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Rachel, Weep No More

How Divine Mercy heals the effects of abortion. By Bryan Thatcher, MD and Fr. Frank Pavone.

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Photo: Felix Carroll

"When we, as a human race, reach out to God with 'childlike trust,' He will respond because He has promised us that He would," says Dr. Bryan Thatcher.

Life is a Gift from God

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It is hard for me to believe that it has been more than 10 years since we nearly lost our son, John Paul. He was a near-drowning victim in our pool at our home in Florida in 1996.

Today, he is a healthy 12-year-old who is active in school and soccer. That incident caused a major paradigm shift in my thinking about the fragility and sanctity of human life. In addition to that experience, in the last two years, my siblings and I have dealt with our mother's death and father's declining health. Through it all, I have better realized that we are all pilgrims on this earth. We're here only for such a short time, and life is a gift from God!

Today is the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down many state laws restricting abortion. I cannot help but to reflect on the millions worldwide who have been aborted and to also reflect on the millions worldwide who have been euthanized or who have died a lonely death because someone felt that it was the "right" and "merciful" thing to do.

I would like to share with you some reflections regarding abortion and the difficult decisions that a woman faces when she finds out that she is with child.

Some promote abortion and feel that it leads to healthier marriages and less child abuse. However, the evidence tells us otherwise. Child abuse has risen sharply since the legalization of abortion. I suspect that is due partly to the dehumanization that state-sanctioned abortion brings to society and the acceptance of the notion that life is expendable. We now know that a history of abortion is statistically associated with higher rates of child abuse. It has contributed to lessening of a woman's self esteem and her ability to deal with stress.

Some promote abortion as a right and feel it promotes the dignity of woman. In actuality, abortion degrades women and is often an act of despair. The woman feels trapped and in a corner. She feels she will lose everything if she does not have an abortion. She buys into the notion that to save her own life and everything she has she must abort "only a piece of tissue" that is growing in her body. However, if she chooses abortion, Satan attacks her as a murderer and imprisons her in a dark cell of shame and guilt. Abortion also produces anger — at oneself, at the non-supporting father, the parent who pushed her to go ahead with the procedure, and even at God for allowing her to be in such a mess.

Is abortion a "procedure," like an appendectomy, that one forgets about days after recovery? Unfortunately, no. Many woman lack the ability to process the fear, anger, sadness, and guilt associated with abortion. Many women never grieve the loss of the baby and never come to peace with God, themselves, and others involved in the decision process. Some of the aftereffects of abortion include guilt, shame, anxiety, depression, a psychological numbing, and self-punishing and destructive disorders, as well as a number of medical problems related to the procedure.

Of all, guilt and shame are the most common. Guilt is based on things you have done. It allows for confession and healing. Shame is based on who you are. It is that never-ending thought process that you have never quite measured up to what you ought to be. Shame is a common cause of sadness and entails a constant judging of oneself. When one has an abortion and destroys life, she devalues that life. Similarly, the woman also devalues her own dignity and the life of others in general. She is saying, "It is just a piece of tissue, and so am I — worthless and of no value."

To those harboring these feelings, I would like to quote the words of our Lord to St. Faustina: "My mercy is greater than your sins and those of the whole world. Who can measure the extent of My goodness? For you I descended from heaven to earth; for you I allowed myself to be nailed to the cross; for you I let my Sacred Heart be pierced with a lance, thus opening wide the source of mercy for you. Come, then, with trust to draw graces from this fountain. I never reject a contrite heart. Your misery has disappeared in the depths of My mercy. Do not argue with Me about your wretchedness. You will give Me pleasure if you hand over to Me all your troubles and griefs. I shall heap upon you the treasures of My grace" (Diary, 1485).

What does the Church preach about those who have had an abortion? It preaches forgiveness and repentance. But we must remember that we have to ask for forgiveness! We must believe in a God of mercy — One who forgives our greatest sins. We must trust in His mercy!

That is why Jesus asked that the image of The Divine Mercy be signed with the words "Jesus, I Trust in You!" Trust is the key. The more we trust in His mercy, the more graces we receive. Certainly, we must admit our wrongdoing and ask for God's forgiveness. But you must also forgive yourself and trust in a merciful God that forgives the greatest sinner.

Look at the two thieves on the cross. The one who repented was told by our Lord, "Today you will be with me in Paradise." Not only must we forgive ourselves, we must forgive the others involved in the abortion process, even the abortion providers.

