The Vicarious Trauma of Pro-Life Advocates on the Front Lines

October 31st, 2019
Four Children rescued from smoky fire

While a single traumatic event may trigger debilitating symptoms, the Trauma Center of the Justice Resource Institute indicates that the longer the exposure to such events, the higher likelihood responders will suffer symptoms of post-traumatic stress. 

We know that without education and supportive services they can struggle to reach out for help.  Women and men can experience a sense of shame when they feel overwhelmed by the pain and loss that are part of their vocations.  They may fear the judgment and condemnation of their colleagues if they share their vulnerability and struggles.   Thankfully, this is beginning to change.

There is another Population of First Responders with a special vocation to protect innocent children at risk for a violent death, and advocate for the protection of their young lives.    Sadly, this group of women and men usually not hailed as heroes, and are often marginalized, cursed, and ridiculed.  They are ignored or maligned by the media, society and sadly sometimes even by their own faith communities. 

Despite the ongoing contentious debate in our society about abortion, pro-life advocates are quite clear about the foundation of their prolife mission; the male or female baby in a mother’s womb is a unique person with an inherent right to life.

There is no distinction for the pro-life advocate between a 12-week-old child dying behind the walls of an abortion business and a 3-year-old child in danger of dying in a house fire.  They would see both lives as worthy of a communities care and protection.

With this in mind, consider the experiences of pro-life advocates on the front lines:

Donna Gardner is a therapist and ministry coordinator with Catholic Charities, Office of Respect Life, Diocese of Palm Beach, FL. She offers training and counseling to their Pregnancy Care Center staff. Donna shared about the burden of the pregnancy care counselors that work with abortion minded clients:

  • “I worked with one counselor who developed an ongoing relationship with a pregnant mother.  They were working together to develop the resources and support so she could parent the child.  The counselor naturally developed a close working relationship with this mother and child.  The mother abruptly stopped coming to appointments.  She later learned the mother aborted her 5 month old girl or boy.  She was emotionally devastated by this loss.” [1]
  • June Matson has been the director of Pregnancy Resource Connection in Granby Colorado for the past 25 years.   Their center has an ultrasound machine. June shared that recently one of her client advisors was able to be present for the first time to witness an ultrasound with a couple coming to their center for support and resources for their baby. Seeing the child and hearing the heartbeat left the volunteer feeling blessed and elated to be part of such a wonderful ministry that provides life-affirming choices for parents.  Shortly after that peak experience, this same client advisor was assisting another client who chose to abort. She was devastated. June shared that the power of that peak ministry experience in the ultrasound room led to a heightened sensitivity of the volunteer when confronted soon after with the tragic reality that not all choose life for their unborn children. 
  • June shared another important observation that spoke to the power of the ultrasound experience for a Pregnancy Resource Center. When a client comes in for an ultrasound, all the volunteers present at that time are spiritually and emotionally connected to the clients in the procedure room. Even those women that are folding baby clothes and not in the front line ministry work with clients, are praying intensely for the mother and baby as they go about their tasks.  While they rejoice in their many opportunities to help these parents choose life, when a client later visits the Planned Parenthood next door for a referral to Denver for an abortion, it naturally impacts all those staff and volunteers who provide the Pregnancy Resource Connection services.
  • A Front Line Pro-Life Advocate praying in front of an abortion business approaches a woman with love.   She tries to engage her in a life affirming decision for her unborn baby. The mother goes into the abortion center and comes out with an empty womb. The pro-lifer who has encountered this mother and child is naturally intimately connected to and wounded by this abortion loss.   
  • Women and men pray before abortion centers in all kinds of weather interceding for the conversion of the employees, for the parents and their babies. At times they are cursed at, spit upon, mocked and abused by pro-abortion activists and sometimes an angry parent, grandparent or friend of the pregnant mother.

Institutional Spiritual Neglect

Prolife advocates may suffer from the Institutional Spiritual Neglect of their religious leaders and churches.   They stand for years on the front lines of the abortion battles, praying, and counseling, educating, and legislating to try and save unborn lives and protect their parents from abortion complications.  Their spiritual leaders may fail to support and affirm their witness. They sit every Sunday in their church awaiting a word of encouragement and an acknowledgment of their efforts, and usually hear silence.

They rarely see a minister, priest or Bishop stand alongside of them to pray at the abortion center, advocate for the children and grieve with them. (Thankfully this is not always the case, as there are ministers, clergy and bishops who do stand with pro-lifers, but this remains a very small number.)  These spiritual children can feel ostracized, marginalized and unappreciated by their spiritual fathers. 

Disenfranchised Grief

Donna Gardner shares an experience that can help us better understand the disenfranchised grief of pro-life advocates[2]:

“I recently spoke with an older group of pro-life veterans who spent years in prolife ministry and advocacy.  I asked them to close their eyes and bring to mind one particular situation; think of that one baby lost to abortion that especially touched you deeply.  They all began to tear up and express the grief that has been hidden in their hearts for many years.”

As previously noted, the effects of trauma can be cumulative.  After repeated exposure to situations where a pro-life advocate is unable to save an unborn child, while continuing to face the hostility or indifference of the wider community, they can reach a tipping point.   The repressed grief and pain emerge in symptoms that can impact life and relationships.  Keep in mind a single event where one is unable to prevent a tragic death can also lead to some of these feelings and symptoms:

– Anxiety, depression, trouble sleeping, irritability and anger.

– Withdrawing and isolating from others.

– Some may experience a sense of confusion, distance and darkness in their spiritual life and relationship with God.

– Nightmares, flashbacks, or other intrusive thoughts and memories of the event.

– Using substances to avoid feelings, feeling numb, spacing out, or feeling as if things are unreal.[3]

Hope and Healing – The Value of Abortion Recovery Programs for Pro-Life Advocates

The good news for pro-life advocates is that we already have in place some very effective programs to respond to this suffering.  Some pregnancy centers and pro- life groups already provide the support and counseling to care for their volunteers and employees.

But there is another very effective resource that can benefit pro-life advocates.  These programs were developed over a number of years to treat the symptoms of trauma and complicated mourning suffered by women and men after participating in the death of their unborn children.  Rachel’s Vineyard and other abortion recovery programs such as Save-One and Forgiven and Set Free utilize special exercises and scripture mediations to create a safe and effective experience of emotional and spiritual healing.

Donna Gardner had the opportunity to offer training to all the Palm Beach Diocese Pregnancy Care Staff.  She shared the challenges of ministry to those facing unplanned pregnancy and abortion minded clients and provided education on trauma symptoms and recovery.  Donna also shared about her leadership in the Rachel’s Vineyard abortion healing weekends in the diocese.  As a result of this outreach, two pregnancy care counselors ask to attend a Rachel’s Vineyard Weekend.

Donna shared that the two pregnancy care staff members who attended their retreat had a very positive and blessed experience.  The other retreat participants, who personally suffered abortion loss, were welcoming of the pregnancy counselors.  One of the participants was an ultra sound technician.  She carried a deep burden of grief for those children who die in abortion procedures and their parents.  Donna shared that the ultra sound tech was renewed and restored by her Rachel’s Vineyard weekend.  The other participant is a counselor with Spanish speaking clients and also had a very positive healing experience on the retreat.

The Value of Grief Work – The Renewal and Empowerment of the Pro Life Vocation

There is room now in the heart and soul for the Lord to touch you deeply with His love and mercy.  In that vulnerable grieving state, becoming spiritually like little children as Jesus taught, you intimately experience your heavenly Father’s tender love for you as his precious son or daughter.

For those pro-life advocates and the staff of Pregnancy Resource Centers who experience symptoms of vicarious trauma from their ministry, abortion recovery programs will bring significant support and relief for their suffering.  But there is a broader vision of the value of this type of grief work for the pro-life movement.  If we can create that that sacred time and space to acknowledge abortion related grief and express that pain, the fruits of that journey can renew and empower the pro-life movement.

There is a healthy and beneficial vulnerability that naturally occurs in Rachel’s Vineyard and other recovery programs.  These programs have the experienced staff and volunteers that create the atmosphere and activities, grounded in the Word of God, to facilitate the grieving process for abortion loss.  As you progress through the program and participate in the activities, the heart and soul open up to grace.  God’s grace is able to flow freely and can begin to cleanse the heart of any anger, bitterness, despair, anxiety, and depression that grew from not having the opportunity to acknowledge and share that pain with others.

An important bonus blessing for those pro-life advocates that make this journey of grief; they emerge with an even deeper love for the unborn, their parents and all touched by abortion loss.  It renews their pro-life vocation and empowers them with new vigor and commitment grounded in the love and mercy of God.  They discover a new spiritual energy and gifts for their vocations.

Next Steps

Post-abortion ministries, Pregnancy Resource Centers, and prolife groups may want to consider offering these healing opportunities with special retreats or groups just for pro-life advocates.

It can be difficult to get people to commit to an entire weekend or an ongoing group program; perhaps a day of spiritual retreat would be a good first step:

  •  Ask a counselor, minister or clergy person to lead a day of prayer and healing.
  • (With permission of the authors) adapt some helpful exercises and activities from post-abortion recovery programs.
    This will create an opportunity for pro-life advocates to share their grief and entrust these children that have touched their hearts to the Lord.

Another very effective option to consider:

Journaling:  Many find journaling a helpful first-step in processing some difficult memories and feelings:

  • Take some quiet time in prayer, perhaps in an adoration or community chapel.  Ask the Holy Spirit to bring to light a particular situation or ministry event that is weighing on your heart and soul.
  • Write down your memories and feelings about that event.  In your journal or in silent prayer, invite the Lord into that area of grief and loss.  Write out a prayer from your heart for that baby and the child’s parents and family.  This may involve a number of ministry situations.
  • Consider sharing what you wrote with a trusted ministry friend or colleague.   Reading a journal entry out loud can have a surprisingly powerful effect.  If you have a good relationship with your priest or minister request a meeting to share your journal entry and ask them pray to with you.

If you are experiencing anxiety, depression, sleep disturbance, self-medicating with alcohol or other self-destructive behaviors related to traumatic loss, ask your church or pro-life ministry director for a referral to a counselor.  It is important that the counselor respect and support your pro-life vocation.  A caring professional can help you work through your pain and find healing.

[1] Thankfully she reached out to Donna for help and she was able to work through her losses and find emotional and spiritual healing.

[2] Disenfranchised grief is a term describing grief that is not acknowledged by society.

[3] Regan, Laura. When Helping Hurts: Trauma’s Effects on First Responders. Good Therapy.Org, February 12th 2015.

Medjugorje Visionary Mirjana Soldo Shares of Her Families Persecution under Communism, Sheds Some Light on the “10 Secrets,” and offers Words of Comfort from the Blessed Mother for Parents of Aborted Children

June 22nd, 2019

In June 1981, 16 year old Mirjana Soldo was living with her family in Sarajevo in the former communist nation of Yugoslavia.   After school let out, she took a train alone to the tiny village of Medjugorje to work with her uncle and cousins on their tobacco farm for the summer. 

On June 24th, feast day of St John the Baptist, Mirjana strolled with her friend Invanka in the late afternoon after she finished her daily work in her Uncle’s tobacco fields.   They saw a mysterious apparition of a woman with a baby in her arms on nearby Podbrdo Hill.  

 Soon they learned the woman’s identity – she was the Virgin Mary, the Blessed Mother of Jesus.  Mirjana and five other children would experience apparitions of “Our Lady, Queen of Peace” each day, first on the Podbrdo Hill, and later at the nearby parish of St James rectory.

Mirjana shares of her initial encounters with the Blessed Virgin Mary:

“My heart whirled with fear and wonder…my heart was in such turmoil that I could hardly identify one emotion before another took over.” [1]

Fear and wonder were natural reactions to such a supernatural encounter.  The children and their families were also well aware that they were entering dangerous and complicated waters in communist controlled Yugoslavia.

In her autobiography My Heart Will Triumph Mirjana shares about her family life in the city of Sarajevo.  The account reveals she grew up in a stable and loving family and matured into a happy and well-adjusted young woman.   Mirjana was not prone to unusual religious fervor, or exaggerated emotional displays.

Yet after the events of June 24th 1981, the young woman’s life was turned upside down.

Life Under Communism

The citizens of Yugoslavia, as they went about their day to day lives, were well aware of the power of the communist government to harass, hurt and even murder those they felt threatened the regime.

Mirjana shares:

In communist Yugoslavia, religious books were practically contraband, so our knowledge of miracles was limited to the measured homilies of our priests who were always aware that government spies lurked in the pews. Anything misconstrued as an attack on the regime, the priests knew, could send them to prison—or worse.   [2]

On June 29th 1981 as word spread of the heavenly visitations, the children were summoned to the Citluk police station for interrogation. An officer inquiring about the youngest visionary Jakov, who was not with the other children, asked Mirjana:

Where’s that little shit?”

Jakov is only 10 years old,” I said.  “Leave him alone…”

You lying bitch,” growled the policeman. 

The interrogation went on like that for hours.  Failing to get the children to recount their experiences, the officers stuffed them in the back of an ambulance for a rough and painful ride to Mostar hospital.

When they arrived the officer sneered, “Get used to this place…it might be your new home when the doctors declare you insane.”  The police locked them in a dark, windowless room.  Mirjana shared that the air was cold, damp and foul:

I thought someone was sleeping on the table, but as my vision adjusted I realized the person was dead. Scanning the room, I saw more bodies.

They were in the hospital morgue.

Next they were examined and questioned by a cold and threatening physician:

You know,” he said, “we have a special place for the insane.”[3]

This physician then locked the children in a ward with severely mentally ill patients.  The children huddled together, fearing they would never be released.

