If you are looking for my blog titled, The Contemplative Catholic Convert, you are at the right spot.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Even for an Abortion

This essay appears in similar forms in my two books, “We Believe: Forty Meditations on the Nicene Creed,” and “Lessons Along the Journey.” As we approach the anniversary of Roe v. Wade – the 1973 Supreme Court decision which legalized abortion in the 50 United States – I decided to post this essay again on the blog because my abortion was a sentinel event in my life, a horrible and defining blight on my past. I repeat my story because it illustrates the magnitude of God’s grace, love and forgiveness.

In heaven we will know each other by the glance of the soul. – St. Elizabeth Seaton

Has it really been more than 40 years since I killed my baby? It seems like only last week. I remember what my girlfriend wore when I drove her to the clinic, where I parked the car, how many dimes I dropped into the parking meter . . . .

1967. Six years before the US Supreme Court legalized abortion in all 50 states. New York was one of a few states in which abortion was legal. I was 17, my girlfriend, 18. Both of us, I told myself, were too young to bear the responsibilities of a baby.

"What do you mean, you're pregnant?" I asked when she returned from the doctor’s office. I knew she expected me to propose marriage.

Instead, I talked her into having an abortion.

It was easy to suggest that alternative. I chose to believe our baby was only a glob of cells growing in her womb. I chose to believe Judith had the right to choose what to do with her own body, and that every baby should be a wanted baby. I embraced every excuse I’d ever heard because each one freed me of my obligation to Judith and to our child. A few months after the abortion, my girlfriend and I went our separate ways.

Today, my son or daughter would be more than forty years old. Perhaps she would be a teacher. Or a physician. Or a musician. Or a . . . Perhaps I would be a grandfather.

But there is no perhaps. I can never turn back the clock and silence the lies and excuses that over-ruled my conscience.

I lived with the ache of what I’d done for many years, until I found solace in Christ’s forgiveness, and hope in Scripture’s promises. Two in particular brought me peace: “if we acknowledge our sins, he is trustworthy and upright, so that he will forgive our sins and will cleanse us from all evil” (1 John 1:9); and, “in [Christ], through his blood, we gain our freedom, the forgiveness of our sins. Such is the richness of the grace which he has showered on us . . .” (Ephesians 1:7, 8).

I could rest in the assurance that God forgave me for killing my baby, although my terrible sadness lingered.

However, thirty-three years after becoming a Christian, the Holy Spirit deepened my comfort when He led me to the Catholic Church and I learned the full meaning of the Communion of Saints. The Church’s teaching of that Communion assures me that, because of God’s great mercy, my baby is in heaven – and she is praying for me.

And, most important, she forgives me.

Oh, what solace that thought provides; She forgives me.

When Christians repeat the inestimable words of promise in the Nicene Creed: “We look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come,” we can take great comfort in knowing that those who wait for us around God's throne – even those we hurt in this life – forgive us. Washed in the blood of the Lamb and now perfected in love, they wait to welcome us to an eternity of forgiveness and love.
Nothing we’ve done is beyond God’s forgiveness

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