Photo: Felix Carroll
Abortion and Divine Mercy
How to Provide Spiritual Care for the Mother in Need
For most women, the decision to have an abortion is agonizing. The choice is marked by confusion, wracked by despair, plagued by helplessness, and crippled by anxiety.
How do we care for such women? Pope John Paul II, in his encyclical Evangelum Vitae (The Gospel of Life), addresses women who have had abortions: "The Church is aware of the many factors which may have influenced your decision, and she does not doubt in many cases it was a painful and even shattering decision," the Pope writes.
"The wound in your heart may not yet have healed. Certainly what happened was and remains terribly wrong. But do not give in to discouragement and do not lose hope. Try rather to understand what happened and face it honestly. If you have not already done so, give yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance. The Father of Mercies is ready to give you His forgiveness and His peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. You will come to understand that nothing is definitively lost and you will also be able to ask forgiveness from your child, who is now living in the Lord" (99).
In short, Divine Mercy is the answer.
Marie Romagnano, RN, founder of Healthcare Professionals for Divine Mercy, an apostolate of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception, has developed a set of guidelines for providing care in this oft-misunderstood health crisis, which is also a profound spiritual crisis.
"Mothers who have experienced abortion are catastrophically emotionally injured and do not recognize this injury to their soul," Nurse Marie says. "They can recognize physical injury but avoid the deep, interior pain of the loss of the child within them. There is no natural recovery from this wound. Only the mercy of God can intercede. God's mercy is endless, boundless, and has no limits."
What should you do if a suffering mother approaches you?
"Be available to talk," Nurse Marie advises. "Be supportive and assist wherever possible with food, shelter, and safe harbor. Mercy in action is the best possible intervention to initiate healing. Encourage this suffering mother to place great trust in the mercy of God, for there is no sin that cannot be forgiven."
For the woman who has not had an abortion but is considering one, Marie advises to pray The Divine Mercy Chaplet with her. If that's not possible, then pray the Chaplet for her. You can also discuss the mercy of God with her.
"Tell her how Jesus, The Divine Mercy, will directly intervene to assist her in her situation, no matter what the circumstances are, in preserving the life of her child," Marie says. "Jesus will give her the grace to bring the child safely into the world."
This act of mercy can save two lives: the physical life of the child and the spiritual life of the mother. As Jesus tells us, "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful" (Lk 6:36).
This article first appeared in the Friends of Mercy newsletter.