It is important to keep in mind the methods of Eastern European communists to control their populations.  All manner of diabolical physical and psychological torture, personality destruction and abuse were used to control and punish those that were seen as threatening the power of the state to form the new communist man and society.

Turning Up the Heat

Thankfully the children were later released.  However as news spread across Medjugorje and beyond about the apparitions, the government went on the offensive. The visionaries’ relatives were threatened with imprisonment and the children with confinement in mental institutions if they continued to “perpetuate this religious hoax.”

The government declared a state of emergency in Medjugorje and the military entered the village with soldiers and attack dogs. Federal police took over the investigation of the apparitions and the interrogations of the visionaries became lengthier and more intense.

The following exchange with a federal officer is telling. It reveals the spiritual peace as well as the character and tenacity of young Mirjana.

The communist official pulled his handgun off its holster and laid it on the table between him and Mirjana:

Confess,” he said… “Come clean,” he said glancing at the gun.  “You didn’t see anything.”… “Now give me the truth.”

Mirjana looked at him straight in the eyes:

The truth is that I see Our Lady, and I’m willing to die for her.” [4]

If the visionaries were adults, they would have found themselves locked away in some dark prison cell and likely tortured and killed. The fact they were children was a saving grace.  The government, as corrupt as they were, did not want to be seen as imprisoning children.  This did not prevent government agents from terrorizing the children and their families.

You can read more in My Heart Will Triumph about the ongoing harassment and oppression of Mirjana and her family, priests of the village and others by the communist authorities in the early days of the apparitions.  Mirjana and her family as well as some of the clergy of that village paid a high price for being faithful to the mission entrusted to them by the Blessed Mother.

The Fruit of Forgiveness

One of the many beautiful fruits of the spiritual events in Medugorje is the cultivation of reconciliation and forgiveness.

Mirjana shares many years later:

“A few years ago a man came to my door. He looked vaguely familiar, but I did not recognize him at first.  He seemed reluctant to speak and he avoided eye contact.”

Can I help you” I said.

“Please forgive me.”

“For what?”

“I’m one of the policemen who interrogated you back in 1981. I’m really sorry for what we put you through.” [5]

The policeman shared with Mirjana a tape of one of their interrogation sessions and he played a portion of the recordings as they both sat and listened.

Mirjana shared how this encounter led her to recall the events and feelings of those early days of the apparitions. She was struck by the voice of that previously timid teenage girl on the tape who spoke with such confidence and with no fear to her interrogator; truly a gift of faith.

What about the Ten Secrets?

Mirjana does touch on the ten secrets entrusted to the visionaries by our Blessed Mother. These are all future events that will unfold in Medugorje and the world.  Mirjana is careful to present the secrets without sensationalism.

While some secrets involve difficult and painful events in the future, (some which can be mitigated by prayer,) ultimately they are properly seen in the context of the overall mission of our Blessed mother.

 The secrets are a message of hope in the coming victory of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary over Satan and his agenda.  Mirjana mentions in her autobiography that the events in Medugorje are a fulfillment of the apparitions of Fatima Portugal in 1916.

Mirjana is now married and lives in Medjugorje with her husband Marko Soldo and their two daughters. Despite her very intimate experience of the Blessed Mother, and knowledge of the ten secrets entrusted to the visionaries, she leads a normal marriage and family life.  

The book reveals that despite her very unusual vocation, she has the same responsibilities, joys and sorrows that we all encounter each day.   Mirjana reveals the miracles, but also the traumatic suffering and loss of family and friends during the periods of war and violence that spread across the nation in the 1990’s. 

Mirjana’s vivid descriptions of the visual and emotional experience of being in the presence of Mary are both fascinating and moving, and alone worth a read of “My Heart Will Triumph.” 

Our Lady’s Words about Children Lost to Abortion

Along with my wife Theresa, I am co-founder of Rachel’s Vineyard Ministries for men and women who long for emotional and spiritual healing after abortion.

Women and men can despair when they come to face their role in the destruction of their unborn children, struggle to accept God’s forgiveness, and find peace and closure.  

One of the more moving parts of the Rachel’s Vineyard weekend program, involve the meditations and exercises that lead participants safely through their memories and painful feelings, so their hearts are open to encounter the spiritual reality that their children are alive in the Lord.  This is so important to recovery from this loss.

As St John Paul II declared in Evangelium Vitae, “To the same Father and to his mercy you can with sure hope entrust your child.”

This was reinforced for me when I read this passage from Mirjana’s book where she asks the blessed mother what happened to the souls of abortion children after their death. The blessed Mother’s responded:

They are with me in Heaven.” (Pg. 108)

If you are reading this, and have participated in any way in the death of an unborn child, or have been hurt from that experience, please consider an abortion healing program. 

Programs like Rachel’s Vineyard welcome women, men, grandparents, family members, siblings and friends directly impacted by abortion.  You can find confidential email and phone contacts of healing resources in your area here.    

Carriers of Peace

I close with a message of our Lady Queen of Peace from November 25th, 2015:

Dear children… be carriers of peace and hope in this restless world where Satan is attacking and tempting in every way. Little children, be firm in prayer and courageous in faith. I am with you and intercede before my Son Jesus for all of you…”

[1] My Heart Will Triumph.  Mirjana Soldo.  Page 15

[2] Ibid page 16

[3] Ibid page 59-60

[4] Ibid pages 80-81

[5] Ibid pages 87-88 74007200790000

A Father Shares His Story of Childhood Suffering, Trauma After Abortion, and the Path to Recovery

June 12th, 2019

This is an excellent video presentation, beautifully produced. Charles shares his moving, painful but in the end redemptive story. [Charles segment begins at about the 2:00 minute mark of the video.]

Dancing With Denial: Abortion Rights Advocates Want You To Share Your Abortion Story

May 30th, 2019

The following interview is fascinating and revealing on a number of levels.  The format of this exchange is unique; a woman who had an abortion interviews her partner, the father of the aborted baby.

 [Whatever your perspective on abortion, before going any further, read the exchange between this couple who remain together after the procedure.]

Now that you have read Natalie and Rob’s dialogue, let’s dig deeper into their story. 

Natalie shared:

I found out I was five weeks pregnant eight weeks into our relationship. When I told Rob, he told me he loved me. But he didn’t want to have a child, and terminating the pregnancy was a clear decision for him. It wasn’t clear for me, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel disappointed

Based on listening to the stories of thousands of women and men after abortion recovery, if Natalie’s heart was given the opportunity to more honestly share, she would say something like this;

“Rob loves me, but with limits.  He could not accept the gift, the fruit of our love, our developing child.  I am disappointed and heart-broken that I had to sacrifice our son or daughter because he was clearly not interested in supporting me in this pregnancy.  I sacrificed my child for him and for our relationship.” 

Denial as Empowerment

To preserve the relationship, to place a protective wall around the deeper emotional and spiritual wounds that are a natural part of “terminating” a pregnancy, the couple must look at the timing, practical reasons why abortion was the only sensible solution.  

