Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.
I just thought I’d run this letter I got from a reader without comment:
Hey guys. I’m sending you this message with a story and a thank you. I want to say thanks for whatever it is that you have done, are doing, and will do to further the abolition of abortion in the world. Unlike most men who participate in the pro-life movement, I have a very direct tie to it, and because of this reason, I will fight for the life of the unborn [among other things] until I take my last dying breath. Some know and have spoken with my wife on occasion, and some barely know who I am. Be that as it may, please accept my sincerest gratitude towards you and what work it is that we do to not only save the lives of the unborn, but completely remove this culture of death that we are surrounded by.
In early 2008 a young, 20-year-old woman went on her third date with a 24-year-old. Their relationship had been progressing slowly, but on this evening it seemed to be blossoming.
As the night ended a great date, as she was dropped off at her apartment, he asked if he could come in and “stay for a while.” Knowing what he was interested in, she politely declined. That’s when things turned violent.
She was knocked unconscious by the blow long enough for him to have his way with her body, and around 15 minutes later she awoke laying in her living room, pants pulled down, clothing ripped, and with a throbbing headache. Knowing immediately what had happened, she began to cry and showered.
A few short months after this event, she discovered that she was pregnant. Consequently, she had an immediate crisis of all sorts, emotionally, and most of all, of faith. She left her apartment that she shared with her roommate, quit her job, and moved across the country to live with family who could provide some sort of support. After a hectic nine months of living with an emotional, train-wrecking mother, a guilt-tripping grandmother, and a grandfather who meant well but just couldn’t express the Spanish proverbs well in English, she gave birth to a baby boy on Dec. 14, 2008.
What began then was 11 months of single-motherhood. Having to provide everything needed for a newborn was tough. Living paycheck to paycheck from a local music store, she was able to scrape everything together to put the young boy in daycare and provide the basic necessities for life through the charitable donations from crisis pregnancy centers. It was tough, but she had to survive—and survive she did.
On November 13, 2010, I took her hand in the holy sacrament of Matrimony, and signed the papers to adopt that little boy. This young woman, now my wife, allowed an amazing blessing to come forth from such a terrible act, and my life has been transformed because of it. It’s not that she never thought about abortion, but she knew, in her heart of hearts, that it was not an option.
This young woman is now a living example of the “hard cases” put forth by many who advocate for abortion. Rape and single-motherhood are things that can most certainly be overcome with a great desire for that new child—that life who now calls me Daddy, who loves monster trucks and dirt bikes, guitars, and Thomas the Train. There are many more involved than you can ever realize at first glance, and the life you change just might be the one you were least expecting.