A love once forgotten, resurrected

Allan Cravalho has told his daughter he really did love her, he just didn’t know it at the time.

He’s prayed to his daughter, later named Jennifer, who was conceived with his then girlfriend in Hawaii in the 1980s. ­­

The abortion happened so quickly.

“One day she says she’s pregnant,” said Cravalho about his then girlfriend. “She wasn’t Catholic but I was, and I should have known better. I allowed it to happen.”

The St. Mary Church parishioner has found healing and forgiveness through his faith journey and the Rachel’s Vineyard weekend retreat in Denver.

“I think it’s something I’m continuing to work through,” said Cravalho, 58. “I had buried this hurt for a lot of years. I do feel there’s forgiveness for what happens.”

Now he’s working to reach out to other fathers who’ve experienced the regret of abortion.

So often its impact on fathers is forgotten, he said.

“The thing for me that always hurts—although my situation was different—is that the male has no rights to that child,” he said.

Forgotten fathers
Federal law does not require fathers to either be informed about or required to consent to an abortion.

Pro-abortion advocates frame a decision to abort as a woman’s “right” or issue, but men across the country have given testimonies revealing their own sense of loss and failure after an abortion.

Jason Baier, founder of Fatherhood Forever, is quoted about his own experience after abortion.

“As I reached out to different people for help, there were few who understood why I was in so much pain. ‘Just get over it … it was only an abortion’ they would tell me. But I couldn’t. It was more than just an abortion. I had lost my child and no one seemed to understand.”

Fatherhood Forever launched the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, part of which conducts an outreach to men who regret their lost fatherhood.

Regardless of the father’s role in the abortion decision, their parenthood was cut short.

Bradley Mattes, CEO of the Life Issues Institute, has said this lost fatherhood will surface in destructive behavior or feelings of defeat, powerlessness and confusion.

Men’s instinctual desire to procreate, protect and provide for their family can be damaged once lost fatherhood is realized.

A survey released in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology revealed some 52 percent of male college students reported feeling regret following an abortion.

The findings suggested that men may “be more inclined to experience pronounced post abortive effects than women, because the decision to abort is ultimately the female’s and the final decision opted for may not be congruent with the male’s choice.” 

The symptoms
The Life Issues Institute reports the most evident symptom in men from the loss of a child to abortion is anger.

“His anger and frustration at not being able to protect and provide for his unborn baby, because of abortion, may manifest itself in other ways,” the institute reports.
Drugs or alcohol or becoming a workaholic is one sign.

Future relationships with women may also become difficult. A lack of control over life-impacting decisions may cause resentment and mistrust of women, it reports.

The stigma for Cravalho remains, he said.

He’s felt much pain but experienced the endless mercy of God after becoming on fire for his faith once he moved to Denver. He now has a family and one son who is a priest.

He and his family participated in the inaugural San Francisco March for Life and last year in Denver’s March for Life. He held a sign, “I regret my lost fatherhood.”

“Holding the sign boldly proclaims that as a father, I didn’t do what I should have done,” Cravalho said.

The sign still sits in his garage, ready for the next pro-life march when he hopes other men will join him in finding healing.

It’s as important for men to raise awareness of lost fatherhood and help men realize “that God really loves you,” he said.

 

 

40 Days for Life
Join the international effort to end abortion by praying at vigils in Denver, Boulder and Fort Collins through Palm Sunday, April 13. Find out more by visiting www.40DaysForLife.com.

Fatherhood Forever
The founder of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign to that seeks to inform about the devastation of abortion on men and women.
Website: www.fatherhoodforever.org
Phone: 1-888-735-3448

Rachel’s Vineyard Ministries
The Priests for Life ministry’s confidential weekend retreats for men and women seeking healing after an abortion.
Website: www.rachelsvineyard.org.
Denver phone: 720-271-7406 or 303-904-7414
Next retreat: July 11-13

Project Rachel
A ministry of Catholic Charities that seeks to help post-abortive parents return to full communion with the Church.
Website: www.ccdenver.org/post-abortive-counseling
Phone: 720-377-1351

COMING UP: Did Christians ban the Games? Tales, myths and other fun facts about the ancient Olympics

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The 2020 Summer Olympics began less than a week ago, and as is usually the case, there’s been enough stunning athleticism, shocking upsets and yes, even a little bit of drama on display to keep the water cooler chatter abuzz until at least the 2022 games.

At their best, the Olympic games bridge cultural divides and unite countries around the world as the greatest living athletes around the globe compete for the coveted gold medal in their respective events. There’s a spirit of global camaraderie that welcomely comes about during every Olympiad; whether watching the Games at home with the family or going to a local bar to cheer on your favorite country, the Olympics bring people together in a way that most other sporting events do not.