Next Natalie shares why telling your story in the context of this denial is so important to the pro abortion movement – because your grief and loss are transformed into…empowerment

Natalie: I feel empowered and outspoken about abortion as an issue; experiencing it instilled an urgency in me. Rob has slowly started speaking about it, too. Most days I’m proud of us and hopeful for our future.

Natalie and Rob can bypass any feelings of grief, loss, and a natural sense of shame that arise from participating in the death of one’s unborn son or daughter, and channel that powerful emotional energy into promoting abortion rights.    

They mention the Georgia pro-life legislation and how this is such a threat to “abortion rights.” But the real threat is how such legislation crashes against the walls of their denial.

 If abortion was not an option for the couple, or they were delayed in access to the procedure because of abortion restrictions, they would likely have a living son or daughter blessing their lives.   

Despite this denial, it does not prevent the couple from going deeper, and getting closer to the truth, as you can see in this exchange:

Rob:   When I told you I was pregnant…I jumped to that solution without knowing fully that’s what I wanted. Part of me wishes I didn’t so we could have had a more open conversation. Was it always the decision in your mind?

Natalie: … Maybe more time would have changed that, but it was still early in our relationship and that was difficult to think about.

Rob: I feel like the decision wasn’t fully made until you walked inside the doors, and even then it wasn’t fully clear, it could have gone either way. But I don’t remember having second thoughts. But that might have changed if we waited a couple of weeks.

Natalie: Would you have been disappointed if I walked out and hadn’t gone through with it?
Rob: …Yeah. But we would have had more time to talk about it.

Natalie: Do you think we should have taken more time?
Rob: Yeah, maybe.

This exchange reveals how this couple must dance around their deeper feelings and regret so as to protect one another’s feelings.  Yet even as they shield each other from facing the full horror of acknowledging that they sacrificed the life of their baby, they are able to express that regret in the context of time.

If they had more time, they would have likely decided against abortion.  Natalie would be holding her little boy or girl in her arms, kissing and loving the child.  Rob, despite his initial tragic response to his partner’s pregnancy, comes across as a decent and caring young man.  He likely would have risen above his anxiety and embraced fatherhood with love and joy in his first child. 

Something I need to Talk About

What has happened that led Rob to share publicly about something that is usually kept a closely guarded secret?

Rob: I think just time passing, being able to look back, coming to terms with it. Given what’s happening right now it feels like it is something I need to talk about, especially with other men.

The reason Rob needs to talk about it and seek out others who understand this loss, is because he suffered an emotionally traumatic event.  He directly participated in the death of his unborn son or daughter.  It is natural that he needs to talk about it.  This is an important part of the recovery from such a loss.

But sadly, he is telling his story within the restrictions and boundaries that are necessary to promote abortion rights.  This will provide some relief of the painful feelings associated with that event, and let off a bit of steam. 

Yet, Rob shares, “I think about it every day.” 

Why does he think about “it” every day? 

Because, “it”, must be given a name.

 There is a tiny voice crying out to a father’s heart; a child that still lives in the Lord and desires their father and mother to find reconciliation and healing of this loss.  A son or daughter that hungers to be acknowledged, grieved and reconciled in love with their parents.    

Rob and Natalie have honestly shared their abortion story, yet within the confines of pro-abortion ideology.  Yet there is likely more to this story than they can share at this time.

 Has their emotional and sexual intimacy changed since that abortion event? Abortion loss takes place in the context of their shared love, and mutual giving of their bodies, hearts and souls in their sexual relationship.  It would be natural that feelings about this loss, about the child they rejected, would come to the surface at times of such intimacy.

Over time, they may find themselves working too much, drinking too much, and perhaps viewing pornography.  Anger may become an outlet for the deeper grief they share.

 Should they have a child, Natalie will find her abortion loss will once again surface.  She may experience anxiety during her pregnancy and possible post-partum depression.  Like other women after abortion, she may become a helicopter parent; an over-involved and anxious mother.

As the couple grow apart over time, they may be tempted in the future to look outside the relationship for intimacy, to be with someone that does not share this loss. 

But there is another way.

If Rob and Natalie ever read this article, this is my personal appeal to them or any couple that shares this loss:

“Rob and Natalie, I am so sorry for the loss of your son or daughter to abortion.  I know you tried your best to face this loss, and to find ways to help support one another through this difficult time.  You are both clearly decent people who would have been, and hopefully will be great parents. 

But I must encourage you to go deeper in your healing of the loss of your son or daughter.  This is a spiritual as well as an emotional wound.  You will see this more clearly when you attend an abortion recovery program together.

 Programs like Rachel’s Vineyard, of which I am a co-founder, allow you to explore this loss as a couple and open your heart and soul to a powerful experience of God’s forgiveness, healing and a peace that this world will never give you. 

Supporting abortion rights will offer you some sense of acceptance of your abortion, and an outlet for your pain.  But in the end it will keep you imprisoned by denial, and in time this denial will damage, and possibly destroy your relationship.

Most couples emerge from the healing experience blessed in so many ways, renewed and strengthened in their relationship, and as future parents. 

God bless you both. 

Kevin Burke, LSW

The Impact of Abortion on Military Personnel and Their Families

May 23rd, 2019
Jody Duffy, RN

Jody Duffy, RN is a former Army officer, military spouse of 35 years and the wife of a Major General.   In the following excerpt from my book Tears of the Fisherman Jody shares some important insights from her extensive personal and professional experience helping women and men recovering from abortion loss:

How widespread is the experience of unplanned pregnancy and abortion in the military?

The military has a higher pregnancy rate than any other any group in the U.S. Because abortions are procured at local clinics, there is no means to track abortion rates among those pregnant military members.   According to a few military doctors and OB nurses I have spoken to, a large number of female soldiers and dependents go to a military medical facility to validate the pregnancy and never come back. They procure an abortion at a local abortion facility.

How does abortion impact our military personnel?

Jody:   The pain and grief of abortion only adds more stress and conflict to their lives.  Whether it is the female soldier not wanting to sacrifice her military career or feeling pressured to fulfill her duty, or the male soldier feeling fatherhood may stand in the way of his mission, sacrificing our unborn children to abortion is an unfortunate and frequent reality of military life.  Abortion decisions often involve varying degrees of pressure and conflict.  This predisposes them to have more intense post abortion reactions and even trauma.

 Left untreated, how does this post abortion problem manifest in a soldier’s marriage and family life? 

Abortion provokes a major crisis in the lives of a married couple which is frequently followed by the instability of that relationship. Frequently, one or both of the couple have been involved in an abortion before they met their spouse. Many carry this baggage into the marriage causing even further problems in the relationship.

The family is the cornerstone of the church, our nation, and civilization.  Whether National Guard, Reserves, or active duty, our military families are the strength of our soldiers. When unresolved abortion grief leads to strife in our military families, it affects the strength of our soldiers, the strength of our military, and ultimately the strength of our nation.

Why is this important concern for our military and civilian political leaders?

 Jody:  Our military leaders should be very concerned about the effects abortion has on their soldiers.  It is tragic that soldiers may choose abortion to try and protect their mission. 

Soldiers who bring unresolved abortion grief and even trauma into their mission, are not able to function in the same way they did before the abortion, therefore compromising their capacity to serve safely and effectively.  Unresolved abortion grief can affect a soldier’s morale, performance and effectiveness which in turn may affect the unit’s cohesiveness and mission.

Is there an abortion connection to the high suicide rate among veterans?

Jody:   Eventually, soldiers become Veterans. This unresolved abortion grief follows them into their civilian lives. Suicide rates among young veterans are rising at an alarming rate. Unresolved abortion grief can be a factor in these suicides.

Abortion recovery programs such as Rachel’s Vineyard provide women and men an experience of a safe and very effective grieving process and emotional and spiritual support that are so essential for recovery.  It’s a foundation they can build on as they make the transition to post military life.

It is our duty to reach out and help serve those who have served our nation. Fortunately I have had very positive results at Veterans conferences and on Veterans Facebook groups to which I belong.  But we need to do more to get the word out and connect both our active military and our veterans with resources for abortion recovery.

[Jody served as an Atlanta Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat Leader and as a Military Liaison for the Silent no More Awareness Campaign.  Jody is also the Military Outreach Coordinator for Post Abortion Treatment and Healing (PATH) ministry in Atlanta.  She continues to help our nation’s service women and men find the information and resources they need to recover from abortion loss.  You can reach Jody at]

I Spent Four years of My Life Defending This Country…But I Couldn’t Prevent the Death of My Child

May 23rd, 2019


I was in the Army and was called to complete my last year of service stationed in Germany.  We agreed that Susan would stay with her folks.  We would save our money, and she would begin looking at houses for when I returned.  That was the plan. 

Susan called me shortly after I began my duty overseas and shared that she was pregnant.  The first thing I told her was, “we’re not ready for this; I have to finish my service. We can’t do this with me away for the next year.” 

I convinced her that abortion was the right decision. The day of the abortion was the day I died.  I felt dead for 14 years. 

When I returned home I dealt with this wound…by not dealing with it.  I stuffed it down deep, and put all my energy into my work. I felt like my identity was taken from me and I never felt whole. I spent four years of my life defending this country, but couldn’t prevent the death of my child because of fear, inconvenience, and selfishness. 

I was successful in my business…I had a wife, a nice house, and a couple of beautiful children. But I never felt whole.  It was like something was missing. 

I worked all the time and was emotionally distant from my wife and kids.  I felt in many ways like an outsider; more like a hired caretaker without a deep bond with my family. 

When this painful realization would break through I would drink, look at porn on the internet, and try to get away from these feelings as quickly as possible.  But this denial was slowly eating away at my marriage and robbed me of the gifts that surrounded me-gifts that I was unable to fully embrace and celebrate. 

Susan and I separated several times and we both turned to people outside our relationship to help ease the loneliness and pain we secretly carried in our hearts…

Despite our struggles, we clung to our Christian faith, even as we fell short and sinned, and tried to make things work for the sake of the children.  We started to see a Christian counselor at our church.  For the first time, someone asked us if there was an abortion in our past.  Susan just broke down.  It was clear that this was the greatest wound in our marriage, and the source of our martial struggles. 

If we were to stay together and build a new foundation in this marriage, we had to face this loss, and all the dark feelings associated with it.  The counselor recommended a weekend retreat for post abortion healing called Rachel’s Vineyard.  We found their website and registered for the next retreat in our area.

We arrived at the retreat center very anxious of what was to come, but quietly excited and hopeful that maybe this would help in some way…if it didn’t I was sure our marriage was headed for divorce. 

The Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat is a healing process that uses various activities and exercises that are specially designed to heal the deeply buried grief and other pain that arises from an abortion loss. 

One of the first activities of the retreat on Friday evening is based on the bible story of “The Woman Caught in Adultery.”  These scripture stories are “reenacted” in a process called “Living Scripture.”  In these meditations you enter the scripture story and become a participant in that event.

After the exercise, as we shared our experience of the meditation, we touched on the issue of self-condemnation and were made aware of a pile of rocks of various sizes, shapes, colors and textures placed beneath a table at the center of the room.

 It turns out that many of us gathered on that retreat struggled with forgiving ourselves for our role in the death of our unborn children, and others struggled to forgive those who had pushed them to abort. 

The retreat facilitator invited those of us struggling with forgiveness issues to carry a rock as a reminder — a symbol of condemnation — of our inability to forgive. The rock represented (in a very concrete way!) our conflict.

At any point during the weekend, we could freely put it down. Until that time you were instructed to carry it with you at all times.   Through this simple exercise I became aware as the retreat progressed, of how the burden of self-condemnation was impacting my life in so many ways…

With each exercise and activity I began to trust that we were on a painful but rewarding journey that would bring the healing in our lives we so desperately longed for.  For the first time we were able to share the story of our abortion experience, and felt safe to share our hearts with each other and the group.  

On Saturday afternoon we participated in the Living Scripture exercise based on the story of Lazarus in the Gospel of John…

You are probably wondering how they reenacted this scripture account.  

The retreat participants are asked to name a part of themselves that has died because of sin.  The facilitator then takes a strip of gauze bandage, and gently wraps the area we identify. 

Some in our group wrapped their eyes because they lost sight of God.  One woman asked that her heart be wrapped as it was broken by abandonment of her father and later her boyfriend when she became pregnant.  Another man felt powerless to stop an abortion he did not want and asked that his hands be wrapped.

When the retreat team approached Susan my wife decided to have her left hand wrapped.  Susan said, “This is the hand that my wedding ring is on, and I want to see our marriage restored”.  

As the team approached me, I shared “You have to wrap my heart . . . it is just broken. It’s been broken ever since I got the call that the abortion was over and my child was gone.”

Each of us was then given the opportunity to profess our faith.  Through faith in Christ we believe that we can rise from the death caused by sin and be healed of our deepest wounds. After Susan made her statement of faith a team member went to un-wrap her bandage. 

 I received a gift of grace at that moment that led me to say, “No, no, please, let me do it — I think this is my place as her husband. I want a partnership to begin that we never have had. I want to be there for her, not so distant anymore.”

And so, I un-wrapped her hand; Susan, in turn, un-wrapped my heart and asked forgiveness for her bitterness toward me. We embraced for the longest time…

For the first time since we were dating, we held hands as we walked along the road together to the cafeteria for our evening meal…

[Excerpt from Tears of the Fisherman: Recovery for Men Wounded by Abortion, by Kevin Burke, LSW]                  

Game of Thrones – The Power of the Story in Recovery from Trauma

May 22nd, 2019

By Kevin Burke, LSW

“There’s nothing in the world more powerful than a good story. Nothing can stop it. Nothing can defeat it…”  – Tyrion Lannister

[Major Spoiler Alert for Series Game of Thrones!]

