As my marriage continued its downward spiral, I focused more and more on my three daughters. The good news is that I became reconnected with my Catholic faith around this time. It was amazing how the hand of God worked. You see, I was trying to get a job teaching in the public schools in Staten Island, oh and by the way they weren’t hiring, there were in fact budget cuts. My mother-in-law, who was a daily communicant and also the person who took my daughters to Mass every Sunday for me, began praying a novena that I would find a job. I just rolled my eyes, being the doubting Thomasina that I was. It was two days before Christmas in 1988 that I was hired to teach first grade in P.S. 31 in Staten Island. It was a miracle! So my mother-in-law instructed me to go to Church to light a candle of thanksgiving. Well since it was Christmas and I at least went to Mass then, I went and lit my candle. I then went to Mass the following Sunday not wanting to chance anything happening to me starting my new teaching position. By the third week of attending Mass the Hand of God reached out for me again. We were leaving Church when my daughter Tara Lynn called out to the newly ordained Fr Frank Pavone to come over and meet her Mom. She said, “Fr F rank, here’s my Mom, you know the one that needs to go to Confession!” I turned beet red with embarrassment. Fr Pavone was very cool and calmed down Tara Lynn’s excitement and turned to me and told me I didn’t have to go to Confession. Well, that was a relief. He did give me the rectory phone number and told me to give him a call. He said we could just talk. Just talk about the Church? That seemed odd to me. So I stuffed the paper with his number in my pocketbook and there it stayed for a few more weeks. Then one day I stumbled across it again and decided to give this young priest a call. He invited me to his Friday night Bible Class and we had an appointment for what I later found out was called Spiritual Direction after that. I gave him my laundry list of disagreements with the Churches teaching and he wasn’t shocked. He invited me to continue to come and study and I took him up on the challenge. It took me three months of discussion and study and finally I was ready for Confession. After twenty years away from the Church I rediscover and wealth we have with our Faith. I received Communion that day and it was for me now like my First Holy Communion. I know this was beginning a relationship with Jesus.
As I continued to rediscover my faith and the teachings of the Church, I learned about God’s beautiful plan for marriage, including Natural Family Planning.
At the same time, I became aware of how birth control pills really worked.
I had always thought that birth control pills simply prevented fertilization. Now I learned that the Pill actually has its own built-in insurance system, employing several different methods of action in case one or more of the methods don’t work. Besides trying to prevent fertilization, the Pill also thickens the cervical mucus, which then acts as a barrier, preventing the sperm from getting to the egg. If both of these first two methods fail and ovulation and conception both occur, then the Pill acts to prevent the fertilized egg (the newly conceived human being) from implanting itself onto the side wall of the uterus. The child is then aborted out of the body.
I didn’t feel the impact of this newfound information until several years later. I was with a friend visiting the EpcotCenterin Disney World, and we decided to visit the Wonder of Life exhibit. As I began to watch a beautiful video showing the wonder of how life began, I realized what taking the birth control pills really meant: the possibility of aborting new life. In the years that I had been taking birth control pills, I had been very sexually active. I also knew that I was an extremely fertile woman. Given these facts, there is no doubt that I had successfully conceived new life many times, but had never given these little babies the chance to grow inside me. For the very first time in my life, I came to grips with the fact that I had not only shut myself off to life, but had also destroyed an unknown number of children.
As I came out of that exhibit, there was a giant rushing water fountain nearby. I walked over to it and began to sob uncontrollably. I stayed there for quite some time, absorbed in my sudden feelings of grief and remorse. This was the very first time I became aware of the full impact of what I had done.