A voice is heard in Ramah, lamenting and weeping bitterly: it is Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted because they are no more. Matthew 2:18
Yesterday, January 22, 2017, was the 44th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Later this week hundreds of thousands of Americans will march on Washington to express their ongoing grief and mourning for the victims of abortion who are no more.
Rachel wept. At the moment captured in Jeremiah 31:15, consolation was not what Rachel needed. Rachel needed to grieve. In our culture, we suppress grief and make ourselves truly inconsolable, unable to be consoled. This is especially true of the post-abortive woman. She is not only taught not to grieve but that there is nothing to grieve for.
For many young people their school’s unwritten curriculum, aided by the mainstream media, subtly but pervasively instills the lie that humans not yet born have no rights, not even the most basic – the right to live. To believe otherwise is to relegate oneself to the lunatic fringe. Any young woman with hopes of a successful life, who wants to be considered intelligent and modern, will believe this lie and all of the subordinate lies that go along with it. If she senses that the desire of her heart is for true and lasting love, for home and family, she suppresses it as anachronistic and impossible. Should she notice her promiscuous habits are leaving her feeling less and less content rather than the inverse she was promised, she will likely assume something is wrong with her rather than with the lifestyle she has been sold.
Should she becomes pregnant and choose to kill the life growing within her, she assumes she will just get on with her life with no regrets, no physical consequences, and perhaps somehow even be rewarded by the cosmos for making the worldly-prudent choice. As St. Teresa of Avila said, “Lord, deliver us from the prudence of worldlings.”
Be Not Afraid
What passes for prudence in our world is really fear in disguise. I won’t be able to finish school. I won’t be able to get a good job. I won’t be able to lead the life I had planned. These are a few of the fear-based thoughts that enter the mind of a woman who chooses abortion. In the end, the lie of choice is this: a woman aborts her baby because she believes she has no choice. If she won’t kill her baby she fears she will be left on her own. Only when a woman is given all of the information she needs about the help available through her pregnancy and beyond will authentic choice happen.
Unfortunately, most women do not get this information and are left alone with their fears. This is when the lie that says the unborn have no rights yields its evil fruit. The woman aborts her child, the child dies and the woman is left wounded to her very core. The lies do not stop here, however. If she receives any post-procedure information, she will be told that it was all no big deal and that she may experience some mild discomfort and be out-of-sorts for a bit, but nothing lasting. Soon she will be right back where she was before the pregnancy.
Why then, she agonizes, have none of her discomforts turned out to be mild? Far from being right back where she was, it seems everything about her is changed. She likely will make a heroic effort to be normal, keep moving, live life as before, or a more extreme version of before. In the midst of this, her soul will keep trying to tell her that things are not as before, that she had become something, a mother.
Now she remains a mother, but her baby is no more. Rachel needs to weep, but cannot allow herself. The cognitive dissonance is too great. She believes one set of things, but everything about her experience, her body, and her heart are trying to tell her something else. She becomes confused and filled with self-doubt and loathing.
… and that they may return to their senses out of the devil’s snare, where they are entrapped by him, for his will. 2 Timothy 2:26
This state of confusion and self-loathing is the enemy’s perfect trap, built, maintained and perfected by supposed women’s groups. The lie of choice is so rank that even they speak less and less about “peace” and “choice” and more about necessity. The ability to kill one’s child is now a necessity. Of course, in the devil’s progressive way, necessity will give way to duty (it is your duty to kill your child), duty to law (you must kill your child). The lie of choice is laid bare. We already see this in communist countries where unpermitted pregnancies are forcibly terminated.
All the while Rachel will not weep, but she will self-medicate using drugs, hooking up, or another self-destructive behavior. She may even repeat the tragedy. She will wonder more and more, “What is wrong with me?” She will be following society’s prescription for a happy and successful life, and yet she will increasingly despair. She may have all of the trappings of a modern life, yet feel a void so deep and wide and nameless, that she knows not how long she can keep the façade going.
Should she have enough self-knowledge to know something is wrong and seek counsel, she will likely be lied to again. These lies may prolong her façade, even to herself but the self-denying, self-destructive behavior will continue often with the added guilt of, “Why can’t I just be happy like I am supposed to be.” The enemy circles closer and closer, tempting with thoughts of the final solution, “You really aren’t very good at this life. You should just get out of the way. It is your right, your choice, your life: end it. The pain will stop forever.”