Another astounding thing about the Olympics is how they’ve endured over the millennia. Indeed, they provide a special glimpse into the history of the world and those common qualities of humanity that will never die; namely, the need for both unitive, universal community and friendly but fierce competition.

The first recorded Olympic games took place in 776 B.C., though some historians speculate that they could have began as early as the 10th century B.C. The games were held every four years in Olympia to honor the greek god Zeus as one of four Panhellenic festivals, this one coinciding with the second full moon following the summer solstice, usually at the end of July or early August. The Olympics became so significant that the term Olympiad was used to mark a year the games took place, and became a common unit of historical time measurement.

Now, the ancient world wasn’t exactly known for its amicability or even peacefulness, as indicated by the countless wars and power usurpations that took place throughout its history. However, Olympic festivals were marked by a truce among the Greeks called ekecheiria, which roughly means “holding of hands.” This ensured safe travels for athletes and spectators as they made their way to the festival and was a common basis for peace among the Greeks. That the Olympic games could get even the constantly feuding Greeks to lay down their arms and come together in a spirit of solidarity speaks to their significance in ancient history.

Early Olympic events included the footrace, wrestling, the long jump, the javelin throw, the discus throw and boxing. Of course, it’s nigh impossible to read about the ancient Olympics and not come across epic tales of chariot racing, an event which was briefly banned early on but was reinstated by the first century B.C. and drew the interest of several key Roman figures (more on that later).

By the fifth century B.C., athletes from all over the Greek-speaking world came to Olympia for the games. The footrace, also called the Stade or Stadion, was considered the most prestigious event, and is where the english word “stadium” is derived from. Stade was a unit of measurement in ancient Greece which modern historians say is the rough equivalent to 600 feet or 200 yards, though the actual length has been a subject of debate for many years. Either way, it represents the length which runners in the Stadion ran to prove themselves as the fastest sprinters in the ancient world.

Interestingly, very little record about the Olympics games during the time of Christ exists. History tells us that the Roman emperor Tiberius, who was emperor during Christ’s life, won the chariot races during the 194th Olympiad in 4 B.C. In 17 A.D., the popular Roman general Germanicus, who was Tiberius’ adopted son and the future father of the third Roman Emperor Caligula, won the chariot races in 17 A.D., presumably around the time Christ was a teenager.

About those chariot races: they were known to attract elite political figures, some of whom won based on true skill, and others who only wanted the appearance of winning to further exert their power and status. During the 211th Olympiad, Emperor Nero, known for his fierce persecution of Christians and rather narcissistic personality, forcibly moved the Olympic games set to take place in 65 A.D. to 67 A.D. so he could compete while on a tour of Greece. He participated in the chariot races (with six more horses than the other competitors), and declared himself the greatest Olympic victor of all time, though historical eyewitness accounts tell a different story. Nero actually nearly died after a severe wreck, but Nero being Nero, he was still declared the winner.

Thankfully, Nero’s title as an Olympic victor and the Olympiad he “won,” which did not adhere to the established chronology of the games, were subsequently stricken from the official Olympic records after his death.

The Olympics grew over the course of 1,200 years until 393 A.D., when Emperor Theodosius I banned all Pagan festivals from the Roman emperor after Christianity became adopted as the state religion. Popular culture and history has long maintained this story of Christianity being to blame for the halt of the Olympic games. However, in recent years, some historians have disputed this account, saying that it was not for religious reasons but rather economic reasons that the games ended when they did. In fact, even after Theodosius’ death, there are still records of Olympic games taking place up until the fifth century. As the administration of Roman Empire evolved, the Olympics could no longer be sponsored by civil funds and instead became sponsored more and more by rich elites of the time. Simply put, the games became too expensive, and no one wanted to pay for them anymore.

The Olympics did not make a return for 1,500 years, until the Athens Olympics in 1896. Over the last 125 years since their reinstatement, the Games have become an integral piece of modern culture and a remnant of ancient history that was revived to great avail. As the Olympics in Tokyo continue over the next week and athletes compete for the gold, the words of St. Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians serve as a pertinent reminder of how the spirit of an Olympian imitates closely that of a Christian:

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (1 Cor 9:24-27).

So let the Games continue! And may the race be run not for a perishable prize, but an imperishable one.


Featured photo: Met Museum, Terracotta Panathenaic prize amphora (jar), ca. 510 B.C. Attributed to the Leagros Group.