Dante’s Ascent to Paradise…Begins with a Descent Into Humility and the Wounds of Deepest Loss

November 18th, 2013


[From Rod Dreher below- Very good and essential reading for November  as we come to the end of  the Church year and focus in a special way to remember our beloved dead and pray for their souls.   It is so important in our hyper busy lives, immersed in the ever present now of technology,  entertainment, media etc. to take a moment to focus on essential things...such as where our souls will spend eternity (which is really long btw!) ]


“I climb from here no longer to be blind.” — Dante, Purgatorio XXVI

I stayed up late last night to finish Dante’s Purgatorio, and what a moving finish it was. The poet completed his ascent of the Mount of Purgatory, where Beatrice awaited him in the Garden of Eden in the climactic scenes. I was not prepared for how emotional I became, having gone so far with Dante, out of the selva oscura, through the Inferno, and up the mountain, and now, finally, to meet his true love, the one whose prayers summoned him away from his lostness to sin and back to God.

Read the rest here


Fetal Disability Abortions…The Compassionate Choice?

November 15th, 2013


On November 7, 2013 Senator Lindsey Graham, R-SC, introduced the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.  The Act would ban abortions after 20 or more weeks post-gestation, with the exception of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother.  The Bill would save between 10,000 and 15,000 unborn children a year, according to estimates from the Congressional Budget Office and the Guttmacher Institute.

In response to the introduction of legislation Planned Parenthood’s allies in the MSM cranked up the spin machine:

Only 1.5 percent of abortions are performed after 21 weeks, according to the Guttmacher Institute, and often women who elect to have these later abortions do so because of severe fetal abnormalities, which doctors often detect at around the 20-week mark. This is where pro-choice groups think they can win over voters: the woman who wanted to have a child only to learn that her fetus was developing in such a way that is ultimately incompatible with life.  According to Planned Parenthood’s Augustpoll…a solid majority of voters believe abortion should be legal after 20 weeks…when there were severe fetal abnormalities.  (Newseek: Can the Myth of Fetal Pain Topple Roe V Wade?)

This will be a significant area of battle.  Pro aborts may dispute the scientific evidence that unborn children experience pain during abortion procedures…but this will be a losing battle with the public as polling indicates.  They are more likely to focus on the necessity of later term abortions in cases of a Poor Prenatal Diagnosis…an area that polling suggests is in their favor.

How can we best respond and help shape this debate to protect unborn children and their parents?

We need to educate the public that abortions due to fetal abnormalities and fetal reductions leads to serious emotional and relational problems for couples that abort.

Rachel’s Vineyard is the largest outreach for abortion healing in the world.  Some of the more complicated experiences of grief and loss we encounter are with couples who abort due to fetal disability.

Read this excerpt below from Sharing the Heart of Christ to learn more about how these abortions seriously impact mothers and fathers and the necessity of  healing for these couples and their families:

Couples Who Abort Due to Genetic Abnormality

Kevin Burke, LSW and Michelle Krystofik, DFC

Every year in the United States, approximately 133,000 pregnant mothers will undergo routine pre-natal tests and receive what is called “poor pre-natal diagnosis,” or PPD.  This means that their infant is afflicted with a chromosomal abnormality or a serious defect in a vital organ.  The most difficult and complicated grief that we witness on Rachel’s Vineyard Weekends involve couples that aborted a child for this reason.

With the increase in genetic testing and fertility treatments more couples are facing these difficult decisions.   Parents are often pressured by doctors, therapists, friends and family to “terminate” the pregnancy.  They are given the grim prospect of a child born prematurely who will die shortly after birth or suffer severe deformities and a brief life filled with suffering and pain.  Couples are vulnerable when confronted with many levels of anxiety, uncertainty and fear that are natural when trying to process such an event.

Sadly, health care professionals, friends and family often feed their worst fears.  Often with the best of intentions, they fail to offer life affirming alternatives that respect the dignity of unborn life, and in the long run are in the best interest of the mother and father, and especially their relationship.  Most couples only receive non-directive counseling, which means they are told only the various challenges and likely prognosis of the condition without offering other life-affirming resources.  This can be overwhelming and lead the parents in the aftershock of this news to see abortion as the best solution.

In one study, 80% of parents who received ‘non directive’ counseling chose to abort while 80% of parents who were provided with the option of perinatal palliative care chose to carry their child to term. [1] (Autumn 2008 Issue of Perspectives, the newsletter of the DeVeber Institute for Bioethics and Social Research.)

Tragically, more than 90 percent of these pregnancies end in abortion.  When abortion is the preferred course of “treatment” not only is the baby’s life ended, but the lives of these parents are changed forever.  Like our first parents in the Garden of Eden, assuming this power over life and death has far reaching consequences beyond the decision to abort.   The fallout from this loss places a tremendous strain on a couple as they struggle to come to terms with the shock and pain of their experience.

Research confirms that women suffer years after the procedure:

Women 2-7 years after were expected to show a significantly lower degree of traumatic experience and grief than women 14 days after termination…Contrary to hypothesis, however, the results showed no significant inter-group differences. [2](More information and research on post abortion trauma for couples who abort due to fetal disability.)

Complicated Grief

These parents suffer from a particularly complex form of grief and guilt years after the experience.  They hunger desperately for healing and peace, but struggle to come to terms with their responsibility in the death of their child and the need for repentance, reconciliation and healing.  They feel strongly that their situation is “different” from others who abort.

Couples cling desperately to the idea that they did what was best for their child, saving them from a life, however brief, of suffering and pain.  In other scenarios they must choose among healthier embryos or multiple fetuses so that the healthiest survive.  Given the medical advice and pressure from a spouse or others, they feel they did not have a real choice.  As with any abortion decision where this is any ambivalence or pressure, they are at high risk for symptoms of post abortion trauma such as anxiety, depression, sleep disturbance etc.

The husband may see the abortion as protecting his wife from the pain of giving birth to a child who would have died, or would die shortly after birth or would have been born with a physical and mental handicap that sadly is seen as a burden to his wife and family.  In their efforts to establish control and take action, men are tempted to see abortion as the best solution.

After the abortion there can be considerable anger at God, whom couples often blame for putting them in this situation.   One couple expresses this struggle:

If we were given a normal child, we would not be suffering like this.  We are different from others who have aborted because we wanted this child.  God put us in this impossible situation, forcing us to make these painful decisions.  We are left without our child, and with powerful feelings of confusion, resentment anger and grief. 

Without a healing process for this complicated grief, this pain will surely impact marital intimacy, communication and trust and the relationship of parents with their living children.

