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