Confession is a sacrament and is one of the healing sacraments, the others being Holy Communion and Annointing with oil.  Counselors exercisisng their King, Priest, and Prophet nature cooperate with God’s grace and coordinate with the ministerial priests.

During the first session the counselor should ask the patients when was the last time they went to confession.  So many Catholics don’t keep the pillar of confession at least once a year.  Worse yet, many objectively have mortal sin in their souls.  They come to counseling depressed and anxious.  Their marriages are falling apart and haven’t been to confession in 5 or 10 years.  How can they expect counseling to be effective if they have separated themselves from God, the source of all healing grace?  It is imperative to impress upon your patients the importance of going to confession as soon as possible.  Best practice is to explain that going to confession is in their best interest in saving their marriage, being delivered from depression etc.  Post abortive people can dothemselves a great benefit by going to confession about the abortion.  The logic is that if they are looking for healing, and God is the source of grace and healing, it would be prudent to avail themselves to that grace by removing any impediments. This isn’t the time to be  judgmental and legalistic, but a time to gently draw them into closer union with God.

It’s not a time to question them about why they haven’t gone to confession but a time to tell them all the advantages they get from going.  We know its best to do things because of love of God, but God in His love for us allows, appreciates and accepts less pure motives, like fear of the loss of Heaven and the pains of Hell.  Use extrinsic motivation to activate their intrinsic motivation.

For those who have not gone to church or confession and don’t know where to go, encourage them to go to the church of their childhood, if that is practical.  It would be helpful to know the local churches confession schedules.  If those times don’t work, talk with them about calling a priest to schedule a confession appointment.  Some Catholics, because of pride and embarrassment, go to confession in a parish other than their own.  Discuss this issue with them because this can be an impediment to being set free from sin.  If they are afraid to go to a priest they know, encourage them to go to an anonymous priest.  It’s still a valid sacrament.  Follow up next session.  If they didn’t go to confession, lovingly and gently, encourage them.  Tell them that often successful patients go to confession and that those who don’t often continue in the problems that brought them to counseling.  With those that did go to confession, process how they feel now that they have gone.  Ask them to share any insights, new strengths, or resolves they acquired post-confession.  Usually they say it’s the best thing they did in years.  

Forgiveness is a spiritual need since we pray, “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” The quid pro quo logic is that it is in our best interest to be forgiving people.  Often this reality is insufficient to motivate retreatants to let go of their anger, rage, etc., and forgive. 

When asked how to pray, Jesus said, “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.”  Personally, I would have some concerns about purgatory time, if I were holding a non forgiving grudge.  When you refuse to forgive, you will simply have more difficulties.

During the post abortives life there were many people who have offended them.  They must also forgive others.  Matthew 6:14-15 teaches, “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us” is prescribed by Jesus for healing the soul.  The more we can forgive others the more we experience the lessening of our self-condemnation. So by forgiving others we’re delivered and set free from our own inability to forgive ourselves. Remember – forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.

The post abortive may confuse forgiving with excusing, pardoning, forgetting or reconciliation.  
Genuine forgiveness is none of these.  Forgiveness isn’t forgetting.  God probably forgets our sins, but us humans have an elephants memory.  Recommend to the retreatants to pray for God to purify their memories.  Forgiveness is not necessarily reconciliation either.  We can forgive someone and decide not to stay in relationship with them.  This may be necessary when the offender can’t be trusted to stop hurting us.  Sometimes there is forgiveness without reconciliation.  For example a woman may forgive her physically abusive husband but never move back home with him.  To complete the forgiveness task she must bring her hurt emotions to the Lord.

To offer pardon to someone who has hurt us involves both the recognition that an injustice occured and a decision to respond to that injustice with mercy.  It’s the giving of a moral gift to an undeserving person. As one forgives, they choose to behave mercifully.

Forgiveness is like a plunger or drano, working through all sorts of interference, to get to the problem which is impeding healing grace.

A very important milestone on the road to restoration is the lack of forgiveness.  Most have an impenetrable fortress of unforgiveness, much of which exacerbates post abortion problems. 

