I am the mother of seven children — birth mother to three and killing field to four. And even though that happened over thirty years ago, and I confessed my sins and received absolution while preparing my oldest son for his First Holy Communion, the wounds still remain.
Seeking to forget my abortion experiences, I buried them deep in my mind. The “forgetting” consisted only in the fact that I never discussed them with anyone. On hearing others raise the subject of abortion, I would suffer intense distress, sorrow, and pain. The years passed, and I was no stranger to life’s problems. I had to leave for Germany with my family, worry over my grownup children, and suffer
Depression. The psychosomatic healing took nearly ten years. I was committed to a sanatorium three times. The doctors tried to help me. They tried to find the cause of my illness. As I saw it then, the problems were themselves the cause. A vicious circle. Despair.
During all those years my spiritual life consisted in going to church — nothing more. I was afraid of God. I felt unworthy to approach Him. Mary was the only one I dared turn to. She became my confidante. I turned to her with my problems, but I did little about them myself.
One day when visiting Poland, I went into a Catholic bookstore. On a little side table I noticed Sister Faustina Kowalska’s Diary, which I immediately bought. The Divine Mercy intrigued me, and I felt a strong desire to experience it. But my soul was numb to its message. Still, I began to recite the chaplet of Divine Mercy — doggedly and without cease. I made a note of all the words spoken by Jesus as written down by St. Faustina. I was especially moved by the following words in Notebook Five: “My daughter, encourage souls to say the chaplet, which I have given to you. It pleases me to grant everything they ask of me by saying the chaplet….Write this for the benefit of distressed souls: when a soul sees and realizes the gravity of her sins, when the whole abyss of the misery into which she immersed herself is displayed before her eyes, let her not despair, but with trust let her throw herself in the arms of my mercy. These souls have a right of priority to my compassionate heart, they have first access to my mercy” (Diary, 1541). I read and I wept, not knowing what to do with myself. And then, just when the words, “Jesus, I trust in You!” became my SOS, I learned that Fr. Józef Kozłowski of the Renewal in the Holy Spirit and the “Strong in the Spirit” evangelical group were offering a retreat in the city of Łódź. I felt that only the Holy Spirit could enlighten me. And so it happened!
Wishing to confess my sins against life again, I made a general confession and received a gift: the prayer of freedom from the effects of sin. At last the fetters fell away. I began to understand the cause of my depressions. Suddenly, after so many years of spiritual paralysis, I felt the rapturous embrace of an infinitely forgiving Divine Mercy. At last I could forgive myself as well.
I took the Life in the Spirit seminar course. The weekly prayer meetings with people who invited Jesus into their hearts, so that He might transform them, gave me strength. The emptiness inside me began to be filled. I was healed of depression. What a surprise that God should have healed even me! But my aborted children continued to occupy my thoughts. A strange yearning persisted.
Thanks to the grace of spiritual direction, I embarked on a path of repentance. I began the journey in the year 2000, the Jubilee Year — the year of special graces. It lasted from February 2 to November 1. During this time I undertook a nine-month-long spiritual adoption, which I called the “Conception of Love.” This helped me to foster love for my children. Every day I recited a mystery of the rosary, uniting myself with Mary the Mother. I wanted these nine months to be a novena of worship to God the Giver of Life. Every day I studied and meditated on the growth of the child in the mother’s womb. I worshiped God in each human gene, each chromosome, and every new cell. I became enraptured by the miracle and beauty of the development of new life. Yet even then I felt a pain, which I called “the pain of truth about myself.” I needed this pain, for it taught me love. I talked to Mary about my unborn children and begged her to convey my love to them. My inner wound was too deep for me to be able to turn to them directly. But God healed me of this as well. Toward the end of the seventh month of my prayer for love, I finally felt a desire — a desire I was able entrust to Mary — to give my unborn children names. I said to Mary: “Momma, you see how much I want to be with you. What names should I give my children? After all, I don’t even know if they’re boys or girls. Please advise and help me in this matter.” This was on the eve of the Feast of Our Lady of Częstochowa. The following morning, just before going to work, I opened the Holy Scriptures so as to fortify myself with at least a few verses. I read an excerpt from the Book of Daniel: “Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names…” (1: 6-7). Full of gratitude to God, I rushed off to work. Now I was able to give names to my four sons! This took place on the last day of my period of penance — on the Feast of All Souls.
That day I wanted to give special thanks to God for the gift of life. I invited my family and community to the Polish Catholic Mission in Ludwigsburg where the presiding priest offered up a Holy Mass for my unborn children. I thanked God for the gift of their life. My children were alive. One day I would meet them. They were deceased persons, and so they needed Holy Masses to be said for them. That is what I felt. After the Mass, we proceeded to the Marian chapel where I had prayed during my period of penance. The priest read the Gospel account of the Lord’s Annunciation and explained the meaning of “baptism of desire” concerning those souls who are not christened in the Church. There followed a prayer of worship and thanksgiving during which I openly thanked God for the gift of my penitential journey. After that I named each of my unborn children. For the first time, I was able to speak to them personally, heart to heart. Lighting a candle, I spoke to each of my sons in turn: “Son, I give you the name Matthew (Mark, Luke, John). I declare my love for you and beg your forgiveness.” That evening, in the cemetery, I lit four votive lamps to commemorate their lives.
My penitential journey was an act of love for God, the Giver of Life, and a period of spiritual bonding in love with my children. Having completed it, I embarked on the next stage of my life’s journey — that of service to life by promoting the prayer of spiritual adoption of conceived children and by sharing my experience with others. While always causing me great pain, my personal testimony also prompts an “awakening” in others. I have been doing this for seven years.
The suffering caused by the sin against life is great indeed. Counselors, spiritual advisers, and those who were party to this sin eventually move on, but the mother remains alone with this pain for the rest of her life. It is impossible to forget an abortion. Fortunately we have Jesus and His Mercy and Love. Christ has liberated us “into freedom.” And so I have placed all the effects of my sins at the foot of His cross. I have entrusted myself to Him totally. God leads me in my service to life from conception to natural death; that is, life in all its stages, including lives that have been wounded from lack of love, frequently from the moment they are conceived.
I urge all wounded mothers to follow the course of healing that I took — in community, within the bosom of the Church:
Last of all, I wish to recall the words of Servant of God, John Paul II. I came upon them soon after completing my penitential journey. For me they reinforce and reaffirm that which matured within me during that journey. In addition, they serve me as a road sign in my journey of service to life: “I would now like to say a special word to women who have had an abortion. The Church is aware of the many factors, which may have influenced your decision, and she does not doubt that in many cases it was a painful and even shattering decision. The wound in your heart may not yet have healed. Certainly what happened was and remains terribly wrong. But do not give in to discouragement, and do not lose hope. Try rather to understand what happened and face it honestly. If you have not already done so, give yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance. The Father of mercies is ready to grant you his forgiveness and his peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. To the same Father and his mercy you can with sure hope entrust your child. With the friendly and expert help and advice of other people, and as a result of your own painful experience, you can be among the most eloquent defenders of everyone’s right to life. Through your commitment to life, whether by accepting the birth of other children or by welcoming and caring for those most in need of someone to be close to them, you will become promoters of a new way of looking at human life” (Evangelium vitae, 99).
The above article was published with permission from "Love One Another!" in August 2016.