“I desire trust from My creatures. Encourage souls to place great trust in My fathomless mercy. Let the weak, sinful soul have no fear to approach Me, for even if it had more sins than there are grains of sand in the world, all would be drowned in the immeasurable depths of My mercy. “( Diary 1059)
Choosing Divine Mercy
There is a beautiful Eucharist Prayer in the Catholic Church that says this: “God of love and mercy, You are always ready to forgive, we are sinners and You invite us to trust in Your mercy.” He does not force us, He invites us. He tells us it is there for us, it is up to us if we accept His invitation.
Mary had been to confession multiple times before she came to our “Entering Canaan” post abortion ministry retreat, she often shared, “I have confessed my abortion so many times, but I just do not feel forgiven.” Because of various circumstances in her life, Mary had not been able to accept the mercy of God.
It is not unusual for someone who has been involved in an abortion to voice those feelings d in spite of having gone to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. They do not feel the forgiveness, the “mercy” of God. In fact, more often than not, an abortion will be confessed over and over again. As human beings, so much of what we believe is based on our feelings or past experiences which very often may not reflect truth. Being forgiven and “feeling” forgiven are two very different things.
Par t of the problem is being unable to forgive yourself, another, I believe, is an inability to accept that walking into a confessional and telling a priest about your abortion, and then receiving a penance of three or three thousand Hail Mary’s ,will somehow equate to forgiveness for participating in the death of your own child. It just seems way too easy, and it is!
We can never make up for our abortions, and three or three thousand Hail Mary’s is not going to do it. Neither is speaking out, working in ministry or praying in front of clinics,(which does not mean any of these should not be done, or make any of them bad). There is only one thing that atones for the sin of abortion (or for that matter, any sin), and that is the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ, and the healing we receive through His gift of mercy freely given to us.
Mary Ellen says it this way, “At first “mercy” was just a word, an idea, which in my mind vaguely was synonymous with compassion and forgiveness. I heard it in the prayers and blessings at the Gatherings I attended. But, I heard it constantly. Every piece of writing from the “Entering Canaan” post abortion ministry echoed the word Mercy. Over the years, without my knowing it, the word Mercy became for me a kind of mantra, something to hold onto in the dark. It began to work on me without my knowing it.”
“Something to hold onto in the dark”, devoid of feelings. A knowing while in the dark! A choosing to believe in this mercy we have been invited to trust in.
Believing that somehow our “feelings” are a gage of our forgiveness can be misleading. Kathy had gone on a weekend retreat and left feeling totally healed and forgiven. She was experiencing a spiritual high. However, as the days went on and the old familiar tapes of despair begin to play in her head again, the “stinking thinking of abortion” once again told her she was not forgiven or healed. “He healed everyone else on that weekend but not me” she said,” My sin must be worse, He loves and forgave her but not me.” Kathy was suffering from the same reaction to a lack of feelings as Mary. They were basing their forgiveness on how they felt instead of the truth. If you go confession and received absolution, you are forgiven no matter what the sin or circumstances around it!
Healing from abortion is multifaceted. In addition to confession and growth in relationship with God, an understanding of the dynamics of abortion and the reasons it happened also need to be explored. Identifying personal abortion connectors are also key in the healing process, as well as very often delving into other areas of life that became manifest before or after the abortion, abuse, addiction, disorders, etc, that are instrumental to healing.
As the person moves through this process, it may often feel as though they are moving backwards because of the feelings they are experiencing, hence an act of the will to trust in the mercy of God no matter what, is crucial. As they grow in relationship with Him they are able to more freely look honestly at their lives no matter what they have done, knowing they are unconditionally loved. Having the support of others through ministry, professional counseling and/ or spiritual direction is also crucial.
As Mary Ellen says so well, “I am learning Mercy, because it is a process and a journey into the kind of deep love and forgiveness of myself — and others — that I can only begin to grasp. From my beginning, almost neutral experience with Mercy as a simple word, it has evolved in my life experience as a tangible and effective tool, an action verb that I have learned can more quickly than I ever imagined, bring a swift conclusion to the obsessive dark voice that would grind my spirit with self-recrimination and unbelief. Be gone Satan!”
“Mercy is a way of life, and it is life changing. Now whenever darkness calls, I choose Mercy and life.”
Do you choose mercy?
“I am one who is looked upon by the Lord. I always felt my motto, Miserando atque Eligendo [By Having Mercy and by Choosing Him], was very true for me.” Pope Francis