tragic deaths, naturally suffer complicated grief from this experience.

The second article is an excellent piece on the need for awareness and healing for men who suffer after participating in the death of their unborn child:

A little piece of my heart

By Mike Stack

[Mike served as an Ultrasound Technician at a Local Pregnancy Resource Center since 2003 and was employed since 1976 as an Ultrasound Technician.-KB ]

A little piece of my heart is wounded each time we are unable to help a woman turn from her plan to abort the tiny human life within her womb. As an Ultrasound Technician for the past 35 years, I have had the honor of witnessing the work of the Lord, in the womb. “I knit you together in your Mother’s womb…” Psalm 139:13…

Many Post Abortion women have commented that a piece of their heart died with their aborted child, just like any parent that looses a child. It doesn’t matter what stage of development. What matters is that those that have lost a child have a deep grief. Grief that is made worse when it is a secret…

I found myself in a similar, secret (hidden) grieving place and didn’t know where to turn for help.

I found the place to turn to when I attended a Post-abortion recovery weekend retreat (Rachael’s Vineyard). To my surprise the grief I had been carrying came forth in uncontrolled, sobbing tears. I was grieving the loss of so many children I had come to know….       Read the whole article here

Getting the Word Out to Men

By Mike Stack

I was excited to be invited to speak at a Men’s Fellowship retreat earlier this year by the leader of this Men’s ministry group at our former parish. He knew of my involvement with Rachel’s Vineyard and thought it would be a good topic for the after dinner talk to the (40) guys on this annual retreat. Some men’s ministries arereluctant to address the issue of abortion loss on a men’s retreat, thinking it is not the place, so I was especially grateful for the opportunity.

However Public speaking is not exactly in my ‘comfort zone’ and so when I found out that I had a 90 minute time slot to fill I was a bit concerned. The Lord inspired me with a simple program that included the Dear Children video that we use on Friday evening of our Rachel’s Vineyard Retreats, and the personal testimony of some former retreatants. We had one couple and two men who have experienced abortion loss each give a short testimony.

I gave some introductory comments about the history of Rachel’s Vineyard and that the retreats were open to both men and women (grandparents, siblings and former abortion providers.) We offered time for questions at the end. It was a simple program that planted seeds for this group of men who, for the most part, were not aware of Rachel’s Vineyard or the need for men’s healing after abortion.

During the video I sat near the back of the room and from that viewpoint I could observe the guys’ reactions to the video. There were several handkerchiefs pulled out and some tears wiped away. I feel confident that we ‘planted seeds’ for some of these men to learn more about abortion loss and healing in Rachel’s Vineyard.

It seems to me the best thing for us to do is to plant seeds, to prepare people with knowledge of this healing resource. For some it will be for themselves, for others it’s to share in a future conversation or situation with a friend, family member or spouse.

In this case we also had the benefit of men receiving the knowledge that abortion hurts women, men and relationships. I think the simple program worked well and is probably something that could be easily repeated or expanded upon. I include parts of the thank you note from Gerry:

Hi Mike… the presentation was outstanding… thank you for being there.

There was a very positive response from the guys for the depth of sharing … heck even the topic … one guy admitted that he was skeptical when he heard the topic and wondered why it should be at a men’s retreat, but by the end of the video, was convicted by his doubt. I’m hoping we have more involvement in the fight against abortion from what the guys experienced … your group certainly raised the consciousness of the issues surrounding it…Be sure to thank the volunteers for their courage in witnessing to us … I know it can’t be easy, even though it is giving testimony to the love of God.

God bless, Gerry

In my own life and ministry I am seeing a growing awareness of the need of healing for the men that have been involved in abortion. It’s seems that more of these fathers are finding their way to the Rachel’s Vineyard retreats. I think many of us have experienced the huge blessings that occur both to the men and to the women that attend a given retreat (with men present.)

My take on the retreat process is that the main healer is Christ, who is present in a special way through the Living Scripture exercises (and the Sacraments in the Catholic model). Christ, the healer, is also present and working through the participants. The stories of pain and healing that are shared during the weekend work to help facilitate Christ’s love and healing. Obviously women and men experience the pain of abortion in different ways. The richness of the mix of men’s and women’s sharing always seems to be a critical part of the healing on any given weekend retreat.