For many, forgiveness of self is the hardest of all. Do we really trust that God could forgive us? Isaiah wrote, "Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb?" (49:15). Of course not, but we must also come to understand that God is waiting with open arms for us to come back to Him. Jesus' blood was shed for all of us. As Paul wrote, we all fall short of the mark. We must throw our sinfulness into the ocean of Divine Mercy and come to understand the words of our Lord to St. Faustina, "The greater the sinner the greater the right to My mercy" (Diary, 723).

So today, I encourage you to reflect on the great sin of abortion, but also to come to a deeper realization that God loves the sinner and calls the sinner to repentence.

A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances (Ez 36:26-7).

For it is in the heart where change must take place, and it is through trust in God that this action will take place. When we, as a human race, reach out to God with "childlike trust," He will respond because He has promised us that He would. Our Lord told St. Faustina, "The graces of My mercy are drawn by means of one vessel only, and that is — trust. The more a soul trusts, the more it will receive" (Diary, 1578).

Dr. Bryan Thatcher is the founder of Eucharistic Apostles of The Divine Mercy (EADM). On March 25, 2003, Pope John Paul II signed and granted to EADM a special Apostolic Blessing. Pope John Paul II encouraged the whole world to join with all Eucharistic Apostles in recitation of the Divine Mercy Chaplet to "avoid Divine Chastisement" and to eradicate the "culture of death" throughout the world.

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Be a part of the discussion. Add a comment now!

Doug - Jan 22, 2008

Absolutely wonderful and inspirational! Please continue your much needed mission. You have a great gift and are inspirational

Bill Thatcher - Jan 22, 2008

My Brother has done an excellent job of putting into words a major problem facing those who choose murder over life,and the
many physchological traumas they will face as time goes on-Bill Thatcher

marsha and siaosi - Jan 22, 2008

Wonderful article Bryan!
Need to be reminded of His mercy CONSTANTLY!! God Bless!!

Annie Karto - Jan 22, 2008

Dr. Thatcher has certainly experienced in his own life the sanctity of each human life. He and his dear wife Sue have 7 beautiful children, and 3 already home with the Lord. In a world that encourages "me first" mentality, the Thatcher family continues to strive to live the Gospel message... the message of hope, and healing through God's unfathomable gift of Divine Mercy. I am blessed to count the Thatcher family as dear friends.

Dan Valenti - Jan 22, 2008

Thank you, Bryan, for such a reasoned and measured teaching on so emotional an issue. Your background as a physician gives you the "bully pulpit" on abortion. From all angles — spiritual, physical, psychological, cultural, social, and personal — abortion is an irrational reponse to what appears to be an untanable situation. It is also a flight of responsibility induced by that situation. That's why education, such as your response here, remains the best answer to this lethal problem. For the woman making the decision, it comes down to freedom of choice. Freedom, however, is not llicense. Freedom comes with responsibility.
Mercy is the best choice after that freedom has been abused. Mercy erases the poisonous "radioactivity" that follows our bad decisions and enables us to start afresh. Mercy is the new day always available to those who ask for its dawning. Again, Bryan, an effective piece.

prayerful in NM - Jan 22, 2008

Thank you for your beautiful article! Also to be remembered are the survivors of abortion. Our adult GodDaughter is the survivor of coat hanger attempt by her mother. Combined with severe abuse and knowledge that she was not wanted has brought her to edge of great despair and suicide. There are probably other survivors like her that suffer so greatly. Thanks be to God she has entered the Holy Catholic Church with special devotion to Christ's Divine Mercy. Her favorite prayer is the Chaplet. We pray for her healing of such deep wounds.

Ana Paula Rodrigues- Brasil - EADM - Jan 22, 2008

I think God send this article exactly for me , in a moment that I am praying for a women who had an abortion and she is full of guilt.
The first think i thought was: She is a murder... but then , God told me that He is mercyfull, and i need to be eihter.
Thank you for helping me..

Patt - South Africa - Jan 22, 2008

What a wonderful and inspirational article Dr Thatcher!! I wish most people in South Africa could read this as in our Diocese of Johannesburg we have been asked by our Archbishop to pray and attend a special mass on 16th February 2008. This is because the parliament is to pass aa amendment to the Termination of Pregnancy Bill which liberalises abortion more. Please pray with us that this bill should not be passed. We are praying the Rosary, the Chaplet and also Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

Katlheen Beckman, LHS - Jan 22, 2008

Dr. Thatcher's article heralds the Truth about the ravages of abortion! The culture of death has affected every citizen whether we perceive it or not. And the message of Divine Mercy is truly the message of our time- a message we all must LIVE to heal from the sin of abortion. Let us intercede for our legislators to turn the tide toward a culture of life. Bryan you are a living witness of the Truth. Thank you. God bless you dear friend...

