By LORRAINE V. MURRAY, Commentary | Published August 18, 2016
Every time I pass by the fig tree, I feel ashamed. You see, a few years ago, the tree was heavily laden with ripe fruit the neighbors weren’t harvesting, so I sent a note asking if I could gather some for jam-making.
They said that would be fine, and from that point on, whenever I saw tender, fat figs, I happily collected them.
I was deeply embarrassed because I knew I had overstepped my bounds—and I’ve never told anyone about the incident because it reveals a side of my personality I’m not proud of.
That kind of social shame stings, but it’s different from moral shame, which occurs when we ignore our conscience—that little voice inside that warns us whenever we’re tempted to do something sinful. Something that clashes with the natural law God has written on our hearts.
That law includes the inclination to protect innocent children, which traditionally was found in every culture on earth.
Unfortunately, some cultures are ignoring the voice of conscience, resulting in laws that say it’s acceptable to take the lives of the most innocent among us—babies in the womb.
Many women who have had abortions deeply regret them, as do the fathers involved. In my case, I was an atheist and radical feminist at the time, and I believed a woman’s rights trumped those of her unborn child.
Still, I kept it a secret because even if I had given up on God, the voice of my conscience was shouting that what I had done was terribly wrong.
Years after that event, I came back to the Catholic Church and received absolution through the sacrament of confession.
But afterward, I still carried the emotional burden of that painful secret—and forgiving myself seemed impossible.
Even though one of my favorite hymns proclaims there’s a “wideness in God’s mercy,” and “healing in his blood,” I still felt that his clemency didn’t encompass me.
And even though, during Mass, I prayed fervently, “Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on me,” I still felt like an outsider.
One day I picked up a church bulletin and saw a notice about a Catholic group called Post Abortion Treatment and Healing—ministering to women and men who had been involved in an abortion (www.healingafterabortion.org).
I immediately dialed the phone number—404-717-5557—and left a message that was returned by a lady who agreed to meet me at church. Soon I was pouring out my whole story while she listened compassionately with tears in her eyes.
Over the next few weeks, she led me through a Scripture-based workbook called “Forgiven and Set Free,” with reflections and readings that helped me come to terms with my past.
I learned to rely on the words in Isaiah: “Do not call to mind the former things or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new. Now it will spring forth. Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.”
How grateful I am to God that I embarked on the journey of mercy—which helped me finally see the truth that awaited me all along. There truly is healing in the blood of the Lamb.
Artwork (“The Garden”) by Jef Murray. You may contact Lorraine for information on his artwork at firstname.lastname@example.org.