Empty Arms and Wounded Hearts

It is only when these mothers and fathers come to a clearer and honest understanding of their abortion loss that they can begin to repent, grieve and heal.  An important part of this process is facing their role in that decision to abort, and the understandable fear and weakness that tempted them to embrace this solution.  When the rationalization and seemingly wise counsel of doctors and others fades away after the abortion, a mother and father are faced with empty arms and a wounded heart.  They must face the painful realization that this decision also aborted their opportunity to hold this child and offer that child love and affection for however long the baby lived.  In the case of Down’s Syndrome and other conditions, they were given a child with special challenges to love and care for, and in their rejection of that child, something in them has also died both individually and as a couple.

The healing process can never be forced.  We must be patient, especially in the early stages of healing as the wound is very raw. There can initially be great defensiveness.  It’s important to acknowledge their pain and loss, the confusing nature of the decisions and challenges that their fertility treatment/testing and medical care presented to them.  However, at some point in the process, when they are ready and with God’s grace and much prayer, they must face the truth that their abortion decision led them to make a choice that violated their parental hearts, created to love any children they conceived regardless of the challenges.  They will need to face that the abortion was a crisis of faith, one that we all face in different times in our life where we fail to trust God, and we make decisions that violate His will for us.  We must always speak to them in love, as fellow sinners who have aborted God’s will in our lives.

Lord, Please Help Me Not to Be So Perfect

Susan attended a Rachel’s Vineyard Weekend Retreat after aborting a child diagnosed with a condition that would lead to her daughter’s death shortly after birth.   She expressed a desire to leave the retreat Saturday morning.  Susan shared:

I don’t fit in with these other women and men who freely chose abortion for “selfish” reasons.  I had no choice.  The choice I made was in the best interests of my child.

One of the priests serving on our retreat team spoke with her after breakfast on Saturday encouraging her to stay though the afternoon and then if she still felt the same way, she could leave.  Because of her trust in this priest, and the help of the Holy Spirit she decided to stay.

A major breakthrough occurred for Susan following the Living Scripture Exercise of the Woman Healed of a Hemorrhage offered on Saturday afternoon.  In this exercise, the participants have an opportunity to touch a cloth representing the cloak of Christ.   Susan approached the cloak that flowed from the base of a monstrance holding the Blessed Sacrament, and prayed, “Lord, please help me not to be so perfect, to want everything in my life to be perfect, even my child.”  She broke down in tears and continued on the weekend receiving an incredible amount of healing and peace.

At the memorial service Susan read a letter to her child apologizing for not having the courage to go through with the child’s birth and imminent death:

Our Dearest Marie,

How are you, sweetie?  How are you doing in Heaven?  Mommy and daddy really miss you.  Your brother, Vincent, asks about you all the time….Your sister, Veronica, would have loved to have a little sister like you because you and she would have been best friends…You are our little angel, our most beautiful child.

But we are both so sorry that we denied you that chance to be with our family.  You would have loved to be with us, to hear our voices, to have us touch you, hold you, and kiss you.  Even though it may only have been a short time:  months, days, or maybe just hours, deep Down I know that it would have been worth it.  We would have learned so much from you:  how to love, how to serve, how to be humble, and how to trust in our God completely! 

Dearest Marie…  Your daddy and I both need your prayers.  I know that you are in good hands, as Jesus has shown me that Mother Mary is taking care of you.  We will not worry about you, but you are forever in our hearts.  We love you so much, with all our hearts and all our souls.  We promise that we will pray to you always, tell you about all that is going on in our family.   We thank God that He has blessed us with you, that He has given us a chance to come to this retreat so that both your daddy and I would feel closer to you.  We look forward to the day that we will meet in Heaven, in the eternal home of God our Father, where we can finally hold you close and give you hugs and kisses.

Thank you for forgiving us.  You are forever our child and we are so blessed to be your parents.

Love always,

Mommy and daddy

It may take longer to make this transition but in Rachel’s Vineyard, individuals will experience some release of their pain and anguish.  They may still struggle to fully embrace repentance and healing.   The couple may remain attached to the idea that “we did what was in the best interests of our child” and may still wrestle with feelings of anger and resentment.  Offer ongoing support if appropriate and share any after care services that might assist them.  Offer prayers and encouragement and share with them that the grace of their healing experience has planted seeds that in time will bear a greater fruit.

For those offering the Rachel’s Vineyard Retreats, it is important when couples register for the weekend sharing this type of loss, that you go over the entire weekend, making them fully aware of the process.  With that understanding, we can entrust them to the God of mercy and pray for the Holy Spirit to open their hearts to his forgiveness and healing, according to His perfect will and time.

Perinatal Hospice

Those ministering to engaged or married couples are in an excellent position to offer alternatives to abortion when a couple receives the painful news there is a problem with their pregnancy.  The type of counseling couples receive is critical to the decision to abort or give birth to a disabled child.

Fortunately there is a growing movement to provide Perinatal Hospice that supports couples who journey through the difficult birth, death and funeral of their child.  [Be sure to visit Perinatal Hospice and the excellent FAQ section of their website.] With encouragement and education they help provide the vital healing experience of embracing their child with love for as long as the baby lives. Though deeply painful, it gives parents and families the opportunity to celebrate the child’s life and to grieve this loss in a healthy way.   The couple and their family experience the natural process of grief.  With the support team of doctors, nurses, chaplains and social workers they can find healing and meaning in their suffering and loss.  Abortion robs parents of this opportunity.  While we can struggle to understand the meaning of suffering and death, especially of an infant, God’s grace and blessing abounds when life is embraced, loved and released with dignity, instead of abortion.

For those with a Downs syndrome diagnosis we must provide opportunities for parents to learn of the blessings as well as the real challenges that these children will present, to counter the negative picture presented by proponents of abortion.  It may be beneficial to have some contacts of parents who have a Downs Syndrome child who would be willing to speak to those faced with a Down Syndrome diagnosis.  Once parents get over the initial shock and fear of the unknown, their lives are filled with peace and as one mother told us, “I live with pure joy every day.  I’m learning about unconditional love from my son.”


Prenatal Partners for Life  If you have come to this site because you or someone you know has received an adverse or negative prenatal diagnosis, you have come to the right place. We are parents who have gone through similar circumstances and we want to offer support. We are here to help you. You are not alone!


