This is a reprint of an article from 2007 regarding a men’s day retreat. Lumina continues to offer Entering Canaan Days of Prayer & Healing for men and will be having our next retreat in the Diocese of Bridgeport, CT on September 24th, 2022.
There is also a men’s day on July 23rd in Michigan. Visit the men’s retreat page for details!
Spread the word!
Fatherhood recovered. This could be the title of a retreat that I assisted in last weekend. It was a retreat for men suffering from past abortions. It is easy to forget that men suffer just as easily from abortions as women do. It may be more
traumatic for the mother of the aborted child because she experiences everything firsthand. However, the suffering that the father will experience, especially if he willingly approved of or participated in the abortion, is no less real.
This was a very powerful retreat.
For me, it helped me to see with a clarity that I never had before, the beauty of God’s gift of repentance in a person’s life. It also gave me a greater appreciation for how God has led me from my own sinful past to my present life of freedom in Him.
Often repentance sounds like a cold hard word to our 21st century ears. It raises up images of John the Baptist standing on the rocky shore of a swiftly flowing stream, wearing a dirty, smelly, course shirt of camel’s hair, his disheveled, matted
hair tossed in the wind, as he holds his hand in the air and cries, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” Instead of bringing us hope, these words, hidden behind the coldness of the image, can cause us to fear and to despair. The reality
is that repentance is a gift because it takes us from fear of ourselves and of our own sinful nature to a state of being who we are made to be, that is, fully realizing our identity, as it is in the eyes of our Creator. The truth about what is right and what is wrong, the truth about what mistakes (sins) I have done and God’s invitation to repentance, only appear as fearful things to those who are unwilling to change or to those who think they are unable to change. In my life I have met very few
who I would even suspect are in the first category.
Deep down everyone knows the mistakes they have made and wishes they had never made them and wishes that
they could undo them. However, most people think that there is no freedom from this weight of guilt and that there is no way to change oneself. This retreat was for the second type (the category to which I once belonged) and is an invitation to
move from fear of the sinner within, to life as the man one is meant to be in Christ Jesus, that is, a father.
Repentance has three steps: Fear, Freedom and Identity (which in this case is fatherhood). The Holy Spirit moving in the sinner’s heart moves him from fear to freedom and ultimately to fatherhood. One of the feelings that seemed to be
universal among the men on this retreat, was the feeling of unworthiness. They felt unworthy to be a father because they carried the guilt of aiding in the killing of their previous child. One man said that when he first saw his first son, years after
the abortion of this first conceived child, he did not want to look at him because he thought, “But I killed my first child.” Imagine that, in the back of your mind looms this tremendous guilt every time you see the beautiful smiles on your own
children’s faces. The devil uses this guilt to cause a fear that keeps us from God. He wishes us to believe that God cannot or would not forgive us if we turn to him, because we did such a great wrong. But Jesus said, “ I have come to save sinners
not the self righteous.” After turning us from God, fear will then turn us from those whom we love. This can lead to a serious depression or it can lead to more serious sins and even a whole lifestyle of sin. This is the way in which sin leads to
slavery. It keeps us from loving and being who we are meant to be, in this case, a father and husband. Freedom, then, comes from repentance.
Freedom is linked to repentance because it is linked to the truth. Jesus said, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Repentance is acknowledgment of the truth that I have sinned. This is the first step to freedom. To admit the
truth, that I have sinned, and then give it to Christ, who takes the burden off our shoulders, and carries it on his shoulders, sets us free. Then the process to become a husband and a father in Christ Jesus can begin. I noticed one other commonality which was that the motivation that drove the men to seek this healing. It was for the sake of those whom they loved, so that they would not wound others through their own woundedness. St. John tells in his first letter, “perfect love casts out fear.” If this was the case for them, that love for others led them to return to God in order to give those whom they love that which is best, freedom in true love. In this way we overcome our fears and move through repentance to the freedom that is in Christ. Some of the men on the retreat began this process several years ago and some began it that same day. But for all of them and for all sinners, in general, it is a journey that will take all of their lives. God
will bless not only those who have begun to seek Him, but a multitude of others through them. And they will know the truth and the truth will set them free.
Br Felix Desilets, CF (reprint 2007)