A seminarian perspective on this very important ministry of mercy:
There are various ministries in the Church which offer healing to men and women who have suffered an experience with abortion. Each of them, with God’s grace, is able to bring help to suffering men and women. From my experience, however, I see that the work of Bethesda is particularly fruitful because of its emphasis on the essential nature of ongoing community in the healing process. The experiences and reactions that women and men suffer following an experience with an abortion are incredibly diverse and complex. Sometimes it is clear that the experiences or feelings are different, even contradictory, from one person to another. And yet, each person needs healing and this healing happens precisely in the community. Despite the diversity of their experiences there is a common thread of personal brokenness being healed and brought back to life through God’s grace.
Community is an essential part of being human: we all have a need to relate to another person and to be understood by the other. This goes back to the very beginning when God created a fellow human being for Adam. “It is not good for man to be alone” declared God before creating Eve, and how many men and women can verify the truth of these words! How many have tried to bear the shame of abortion in isolation and guilt! The devil often tells two lies to women who have had an abortion. The first one is before the abortion: “Abortion is not really a big deal-you will never regret this action” and the second one is after abortion: “Abortion is such a big sin that you can never be forgiven or healed.” The second lie is even more insidious than the first because it makes women despair of God’s mercy. Both lies are told to the woman in isolation, and it is precisely through a relationship, through a community, that these lies are exposed, first perhaps in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and then enlarged upon in the prayerful space at Bethesda. Within the safe space of the Bethesda community, men and women can finally open themselves more fully to the grace and loving mercy of God. I often notice that it is not necessary to say something at every meeting: men and women obtain healing simply from listening and having the support of the Bethesda community. The Lord Jesus promised that he would be present in a community: “wherever two or three are gathered in my name, there will I be in their midst” -and this promise is visible and realized at Bethesda.
Seminarian in 2nd Theology at the Pontifical College Josephinum
Diocese of Birmingham in Alabama
Bethesda Healing Ministry pastoral seminarian for academic year.