From the Pastor: Love and Mercy in Confession
What do you do after you have had an abortion or participated in one? As I mentioned last week the first thing to do after repenting of this or any sin, is turn back to God. Although that seems simple enough, there are often questions people challenge themselves with before they dare to approach the “mercy seat” of God (the confessional). “Will He even listen to my prayer?” and, “Won’t He hate me and condemn me for what I have done?” But the answers are not sought out of fear of negative results. They think (mistakenly) that even God could not love them after what they have done. So many people, after engaging in mortal sin, are afraid to turn to God. This holds true even (maybe especially) after repenting of abortion. Why is that? I will hazard a guess that it is often because of the hard-hearted example of the father of the aborted child and the fathers of the couple who conceived the child. After all, it is often these fathers who either insist that the baby must be killed or silently assent to it, thus giving up their true manhood as they force the mothers to to the dirty work (and then get the blame). These fathers, who are supposed to sacrificially love and protect at all costs, instead inflict a most terrible pain by turning parents into murderers and the child into a sacrificial offering. They inflict the most brutal physical, mental and spiritual anguish imaginable, all in the name of “love.” Satan then easily persuades those wounded by sin, repentant or not, that their Heavenly Father will do the same--and worse, because He has more of the same “love” and more power to back it up.
They become afraid of receiving wrath, they despair of receiving forgiveness, and so they stay as far away from God as possible. It is in this terrible, anguished time period that other evils take over, such as wanton licentiousness, drug and alcohol abuse, self mutilation and an oftentimes open show of self loathing as if defying anyone else to love the one who cannot even love him/herself (sometimes evidenced by cutting, gross body piercings and/or tattoos, goth blackness, occult practices, etc.)
What gets lost in all of this is that the whole time God has been waiting for the return of His lost sheep, not to pounce on him and devour him but rather to embrace him, celebrate his return, and even raise him to an exalted state. Jesus assures us of this! “I say to you, that even so there shall be joy in heaven upon one sinner that doth penance, more than upon ninety-nine just who need not penance.” (Luke 15:7) Then He tells us that incredible (yet true to eternal life!) story of the prodigal son. The Father is always waiting, always ready to forgive, always truly loving every one of His children, even when they have done unlovable things. Earlier in Luke’s Gospel (chapter 7) Our Lord had given an example of the immense healing love that results from--and is a result of--forgiveness when He told of two debtors whose debts were forgiven. One was forgiven much debt, one a little debt. “Which therefore of the two loveth him most? Simon answering, said: I suppose that he to whom he forgave most. And [Jesus] said to him: Thou hast judged rightly.” Just so the one receiving absolution after an abortion can love more than ever before, as he/she rejoices in God’s mercy and, out of sheer gratitude, responds to it more fully than ever before.
“Be not afraid” of confession! Confess all of your sins with confidence! These are the (traditional rite) words you will hear (in Latin) as God’s loving mercy is poured upon you: “May our Lord Jesus Christ absolve you. And I by His authority release you from every bond of excommunication (suspension) and interdict, in so far as I am empowered and you have need. And now I absolve you from your sins; in the name of the Father, and of the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit.” This is true Love being exchanged, given and received! Because it is a sacrament instituted by Christ, the words of the priest actually “do” what they say. Excommunications are lifted, sin is absolved, “where sin abounded, grace did more abound” and a Saint emerges from the box.
If you or someone you know needs assistance coping with abortion beyond the confessional, please know that Project Rachel is available and has helped many men and women. Contact information is elsewhere in today’s bulletin and easily found online.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka