By Kevin Burke, LSW
October 29th was a day of shock, discouragement, and intense anger among many prolife Catholics across the U.S.
President Joe Biden came away from his private meeting with Pope Francis Friday saying the pontiff told him he was a “good Catholic” and should keep receiving Communion. Biden said the topic of abortion was not part of their exchange;
“We just talked about the fact he was happy that I was a good Catholic and I should keep receiving Communion,” Biden said.
Is Biden telling the truth? He has been known to lie.
On the other hand, the response from the Vatican indicated there would be no clarification on Biden’s comments.
Fr Frank Pavone of Priests for Life puts the encounter between Pope Francis and Biden in perspective:
“[Pope Francis], and much less Biden, get to change what Catholic teaching is about abortion. As Pope Francis himself has said repeatedly, it is murder and it is ‘like hiring a hitman’…I am not so concerned about what was or was not discussed at this meeting, because it is not this meeting that defines the problem. The problem is the Democrat party’s fanatical obsession with expanding abortion.”
Fr Pavone rightly shares the important message that we can’t get sidetracked by those who would love to see Catholic pro-lifers depressed, discouraged and tempted to give up the fight. This is especially important at a time when significant prolife progress is being made, with a Supreme Court challenge of Roe V Wade on the horizon.
A Punch in the Gut
But on a personal level, some prolife Catholics will struggle after this “punch in the gut” from a Catholic President with an administration that aggressively promotes abortion.
Sometimes experiences in your past can leave you more vulnerable to strong, and painful emotional responses to such events.
You may have many years of front-line prolife advocacy. You may have been intimately involved in encounters with abortion-minded women and men and were not able to save the life of a child whose parents were set on abortion.
Prolife advocates suffer abuse and ridicule at times in their vocations. Adding to this pain, they often feel unsupported, ignored, or worse, condemned by their spiritual fathers. Such suffering is an unavoidable part of the prolife vocation. But it makes the failures of our spiritual fathers and political leader’s all the more caustic.
Perhaps you have experienced this type of betrayal at another time in your life; a parent who failed to protect you or a family member from some pain and abuse, and remained silent and passive as you suffered.
Perhaps you were lied to, manipulated during a difficult pregnancy situation, and abortion was presented as the only right decision. Later you may have great anger and pain at the betrayal and lies from those you trusted, and with those spiritual fathers who failed to protect you from the aftermath of the abortion
Deep feelings of anger and resentment can arise from this sense of betrayal. Beneath this anger lies grief; grief at the senseless suffering and death from the failure of leaders to act with courage and conviction.
As frustrating and painful as these experiences can be, this type of suffering provides an especially fertile spiritual soil for those who love God, His Church, and suffer persecution because of righteousness. (Matthew 5:10)
Fatima: A Powerhouse of Grace
The messages of Fatima reveal a way forward; a path to discover special grace and renewed zeal for our pro-life and pro-family vocations.
The Fatima apparitions of Portugal in 1916-1917 reveal something profound about the power of suffering that is set free to be offered up in sacrifice.
But this is not an easy thing to do. This pain can lay down deep roots within us. Relinquishing this suffering is a fruit of much prayer and grace.
Prior to seeing our Blessed Mother, the visionaries Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco experienced angelic visitations in the spring of 1916. These visits are often passed over with the understandable emphasis on the spectacular miracle of the sun that was part of Our Blessed Mother’s final apparition to the children in October 1917.
However important and powerful spiritual messages were shared with the three shepherd children in those angelic apparitions in the spring of 1916. Visionary Lucia shares from her memoirs of the visionaries encounter with the Angel of Peace:
“The Angel left us in an atmosphere of the supernatural that was so intense we were for a long time unaware of our own existence. The presence of God was so powerful and intimate that even among ourselves we could not speak. On the next day, too, this same atmosphere held us bound, and it lessened and disappeared only gradually.”
In the second visitation, the Angel shares with the children:
“In every way you can offer sacrifice to God in reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and in supplication for sinners…Above all, bear and accept with patience the sufferings God will send you. “
Lucia reflects on this angelic visitation:
“The Angels’ words sank deeply into our souls like a gleaming torch, showing us Who God is, what is His love for us, and how he wants us to love Him too; the value of sacrifice and how it pleases Him; how He receives it for the conversion of sinners.”
Sacrifice is Also a Gift to Us
In your daily mass and prayers, especially the recitation of the rosary, ask the Lord for the grace to relinquish, and entrust your deepest suffering to Him for the conversion of sinners. We learned from the Angel at Fatima that this type of sacrifice is pleasing to God.
But even more so, it is a gift from God.
Anger, betrayal and hurt can take deep root in our hearts and souls and over time lead to depression, anxiety and anger issues. This is a natural response to injustice, abuse and feeling betrayed.
In relinquishing this suffering to our Heavenly Father, you will find there is a grieving, and a release of that pain when it is offered in loving sacrifice.
Be patient with yourself, as it can take some time for the soul to respond to this grace, and entrust your sacrifice to the Father. It may happen in one powerful moment of grace – but often more gradually over time. Persevere in faith.
Encounter the Trinity
When you are feeling discouraged, overwhelmed and wonder if God is still listening, take some time and allow yourself to enter into the mystery of God’s powerful presence that we saw mediated by the Angel of Fatima.
Let these words of the Fatima Visionary Lucia penetrate deeply into your heart, mind and soul. Encounter the power, and eternal mystery or our God.
Lucia: “The Angel left us in an atmosphere of the supernatural that was so intense we were for a long time unaware of our own existence. The presence of God was so powerful and intimate that even among ourselves we could not speak. On the next day, too, this same atmosphere held us bound, and it lessened and disappeared only gradually.”
- Original Music Video about Eucharistic Miracles and the Miraculous Love of God for the Human Family. Produced by Henry Gennaria: