This was originally posted on the ides of March, and I took it down. I am putting it up again in honor of Respct Life Sunday. It may come down again soon.
I am terrified to write this post. There are some parts of my past that I have alluded to but have never come out directly to admit, and part of that is pride; I want to be seen as a "good Catholic girl." The truth is that maybe today I'm mostly a "good Catholic woman" but in the past, I was not. I got lost and I bought into our culture, and it's terrifying and even humiliating to admit the mistakes I made while I was wandering around in the desert of my own creation.
But I am even MORE terrified that someday, I may meet another woman with the same questions I have now, and she will ask me why I never brought this up. She will ask me why I didn't warn her and why I didn't try to save her babies. I can't undo my past, but I CAN influence someone else's future.
A few years ago, I was involved in a "long-term relationship", and we used contraception. I remember my willful ignorance, most of which I gained from "informed" sources, even when that information was contradicted. I had a roommate, a left-wing liberal Democrat social worker, who told me that contraception does, in fact, cause abortions. It does this because contraception cannnot necessarily suppress ovulation. And if ovulation occurs, and a child is conceived, that zygote cannot be implanted. Contraception makes the womb uninhabitable and flushes the new life out and away and into death.
I rejected what she said because I didn't like it, even though it struck me as truth. She let me live out my denial. After all, it was nothing to her; she was pro-"choice" to the core. She would have been the first in line to drive me down to Planned Parenthood for an abortion (and she expressed this to me on one occasion). Yet truth can come even in these unlikely packages. My friend told me the truth because she was my friend and she knew that I didn't believe in abortion. It must have cost her to somewhat compromise her own liberal agenda out of love for me, her friend, to help me not carry out something she knew was against my own values.
People are puzzling, aren't they?
But I still didn't listen to her. Not then, anyway, but even today, I hear her voice, and I ask questions. I have to wonder; in those years, did I kill a child that was supposed to come into the world?
One day at work as I counted down the night-shift hours, I saw a black-and-white photograph of a little girl and I KNEW I needed to reproduce this image. I took out my art supplies and carefully began to draw. I tenderly began to form the features that made up her face, her eyes, and her hair. I put deep, deep love into each and every stroke of the pencil and then of the charcoal. And then I carefully colored in her own personal hue, trying to infuse life into her pudgy baby-fat cheeks. I kept the sadness in her face, the solemn gaze in her eyes, and the subtle pout to her lips.
This child spoke to me. This child could have been mine.
I don't have a lot of my own art work on my walls, but this is one that was destined from its conception to face me every single day. Several people have asked me if she is mine, if she is related to me, or if she is someone I know. These questions have always amazed me because I do not see any outward connection to me, especially given her skin tone (I'm white), yet by their questions they prove to me that some of the artist goes into each work of art; just as part of the parent goes into each new life. This is why, when I look at this picture, I see what might have been. I see myself and I see her father. And by the comments of friends, they see us, too.
I see my little girl. A little girl who never came to be because I might have killed her.
Please, please, I beg you from the bottom of my heart and the depths of my soul to throw away your pills, your condoms, your sponges, your IUD's, and, please, don't kill your baby.
Can you really look into the eyes of this child and deny her life?
I have sometimes wondered the same thing about myself. HUGS for you Adoro.
Thank you for being in my life, Adoro. Your honesty and openness is incredibly powerful.
Thank you, guys. God bless you.
God loves you, no worries, the child is held in the palm of His hand--just as you are.
To me, a good sign of a healthy conscience, and an open mind is exactly the signs you have shown here that you are open to feeling the potential for harm that the culture of death. Whether or not an artificial form of contraception actually caused an abortion or not, it certainly did do harm, physically, emotionally and spiritually to you, and is an affront to your human dignity as a woman. I think this dignity, the dignity of a woman, made by God, and made in his image, is a powerful thing to be meditated on, especially by us men.
Men should ask themselves, when they desire a relationship with a woman; Am I desiring a relationship with her for the sake of satisfying my own desires, or am I desiring a relationship with her in accordance with who God made her to be, and who God made me to be? Contraception is part of what gets in the way of whatever vocation God gave us. It is either a means of escape from the full meaning of sex in one way, or another. Commonly, it is used so that sex can be completely separated from reproduction, creating the myth that sex is something cheap and which does not profoundly alter the persons who engage in it. I don't know who said it, but it's true, "they don't make a condom for your soul".
