Souls that make an appeal to My mercy delight Me. To such souls I grant even more graces than asked. I cannot punish even the greatest sinner if he makes an appeal to My compassion, but on the contrary, I justify him in My unfathomable and inscrutable mercy.
This comes from Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska’s diary, laying out her inspirations about Divine Mercy.
Theresa Bonopartis quotes this early on in her new book, A Journey to Healing Through Divine Mercy. Because, of course, obtaining or participating in an abortion can be forgiven.
Bonopartis knows – she had one and has spent more than two decades helping other women in similar (hellish, she describes) circumstances find mercy and healing, since she has found her own in the sacrament of Reconciliation.
Kathryn Jean Lopez: What does it mean to “stand at the foot of the cross” with women who come to your Entering Canaan ministry?
Bonopartis: Well, certainly that is where the people suffering from abortion are standing. At the foot of the cross with all its pain and misery and suffering. The abandonment, deceit, its betrayal, lack of love, all the aspects of the cross. The trick is to help them, to assure them, that surrendering themselves to His will, climbing on that cross with Christ; they will find not those things, but the victory over those things and the only love deep enough to heal that wound. His blood, His sacrifice, washes those things away.
It is to encourage them through coming to know the love and mercy of Christ to take that risk. To surrender to Him. Of course they also have to learn the dynamics of healing from abortion which we teach them in ministry, but ultimately it is to trust in His love enough knowing it is through it that we come to the Resurrection.
Lopez: About the Divine Mercy image and devotion: Rays of blood and water? How to keep Divine Mercy from looking like something for the most pious sorts only?
Bonopartis: It is definitely not for the most pious only! “Oh blood and water which gushed forth from the heart of Jesus as a font of Mercy for us, we trust in You!” It is the font of mercy which exists for sinners!
Lopez: Your book is replete with short readings and devotions and you suggest “it’s up to you and your guardian angel” what order you read them in. How do you read something with your guardian angel?
Bonopartis: Well, since it is split into seasons and the meditations are individual, some people may need and seek certain topics … it does not have to be read in order. Guardian angel or Holy Spirit … read what you feel inspired to read.
Lopez: “I was a sinner who had committed a grave sin, but my healing and His mercy were not about me.” But isn’t it necessarily about you?
Bonopartis: It is important for women — and men — to look at their abortion experience to understand what has happened, but that is not where the healing comes. So many get stuck there. “I had three abortions, she only had one so I cannot be forgiven.” “She was coerced, and I chose freely, so I cannot be forgiven.” You get the idea. You can always find a reason not to be forgiven if you keep the focus on self. We are not healed through what we do. We can pray a hundred rosaries a day or do a million other things, but we cannot make up for our abortions. The good news is we do not have to because He already has by dying on the cross. It is His sacrifice that saves us — His unconditional love and mercy. He takes away our excuses and we are changed.
Lopez: Why does God invite people to mercy?
Bonopartis: Because He loves us and wants us to have the fullness of His life.
Lopez: Why doesn’t He just fix things?
Bonopartis: If He just fixed things we would not be brought into relationship with Him, we would not really know Him through our suffering.
Lopez: Why should we all be more like Mary, unshielded, not “clinging to ‘us.’”
Bonopartis: To repent is to come to a new mind that, beholding God’s glory and holiness, sees the need for mercy. But oh, the glory then of the good news! Mercy is available in abundance! God will never reject anyone who calls on Him (Jn 6:37). Oh, the relief, the peace of knowing the effect of those words spoken by God through His priests: “I absolve you from your sins … go in peace.”
Lopez: How is it not backward and patronizing and misogynistic to make women who have had abortions go to a celibate priest for confession? Why can’t she seek forgiveness from God, not a priest, on her own?
Bonopartis: Because it was His will to give priests that power in His name.
I know it can be terrifying for someone who has had an abortion to confess, and sadly some women have had negative experiences, but I believe that is very rare. Most priests have a greater understanding of why abortions happen now, and if the person is contrite they can certainly find forgiveness. That, of course, does not mean that there are not things they need to work out and heal from, but they need to claim that forgiveness given in the sacrament because God says it is there! Once they confess, it is gone!
What was once a terrifying experience, the sacrament of Confession, becomes for many post abortive women a sacrament of love, which is what it truly is. A place to acknowledge our sinfulness, and to receive God’s mercy, if we are sorry. So beautiful.
Lopez: Why does Satan hate mercy so much and how can we communicate this without sounding crazy?
Bonopartis: Ah, the deceiver. And where has he deceived more than with the very gift of life? Look around you. It is crazy what people are okay with when it comes to life. Killing the unborn, the handicapped and elderly and even children. Satan hates saving souls … he does not want anyone to know of God’s mercy for even the worst sins. To acknowledge that mercy and claim forgiveness means he has lost!
Lopez: What does Divine Mercy have to teach us about patience?
Bonopartis: All in His time. He knows what each person needs for healing and wants to heal each person to their core. All we have to do is follow His will and trust one day at a time. If we do that, He’s taking care of the rest. To be at peace no matter what because we trust in Him and His love for us.