Receiving God's forgiveness depends on the confession of the post abortives own sins.  If they truly repent and confess their sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive their sins and purify them from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).  Many haven’t truley repented and therefore God could not forgive their sins and purify them from all their unrighteousness, abortion unrighteousness specifically. Confession is more than an apology.  It includes heart felt repentance and a firm resolution to amend your life.   

Confession to God, through the Sacrament is necessary, while confession to another person, is often helpful and healing, but must be done with discernment and prudence.  For example, recovering alcoholics have an unnatural propensity to expiate their guilt by confessing their offenses.  They confuse their motive of selfish guilt reduction for some more noble reason.  Just because confession is cathartic is no reason to further damage the one already hurt.  How many alcoholics with less than a year in recovery have tried to make amends with their spouse by admitting adultery and lost the love of their life forever?  Confess it to God, go to confession and sin no more.  Not telling the spouse can be an act of mercy.  Suffering with guilt could be the penance and price to pay for such a sin.

However, wisdom may task the soul to confess to the person sinned against.  This is the case when the offended person knows about the sin committed against them.  The post abortives confession may be the only way the offended person can be moved to forgive. 

Therefore, God's restoration to them can become blocked.  The parable of the unmerciful servant (Matthew 18:21-35) illustrates this.  A man was forgiven a great debt. Although he was forgiven a great debt, he refused to forgive someone’s little debt owed to him.  The story ended with this man's original debt being reinstated.  God wants the post abortive to forgive those who have sinned against them because it will release them from their own hurt which would otherwise ferment in their soul.  God wants everyone to be as generous in forgiving others as He is in forgiving mankind (Ephesians 4:32).  It is more than God's desire for us to forgive each other, it is a mandate (Collossians 3:13).  Practice forgiving others, don’t worry about them forgiving you. 

Another obstacle which blocks the healing is when a sinner does not forgive himself.  There are at least 3 reasons I can think of: he projects his fault on to others, and therefore does not experience guilt or shame; he did something so bad he can’t let go, and develops excessive guilt; or, the experience has become forgotten and unconscious.  When a person forgives himself it is truly a wonderful thing, not only are they forgiven but they are also the forgiver.

Often we hear people say that they have already done and completed their forgiveness work.  Most often they may have completed the cognitive aspects of forgiveness.  They know that all good Christians should forgive so they have to.  Underneath the surface there is an active component in which they have not completely processed. So cognitively a person may know that God has forgiven them but emotionally the painful memories are so strong that they wrongly conclude a judgment against themselves. This judgment takes the form of the subjective experience of not being able to forgive oneself  because of the gravity of their sin.  Is a very common experience for the post abortive woman to accept the reality that God has forgiven them but they are unable to forgive themselves.  It seems that it is their subjective experience of being unable to forgive themselves.

For some, forgiveness requires asking the person we offended to forgive us. This is impossible for the post abortive parent because they can’t actually communicate with the deceased child.  

For most of us it’s easier to forgive someone who apologizes.  What about the person who doesn’t apologize. What about the person who not only doesn’t apologize but blames you?  Forgiving the offender doesn’t really just let the offender off the hook.  It allows you to disengage from the battle and be at peace.  When you forgive others you disengage from the negative emotions and peace occurs.

Repentance removes impediments to healing grace, which is necessary, but, don’t stop there.  Beg God to open up the floodgates of his divine mercy and heal you.

Forgiveness is often difficult but when the guilty party doesn’t care and is not asking for forgiveness or has not met any other condition or pre requisite, we are still tasked to forgive them.  We can choose to have mercy on them and forgive them their sins.  We can erase the quid pro quo recorded in their ledger.  To let them off the hook and have mercy instead of judgment.

It is very important in the healing process that the person really believe, that they know that they know, that God has truly forgiven them.  It is important to ask God to forgive us for the ways we have sinned against others, especially by not forgiving them.

Forgiveness is often a tricky task to accomplish because many of the offenses that we hold in us either are imaginary or long forgotten.  We perceive things wrong, think about it wrong, and then come to a conclusion that someone did something wrong, when in reality they didn’t.

If a post abortive parent took an inventory of all the horrible, rotten, painful things they have done, what is the proper Christian response?  You have a Christian responsibility to forgive them.