As somebody who has now come to the realization that he either wants everything God intended to go on between a man and a woman, or none of it, it's all falling into place for me. Sacramental marriage, and complete giving of self, or nothing. That's the dignified and the unspeakably beautiful response that comes from somewhere deep within us, a response that recognizes and prizes God's creative Grace making us in his image, male and female, that chooses Chastity, Continence and the full depth of human emotional and spiritual connection that was meant for one man and one woman in the sacrament of marriage.
If any of this is incoherent, it's because I've not finished my first coffee yet. :-)
Adoro te devote - Thanks for this post. This is one of those areas that I find the most difficulty preaching about - because there is so little support among my older fellow priests. I keep thinking, "when I am pastor" but that is a cop out. Thanks for telling this story - it gives me strength.
Adoro: Crying here, guilty here...because I've been there and done that. God bless you for your courage and honesty. I pray that your post has saved a life.
tara ~ thank you
ultracrepidarian ~ you are SO on target!
Fr. V ~ You DEFINITELY have to talk about this to people. They might get upset, but that's normal when a painful truth is revealed.
cathy ~ I hope so, too.
I thank God for faithful priests like you Father V! In fact, it is our faithful priests who are the greatest witness on this earth of our Lord and saviour. It is not only in the Sacrament of the Mass that priests make Christ truly present, but also when they humbly submit and do the will of the Father who called them. Didn't Jesus himself become the inspiration and prototype of all faithful Christians, especially priests, when he said, "I must do the will of my Father who sent me!". I have often thought that this Yes that Jesus said to God, this obedience, reflects a profound spiritual principle. It is the same principle reflected in Mary's "Yes!" to God, her "Fiat", "May it be done to me according to thy Word". It is also the central mystery of the Lord's prayer: That in doing the will of the Father, we become who we truly are, that we forgive others for their sins, that we are forgiven, and healed, and given our daily bread, when we enter into this mystery.
Ironicaly, it is our culture of death, our secular culture that promotes so-called "freedom" from rules, freedom from responsibility, but which leads to spiritual, physical, and emotional slavery, and it is submission to God which leads to real diversity, real beauty, real individuality, and perfect Joy!
Be of good courage!
Prining up this post and you comments to always keep this in mind.
Adoro, I so relate with this post. And I could not help writing about it myself today, as I avoid housework playing with the toddlertron. Thanks for your witness and the truth of what you say.
Fr. V ~ I hope that this helps someone.
sarah: Thank you. This really was a hard one to write and put out there, and all of you have affirmed that it still needed to be said. Fr. V. said that this gives HIM strength...and all of you have given ME strength!
I can relate to this post completely. A month or so back I posted a blog on wanting to be the 'good catholic girl' also. I'm very happy to hear I'm not alone in my concience, and I'm happy to read what warren posted about a good healthy concience.
Were you able to find a spiritual director yet? I will be praying for you.
Your drawing/painting is beautiful. It could be a little girl anywhere, anytime.. Perhaps you should offer it to your diocese's Respect Life committee to be used with the message you have given here.
I'd been raised Faith-fully but not as loyally as any of us thought, because at the "dangerous" times of the month here in marriage, we'd used artificial contraception and thought it responsible. When I read online many years after the fact that it wasn't okay, I was horrified.
I confessed it to my local priest with every intention, now, of always being open to God OR avoiding occasions of contraception (at 35 with two teens, a toddler and an infant, and with homeless kids living here and us taking care of dying parents, we honestly wanted no more children of our own). My priest then totally baffled me: "Wait, it's not neessarily a mortal sin.. this is something you and your husband must speak of and decide together.." He wanted to make an appointment for me to come and speak in more depth, but I just couldn't.
This is TMI but I knew at my particular 35, NFP wasn't going to be an accurate gauge, but I also knew we weren't exactly rendevousing chastely. Yet I wanted my best for him, and his for me. Dignity of the human body and soul doesn't stop after marriage.
May God bless all of you for wanting God's great holy will for us all, married and otherwise. And God bless you, adoro, you will have helped that someday woman to know what she may be doing, and she will indeed thank you.
