“Ask a Priest: How Can I Forgive Someone Who Urged Me to Abort?”

Q: I hear God telling me I need to give and forgive … and I know whom he’s referencing with the forgiveness part, but I don’t know how to do it. A former co-worker of mine advised me to abort my son when I told her I was pregnant again. Now that my son is here, and I can stare in the face of my sweet baby, her words sting even more. I have been growing in anger toward those comments that were made almost a year ago. It sounds silly to ask how to forgive, but I’m at a loss. Please help. Thank you. – N.T.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: It is good to hear that you have been blessed with a baby. The little guy is one of God’s great gifts in your life.

In regard to that co-worker, it might be helpful to meditate on Jesus’ words from the cross: “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

We live amid a culture of death, and many people have soaked up its diabolical thinking. That co-worker seems to be one of them.

That means that she is missing out on something very important. The devil has wormed his way into her thinking. She is someone more to be pitied than despised. And who knows – maybe she has something in her own past that haunts her.

In any case, it is good to remember that Jesus died on the cross for her, too. And if Our Lord wants you to forgive her, he will give you the grace to do so.

Even at a practical, psychological level there is a good reason for forgiveness. Holding on to anger can eat away at your spirit. That is the devil up to his tricks: He wants you to burn your energy, not on raising your family, but on resenting this co-worker. You probably don’t want to give the devil that satisfaction.

For now, try not to worry about your feelings toward this woman. Forgiveness is an act of the will, not the emotions. You can say, “I forgive her, Lord,” and mean it — even if the ill feelings linger.

If you can keep on making that act of forgiveness, those ill feelings will fade. Don’t worry about those ill feelings. They will take a while to fade. Feelings are like that — they lag behind our wills.)

For more reading see Facing Forgiveness: A Catholic’s Guide to Letting Go of Anger and Welcoming Reconciliation, co-authored by now Archbishop Gregory Aymond of New Orleans.

See an act of forgiveness as something that will benefit you tremendously. It will free up your heart for the little ones God has entrusted to your care.

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