Stan is a cradle Catholic, from a large family. A doctor by trade, he married and raised two children. Perhaps it comes as no surprise that he stays quite active and healthy. What may be a surprise is that he wears a scapular, and spends more time praying the rosary, attending Mass or adoration, and reading the Bible than he does in recreation or exercise.
You might say that Stan lives for a greater purpose now, because he has found his avocation in serving unborn children and their mothers. He is involved in several ministries to women and moms in need. He stands with others on the street at a local abortion clinic in prayerful witness to life and has led several 40 Days for Life campaigns. Perhaps this is not necessary for every Catholic, but consider Stan's reasons.
Stan does these things because, even though he had the advantages of growing up with devout parents and the presence of good priests and religious women in his life, for a time he rejected their example. But God never let go of Stan, even after he made three abortion referrals which affected him for years afterward.
At the time, Stan gave in without resistance to three women who came to him to obtain referrals for abortions. He was not a bad person, he simply lacked the conviction to offer these women an alternative to abortion and a reason to hope. He failed to help them find a way to give life, rather than take it away.
In fact, despite his profession as a healer, Stan possessed no power to heal or console one of the women who returned to him afterward seeking answers and hope. He is now convinced by the effects he saw from the abortions on the women, that abortion hurts women and will never be a solution to anything. As Stan notes, abortion seeks to separate sex and life. It is all too often a cover-up for sexual sin or sexual violence. Stan says the critical factor for his weakness when it came to giving the abortion referrals was his own sexual sins. They go together.
Stan carried his sin, even denying it to himself, for 15 years. Although one would not have known it by looking at him, it was there, poisoning his heart. His moral failures had stripped him of his power to stand up for his convictions in some other matters, because down deep, part of him was badly wounded.
But God gave Stan an opportunity for healing when his parish opened a Eucharistic Adoration chapel. Over the course of two years, weekly prayer brought him closer to God. It made him look honestly at his life. And God changed him. Stan found forgiveness in the sacrament of confession, and new inspiration and purpose in serving women and unborn children like those he once gave up on.
Now he prays daily. He frequents Mass and goes to confession regularly. He joined his parish Respect Life committee, and he is now active in pro-woman, pro-life work. He is intentional about his faith and it has given him new energy and peace. His work in the pro-life community has been a great opportunity to be in transformative relationships with many other Christians, both Catholics and non-Catholics.
Stan notes that, "People are constantly being drawn in by the Spirit. Everyone of good will is welcome."
Stan sees the Holy Spirit reuniting the Church of Christ around the sanctity of life.
"God is not finished with me. I have bad days. I get tired. I say things and do things that I regret. At times I fail to love. But my foundation is no longer built on sand."
God is good to Stan and carries him in the tough times. God stretches him and comforts him. Sometimes God even seems to grow silent for a time.
"Sometimes my prayer energy fades," Stan said. "But if I get into trouble it makes me pray wholeheartedly. A little desperation can be good for anyone's prayer life."
God does help out, "but in His way and in His good time, not mine. I may not like it, but so what? My vision is pretty limited. God is the one who sees clearly."
Stan is open to what God has in store for him. In all things he starts by being a good husband, father and physician. He helps a friend who now leads the local 40 Days for Life campaign.
"Beyond that, I do not know what is coming," he said. "My task is to put one foot in front of the other and listen for God's directions."
Stan sees his job, not to make a world of difference, but to be faithful and loving person in small ways wherever God puts him. The rest is up to God.
"I can't change anything except perhaps, by His grace, myself. "Stan is sure that God's grace is working through him to 'do all things.'
"Mary wraps me in her mantle, reminds me to say 'yes' to God, draws me closer to Jesus," he said. "Jesus leads me, teaches me, feeds me with Himself, gives me strength through the Holy Spirit to take up my cross each day on my journey to the Father."
Sound simple? It is not. But it may start simply. Perhaps all we need to do is confront our own lack of hope, be faithful to our Church, surrender to Jesus and let His Spirit fill the holes in our heart, the way He did it for Stan.