National Association for Down Syndrome

National Down Syndrome Congress

The DeVeber Institute for Bioethics and Social Research


[1]  Calhoun, BC, Napolito, P et al. (2003) “Perinatal hospice: comprehensive care for the family of the fetus with a lethal condition.” JreprodMed. V48: 343-348

[2] Kersting, A. et. Al. (2005) “Trauma and 2-7 years after termination of pregnancy because of fetal abnormalities.”  Journal Psychosoc Obstet & Gynae.V26: #1 9-14.

Cosmo Allows a Bit of Loyal Opposition on The Birth Control Pill

November 9th, 2013


Enlightening article on the Pill from a very pro contraception, pro abortion rights perspective…no surprise as it was published in Cosmopolitan.

Still this is good news.  The fact that Cosmopolitan would publish an article that at least questioned the wisdom of the widespread use of oral contraception with women beginning in their teenage years…is progress.  This is surely not a trusted source for the most accurate medical, let alone moral guidance for women.  But at least they are allowing a bit of loyal opposition…and the article has a revealing surprise ending.

The author Virginia Sole-Smith began taking the pill at age 14 cheered on by her feminist mother.

I’d been missing several days of school every month since my period had started two years earlier, bringing with it vomiting, mind-numbing cramps, and the kind of heavy bleeding that ruins white jeans and fragile middle-school egos…My cramps and nausea eased within a few cycles… Taking the Pill made me feel in control of my body and my choices. It was everything feminists had fought for, all wrapped up in a purple plastic packet.

The years of suppressing her menstrual cycle came with a cost:

At 28, bedeviled by side effects such as sore breasts, loss of libido, and migraines, I took my doctor’s suggestion that I stop taking the pill….While my sex drive did bounce back, the intense cramping and bleeding returned too. I developed an ovarian cyst that ruptured, producing a stabbing sensation that made regular cramps feel like warm hugs. In 2012, a month after my thirty-first birthday, I had surgery to diagnose and remove endometriosis.

Taking the Pill since age 14 had masked her endometriosis:

To Christiane Northrup, MD, author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, prescribing the Pill for debilitating menstrual conditions, such as the endometriosis I suffered from, only masks the problem. “It’s like a mechanic putting a piece of duct tape over the indicator light on your dashboard and claiming he’s fixed your car,” she says.

Dr. Angela Lanfranchi is a surgeon and co-director of the breast care program at The Steeplechase Cancer Center in Somerville New Jersey.  Dr. Lanfranchi and other professionals have been warning for years about the health risks for the over 150 million women worldwide using the Pill.

Cosmo permitted this very guarded look at the Pill, with the necessary homage to their sacred cows of contraception and abortion rights. But don’t look for an honest assessment of the long term effects of abortion on women.   Only women that espouse the great benefits of choice will grace the pages of Cosmo; women who come to regret their choice, will not find a place in the Cosmo sisterhood.  Maybe that will change as more women experience healing and find a voice.

The article has a surprise ending…look what cured what the Pill and surgery could not:

… I’m still on hiatus from the Pill, for an unexpectedly cheerful reason: Despite my endometriosis, I got pregnant last year, and my pregnancy and, now, breast-feeding appear to be doing what neither surgery nor the Pill could—my cysts and lesions have disappeared, as has my chronic pain. If the disease doesn’t recur, I’d like to stay away from synthetic hormones, especially since I get the occasional aura migraine, which means I have a higher risk for blood clots and stroke…


One Night I Was Kneeling In There, Looking Up At The Cross, and The Whole Place Became Gold

November 7th, 2013

Golden Chapel

This is a follow up to my story on NFL player Brandon Marshall and his courageous public testimony and outreach to those suffering with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).    Marshall talks about the importance of Dialectical Behavior Therapy developed by psychologist Marsha Linehan:

“Marsha Linehan, who’s in Seattle, is one of the most profound faces of BPD, because she developed Dialectical Behavior Therapy, which is the best group therapy out there”….Dr. Linehan was the subject of a New York Times profile around the same time that Marshall was diagnosed. The 68-year-old expert on suicidal impulses and other symptoms of severe depression battled her own symptoms throughout most of her life.   (Yahoo Sports)

Take a moment and read her amazing story.  Note the pivotal and life changing religious experience she had before a chapel crucifix and how this influenced the development of her treatment model DBT.    It is hard to understand such innocent suffering…yet God’s grace moved so powerfully in this woman’s life.

Forbidden Grief by Theresa Burke, Ph.D., reveals that some women diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder have abortions in their history.   Abortion healing programs like Rachel’s Vineyard can be an important and complementary part of any treatment approach for BPD.  Sadly, given the pro abortion ideology of many in the mental health community, these voices are often silenced.  Let’s hope that as more women and men speak out about their abortion loss, this will change.


Richie Incognito Can Learn A Lot About Courage from Bears Receiver Brandon Marshall…So Could the Millions of Men Wounded by Abortion

November 7th, 2013

Brandon Marshall

By no means am I all healed or fixed, but it’s like a light bulb has been turned on in my dark room.  – Brandon Marshall, NFL Receiver

If your a fan of the National Football League, you’ve been hearing a lot lately about the racist and over-the-line harassment of Miami Dolphin’s offensive lineman Jonathan Martin by his teammate Richie Incognito.

Chicago Bear’s receiver Brandon Marshall says it’s time for change in the NFL.

Marshall, himself a former Dolphin, brings an important voice to this controversy because of his courage to share about his own struggle with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD.)  BPD features difficulties with emotional regulation, extreme fear of abandonment that makes relationships volatile and unstable, with addictive and impulsive behavior that wreak havoc in one’s life…and without treatment lead to self injury and suicide.  Brandon shares about the destruction this disorder caused in his own personal life.

Marshall sees the problems of bullying and harassment found in the Incognito/Martin scandal as part of the culture of many NFL locker rooms, and something that needs to change.

Marshall, reflecting on Martin’s struggle with Incognito’s abuse touches on a deeper issue that men face when dealing with painful emotions such as abuse, grief, shame, anxiety and loneliness:

Look at it from this standpoint,” Marshall said. “Take a little boy and a little girl. A little boy falls down and the first thing we say as parents is ‘Get up, shake it off. You’ll be OK. Don’t cry.’ A little girl falls down, what do we say? ‘It’s going to be OK.’ We validate her feelings. So right there from that moment, we’re teaching our men to mask their feelings, to not show their emotions. And it’s that times 100 – with NFL football players. You can’t show that your hurt, can’t show any pain. So for a guy to come into the locker room and he shows a little vulnerability, that’s a problem.

There are times when a man needs to suppress his pain, his fear and anxiety for a time in order to fight a battle, complete an essential task, or protect those he loves.  This is part of being a man…and definitely part of being a football player.  On Sundays in the Fall we want our NFL Gladiators to put aside their pain, their vulnerabilities and focus on doing whatever it takes to win the game.