Fr. Joseph Kimu, Rome - Jan 22, 2008

Thank you very much dear Dr. Bryan for these beautiful reflections on abortion. As a student priest here in Rome doing a doctoral research on the Theology of Suffering in the Teaching of John Paul II I have a section in my thesis where I will also deal with suffering that is caused by abortion.Thank you very much for inspiring me with good ideas. Moreover I have liked your non- condemnatory approach to the whole issue by inviting the victims to a reflection on God's mercy that has power to recreate them anew. Back home in Malawi, with your permissinon I will certainly translate your article in the local language, Chewa. May God bless your gift and mission in speaking the truth with love.

Marie Romagnano, RN Healthcare Professionals for Divine Mercy - Jan 22, 2008

Excellent reflection Bryan. I really appreciate the impact of telling the truth about abortion in our society today. As nurses, we have difficult emotions to comfort our patients that may be abortion survivors, not to mention the loss of their children. May Mary, Mother of Merciful Love embrace these parents who lost children and bring them back to her son Jesus, The Divine Mercy.

Roy - Jan 22, 2008

Bryan, Your message moves both heart and mind. The more we recognize our sinwardness, the better can we appreciate the grace of God which surpasses all sin. The Divine Mercy message is especially urgent when we confront the tragic insanity of abortion. How can we escape the curse it casts on the soul - only by trust in the Divine Mercy. How touching that Our Lord's preferred caption was "Jesus, I trust in you." We can't be reminded often enough. God bless you!

deacon frank o'connell--ATWE Healing Ministry - Jan 22, 2008

thanks bryan,
more than just important--it is vital! it needs to be "imported" into the minds and hearts of all with the powerful image of the divine mercy. In my ministry there are so many who come with stories of how the Lord has healed them by restoring their dignity and self-worth again after their abortion. Thank you Bryan for this love intention for our world.

S. - Jan 22, 2008

Thanks. God bless you all. Let us pray for the intercession of Sancta Dei Genetrix, St. Maria Faustina the Apostle of Divine Mercy, St.Gianna Beretta Molla who was a medical doctor in earthly sojourn and all the saints and angels for heavenly protection.
Veni, Sancte Spiritus. Lord Jesus give us the grace to respond to the Rules of Love ( The Ten Commandments) of our heavenly Eternal Father. Purge every soul with the Psalm 51. Let us ask for heavenly protection in Psalms 34:7,18..., 91 and 121. Good Jesus, give our world responsibility for Life.

George - Jan 22, 2008

Dr. Bryan Thatcher speaks from the heart. He tells it like it is. Abortion destroys the innocent child, the mother's heart and soul, and the family. Abortion can destory a nation. Abotrion tears at the heart and soul of those who undergo the procedures. It can cause depression, hate, anger resentment and regret that can last a life time. Abortion can destory not only the child but also the mother. Irresponsable conduct combined with abortion is satan's way of destroying Jesus's Church and the human race. We are in the end times - the end of the century that satan challenged Jesus that satan could destory the church that Jesus built. Jesus's power, love and Devine Mercy are much more powerful that satan's. In the end Jesus will prevail over satan. Jesus teaches us through St. Fustina about His Divine Mercy. That He will forgive us if we ask for His mercy. We are all in this battle together. When we learn to follow Him, trust in His Divine Mercy and pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy from the heart, say what we mean and mean what we say, then we will defeat satan, abortion will end and peace will come into our hearts, our families and our nations. May the peace of our Lord be with all who read this.

leutogi siemsen-eadmsamoa - Jan 23, 2008

Excellent work - Your mission touches the lifes of all of us in Samoa, and the neighbouring countries. Mercy work now spreads,to Australia, New Zealand, Am. Samoa and Tonga.

Barbara in NM - Jan 23, 2008

Very nice sentiments on life Bryan. Everyday I respond to emergency situations, with the goal of saving a life, being young or old. I see the fear in loved ones eyes, at the thought of losing that person, family, child, friend, etc. Life is precious and each person is a unique individual created in the image of God. We must bring back a respect for life among those who have been so cruelly treated and have a poor outlook on life. The world has lost hope, and will only find it by trusting in Jesus and being an instrument to spread the Good News. God Bless you and your family Bryan.