Happy Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the unborn! I published my Guadalupe story in National Catholic Register today.
The famous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe has become a powerful cultural icon associated with motherhood, feminism, social justice, dignity and hope.
For me, she represents something more personal. It was through her intercession during my medical training that the Lord called me to turn away from performing elective abortions and to practice life-affirming medicine.
But I ignored the divine voice — at first.
I was raised in a faithful Catholic home with Polish parents. They trusted the Catholic educational system to teach me the faith, but the confusion and the dissent of situational ethics and proportionalism were the foundations of my undergraduate study at a Jesuit university. The relativistic assumption was that no moral norms bind absolutely. My upbringing taught me that one must weigh all the good and evil that could result from different actions and choose the action that brings about the greater good.
I took those ideas with me to medical school and applied them to what I was learning about women’s reproductive health. I believed that abortion was ugly, but in some cases, it might be necessary. Who was I, the physician, to decide? The patient had autonomy. Eventually, I was seduced by the new opium of the liberated: elective abortion on demand because the mom asked for it after we, the medical staff, encouraged it.
Just before beginning my medical residency, I stood in a cathedral just outside of Mexico City at the foot of Tepeyac Hill. I gazed up at the famous Catholic relic that my parents had told me about when I was a boy. The vivid image on a centuries-old cloak is well-known: Mary is shown standing humbly, her hands in prayer, eyes downcast. Rays of light burst all around her, and she stands on a crescent moon held up by a cherub. She is so clearly the woman clothed with the sun, with the moon at her feet (Revelation 12:1). I marveled at the radiant woman adorned with Aztec symbolism who, at the same time, communicated the truth of the one true God.
I knew that the owner of the more-than-450-year-old tilma, Juan Diego, had likely witnessed human sacrifices under Aztec rule — many of them children — before the Spanish Conquistadors introduced Catholicism in the early 1520s. And here was Our Lady of Guadalupe, with a sash around her waist, indicating in Aztec tradition that she was with child, carrying the Christmas promise of the Christ Child in her womb. And there I was, the “child sacrificer,” before her. I sat in silence, staring at the woman I had known about my whole life but still couldn’t understand.
Then something happened that I can hardly explain. Inwardly, I heard a voice, clear and strong: “Why are you hurting me?”
I nervously scanned the faces in the pews around me, searching for the owner of the voice or any indication that someone else had heard the booming question as well. Nothing. It must have been the heat, or the cerveza I’d had at lunch. “I couldn’t possibly have heard a voice from Christ or his Mother,” I thought. So I brushed it off and dismissed whatever voice I thought I’d heard that day at the foot of Tepeyac Hill.
I went on to my medical residency, performing elective and medical abortions because I thought it was good medicine. I maimed women and murdered their unborn children. I was hurting Christ, his mother and his Church.
You can read the rest in the National Catholic Register.
The grace given at Tepeyac in 1531 continues to this day in the work of Tepeyac OB/GYN. Please share with me the joy of this day that is changing and transforming everything!