If you can’t get to the place of forgiveness, perpetually practice praying for them.  If you can manage to pray for them you will automatically begin to forgive them.  Forgiveness helps the forgiver heal.  Pray that God would have mercy on them, forgive them their sins, protect them from all evil, and bring them to everlasting life.  We are told to pray for those who curse us.  It’s Jesus’ marching orders for all Christian Soldiers.  Talk to your spiritual director or confessor about it.

When we forgive there is a direct correlation between the degree and quality of forgiving and our sense of peace.  Peace is a result of forgiveness.  Forgiveness is the only way to achieve peace.  The only way to be forgiven is to repent.  True repentance and genuine remorse.  There is a trickle-down effect also. The post abortive mother must forgive all those who offended her by contributing to her abortion decision.  Often this is a process not an instantaneous event.  The more a person intercedes for someone who has offended them and for whom they are having difficulty forgiving, the more forgiveness naturally springs up from within their soul.  So there is a correlation between intercessory prayer for those we have difficulty forgiving and actually experiencing forgiveness for those people.  It’s the same principle as in the song that says, “let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.”

An important milestone in recovery from a loss is to forgive all those good hearted people who said things that hurt you deeply.  When they said, “Your baby is in a better place.” 

It is impossible to forgive oneself for things that they are unaware of having committed. They must confess and repent to God with full disclosure in order to experience the subjective experience of being forgiven by God.  The biggest impediment for the post abortive man or woman to forgive themselves is they must have an undistorted and accurate understanding of their culpability.

Many people truly believe that they have done all the forgiveness work necessary to heal themselves from their post abortion experience. It has been our experience that this is not always true. It seems that healing programs that are set up as Bible studies and cognitively use the Word of God accomplish forgiveness and healing only in their minds but their hearts remain untouched. They have not poured their hearts out to the Lord in tears. These programs heal their minds, but not their emotions and their hearts. Their work is undone and incomplete. This progress is good but there is more. Sometimes the enemy gets in their thinking and they wrongly conclude they have accomplished everything and are done. This is because they still have the trial going on that makes them not want to talk about their abortion, think about it, and process it so they have a premature belief that they are fully healed.  It is a false positive.

The post abortive person often does not forgive themselves, doesn’t accept God’s forgiveness, and does not forgive those who they see as having been involved in their abortion experience.  When unforgiveness is embraced in a heart, a very powerful impediment to healing grace is established.

Many of the problems post abortives present with are not fixable by either secular or Christian counseling until they can make much improvement in their capacity and willingness to forgive others.  Willingness more than capacity because an “A” in effort means a lot.  When a person finally does find it in their heart to forgive others their own personal healing often springs forward.

God’s forgiveness is a great gift to experience. 

Post abortive parents may need to forgive themselves, so they can be released from endless guilt. Without God’s intervention this may be a hopeless and impossible situation. But with Jesus all things are possible. Prayer should be offered that the person would become, through God’s grace, able to forgive themselves.

The post-abortive parent often struggles with the question, “Do I need my child’s forgiveness?” Pope John Paul to said that these children are with Jesus. This means that they are in heaven. As a soul on Earth with common sense, do you believe that people in heaven suffer the sin of bitterness and resentment toward you? They are in heaven and think more like God than humans.

Why do people continue to have psychological problems? A huge part of this is because they are holding onto anger, resentment and unforgiveness. When the Holy Spirit is grieved by a persons unforgiveness, what inclines the Holy Spirit to be helpful to them? One might think their love inclines them despite their own inability to live up to the standards of the Holy Spirit. That might be faith or it might be wishful thinking.

Forgiveness is a forgetting. The memory, especially if it’s a traumatic memory, may stay with the person the rest of their wives. Healing means having the memories without the emotional pain previously attached to them. The only way this gets accomplished is by forgiveness.

There are objective and subjective realities attached to forgiveness.

Discern that your feelings of being unforgiven are actually demonic accusations.  Since we are truly free indeed, our feeling of not being forgiven must only come from the enemy.  Note that your unwillingness or inability to extend forgiveness are actually temptations so resist the temptation to indulge in them.  Pray against these temptations.  The more we practice forgiveness, the more we are delivered and set free from our own interior pain. 

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