Archbishop Dolan began the day by admonishing those in attendance to respond with love to those who have not yet come to the truth. He recounted a recent conversation with an abortionist who told him that the pro-life movement is winning because we are changing hearts. That’s true. But after the Archbishop spoke, we heard from several with broken hearts.
The older couple whose daughter was ashamed to say she was pregnant so many years ago and aborted. The husband was particularly poignant when he lamented that his daughter felt she needed to be perfect before she could be loved by them.
The husband who was the one to suggest abortion to his wife. The shared loss of dignity. He stated that there were no words to say “I’m sorry” in a manner that could encompass what he suggested and what they had done.
The friend who let her best friend go ahead with abortion for fear of sounding judgmental and losing a friendship.
The mother who spoke more to her baby than to us, telling her how very sorry she was, how the baby is never far from her thoughts so many years later.
The abortionist whose voice cracked as he recounted having to have talked himself into distancing emotionally from what he’d been doing. The obvious burden he bears, rejoicing in God’s mercy, but unable to shake off all of those deaths at his hands.
And so they came and went, a heart-wrenching procession of what some might derisively dismiss as ‘statistical noise’, which is to say an artifact in the numbers.
In truth, the sorrow was almost unbearable.
As I sat there, I silently asked for God’s forgiveness that I am so late to the table. I was also inspired by each presenter’s witness to God’s mercy; “An ocean of mercy,” as one presenter put it. That’s the beauty of Christianity in general, and Catholicism in particular. We never stop proclaiming the love and mercy of our Father in Heaven, who is Love and Mercy. As I listened to the doctor speaking, I was struck by the thought that indeed God’s Love is infinitely greater than the worst sins of those among us.
It’s simply there for the asking. I thought of the older man lamenting how his daughter felt that she needed to be perfect in order to be loved by him. Now, if that man with all of his sins doesn’t require perfection as a precondition for love, how much less does God the Father expect us to do it all on our own before coming to Him? It’s impossible and even futile to try.
That was Jesus’ point in Matthew when He said, “If you with all of your sins know how to give your children what is good, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to anyone who asks?”
Words to consider as we head into the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. We ought not yield to despair over our particular failings, but drown them in the ocean of God’s Love and Mercy.