This is a letter I received from a post abortive dad. I know that his feelings are shared by many post abortive men. It is easy for us to sometimes forget the wide impact abortion has had, but our world is filled with people hurting from a past abortion, whether it is the mom, dad, siblings, grandparent or a friend. May we always be aware of the possibility of those around us hurting, and may we be a sign of God’s great Mercy and forgiveness!
May 1, 2010
Today is the Day of Prayer and Healing for Men that I couldn’t attend, but I was rereading the Lumina Newsletters that Mary sent, a way to keep my heart in spirit, so to speak, and I recalled something that prompts me to write to you about it, a flip-side story that may still be helpful.
In reading the Spring 2010 issue, the part of me that “hopes” was hoping that something would catch my attention, bring some insight to this day. As you may know, it’s a tricky process, hoping like that, because I was also holding a tense sort of aversion to the painful subject matter. I imagine that’s common in post-abortive people.
I kept noticing things that “ticked me off,” in the articles, and as I continued reading, I was comparing myself to the writers and the people and situations they were relating, looking at the photos of people involved in various anti-abortion efforts; trying to imagine myself as not an outsider, not alone; to stand in some inner solidarity with all the other people who have been damaged by abortion.
And, as I was rereading the “A Morning of Prayerful Remembrance” article, I finally recalled one cause of both my aversion and my hope—something I’d forgotten, probably deliberately—that happened on Pro-Life Sunday this year, 2010.
I went to Mass that day holding my own abortion-related special intention quietly, personally, not looking for communal support, but just to witness before God for my own child and loss. God had something rather different in mind, though. I’d been to Confession just the week prior, and felt an unusual peace about receiving Communion; that’s a Sacrament I have great difficulty with, no matter the prayer “I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word…” That place in me that “hopes” keeps a constant ear tuned for that word, never really knowing what it is or what it sounds like. On Pro-Life Sunday, though, I was clear about it and intended to receive Communion with all my heart. I was happy about that.
The priest gave a homily on the importance of family, of children, of mothers; about how God loves women, how God chose Mary to be the Mother of his Son. It was meaningful, not less so for being predictable as a topic for Pro-Life Sunday. As he spoke against abortion, the harm to women and children, I realized I was “hoping without hoping” for the part where, in connection with family and the harm caused by abortion, he was going to speak on behalf of the fathers.
But as his homily went on and on without that mention, I found myself getting very anxious, feeling at-risk and strangely frightened, like I’d stumbled into a place that was dangerous, a bad part of town—in a Catholic Church. The now-guttering flame of hope was still there, and he hadn’t finished yet, so there was still time to hear him say the words, “the fathers,” but I started to realize that in this major metropolitan parish, there wasn’t going to be any talk about abortion-related harm to fathers or men on this Pro-Life Sunday. Not even one glancing acknowledgement; that isn’t at all unusual, but for some reason, this year, it got right past my guard.
In the time it took to talk myself back to a safer inner place after all this, to try to be “present” and “participate” in the rest of the Mass as I’m commanded to—i.e. with all my heart—the “hope” in me had already decided that I wasn’t going to be Communicating that day; that I didn’t want to get that close to God just then, or let him get anywhere near me for a while. I’d come to Mass with an old grief and an open heart, unprepared for what he was going to do with that gift.
Unfortunately for me, though I don’t have a local parish, the Catholic Church is my Church, the one I was born in, baptized in, etc. Worst of all, I know it is Christ’s true Church, the Church of my heart, where I’m supposed to be; where I want to be. That’s hard to live with, because even in my most dense self-absorption, I’m not utterly deaf to the sufferings of others. I can still hear and feel others’ pain, and I take that as a sign that the Holy Spirit still reaches through to me sometimes.
Anyway, it made a real, positive difference for me to receive the info packet from Lumina and read the words on the front of the brochure—Fatherhood and Abortion…Men Suffer too! To read the stories of priests that work to try to help men after abortions. Lumina has clearly chosen the path of truth and compassion—which is Christ, and that matters a lot to me.
As for Mercy, given how hard it can be to differentiate between what actually happens and whatever God’s Will may have been in a given situation, I can only wish about it. Nonetheless, God does seem to be helping my unbelief.
Thank you for your part in that, for being a demonstrated instrument of his Mercy. I did send an email to the contact you sent, and do appreciate the newsletters I’ve received and look forward to receiving others if possible. It would be great to get back to the City for a retreat some day.