But Jesus has another plan, a plan for weeping and grieving. Jesus comes and offers himself, his unconditional love. If Rachel’s heart has any life left in it and she reaches out to Love, she will escape the enemy’s snare. She will fall in love with her Liberator and then, at long last, she will weep. She will weep and she will be healed. She will grieve and she will repent. She will learn the truth and run to it like the beacon of salvation that it is.
After Rachel weeps, Jeremiah 31 continues:
There is hope for your future… Indeed, I heard Ephraim rocking in grief: You chastised me, and I was chastised; I was like an untamed calf. Bring me back, let me come back, for you are the LORD, my God
Jesus does bring our modern Rachel back. In Jesus, Rachel will find all mercy, forgiveness, restoration, truth, healing, freedom, peace and consolation, if she allows herself. This grace of weeping, of wailing, is a gift that leads us deeper into a mystery. This mystery does not provide safety, guarantees, or a projected path of progress. It provides an opportunity to abandon oneself to healing, to love, to truth and to mercy.
The enemy’s snares become more sophisticated by the day. Even those seeking Jesus have new snares and lies set for them. But once Rachel has tasted the love, mercy and true consolation that her Beloved offers, she will become a snare smasher. She will smash lies with the hammer of truth and smash fear with the hammer of trust in God. She will lead others to her Beloved and the liberation he offers.
On this day of remembrance of the millions of Holy Innocents lost since 1973, I pray for all of my fellow Rachels: mercy. I was once a foolish young woman who believed the world’s lies and trusted only myself to make my way. When I found myself pregnant and unmarried, in a “foolish” position that my proud heart could not abide, I did not think twice. I did not ponder choices because I believed that I didn’t have any. I aborted, I killed, my child.
The story of my lost son, my Michael Gabriel, is a story for another time. Right now is the time for every Rachel out there who believes there is something wrong with her because she can’t snap out of it and get on with her life. It’s for every aging mother who can’t stop thinking about one “choice” she made decades ago that changed everything, and not for the better. It’s for every woman who can’t forgive herself and doesn’t know that there is a Savior who is waiting to love her, to forgive her and to set her free.
Reach out, they are waiting
There are men and women out there who are waiting to help you to know that freedom in your soul. One such man is the late Oblate of Mary Immaculate, Father James C. Erving. Yesterday would have been his 46th birthday. God knew what he was doing when he gave Father Jim January 22nd for his birthday. Father was Jesus’ mercy personified to the Rachels sent his way. By the time I met Fr. Jim, I had already come back to the Church and full Sacramental life. I had already flown home on the wings of Jesus’ mercy. But Father’s healing gift in the Confessional helped me to further uncover the lies and knots in my still-worldly thinking, thus allowing Jesus’ mercy deeper entrance into my heart and soul. I am forever indebted to him. Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord.
Great as he was, Father Jim was just one man. He was a faithful servant of the Lord, but merely one of God’s instruments. God has many more instruments ready and waiting. Today, Rachels, I beg you to open the door of your wounded heart just a crack. The world tells us we will find peace and satisfaction through meditation, exercise, careers, materialism, food, alcohol, drugs, whatever. There is only one Peace. He waits for you with unrequited love. He longs for you, just as you are, wounds and fears and mistakes and all. His mercy awaits. Come to him.
Please pray this prayer for yourself:
Lord, I am afraid. I don’t know what to say or do. I know things aren’t right between us. I long for peace and to let go of this pain. Please help me.
And I pray for you, Rachel:
Lord, she believed the lies. And now the enemy has had his way. Bring her back. Heal her. Forgive her. Show Rachel your great Mercy, Lord!
Blessed Mother Mary, please hold and love your beloved daughter Rachel. Help her to come to Jesus for Mercy, forgiveness and healing. Amen.
Fear not, your brothers and sisters are waiting to help you: http://hopeafterabortion.com/ or call 1-888-456-HOPE.
A great prayer for life is urgently needed, a prayer which will rise up throughout the world. Through special initiatives and in daily prayer, may an impassioned plea rise to God, the Creator and lover of life, from every Christian community, from every group and association, from every family and from the heart of every believer. Pope Saint John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae, no. 100