God calls us to a radical love. Man’s union with God is, as Pope Benedict XVI said in Deus Caritas Est, “not just a sinking in the nameless ocean of the Divine; rather, it is a unity which creates love . . . “
Personal, loving encounters with women and men who have chosen abortion can be such a unity which creates love.
All who believe in the dignity of every person want to transform our culture from one that views death as the only option to suffering and inconvenience, to one that sees life, love and hope as possibilities.
God the father goes to any lengths for his sheep and so must we.
So just how do we provide this encounter with grace?
Here are 10 Tips to Help you Create an Encounter with Grace for Those Suffering From Abortion:
1. Be aware of any judgments you have about this woman. Of course you will have judgements, you know that abortion is wrong. However, in order to create a loving encounter you need to put these during this encounter. Say a quick prayer, offer your judgements to God, and ask Jesus to help you be His ears, eyes, words and heart to this woman.
2. Listen. Let woman do the talking and tell you her story without interruption. You don’t have to understand everything. She needs to share the burden she’s been carrying alone and in secret for so long.
If she has had an abortion she may talk about:
- What happened at the clinic
- Rage and anger – at the boyfriend, her parents, clinic personnel, God, herself
- Guilt, regret, depression, nightmares
- Using alcohol, or drugs to try and forget
- Suicidal thoughts
- Grief and loss
- Feeling alienated from boyfriend, parents, family, friends
- Feeling undeserving of love and forgiveness
If she’s contemplating abortion, encourage her to talk about
- Her choices and dilemma
- Her fears about choosing to keep her baby or to give him up for adoption.
- Communicate hope for her and her baby
3. Be empathic; empathy is the power of understanding and imaginatively entering into another person’s feelings. This can be uncomfortable because you will feel this woman’s pain.
4. Assure her of your friendship, love and support. Let her know you care and that she no longer needs to handle this alone. Tell her you will help her find healing.
5. Inquire about any social/emotional support on which she might rely. Ask open ended questions about parents, friends, relatives, father figure to identify any support/emotional support and if they seem safe and supportive of life, encourage her to talk to them.
6. Offer resources. You can tell her that you recently heard about a safe place where trained people can help her overcome her grief, loss, anger, and suffering. They offer counseling, support groups and retreats. She can find compassion, forgiveness, grace, faith and love. Give her the name and number of Project Rachel (http://hopeafterabortion.com/)or Rachel’s Vineyard (http://www.rachelsvineyard.org/).
7. Spiritual healing. Tell her of the mercy and forgiveness of Christ. Even a woman who isn’t religious or a church-goer often believes that God will never forgive her for having an abortion. Tell her that God is merciful and wants to comfort her and give her peace. You might want to invite your friend to go to church with you.
8. Encourage her to reach out for emotional healing through counseling with a Catholic Therapist (to find a therapist in her area, go to www.catholictherapist.com).
9. Prayer/Scripture. Encourage her to share her feelings with God in prayer. Scripture passages such as the parable of The Good Shepherd or the parable of The Prodigal Son.
10. If you don’t feel called in this area, or you don’t have an opportunity, your local post-abortion healing ministry (see #6 above) is always in need of monetary and/or material donation in order to bring these healing encounters to those reaching out for post-abortion healing.
Of course this isn’t an exhaustive list, so if you have a tip I didn’t think of, please share it with us!