The Sixth Street Bridge

The Sixth Street Bridge
At the tender age of 17, I walked across this bridge, alone, into Downtown Pittsburgh, with $300 in my pocket that my mother had given me to get an abortion. I went into the Fulton Building (in the picture) and did what I was told to do. I didn't have a choice - if I did, I wouldn't have chosen abortion.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Look at me...

       As I approach the evening hours tonight, I delve deeper into my memories of my Rachel’s Vineyard retreat last year at this time.  Sometimes I can’t believe it’s been a whole year, other times it seems like a week ago, and there remain moments when I feel like I never went at all.  That is when I pray for the graces that I received that weekend to return to me, to my heart and my mind and buoy me until I can plant my feet firmly back on the ground of my truth that thankfully is getting stronger and stronger each day.

       I often will list (and re list and visit the old lists) of the positive and reparative things I’ve done and taken on since this journey begin.  It helps to remind me of the good that has come of all of this.  It helps me in my moments of darkness when the enemy is nipping at my heels and every other part of me that is exposed.  Sometimes, too, the enemy has a way of barging right in on me without warning, bypassing the sneakiness that is usually employed.  But, I remain strong in my faith and say a silent prayer and repeat as necessary.  Reflecting on everything is also a good reminder that this will always be a part of me.  I lost a child and that sad fact will remain with me until the end of my days.  What matters now is how I deal with that fact.
       I left that retreat with a full heart and I remained quite puffed up for some time.  However, I did descend from the mountaintop eventually, and fears and doubts returned a bit.  My cyclical life-long depression returned, luckily recognized and managed quickly.  I was offered and accepted additional Project Rachel counseling and continue with it to this day. 

       Of all the things that I gained on that weekend, the event that changed my life for good was the adoration of our Lord.
      At the start of my healing journey, I had just discovered adoration, not having much experience with it before.  I even Google’d it before a 40 hours adoration that my parish had to see what I was to do there.  I didn’t feel remotely worthy of being in the presence of our Lord in that way.  My belief in the Real Presence has permeated my life through times of devoutness and times of being a lapsed Catholic at best.  I have never believed in communion in the hand because my hands aren’t sacred, but I refrain from receiving differently because of my own insecurities.  The fact remains that I don’t feel that I should be handling our Lord like that.

       I went to my Church during 40 hours and sat way towards the back of the church. I saw the kneelers right in front of Our Lord and oh, how I longed to be brave enough to kneel right there, that close to Him.  I stayed in the back and would glance up occasionally. 
       We are fortunate at our parish that there is adoration once a week, all day.  However, it’s in the Chapel, a much smaller and intimate setting and a terrifying reality for this unworthy servant.  I would always take a seat in the back rows of the chapel.  The kids from school come to adoration for a small time throughout the day, and some of them sit in the front row.  I thought how brave they are!  Of course, my mind set was that they hadn’t had an abortion so of course they were welcome up front!

       One time I had the whole Chapel to myself and I tried to talk myself into moving up closer.  I thought about what would happen if I lay prostrate on the ground before Our Lord.  My luck would be that someone would definitely come in at that moment.  But I thought, just maybe, if I did that I would make myself worthy if I physically threw myself down at His feet pleaded for mercy, mercy that I would actually feel and know to be true.

       All of those times spent at adoration along my journey, I lived in constant fear of being “found out.”  Like a big “A” was blazoned on my forehead.  I wasn’t worthy to be in His presence.  How dare I even think about approaching Him?  Just like that woman in the dust and dirt reaching out to Him – but I never reached out or looked up. 
       Throughout the counseling leading up to my retreat, I started to open the door, ever so slowly, to the idea that I was worthy and that no sin was greater than His mercy, that He actually wanted me there, that He was waiting for me.

       I found that the more I went to adoration, the better I felt.  I started to look for adoration hours wherever I could find them when I had time to go.  [Note to self: we need an App for Adoration Times… Jesus is here! ] Many years ago, churches were open all the time and you could visit whenever you felt the inclination or need.  Now, you have to call the church and talk to the sometimes dreaded parish secretary about getting into church and then most likely have to explain why. 
       This leads me to the adoration that changed my life for good.  We had scripture mediation in the chapel at the retreat and a Marian Monstrance was displayed.  Kind of like the picture I have included.  It’s basically the image of Mary and she is holding our Lord.  They draped some fabric over it to symbolize Jesus’ garment.  People took turns approaching the kneeler and touched the garment and asked for what they needed from Him. 

       This particular meditation was torture for my soul.  I couldn’t move from my seat.  I was 3 feet from our Lord, closer than I had ever been and I was racked with sobbing that I tried to muffle as best I could.  I never did take my turn at the kneeler and the exercise ended.  In His great providence, the retreat leaders said they would have the same set up through the night for “anyone” who wanted to visit later.  I went back to my room, threw out my decimated contacts, popped in some new ones and went to dinner. 
       Late that night after a long talk with a very kind and gentle Priest, I tiptoed up to the Chapel and found it empty except for Him.  I walked right up to that kneeler and shook as I knelt down.  The cloak lie somewhat over the top of the kneeler and I was careful to avoid touching it for I was still in my despair and afraid.  I was afraid to look up.  In the quiet of the Chapel in the candlelight, with the sounds of nature outside, I heard His voice.

        “Look at me.”
       And I did.  I looked up and saw Him, in His mother’s arms.  Mary led me to her Son reminding me that although He was the Word made flesh, He was her son too.  Mary loved and cared for him just like I have loved and cared for my children.  This Marian Monstrance reminded me that even He, at many times in His life, needed His Mom to hold him.  Mary lived her life loving Him and adoring Him. 

       I began to feel that my adoration “from afar” was not what He wanted from me.  I could adore Him in the same way I was learning to love Him.  Mary illuminated His humanity with the fullness of who He was – all at once.  Surely, I could meet Him this way and be this close, and look up and gaze upon His humanity and divinity contemporaneously.  Mary was becoming my model for adoration in that moment.  She was teaching me to hold Him too, within me, close to my heart and to fiercely protect His presence in me. 
       I was able to ever so slowly move my fingers just a bit and hold a piece of that garment in my hand and I felt His mercy reign down over me and through me.  The tears came again and this time I dried them with His garment because I was worthy of His care.  I was worthy of His love.  I was worthy of His mercy.

       Since my retreat, I still go to adoration whenever my busy life as a mom permits.  I’m the one on the kneeler right in front.  I haven’t tried to prostate myself yet but it’s not out of the question.  After Mass, when our Priests are in the back to say Hello, I often will reach out and offer a loving pat on the arm, but I have ulterior motives in addition to wanting to show my love for our Priests.  It allows me to just touch a piece of their vestments, just for a second, as a reminder that I am worthy of the Christ who he represents. 
"Do you realize that Jesus is there in the tabernacle expressly for you - for you alone?
He burns with the desire to come into your heart...don't listen to the demon, laugh at him,
and go without fear to receive the Jesus of peace and love...” - St. Therese of Lisieux


  1. Thank you for this beautiful post. I too have wanted to prostrate myself before the monstrance - I think I actually did it once, when I was sure no one was going to come it - only for a minute or less. It felt so "right."

  2. I loved reading this! I remember that part of my retreat too and it felt wonderful.

  3. What a beautiful post! Adoration is so powerful, and yet so gentle and personal. No one could be worthy, and yet His Love makes all of us worthy.

    So glad you are on the front kneeler now!

    I don't know how I would live without adoration.


  4. Adoration is a very healing experience. God's graces just pours forth and works in our souls.

    Remember, that no one is truly worthy. But your sins have been forgiven. Jesus loves you, and desires that you love Him too.

    My favorite books about the love of Jesus for souls, are: "He and I", by Gabrielle Bossis and "The Way of Divine Love", by Sister Josefa Menendez.

    After reading those 2 books, my heart yearned for Him like never before. They touched me in such a profound way.

    You have a beautiful blog. The background reminds me of the infinite ocean of Mercy that Jesus spoke about to Saint Faustina.

    God bless you! You will be in my prayers.

  5. Melanie - thank you for the book suggestions. I'm always on the search for more stuff to read.

    Thank you all for your wonderful support.