Marshall is challenging the NFL to balance the violent macho culture that is necessary for game day battles, with the support these men need when they step back from the fray, and try and recover from the football wars.  Even the toughest warrior needs an outlet where he can share emotional pain, struggles in his personal life,  an abusive teammate, or when battling physical and emotional illness. Unless we create safe havens for men to recover, this can have disastrous effects on their personal lives, as we learned from Brandon’s Marshall’s struggles with BPD.  This untreated pain can be masked as anger (often hurting loved ones), or suppressed with addictions to drugs, promiscuity and pornography.

Despite the macho lies men are fed, facing difficult emotions or coming to terms with an emotional illness or addiction does not make a man a coward or a weakling.  Brandon Marshall has not been weakened by his recovery.  He has never been more productive and satisfied in his personal and professional life.

From Doug Farrar at Yahoo Sports:

 …Marshall is a different man with a different team…the seven-year vet and three-time Pro Bowler is the NFL’s most targeted receiver, is on pace for a 1,500-yard season, and has been happily reunited with Jay Cutler, his quarterback from 2006 through 2008 with the Denver Broncos. In a Wednesday interview, Marshall compared his relationship with Cutler to the football version of a (relatively functional) marriage, and said he’s never been happier.

Breaking the Isolation-Finding a Voice

As Co Founder of the largest outreach in the world to men and women suffering after abortion Rachel’s Vineyard, we have listened to the stories of thousands of men involved in abortion decisions.   Men are given a very clear message when their partner or wife is making an abortion decision; their feelings are to be strictly quarantined so she is free to make the right decision.  Even though he is a father of that unborn child, he has no voice.

Sadly, other men encourage or even coerce their partner to abort, even when she is ambivalent or against the decision to have an abortion.   But these men suffer as well when they come to a clearer understanding of their actions and the consequences.  Regardless of their role in an abortion decision, men often experience grief, anger, depression and anxiety after the procedure.  But they feel they have nowhere to turn with the pain.  Like Jonathan Martin struggling with his abuser Incognito, they have no idea that others feel like they do, or where to turn for help.

For Bears receiver Brandon Marshall, understanding his BPD, and getting the right help to treat his condition was life-saving:

With treatment and understanding of his condition, Marshall feels that he has a new lease on life. Now, he wants to help others with his condition get to that same happier place. When he went public with his diagnosis, Marshall said that he wanted to be the “face of BPD,” and he’s living up his word with a foundation that tries to facilitate treatment and understanding.  (Yahoo Sports)

Given the nature of his illness, this will be an ongoing process with the help of friends, teammates and professionals to keep his life on track.  Now he wants to reach out to help others.

This is the same trajectory you find in the abortion healing movement as groups like the Silent No More Awareness Campaign educate, raise awareness and provide a forum for women and men to share the truth of their abortion loss and recovery, and reach out to others so they can find healing.

Brandon Marshall points the way for the millions of men who have been involved in an abortion decision.  Just like bullying in NFL locker rooms, it is a difficult issue to confront, and sometimes people will try to silence your voice and shame you.  But Like Marshall, unless you understand the symptoms and nature of your condition and reach out for the help you need,  it will continue to cause problems in your life.

If you are a man who was involved in an abortion decision, don’t try to go it alone.

Like Marshall, if you can get past your fear and reach out for help, you will emerge a stronger and more productive man.

There are times when a man needs to fight, to ignore his pain and stand tall in the battles of this life.  Football players like Brandon Marshall do it every Sunday in the NFL.

But a wise man knows when to step back from the battle and with the help of others recover from his wounds.



We Need to Make Fatherhood a Man’s Choice…Even if it Kills Me!

November 4th, 2013


Anna March, a self described deep-seated feminist writing in Salon thinks it is time to Make Fatherhood a Man’s Choice.  This is puzzling given her personal history.

Anna shares:

My Mother was unable to obtain an illegal abortion, though she tried, in 1967 when she learned she was pregnant with me.  Instead, she attempted paternity fraud—passing me off to her boyfriend as his child though I was actually fathered by another man.  Her boyfriend, who became my putative father, married her and then clued in when I was born, totally healthy, three months “prematurely.”  He went along with it, though.

As the article progresses and despite her history she advocates that the “reproductive choice” of women should also extend to men confronted with an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy:

…if one believes that women shouldn’t be penalized for sexual activity by limiting options such as birth control, abortion, adoption, and safe haven laws (laws that provide a safe space for parents to give up babies), then men’s options shouldn’t be limited either…motherhood should be a voluntary condition…the construct that fatherhood after birth is mandatory needs to change.

The author shares some ideas how this could work and some feminist backlash against such proposals.  However given the worldview of pro abortion feminists, this is a reasonable and just application of “choice” to men who do not accept their fatherhood.

Yet…without the child support of her mother’s ex husband (who it turns out was not the biological father), the family would have been destitute:

  They divorced when I was six years old, but he paid child support until I was eighteen, $270 a month.  I’m a product of child support, and it was a necessary part of the financial picture for me and my Mom, who did not have a college education and often worked two jobs during my childhood.  

So this guy who is not the father, and learns of this fact, still pays support until Anna is 18!

With all the Screwtape Letter logic that pervades this article…we have a man who really understood his obligation to his family.  We don’t know the broader history of Anna’s step-father or the relationship of this young couple and I am not making him a saint.

But in an article where the author is proposing that men embrace the hyper-individualism of choice when deciding if they want to father their unborn children, her step-father actually emerges as a hero in this tale.  He could have walked away angry that his wife deceived him and refused to support little Anna.  But instead he faithfully supported the family and in so doing allowed Anna’s mom to work two jobs, balance a very tight budget and provide for her daughter.

But Anna March has been drinking a lot of pro choice feminist Kool-Aid.

March tells us that at the time of her mother’s unplanned pregnancy, the father of the child should have been given a grace period where he could opt out of parenting and child support.  The mother would then have the option of either aborting her, or making an adoption plan.

Yet this author, who was “allowed” to be born…would have been aborted if she was conceived after 1973!  And this is fine with Anna March.  Because abortion was illegal and not widely available…Anna is alive today.   But we need to keep abortion legal, and widely accessible she tells us.

What value does this author place on her own life, if it could have been so arbitrarily destroyed while she was developing in her mother’s womb?  But she is ok with this absurdity because she has to be consistent with her pro abortion feminism.