Like the raging, grieving fire-breathing Drogon, Game of Throne’s (GOT) devotees are spewing some serious flames of anger at the writers and directors after the series finale. 

A million of those disgruntled fans so disliked the final episodes that they signed a petition to demand a remake of the final season!  (Here’s some background on the show if you are not familiar with the story.)

 Many fans have expressed that the last season seemed rushed at times and poorly written.  That’s probably a fair criticism, though it must have been challenging for the writers and directors to wrap up such a sprawling story and epic series in the final episodes. 

I wonder if the fan protest is also related to the ending of the series.  After all, it is a type of death, and grief can be expressed with the emotion of anger.  Maybe, like Drogon melting the Iron Throne after the murder of his queen, some of that hot anger is rooted in grief. 

War Weary

In the Game of Thrones finale, the leaders of the Seven Kingdoms are weary after years of war and an apocalyptic battle that unfolded in season eight against the Northern Ice King and the army of the dead.  They know too well the consequences of the continual violent struggles for power that have plagued the realm. 

Tyrion Lannister, a dwarf who has counseled a number of powerful leaders, has been imprisoned by the Dragon Queen Daenerys for the crime of treason.  Tyrion has been humbled by his many years of personal sin and failings as he negotiated the Machiavellian politics of the Seven Kingdoms.

 Tyrion has an opportunity to address a gathering of the surviving leadership of the Seven Kingdoms.   He suggests that rather than continued violent struggle for power, the leaders appoint a worthy leader to ascend the Iron Throne and bring peace to the realm.  Tyrion suggests the disabled “Bran the Broken” [1] who evolved during the series into the mystical “Three-eyed Raven.”

Tyrion proclaims to the assembled leaders:

“I’ve had nothing to do but think these past few weeks [in prison.] About our bloody history, about the mistakes we’ve made. What unites people? Armies? Gold? Flags? Stories.

 There’s nothing more powerful in the world than a good story. Nothing can stop it. No enemy can defeat it. And who has a better story than Bran the Broken?

The boy who fell from a high tower and lived. He knew he’d never walk again, so he learned to fly. He crossed beyond the Wall, a crippled boy, and became the Three-Eyed Raven. He is our memory, the keeper of all our stories. The wars, weddings, births, massacres, famines. Our triumphs, our defeats, our past. Who better to lead us into the future?”

While Sansa Stark remains Queen of an independent Northern Kingdom, the others agree with Tyrion.  After years of violence and chaos they decide to appoint Bran the Three-Eyed Raven their King of the Six Kingdoms. 

GOT fans had some serious disagreement with Bran having the “best story.”  But Tyrion touches on something important.

 Story Telling in Trauma Recovery

The GOT series has been wildly popular.  As a counselor and social worker with those suffering traumatic grief and loss, I am interested when I see a story connect in a powerful way with so many people.  Part of the reason is of course the quality of the production; the writing, acting, sets, special effects (amazing dragons!) and engaging story lines. 

But I see other themes in this series, especially in the final episode that touches on a powerful and hidden national trauma that is often a closely guarded secret.

In episode seven, the Dragon Queen Daenerys unleashes the hell fire of her dragon on the innocent men, women and children of King’s Landing held hostage by their Queen Cersei Lannister.  Daenerys justifies this use of her power over the defenseless inhabitants of the city as a necessary sacrifice so she can realize her destiny as unifier of the Seven Kingdoms.

Jon Snow challenges his Queen’s failure to pause and listen to the voice of her people before she continues to burn down the old world to give birth to her utopian vision.  He decides that to preserve the fragile peace and to prevent further genocide, he must kill his beloved Queen. 

Like the poor peasants of Westeros and Essos caught in the battle between powerful Queens and Kings, with the legalization of abortion in 1973, the 60 million preborn boys and girls of our nation that died in their mother’s womb had no voice. 

No matter how it is rationalized and justified by abortion apologists, like the killing of the innocent of King’s Landing by the Dragon Queen, abortion is an exercise of violent raw power against the weak and defenseless.

The ascendancy of Bran the Broken, promoted by a man who was himself a dwarf, reveals that the stories of those who are weak and seeming powerless in the eyes of the world, can be instruments of healing and peace. 

The Healing Power of the Story

Women and men often make the decision to abort in a time of weakness and fear.  Women are often pressured by their partners, family and friends to see abortion as the only sensible solution to their pregnancy. 

When women and men come to a place of wanting to reconcile that abortion experience, an integral part of that recovery process involves “telling your story.” 

An abortion recovery program provides a safe emotional and spiritual place so participants can honestly share their stories.  An honest telling of their abortion story is the door they must pass through on the road to reconciliation and healing with God, and their aborted child/children. From this act of humility will flow the hope of repairing other relationships injured by the aftershocks of the abortion procedure.

The stories of those who have survived abortion, and the stories of women and men who later regret their abortions, hold the power to change the direction of a nation that has legalized the destruction of preborn children in the womb. 

Read their storiesWatch their videos.  Share them.    

 “There’s nothing in the world more powerful than a good story. Nothing can stop it. Nothing can defeat it…”    – Tyrion Lannister

[Please note if you are going to view the series:   Game of Thrones has some morally offensive scenes featuring the exploitation of young women in brothels and other settings.  Many episodes have depictions of graphic violence.]

[1] As a boy, Bran witnessed an incestuous liaison between Queen Cersei and her brother Jaime Lannister in his family’s tower.   Trying to protect their secret, Jaime tried to murder the boy by pushing him off the tower.  Bran survived, but was disabled from the fall. ority51 \lsdl

It Takes a Village…To Abort a Child

April 27th, 2019

by Kevin Burke, LSW

You’re no doubt familiar with the African proverb, “it takes a village to raise a child.”

Read carefully the following abortion testimony.  I highlighted, in bold italics, those individuals who were influential in the decision to abort the developing child in Dora’s womb. 

As you will see, abortion is rarely a woman’s “private personal decision.” Having heard countless abortion stories like Dora’s over the years, let me assure you, it often takes a village to abort a preborn girl or boy.

Every Picture Tells a Story

Dora: “When I first found out I was pregnant, I was a bit nervous and anxious; however, choosing to abort was not an option in my mind at this point. The very first person I told was my older brother, who was at my parent’s house with me when I took the test (my parents were at work, we were home alone). I walked into his room and told him I was pregnant, and he reacted by punching and breaking his window. I was very frightened and upset after that…

When I was finally able to let my boyfriend know I was pregnant…he replied, “There are other options.”  I immediately felt so much disappointment and sadness. I was overwhelmed by the intense emotions of fear, confusion, anger, resentment, hopelessness, and anxiety. I told him I would think about it…

I don’t know why I took a picture of us that same evening in my car. I have looked back on that picture often, wishing I could go back to that precise moment and tell him that I choose my baby. I don’t know why I keep that photo…but I do. Every now and then I look back and see such sadness hidden behind a smile, and I remember those intense feelings and the brokenness that was beginning to form.