I think this is a fromer part of the lives of many converts and 'now' practicing Catholics.
I have wondered if I have childen in heaven as well as on earth, I find it hard to believe that I don't, because prior to my conversion to Christianity I lived a sexually immoral life.
It is something that I am aware of and am repentant of, but I am also hopeful. The Lord is Merciful. If it pleases the Lord we will indeed meet our heavenly children.
As for the beautiful image, she is beautiful, whether real or imagined.
God Bless you!
from last march?
you are one forward brave person.
earlier this evening i was trying to come up with something to write acknowledging Respect Life Sunday - I gave up after several attempts.
thanks for re-posting this.
is this for your regulars, or as you said to Fr V, tell people.
May I use it on my blog tomorrow?
Lots of women have these same concerns, including me. We'll find out one day. I think the important thing is contrition, which you obviously have. I comfort myself by knowing that, if I were to have children, they would be in Heaven, and they would be praying for me, and I will meet them someday.
I've got a portion of it up.
Do you want anymore cropped out?
God bless you.
God bless you, Adoro.
And how many of us men who had love affairs and girlfriends who used IUD's, etc. have children that were aborted because of our own sin and "buy-in" to the culture of death!
all i can say is that, before i came to The faith and still lived in great ignorance, it is by God's great mercy, grace and pardon that i never had to be in the position where i had to consider whether or not take a life.
Thank you for that. This is a subject that truly is difficult for me to face squarely. You stirred my heart this morning.
Until very recently, I was a Lutheran in the ELCA. There, contraception is the norm. And it’s there where fertility treatments are the norm. The consequences of each are not discussed, and as a result, you’re truly “in the dark”. At least my wife and I were. Because both contraception and fertilization were part of our Christian lives, and we honestly felt that all was OK with God. It is only recently that I have come to see things differently. Only recently, have I come to see life as you do here.
For contraception, I easily see now where life could have been. Perhaps life would have been if we left that alone – meaning we would ultimately never have pursued fertility treatments. And with fertility treatments, I see life that is here now. That’s what makes this topic so much more difficult. But today, where I once was blind to it, I also realize the life that could have been.
When I was initially pursuing Catholicism, I didn’t fully understand why fertility treatments were frowned upon. To me, the end result is life and I didn’t understand. I have three beautiful children as a result of In Vitro fertilization. We prayed to become pregnant through that process and the results were blessings. So I thought, “If I become Catholic, how and why can I deny the life that God has provided?” I became frustrated and scared with pursuing the Catholic Church, because it felt like I would be denying my three kids. But I prayed for understanding…
I came to realize the reasons for the Church’s positions. For us, not only was life gained (and I thank God for that every day), but life might have been lost too. It’s confusing because I pray everyday for thanksgiving for my family, and I pray too for forgiveness for taking things (life) into my own hands.
Today, I’m thankful to belong to Christ in a way that through His Church, all life is valued at all costs. I’m with you when you pray for life – that the Holy Spirit would bring everyone to understanding. Thank you for touching my heart on that.
I used the pill for about 6 months when I was advised by a doctor to help with a problem. I knew there was something bad about using the pill but I thought that it would be okay for this purpose (since I was married) and found out later everything I know about it now. It would be the simplest thing for a doctor to warn a woman about this really big aspect of this drug. I think back in horror at those 6 months and wonder...That was about 12 years ago, but it doesn't erase what I know could have happend. Thank you for your story.
Great thought provoking post..
I'm glad you didn't take it down. I'm sure you were terrified that the forces of the culture of death would jump on you and rip you apart. But this needs to be heard by people. Thanks for being the voice of the voiceless.
What a stunning post! Such a poignant witness, God bless you. Your drawing of the little girl is the best I've seen you do - it is captivating and hauntingly beautiful.
God love you and keep you. Thanks for such a beautiful post.
Thank you, everyone.
Thank you, Adoro.
This is such an incredibly painful topic for those of us who know now what we refused to know then: we've lost children to the Pill. It is an awful, awful thing to realize what I have done.
Please, Fathers, do not shy away from this from the pulpit. You wouldn't have reached me, but you will reach someone, surely. The more flak you get, the more good you know you are doing.
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