Sadly, the abortion rights movements, and the twisted values of the sexual revolution that support the whole abortion rights construct, have corrupted feminism.  But it has also corrupted the relationship between parents and children, men and women, fathers and mothers.

A healthy feminism advocates for support and resources for women facing unplanned pregnancies, and the  accountability of fathers to support their children.  But when you introduce abortion as a non negotiable tenet of feminism, you twist and corrupt the heart of the very relationships you seek to protect.  Anna March thinks it is perfectly acceptable that as a tiny female fetus her bigger and stronger mother and father had the right to end her life in the womb…even if it meant dismembering her little body limb by limb as you find in later term abortions.

Is there any greater proof that this is an ideology rooted in nihilistic despair?

There is a better way.    It does not romanticize or simplify the challenges that women face in times of crisis and uncertainty.  But neither does it exploit women and men and lead them to the illusion of God-like autonomy over life and death and a hyper individualism that comes with a very high price tag.

There was another individual conceived like Anna March in very complex and anxiety-filled circumstances.

He had this to say:

 Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me…  I am the way and the truth and the life. (John 14: 6)

May God deliver us all from the nihilism of this age…and lead us to embrace the joy-filled hope found in the salvation of Christ Jesus.








A Blessed Synergy: Rachel’s Vineyard + Forgiven and Set Free

October 30th, 2013


Two Time-Tested Programs Offer Unique Benefits to Those Suffering After Abortion Loss

 Synergy:   The interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.

For approaching 20 years Rachel’s Vineyard (RV) and Forgiven and Set Free (F&SF) have proven to be very effective programs for those suffering after abortion loss.  Rachel’s Vineyard, a ministry of Priests for Life features an intensive weekend program offered Friday evening to Sunday afternoon and is offered in a Catholic and Interdenominational version.   F&SF is an Interdenominational program presented in an 11 week bible study format.

Patricia Pulliam is involved in both abortion recovery programs as well as a Pregnancy Resource Center.  I asked Patricia to share her experience in ministry using both RV and F&SF, and how both models can provide a blessed synergy for those suffering after abortion:

Patricia share with us the many hats you wear in your pro life outreach?

I serve on the Board of Directors of the Pregnancy Resource Connection in Granby, Colorado and as director of their post abortion healing program, Forgiven and Set Free. I’m the pro-life coordinator in the Catholic mission parishes in Grand and Jackson Counties in Colorado. I also serve on the Rachel’s Vineyard Team in Denver Colorado…Colorado is a second home from my husband and me.  This gives me an excellent opportunity to see both programs as very valuable resources for those I come in contact with. I can refer women and men for healing, either through the Forgiven and Set Free Bible class at the Pregnancy Center or by attending a Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat in Denver or in some cases combining them both.  Our other residence is in South Texas where I serve as Regional Coordinator for the Texas Silent No More Awareness Campaign of the Coastal Bend.  

I have had the experience of networking with different denominations and churches.  I have come to see that while we can respect one another’s differences we also share a common love for Christ and the power of His Word, and that by working together we truly bless our ministry to those suffering after abortion.  

You are a busy lady!  Can you give us a brief overview of both programs?

When I received the facilitators manual for the F&SF study I carefully studied each of the weeks lessons and saw many similarities to the Rachel’s Vineyard retreat format.  

Both retreats begin the same. There is a similar registration process and interview. I prefer in person interviews if at all possible as this can be an important first step out of shame in the direction of healing.  But in some cases the registrations need to happen by phone.

F&SF takes three weeks of various scripture readings and other simple exercises to gradually have the participants remember the details. The first class is simply called Orientation and it is the same as the first night of RV when they all meet for the first time and actually see they are not alone in their struggle. There are lots of nervous smiles and distrust as well as a wondering why they are there.

The next two weeks are studying the scriptures about who God is and who He is not.   The questions they have to answer in their workbooks are shared each week. Each class is about 2 and a half hours long. The classes are small…we had 4 the first one including me. Getting into the Bible is an awesome experience and the verses author Linda Cochran picked are truly amazing. We all take turns reading them out loud. The homework requires at least one hour and is completed by the next session.

An obvious benefit to the weekly format…time is a luxury here. We have time to learn and share and very slowly you begin to see the changes in each woman.  

The following four weeks in F&SF begin to deal with specific feelings, relief and denial, anger, the need to forgive, and depression. These middle weeks are hard as they begin to peel away layers of pent up stuff. Once again we use scripture as the underpinning.  There is time to share without any time constraint.   

In  F&SF the abortion experience is quickly replaced by the truths in scripture and the truth of how valuable every person is.  Their individual abortion stories come out during the answering of the questions in their workbooks instead of the way RV allows each woman or man to tell their story on Saturday.

Time in class each week allows for “remembering” in a different way. Many times things that had been forgotten for years are suddenly brought to the surface, even additional abortions.  The final two weeks are titled Forgiven and Set Free and Grieving the loss.

Rachel’s Vineyard uses a weekend Friday to Sunday program – how does it accomplish these important healing stages in that format?

RV has to accomplish the same type of trust, commitment and unity in a very short time, which is does very successfully as well as participants go through the process together.  There is a benefit of having no interruptions with breaking for a week between sessions.

At an RV retreat the stories are told on Saturday morning.  RV uses “Living Scripture” meditations and very effective exercises to bring home the same result, an interior letting go of lies and judgment.  There is a benefit to the concentrated work in a weekend.  The exercises and activities engage all the senses with the music, props and concrete ways the process helps participants move through the grief and trauma to embrace their children in love and find peace in the Lord.  

Just as Rachel’s Vineyard allows them to meet their children the F&SF format also brings them to a place of identifying and naming their children. This is a time of deep grief, but there is so much compassion and unity in the group by now that it is truly a community effort to help each other up the hill so to speak.

The Memorial Service of F&SF is very similar to RV.  F&SF do not use dolls that represent their children as you find on the RV retreat. They invite family and their pastors to attend. Amazingly enough every pastor has attended and of course been overwhelmed at the service. They are given a lace angel that represents their children and they read a letter to their child or some kind of memorial.

The FSF study has just developed a class strictly for men. I have not seen it but was given a preliminary set of guidelines. I really like it.

You have come to see the programs as complementary even enhancing one another.  Could share about that and gives some examples?

I had told the F&SF class about my RV experience and all of them were interested but one woman knowing of the upcoming RV retreat and that I would be serving on team wanted to attend with her husband, which is a real blessing of the RV retreat which encourages couples, siblings and grandparents to attend. We had just finished week five on anger in the F&SF.  I wondered how this would work out but I prayed.