When we arrived at his apartment his roommate and two other friends were there watching TV. We told them the news together…I remember that the rest of the evening consisted of all of them sitting down with me in the living room and telling me the best choice was to abort. I told them I was uncertain of my choice, but they kept reminding me that we were so young and unable to raise a child on our own.

I was so confused, and I remember thinking that I was going to have to go against everyone to keep this baby and that I would have no support if I didn’t go through with it. My boyfriend told me that a family member (a few years older) recently got a girl pregnant. He told me his dad and mom were so disappointed in him and how it basically ruined the plans for his life. My boyfriend told me he didn’t want to be that disappointment to his parents.

 I remember thinking that I would lose my boyfriend (who I was obsessed and infatuated with at that time) if I decided to keep the baby. I remember thinking I loved him so much that I didn’t want him to feel tied down to me because of a baby. In that moment I was convinced I was doing the most selfless thing, for him. All his friends said so, he said so, and I believed so.

Sadly, I fell for the pressure, and I fell for the lies. Although we all technically agreed with the decision, I still felt completely alone, and I began to fall into a depression.

My boyfriend made an appointment the next week, and I went to a Planned Parenthood clinic by myself (he had to work). The security was pretty intense, and the protesters outside were many. As I waited in the lobby I remember looking around and seeing many young girls, some balling their eyes out and others in a zombie state…I was one of the very few that was in there alone. I was scared and upset. I was still trying to convince myself that this was the best decision.

As they called me in with the nurse, they went over a very brief consultation of what was going to happen. They gave me a small cup of pills, (the RU-486 pills manufactured by Danco Laboratories [1]). I took the first dose there (first set of pills that stops the baby from growing but doesn’t actually abort the baby yet) and, almost immediately, I regretted my decision.

 In tears, I asked the nurse if I could take back my decision. I told her I wasn’t sure if I could go through with it. I was desperate to find encouragement from someone, anyone. She encouraged me, yes, but encouraged me to continue with the abortion. She said if I didn’t go through with the second dose my baby could and most likely will have severe damages and disabilities. [Dora was denied available medical information about the option of abortion pill reversal – KB]

I couldn’t bear to think of it, nor did I think I could live with myself, to see my baby suffer because of my decision. Looking back now, I would have done whatever it took to save my baby, but once again my fear kicked in, making me choose to continue.

I went back to my boyfriend’s apartment and waited for the time to take my second dose, the dose that actually causes the abortion. I remember sitting on the couch with my boyfriend and his friends watching TV, feeling complete numbness…

It was time for me to take the second and last dose. As I put the pills in my mouth and let them dissolve, within 10 minutes I started to feel intense cramps. When the cramps became unbearable, I made my way to the bathroom. I locked the door and experienced the most severe pain I had ever felt in my life.

I sat on the toilet and bent over in pain. I wanted to scream, but my boyfriend and his friends were right outside the door in the living room, watching TV (it was a small apartment). I grabbed a towel to bite on, in order to keep from screaming and was nearly passing out.

As I got up, I saw blood everywhere. I saw parts of my baby, an image I will never be able to erase from my mind. I fell to my knees in pain and was blacking out. Concerned that the guys would see all the blood and clumps, I got on my knees and cleaned it up.

Throughout the intensity all I could think was, “They cannot see this and be as traumatized and scarred as I have been.” As soon as I left the bathroom I was about to faint when my boyfriend helped me to bed.

The next two weeks were nothing but a blur. All I remember doing was lying in bed to sleep and cry. I didn’t eat, I didn’t shower, I didn’t answer phone calls, I didn’t go to school or work. I didn’t want to leave the bed…

I went by myself for the check-up [at Planned Parenthood] a few weeks later (once again he was working). The nurses performed the evaluation, and they told me the abortion wasn’t successful. Parts of my baby were still inside of me. The pill didn’t expel it all. The one in a million chance that it wouldn’t work (as they told me) had happened. I was that one in a million.

 I had to have an emergency D&C. They told me that, had I waited or not gone to my check up, I could have died. The nurse sent me immediately to a room for the procedure, and all I could hear were women screaming from the hallways. It sounded like a torture house.

They took me to a little room for a quick consultation of what was going to be done. At this point I was balling my eyes out and my whole body was shaking in panic. When the nurse saw how bad I was getting she offered me more sedatives to calm me down. I took many more and became completely numb, both physically and emotionally. I was a zombie. I simply didn’t care about anything at that moment.

They finished up the consultation and walked me to the procedure room. As I walked into the room, I saw a table full of surgical instruments, still full of blood. They had accidentally sent me in a room without cleaning up first…but in that moment I was way too drugged to care…

As they performed the D&C I couldn’t help but think that my baby was a fighter. The guilt was crippling every fiber of my being, and I was just waiting for it to end and go back home to lay in bed. Once the procedure was done, I called my boyfriend and told him to pick me up. I had told him what was going to happen before the procedure, and he was able to get off work early.

The next six months of my life was pure darkness, pure depression. I started drinking heavily and smoking weed every day to escape. I would often cut myself with razors to release the pain I had inside.

I remember one night I wrote out my suicide letter. I wrote my goodbyes to all my loved ones. But, by the grace of God, as I wrote my mom my final goodbyes, I couldn’t bear the thought of all the pain I’d put her through. Only the love I have for my mom caused me to not go through with it. I thank God for reminding me of that love, at that moment, which saved my life…

I dropped out of nursing school. I hardly ate. I went down to 110 pounds and I’m 5’9” in height.  I didn’t visit my family or see friends. All I did was consume myself in the bed and cling to my boyfriend. I was also diagnosed with severe anxiety and panic disorder that following year…

My boyfriend and I inevitably broke up. And I spent many years living in self-destruction because of my abortion. I would sleep around, get drunk three or four times a week, do drugs every day, put myself in situations that could have caused me fatal harm…going home with men I had just met. I didn’t really care about anything anymore, and the only time I felt alive was when I was having “fun” partying, drinking my sadness away.

One day I was at a park, and I was confronted with all my brokenness at once…My heart literally felt like it shattered. I cried out in agony and pain from the truth with which I was being confronted…

I had always known about Jesus. I grew up Roman Catholic my whole life and went to private Catholic schools. But in that moment, I felt a need for Jesus. I asked Jesus to help me. I asked Jesus to heal me. I asked Jesus to forgive me. That was the day I truly found Christ.

Christ truly healed me and restored me. He led me to therapy where I continued my healing from all my child abuse and abortion trauma…

Although I will have to forever live with my decision and mourn the loss of my baby, I know I am forgiven…and after 11 years I have finally learned to forgive myself.

As I found healing (and I will always continue my journey of healing…one never completely heals from abortion) Jesus has shown me that the more I share my story, the more healing I receive from doing so.

“Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Because I am no longer that same broken woman I was before—God has restored and redeemed me, and in Him I am a new creature! Praise Jesus for forgiveness He freely gives!

