What God Has Done for Me

The following first appears in the Summer 2019 issue of Marian Helper magazine. Order a free copy.

By Dina Pacillo

Here's how little I knew about Jesus: I never once spoke His name, not until I was well into adulthood, because I thought to say the name "Jesus" was to say the Lord's name in vain.

Here's how little I knew about the mercy of God: I had no idea how much He loved me. I was truly afraid of Him.

Here's how little I knew about the child I once carried in my womb: I believed the lie that it was merely a clump of tissue, not a baby, not my son or daughter.

On an October morning in the early 1990s, about nine weeks pregnant, I stepped into an abortion clinic where they would extinguish the life of the only baby I would ever carry in my womb.

I didn't comprehend the magnitude of this grim undertaking then.

As you know, our nation's long battle over abortion has reached a critical point. Political clout and forceful conviction run deep on both sides of the issue - both for those who seek to end legalized abortion and those who wish to safeguard it. But this is not merely a battle over laws. Fundamentally, it's a spiritual battle between good and evil, a battle of life and death, a battle for souls, a battle that must be won through love.

For this reason, I wish to share my own story: a story of what can happen when you don't know about Jesus, when you don't know about the mercy of God, when you believe the lie that a child of God is merely a "clump of tissue."

The baby whom I aborted - my baby - had a beating heart. I know this now. And when I finally realized this I begged my child to forgive me. I begged God to forgive me!

Without Faith
I can count on one hand the number of times in my childhood that I entered a church. While my parents loved my three brothers and me, our spiritual formation wasn't a huge priority. I knew of God, but I didn't know God. And what I thought I knew of God made me fearful of Him.

As for the facts of life, I recall my father saying to me once, "Boys are going to want to touch you. Don't let them." I had boyfriends in high school. I didn't take my father's advice.

Then, in my late teens, I was introduced to an older man, a family friend, who eventually coaxed me into what became a seven-year abusive relationship. He was married, although I didn't know it at the time this all started. And, by the time I found out, I was in so deep I didn't know how to get out.

I didn't understand it at the time, but he was a master manipulator who preyed upon my vulnerabilities, lack of spiritual foundation, shyness, loneliness, and need for love and affirmation. He made bogus promises that he could get me into a modeling career, promises I believed. He would verbally, emotionally, and sexually abuse me. All I wanted was to be loved.

I was on the pill, but still I became pregnant.

A close family member brought me in to Planned Parenthood for the abortion. Trying to shelter me from the "sidewalk advocates," he told me not to listen to them, and I didn't.

Once inside, all I remember was the vacuum sound and how I turned to the nurse and said, "You're an angel" because she was guiding me every step of the way. The nurse looked at me with an expression of utter sadness. She knew what I didn't know - what I didn't want to know.

Later that day, I went to work as if nothing had happened. I never mourned - not until years later, not until the day I finally found myself on my knees, crying like I had never cried before, with Jesus' name upon my lips.

The Scales Fall Off
Through it all, I now see that God and the Blessed Mother never abandoned me. God eventually put the Rosary into my hands. I began praying it, and the scales that blinded me morally, spiritually, and emotionally started falling from my eyes. Finally, I was able to see the lies and the deception. And finally, I had the courage to break away from that man.

Then, God sent me my husband, Brian, a cradle Catholic with whom I began regularly attending Sunday Mass. Yes, God rescued me. He rescued me in stages and through people who loved and served Him.

I took RCIA classes and began meeting parishioners and priests who guided me in the faith. I learned about the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I eventually confessed the abortion, but I still didn't fully understand the gravity of the sin and the loss of life.

After attending the RCIA program, Brian and I got married in the Church. In 2008, after years of trying unsuccessfully to conceive a baby, we finally put an end to the emotional roller coaster. In prayer, the question was laid upon my heart: "Would you be able to love someone else's child?" I said out loud, "I could love someone else's child." Through tears, I said that I had all this love to give and no child to give it to.

The thought of never having a child brought me to my knees, sobbing. I finally surrendered everything, all of my hopes and dreams, to God and promised that I would take any path He wanted me to take.

Not too long after that, I finished a novena to the Blessed Virgin Mary. I was praying for God's will. The very next day, through circumstances that only God could have choreographed, He sent me the mighty and tenderhearted Jasmine, a 5-year-old relative who had suddenly and tragically found herself in need of a home as much as I was in need of a child. I finally had a beautiful little child. The Blessed Mother had heard my cries and interceded.

We ended up adopting Jasmine, a child who, in five years, had experienced more trauma than most of us experience in an entire lifetime. She's now 16. She is beautiful, spunky, and probably the strongest person I've ever met. She fills my heart with a love I had never known existed, the kind only a mother and child could share.

It would be many years before I realized that it was God who had answered my prayers, through the intercession of Our Blessed Mother and His Divine Mercy. The Blessed Mother helped me to come to her Son because she knew I needed her gentle motherly guidance. She knew I needed to actually feel and experience His love before I could learn to trust Him.

Well into this journey, something else extraordinary happened: God sent me St. Faustina.

'Not as the Just Judge'
In 2014, I finally got around to opening a thick red book I had purchased three years prior: St. Faustina's Diary. I lay in bed stunned as I read the promises Jesus makes to those who pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet, how He will stand "not as the just Judge but as the Merciful Savior" (1541).

I shouted out to Brian, "Did you know this?"

"Know what?" he responded.

"This!" I said, pointing at the Diary. "We should be shouting this from the rooftops!"

Not long after this moment, I visited the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy. In prayer, I begged God to heal my heart. Later that week, after I had returned home, He did!

I attended a "Life in the Spirit" seminar and listened to a talk on redemption, salvation, and the choices we make that determine where we will spend eternity. During that presentation, I was interiorly overcome with the memories of all the sins I had committed throughout my life. They all projected onto my consciousness like a horror movie. I struggled to suppress tears welling in my eyes.

When I got home, I fell to my knees and cried out to Jesus - using His name. In my heart, He allowed me to feel the weight of my sins and how physically painful it felt for Him to carry such weight. He then gave me the grace to see that it was my baby that I had aborted.

In prayer, I said to him, "I'm so broken." He responded to my heart, "I make all things new again."

It was then that He allowed me to feel His love for me. He took every ounce of pain away from my heart. I knew I would spend the rest of my life helping others come to understand this love He has for each one of us. We don't need to be afraid of Him. We need to come to Him, repent of our sins, ask for forgiveness, and completely trust in His mercy.

We need to be shouting this from the rooftops!

Earlier this year, I prayed for God to tell me the sex and the name of my baby whom I had aborted. I heard in prayer that it was a boy. His name is Joshua, which in Hebrew means "God is generous. God saves."

How great is our God!

That's my story, my love story. My cup truly runneth over. Jesus, I trust in You!

Dina Pacillo is a Marian Helper who lives in Derby, New York.

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