 I watched her during that retreat and we were able to share in the breaks how prepared she felt to go through RV. She had worked through some issues already and could now go into more depth in her “remembering.”  I did not tell her about the RV format as it compared to F&SF. When she and her husband got to the naming of the children, she had had two abortions but her husband was not the father, I wondered how she would react.

It was very difficult but very freeing. She finished the retreat with a deep sense of accomplishment and freedom. I told her that what she experienced during the RV retreat would also happen in the rest of our F&SF class and that she would not tell the rest of the class what was coming.

As we finished our F&SF classes she truly seemed much more aware off her deepest feelings and even allowed herself to feel even more than she did at the RV retreat.

She wrote a new letter to her children and read it at the F&SF Memorial Service. She said she felt so blessed to have been able to do both together. The second Memorial Service provided and even deeper experience for her after the natural intensity of that first service on the RV retreat.

She then stood up in front of her congregation one Sunday morning and gave her testimony about both RV and F&SF and two women came forward to take the next F&SF class. From that next class another woman went down to an RV retreat before starting our F&SF class.

How can RV and F&SF help with the necessary ongoing emotional and spiritual growth when the program ends and you “come down from the mountain?”

The other woman who did her RV first and then waited a few weeks before our F&SF class shared that many issues that were brought up at the RV retreat needed to be addressed further. The class allowed her to take the healings she received at the RV retreat and go deeper and for some issues to find true closure.

 RV teams and  F&SF (through the PRC or church it is based out of) can keep an open network of sharing when there retreats are happening and encourage the retreatants from both to keep an ongoing process of healing and recovery going. Each time I go and serve on a RV team or teach an F&SF class I receive additional healing and spiritual support.  I share this with anyone that will listen.

In our FSF classes I stress over and over that the process is just that and it will become more wonderful and cleansing as they go. They became excited about looking for ways to keep it going and still “come down the mountain” into everyday life.

In Denver I am in charge of the “aftercare gift bags” that are given out after the retreat on Sunday. They contain some unique brochures that I have found that deal with some common hurdles women and men have to face when they leave the retreat; such as how to talk about the retreat to family, children, friends, and spouses.  Included also is the location of some of the PRC that offer other abortion recovery programs.

Why is important for women and men active in pro life and especially service in Pregnancy Resource Centers to consider abortion healing programs if they have experienced abortion loss?

You cannot give what you don’t have. Unaddressed past abortion issues come out of nowhere when you are faced with a defiant and sometimes volatile client bent on abortion. You will either back away from her and not truly engage her because it causes you interior pain or you will jump in with both feet and possibly lose perspective and not be as effective as you can be… and over time burn out.

The type of healing you receive from these programs allows you to be not only a good listener but to truly understand the girl who comes in wanting answers about whether she should get an abortion.

The peace and closure you have received over the death of your own child(ren) will help you lead another on their journey of decisions and options open to her. And in the event she still chooses abortion you will be there to lead her to recovery.

Women and men who have gone through either or both of these programs offer a profound insight into the issues surrounding an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy. They are truly “Resurrection people” and it has been my experience that their sense of joy is very apparent and generously shared.

What was your personal journey that led you to Pregnancy Resource Connection and Abortion recovery ministry?

I made my Rachel’s Vineyard retreat in 2010 in Corpus Christi Texas. I later became part of the team. The following year I went to my first March for Life in Washington DC and marched with the Silent No More Awareness Campaign (SNMAC) and gave my testimony on the steps of the Supreme Court. I then became SNMAC Regional Coordinator (RC) for the Texas Coastal Bend area.

My task as RC is to contact the women and men who register their regret on the national website and contact them via phone or email and introduce myself and let them know they are not alone in their feelings. This conversation usually leads to a confession that they are in need of some kind of emotional support and spiritual healing. It is then my job to find what kind of post abortion healing resources are in their areas. At this point I knew of the Rachel’s Vineyard retreats and had only heard of the Forgiven and Set Free Bible Study by Linda Cochrane. Two of the Pregnancy Centers in the Corpus Christi area offered individual counseling and other lesser known post abortion healing programs. 

I went in person to each of these centers and told them my story and introduced Silent No More and Rachel’s Vineyard. Both centers really embraced the fact that there was an organized movement for post abortion healing. The brochures were then placed in their offices along with my card.

When we began to live more full time up in the mountains of Colorado I noticed that there was not any information on post abortion healing in any of the small mission parishes.

I also noticed a particular Pregnancy Center that sat directly next to a Planned Parenthood on Main Street. It is the Pregnancy Resource Connection in Granby Colorado.

It was eerie to say the least to walk up to the center’s door and just opposite was the door to a Planned Parenthood office. Planned Parenthood and I have HISTORY.  Literally there is a door for life and a door for death.  I felt an urgent sense of determination as I stood there. Was I to stand and pray at this site or was I supposed to continue trying to spread the word about the availability of healing after an abortion?

 I turned and walked through the doors of the Pregnancy Resource Connection.

It was like a match made in Heaven…literally I believe. Through a series of events where God opened doors I came to offer the F&SF at PRC and serve on the RV Team in Colorado.

 I hope and pray that others might consider how both these programs could provide a comprehensive outreach to the many women and men who have experienced abortion loss.  This can occur with one ministry offering both programs or like in our case by networking between different organizations or churches. 

The Spiritual Starvation of Contemporary Culture: Feeding the Hunger for Eternal Beauty

October 11th, 2013


This is such a rich post from Rod Dreher’s blog at American Conservative.

Part one is the article in First Things.  In Part two of the blog, Rod shares a reflection by Catholic Bishop James Conley. While a student at the University of Kansas, the Bishop came into the Catholic Church deeply influenced by teacher John Senior.  As Rod writes, “The Bishop reflects on how being introduced to beauty opened his mind and his soul, and transformed them both.”

After reading the blog and links I  reflected on my recent post on Pope Francis and how this relates to how others encounter Christ, how we evangelize in this dynamic, complex, at times corrupt and ever changing world we live in.   Bishop Conley’s reflection struck me as saying something very similar to what Pope Francis has been communicating concerning how we encounter those that are in desperate need of the compassion, love and truth of Christ and His Church:

My godfather loved beauty—not for its own sake, but for the sake of Jesus Christ, the creator and redeemer of beauty. Senior saw the beauty of this world in the light of eternity, and he helped others to acquire the same transcendent vision.