I am now a child of God—clean, sober, no longer self-injuring myself, and happily married with two beautiful baby boys!

All of this through the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ

[You can read the full account of Dora’s testimony here.]

An original song and video by author Kevin Burke on a couple’s experience of abortion loss and healing.

Photo for blog by Genta Mochizawa on Unsplash

[1] The use of medication abortion has greatly increased over the years, and now makes up roughly one-third (32.8%) of all abortions at 8 weeks gestation or less. RU-486, the medication that Dora was given at Planned Parenthood, is manufactured by Danco Laboratories, the sole drug manufacturer for mifepristone.  Every employee and shareholder of Danco Laboratories has direct responsibility in the death of Dora’s unborn boy or girl.  <

Mary Magdalene and the Apostle Peter – Perfect Saints for Women and Men Who Have Experienced Abortion

April 17th, 2019

July 22nd is the Feast Day of St Mary Magdalene. Contrary to the common misconception, Mary (from the town of Magdala,) was not the other Mary of scripture identified as a prostitute.  Mary Magdalene was a woman of some financial means, as she was in a position to contribute money to support the ministry of Jesus and the Apostles.

In Luke 8:1-3 we read that at the start of Jesus’s ministry:

“The twelve were with Him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses: Mary who was called Magdalene from whom seven demons had gone out …and many others who were contributing to their support out of their private means.”

Mary’s conversion to follow Christ followed a personal experience of His healing power.  While her deliverance from “seven demons” could be a reference to an emotional or physical illness, it is also possible that she was involved in occult or pagan practices that may have opened her up to demonic oppression or possession. 

Regardless, this healing encounter made her a generous, but also courageous disciple of Jesus.   Mary was present at the foot of the cross, grieving and loving her Master as he suffered the horrific torture of Roman Crucifixion. 

Pope Benedict XVI had this to say about Mary Magdalene in a 2007 address referencing her role as first witness to the resurrection of Christ:

St. Thomas Aquinas reserved the special title, “Apostle of the Apostles” (apostolorum apostola), dedicating to [Mary Magdalene] this beautiful comment: ‘Just as a woman had announced the words of death to the first man, so also a woman was the first to announce to the Apostles the words of life’ (Super Ioannem, ed. Cai, § 2519).  

After many years in abortion recovery ministry, we encounter many women set free by the power of Jesus, who become grateful and fervent Disciples.  Like Mary Magdalene, some are called to courageously witness to the saving power of Jesus in the sharing of their abortion testimonies.

The Shame of Peter – His Liberation by Christ

Men with abortion loss, and those who have experienced abuse in the past, understandably struggle to enter into the emotional and spiritual vulnerability that is so essential to healing.

 Peter had to face his own pride and fear on the Sea of Galilee, and at that fateful Passover in Jerusalem during the last hours of his Master’s life.  Men who make the challenging but rewarding journey of abortion healing discover that, like Peter, they emerge renewed and strengthened as men, spouses, fathers and disciples of Christ.

Here’s a music video of a song I wrote with Henry Gennaria, “Dawn” on the experience of Mary Magdalene and the Apostle Peter at the time of the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus.   It features live performance of the song and excerpts from a beautiful Claymation movie about the life of Jesus, called The Miracle Maker.  (I highly recommend The Miracle Maker, a movie faithful to the Gospel accounts, and a great presentation for family viewing.) 

Mary Magdalene and the Apostle Peter – Ideal Saints for Women and Men Hurting After Abortion

April 12th, 2019

I just completed a Rachel’s Vineyard Weekend for healing after abortion loss, where I served as team counselor. 

The retreat process features special scripture meditations, the sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist, and exercises that lead women and men to a deep emotional and spiritual healing.

I was struck how each participant drew closer to Jesus as the meditations and exercises helped them express their pain, shame, anger and fear. In the growing safety and solidarity of the group, and empowered by the Holy Spirit, they discovered a yearning in their heart to draw closer to Jesus, their merciful Savior.

A number of the women in this group suffered abuse, rejection, and exploitation by significant male figures in their lives.  This made their encounter with Christ even more profound and healing for them.

As we enter Holy Week and the coming Easter Season, I wanted to focus on two Gospel figures that played important roles in the life and ministry of Jesus.   Each offers inspiration and hope for women and men suffering after abortion loss. But they also offer a message of consolation for those burdened by past abuse and anyone suffering from emotional, spiritual or physical illness.

Mary of Magdalene – Apostles to the Apostles

Contrary to the common misconception, Mary (from the town of Magdala,) was not the other Mary of scripture identified as a prostitute.  Mary Magdalene was a woman of some financial means, as she was in a position to contribute money to support the ministry of Jesus and the Apostles.

In Luke 8:1-3 we read that at the start of Jesus’s ministry:

“The twelve were with Him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses: Mary who was called Magdalene from whom seven demons had gone out …and many others who were contributing to their support out of their private means.”

Mary’s conversion to follow Christ followed a personal experience of His healing power.  While her deliverance from “seven demons” could be a reference to an emotional or physical illness, it is also possible that she was involved in occult or pagan practices that may have opened her up to demonic oppression or possession. 

Regardless, this healing encounter made her a generous, but also courageous disciple of Jesus.   Mary was present at the foot of the cross, grieving and loving her Master as he suffered the horrific torture of Roman Crucifixion. 

Pope Benedict XVI had this to say about Mary Magdalene in a 2007 address referencing her role as first witness to the resurrection of Christ:

St. Thomas Aquinas reserved the special title, “Apostle of the Apostles” (apostolorum apostola), dedicating to [Mary Magdalene] this beautiful comment: ‘Just as a woman had announced the words of death to the first man, so also a woman was the first to announce to the Apostles the words of life’ (Super Ioannem, ed. Cai, § 2519).  

After many years in abortion recovery ministry, we encounter many women set free by the power of Jesus, who become grateful and fervent Disciples.  Like Mary Magdalene, some are called to courageously witness to the saving power of Jesus in the sharing of their abortion testimonies.

The Shame of Peter – His Liberation by Christ

Men with abortion loss, and those who have experienced abuse in the past, understandably struggle to enter into the emotional and spiritual vulnerability that is so essential to healing.

 Peter had to face his own pride and fear on the Sea of Galilee, and at that fateful Passover in Jerusalem during the last hours of his Master’s life.  Men who make the challenging but rewarding journey of abortion healing discover that, like Peter, they emerge renewed and strengthened as men, spouses, fathers and disciples of Christ.

Here’s a music video of a song I wrote with Henry Gennaria, “Dawn” on the experience of Mary Magdalene and the Apostle Peter at the time of the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus.   It features live performance of the song and excerpts from a beautiful Claymation movie about the life of Jesus, called The Miracle Maker.  (I highly recommend The Miracle Maker, a movie faithful to the Gospel accounts, and a great presentation for family viewing during Holy Week and Easter season.) 

A blessed Holy Week and Easter Season to you and your loved ones.