The Bishop reveals that in the contemporary culture which shapes our youth, you often cannot engage them with lofty theological concepts or doctrine before engaging them on a deeper personal level with the source of these religious truths:

Our lives had largely been shaped by the crass appeals of the mass media, and the passing fads of popular culture. There was a lack of truth in our lives, certainly; but there was also a profound lack of beauty. Our souls were starving for both, and we did not even know it. (my emphasis)…students had to encounter beauty, and have their hearts and imaginations captured first by beauty, before they could pursue truth and goodness in a serious and worthy manner. 

Perhaps this is what the Pope is saying on an interpersonal and pastoral level.  When we encounter the woman or man after abortion, the person struggling with same-sex-attraction, the traumatized veteran, our first encounter is not one where we dispense moral and theological truth…as indispensable as they will be for an ongoing conversion and recovery.

But it is essential that they experience in our eyes, in our words, in our spirit something of this Eternal Beauty.  It is really a challenge to open ourselves up in a more radical way to the beauty, power and truth of the God’s Word, the Sacraments, and through them to an intimate encounter with Christ.  It is in this ongoing transformation by the Way, the Truth and the Life (which by necessity will at times be painful,) that we can become the most effective instruments of the new evangelization.

When you encounter someone like John Senior in your life, there is something special that is beyond words that engages you.  Our gifts are different, so the Lord will transform you in a unique way, and you will evangelize this beauty and truth in your own time, place and station in life.

As the Bishop Conley writes, believers need the Church and it’s leaders to understand the primacy of preserving and in many cases restoring the beauty found in the Mass as an integral part of transforming each of us and in turn our culture:

To renew Catholic culture, and evangelize our contemporaries, we must restore beauty to the sacred liturgy. If we cannot restore beauty and holiness to our sanctuaries, we will not be able to restore it anywhere else.

Read the Bishops full reflection  and feast on this rich post at Rod Dreher’s blog (and others like it found there.)

(I will be blogging soon about St Maximillian Kolbe and how his love for the Immaculata transformed his entire being, and touched everyone he encountered.)


Don’t Believe the Media Hype Pro Lifers: Pope Francis Has Your Back!

October 10th, 2013


The interview with Pope Francis published in the Italian Jesuit Journal La Civiltà Cattolica caused a firestorm of reaction.  Media and entertainment outlets cranked up their spin machines to proclaim a fundamental shift in the Church’s emphasis concerning the hot button issues of contraception, abortion, and same sex marriage.  Some of the faithful, after battling for years in the pro-life/pro-family trenches felt confused and discouraged by some of the Pope’s quotes as highlighted in the media.

But the media has a very short attention span and quickly moved on to the next big story.  So now we can take a deep breath, and take a closer prayerful reading of this interview.  Perhaps you will find as I did that there is much that affirms the evolution of pro life ministry over the last 40yrs and the movement as a whole.

First let’s look at some key excerpts.

Ongoing Repentance and Conversion in Christ

Pope Francis reminds us that our ministry to build a culture of life and heal a culture of death, always begins with a deep awareness of our own spiritual poverty and the generous gift of salvation.

Pope Francis reflects on the painting of The Calling of St. Matthew, by Caravaggio:

 That finger of Jesus, pointing at Matthew. That’s me. I feel like him. Like Matthew.” Here the pope becomes determined, as if he had finally found the image he was looking for: “It is the gesture of Matthew that strikes me: he holds on to his money as if to say, ‘No, not me! No, this money is mine.’ Here, this is me, a sinner on whom the Lord has turned his gaze.

 The Lord understands well Matthew’s struggle to let go of his worldly concerns, while calling him to embrace a treasure that moth and rust cannot destroy (Matthew 6, 19-21.)   Worldly concerns are not always bad things, like Matthews attachment to money.  We can be tempted to see the necessary business of our apostolate as more important than sacraments, prayer, contemplation, and devotions such as daily rosary, Eucharistic adoration and study of God’s Word.

Ongoing repentance, conversion and communion with Christ are the foundations of our pro life vocation.

 Closer to the Heart

There is a strong emphasis from this Pope, in this interview and in other sources that sees the mission of the Church, not as an imposition of truth from above, but initially an intimate respectful encounter with each unique human person, especially those wounded by poverty, violence and neglect.

“I see clearly,” the pope continues, “that the thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity.”

 When asked about those who struggle with same-sex-attraction, the Pope did not contradict in any way the fundamental teaching of the Church when he expressed that our initial encounter with those who struggle with this burden and other complex human problems, is not the righteousness and truth of our cause, but an intimate relationship of mercy:

We must always consider the person. Here we enter into the mystery of the human being. In life, God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation. It is necessary to accompany them with mercy.

The Church as Field Hospital – Pro Life Good Samaritans

I see the church as a field hospital after battle.  “How are we treating the people of God? I dream of a church that is a mother and shepherdess. The church’s ministers must be merciful, take responsibility for the people and accompany them like the Good Samaritan, who washes, cleans and raises up his neighbor.

The pro-abortion forces and their allies like to portray pro lifers as mean spirited, narrow minded, and obsessed with saving the unborn at the expense of other victims of social injustice.  Sadly this prejudice has crept inside the Church at times in the unnecessary division between social justice and respect life ministries.

Pro Life and abortion healing ministries work daily with people ravaged by the consequences of sexual freedom and the promotion of “reproductive rights.”  Unplanned pregnancy, single parenthood, abortion while impacting all of us, have in a special way attacked the most vulnerable in our society, the poor and minorities.  (Six out of 10 African American children conceived in New York City are aborted.)

I have been involved as a social worker in pro life and abortion healing efforts in the Church now for 25 years.  I have travelled across the United States and around the world.  The overwhelming majority of pro life people I encounter are clearly Good Samaritans that the pope speaks of.  They embody in their outreach the personal humility and a merciful love for each person they serve…unborn and born.  They are moved by decency and justice, a love for the unborn, love for the mothers and fathers of those threatened with abortion and those who suffer after abortion.  I have had a similar experience in my relationships with those working in the arena of law or politics to try and end this evil.

Many of these pro-life good Samaritans can be found at the local Pregnancy Resource Centers where women in crisis find not judgment and condemnation, but love and practical assistance.   Leading the annual March for Life in Washington you will find women and men from the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, who intimately understand the cost of “reproductive choice.”  They carry signs that publicly acknowledge regret of their abortions, and later before the Supreme Court they share riveting stories of suffering and redemption from the Paschal mystery of their lives.    Where did they find the courage and strength for this very public witness?  It is the love, compassion and accompaniment of pro life people and after abortion healing programs where they found freedom from shame, and confidence to proclaim their truth in Christ.

When Pope Francis speaks of accompanying the poor, marginalized and so many that have lost their way in our modern world with love and mercy, he is affirming the pro life movement in the United States and around the world.

Who’s Really Obsessed Here?

This provides a good opportunity to turn our gaze to the one excerpt from this interview that has received the greatest attention and media spin:

“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the timeThe dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently.  

The obsession with the issues of abortion, same sex marriage and contraception are pervasive in media and entertainment promoting an agenda that is clearly at odds with Church teaching.   This obsession flows from a distorted understanding of the human person and like other well intentioned social movements, is capable of tremendous evil and destruction in the name of corrupted concepts of freedom, rights and personal liberty.

Perhaps the Pope is saying to us, we cannot let the secular agenda, which is truly “obsessed” with the issues of same sex marriage, abortion and contraception to dictate the Church’s overall message and compromise our primary mission to present the Gospel in all its beauty and splendor.  It is not necessary as the Pope said, to “talk about these issues all the time.”

This is no way contradicts the prophetic call of his predecessor, Blessed John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae.  It is very necessary, especially in a nation with over 50 million abortions since 1973 to proclaim the Gospel of Life to a culture of death.

Again the Pope offers an important caveat:

The proclamation of the saving love of God comes before moral and religious imperatives. 

Our pro life/pro-family efforts, the moral and religious imperatives, are rooted in the mystery of the incarnation of God in the womb of a humble virgin facing an unplanned pregnancy.  With God’s help, Mary was able reach beyond her natural anxiety and fear to embrace the call of the Father to become the Mother of His Son, who embraced our sin and death and transformed it into the power of resurrection.

With that said, the Pope’s use of the word imperative (moral and religious imperatives) is instructive concerning the urgency of our cause:

Imperativesomething that demands attention or action; an unavoidable obligation or requirement; necessity

 The primacy of the Gospel proclamation in no way diminishes the urgency of our cause.  In fact, as Evangelium Vitae reveals, they are intimately connected.

 Pope Francis in this interview is reminding us that our work for social justice flows not from a myopic focus or obsession on the particular evil we fight at the expense of a loving encounter with those we serve.  Our marching orders are not from any political party or ideology.   We proclaim the Good News of the salvation of God, and his saving love for each person, no matter what their history, sin struggles and wounds.    This foundation will bring us to an encounter with individuals that respects the unique dignity of each person, and is willing to accompany them in their sorrows and struggle.

Pope Francis is very clear in other preaching and speaking concerning the evil of abortion and the need for healing for all who have participated in the death of the unborn.   You can read an excellent presentation on this important topic by Fr Frank Pavone in the National Catholic Register.  Fr Frank touches on the special affirmation by the Pope on the ministry of healing for those that have experienced abortion loss:

The Pope is not criticizing the Church’s focus on abortion. He is actually protecting it. He is protecting it from being seen just as a “rule” or a “directive,” detached from the fundamental teachings of the faith that make us Christian in the first place and detached from the compassion and mercy that Christ extends to those who have had abortions.

Regarding that latter point, the Pope made a special point to encourage me in my work as pastoral director of Rachel’s Vineyard Ministries throughout the world. The Pope, who came to know of the ministry in Argentina, said to me, “Rachel’s Vineyard is very good; it is an excellent work! Go forward with that!”

The reason he is particularly affirmative of Rachel’s Vineyard, and of the Church’s overall work of healing after abortion, comes out in the recent interview that made headlines. He made it clear that, in dealing with abortion, we have to extend mercy to those who have committed this sin. We who reject abortion do not reject those who have had abortions. Rather, we embrace them with forgiveness and peace.

Healing the Troops in the Trenches

Finally, in our reflection on the Pope’s interview we have focused much on the wounds of those we serve in our pro life and abortion healing outreach.  But it is important to remember that the leaders and troops serving on the front lines are intimately connected by virtue of their ministry, to the death of the innocent unborn…and over time this can take its toll.

Think of those praying at abortion centers, reaching out in love to the mothers and father…yet many still choose death.   Consider the ultrasound technician who reveals an image to a mother of her unborn child in all its wonder and beauty…yet the mother still chooses abortion.  Think of the scars and wounds of those that battle in secular politics and in the legal arena to defend the unborn and those injured by abortion and face continual attacks from pro abortion forces.  We know that many who have experienced abortion loss and come to regret that decision, become involved in Pregnancy Resource Center outreach to help other mothers avoid that tragic decision.  Pro life leaders and those serving in this ministry also need healing and restoration in Christ.

That is why we can receive the Pope’s words with consolation and as a gentle reminder…not as the media would present as a scolding to back off from our efforts.

Many pro life veterans are well aware of the need to step back from the battle so we are not consumed or obsessed by the very evil we are fighting.  One who is obsessed is not filled with peace and joy…and cannot share the compassion, mercy and love of Christ with one who is wounded and in crisis.  Perhaps there is more we can do as a movement to minister to the leaders and troops on the front lines and provide opportunities for healing, restoration and refreshment so we emerge renewed.

Don’t believe the media hype pro lifers.  The Pope’s message in this interview and elsewhere is clearly one of affirmation and support with some always welcome spiritual direction.  The primacy of our cause remains as an imperative flowing from the Annunciation and incarnation of Christ our savior in the womb of our Blessed Mother Mary.

The Pope and the Church have your back.











Avanti! Pope Francis Enthusiastic Support of Rachel’s Vineyard and Healing After Abortion

October 3rd, 2013


Fr Frank Pavone, Pastoral Director of Rachel’s Vineyard Ministries, shares the following enthusiastic support of the world’s largest outreach to those suffering after abortion loss:

You have probably heard this by now, but I wanted to encourage you once again by passing along to you the personal encouragement of Pope Francis for Rachel’s Vineyard. On the first of  September, I was in a private audience with him, and had the chance to give him the greetings of our entire Priests for Life family, including Rachel’s Vineyard Ministries around the world.

Here is what he said to me, in a very animated voice: “Rachel’s Vineyard is very good; it is an excellent work!         Go forward with that!”

He was aware of Rachel’s Vineyard from Argentina, where the dedicated work of our RV team there caught the attention of the local bishops, who then made the other bishops aware of it.

Friends, the word the Pope used in speaking to me is the Italian word “Avanti!” It is a word of vigor, courage, and determined, forward-looking progress. May we all encourage one another in that spirit, and let’s pass along to everyone who knows  about Rachel’s Vineyard the encouraging words of the Pope.

Fr Frank Pavone 

Pastoral Director – Rachel’s Vineyard Ministries

National Director – Priests For Life