Friday, August 22, 2008

"Why Forgive?"

Eucharistic Adoration tonight, 7-8 pm, SAA Church. The Summer Series ends with my second talk on, “Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory”. Hope you can join us!
A couple of people who haven’t been able to attend the Summer Series have asked me to post my notes from the talks. I will try to do this over the next few weeks; although, they may not make total sense! Below are my notes from one of the talks, “Why Forgive?”

After this talk, someone asked a question that was virtually identical to one posted by an anonymous blogger: “ So, if we are to forgive as God forgives us, I get stuck on one point- repentance. Doesn’t God require that of us- being contrite, asking for forgiveness and doing penance?” This same blogger then pointed to the answer to his or her own question: “I see that maybe I get confused with the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation”.

It was the same way I answered the question from that night: if someone has sinned against us and reconciliation is not possible (e.g., they don’t ask for forgiveness, the circumstances make it impossible to reconcile with them), then we are called to forgive them from our hearts. In this way, we are forgiving as God forgives: always offering mercy. God is mercy, so He is always offering mercy and forgiveness to us who have sinned against Him; reconciliation with Him is up to us. We are called to always offer mercy and forgiveness to others who have sinned against us; reconciliation with us is up to them.

Why Forgive?

I. PJP II / Time magazine, 1981: Why Forgive?

II. Why should God forgive?

- Original Sin
- Sins that followed against 10 commandments
“after that first sin, the world is virtually inundated by sin. There is Cain’s murder of his brother Abel and the universal corruption which follows in the wake of sin. Likewise, sin frequently manifests itself in the history of Israel, especially as infidelity to the God of the Covenant and as transgression of the Law of Moses” (CCC, #401)
- Persecution against prophets God sends
- Why send Christ to forgive us??

- God’s essence: mercy/ love (God is Mercy; God is Love)
- God cannot NOT forgive; God cannot NOT love
- He is Father Almighty with “infinite mercy, for he displays his power at its height by freely forgiving sins” (CCC, # 270)
- Father of Prodigal Son, e.g.
- God is Love; “the first effect of the gift of love is the forgiveness of sins”
(CCC, #734)

- infinite wisdom / providence
When He created us, He knew that we would sin / reject Him
- His Plan from all eternity was to forgive us
- not caught off guard by our sin / need for forgiveness

- God forgives us because of our dignity
- created in his own image and likeness
- we are the only creatures made in his image
- “ “ who receive the fullness of His mercy
(course, we are only ones who sin so offensively against Him)

- greatest sign of God’s mercy in the world
- even within that, “Father, forgive them, …”

III. Why should we forgive? (to live God’s mercy)

a. others

- to be forgiven by God – Our Father
- we’re not perfect…why hold others to perfection
- God doesn’t hold grudges against us if we’re sorry
- we shouldn’t

- to be God-like (most Christ-like when forgive)
- what it means to be a Christian

- “defining moments” – people / families / counseling

- dignity / respect of human person
- Jesus says so
- forgive not seven times, but “seventy times seven times” (Mt 18:22)
- forgive always; limitless mercy
- radical forgiveness
- live God’s (radical, unlimited) mercy
- FG’s stories / examples – forgiving murder (seventy times seven)

- our own healing
VA TECH, e.g.

b. ourselves
- Healing

-confessing sin from past confessions: LET IT GO!
- God forgives us, others have forgiven us, need to forgive
ourselves (hardest part of process)


- Healing of wounds
- lighter burdens
- peace

IV. Why should the Church forgive?
- to extend God’s (radical, unlimited mercy)

- “there is no offense, however serious, that the Church cannot forgive” (CCC, #982)
- JP II: “the Church is the sacrament, that is to say, the sign and means of reconciliation in different ways…which all come together to obtain what the divine initiative of mercy desires to grant to humanity” (document: Reconciliation and Penance, #11)

- “means of the divine initiative of mercy”
- i.e., God forgives through the Church
- Power of forgiveness to Church; Mt 16 + Jn 20
- w/out Church, wouldn’t have God’s forgiveness, wouldn't have Christ, wouldn’t know about God / have sacraments

- God has given the Church the “ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor 5:18)
- continues Christ’s ministry
- begun with Christ
- done in Christ

- through the Church, we are reconciled to God and each other

- “Lord, do not hold this sin against them”
- Church and Christ are one

V. How to forgive / Helps in forgiving
- Grace

- Euch (Mass, Adoration)
- Confession
-regular confession --> humility -->-forgiveness
“humble are never scandalized”

- Prayer (for person / situation involving forgiveness)
- daily prayer + devotions/novenas
- Sacred Scripture (handout)
- Compassion (Fr Joyce handout) – understand whole person / situation
- Humor
- Lives of saints – examples of unlimited / radical forgiveness
St. Maria Goretti

VI. Adoration
- in presence of Mercy

- Jesus, thank you for your Mercy
Offering your life for our sins to be forgiven

- help us to be healed through your forgiveness
- help us to be healed through the forgiveness of others
- help us to be healed through forgiving others
- help us to be healed through forgiving ourselves


At 11:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

“We are called to always offer mercy and forgiveness to others who have sinned against us; reconciliation with us is up to them.”

I think many have inadvertently asked my question in comments regarding trust, but I’m going to ask it with a direct example:

I’m in a relationship with another who has done things that hurt me with consequences that have been difficult. They have asked for my forgiveness, and it took a long time to give it, but I have. I believe I have forgiven, mostly from one particular talk when the speaker talked about detachment from the offenses and wishing the other well. If that is a solid sign that I forgive, then I know I do. This person wants to reconcile our relationship. I know it will never be reconciled to the relationship it once was, but to allow it to be reconciled to any place is difficult for me. I’ve no doubt that this person is sorry, but that’s not enough to allow me to go there again, and that makes me feel worse than when I was actually refusing to forgive in the first place. While I may have offered forgiveness, is my lack of willingness to reconcile withholding mercy?

At 6:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A friend once told me this when I was having trouble forgiving and being willing to reconcile with someone:

"If you believe in conversion let them be converted. If you believe in forgiveness then forgive them. If you believe in the gospel then walk it. If you don't then you call Christ a liar. Nothing anyone can do to us is as bad as what we did to Christ, it is our sins that put him on that cross and you can bet that when we say we are sorry he doesn't hold back forgiveness or reconciliation one smidgen."

At 9:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding the Adoration reflection on Heaven, Hell & Purgatory-

This was the first time I’d ever heard of justice being of issue. That was something to hear! I knew there was purgatory, but I didn’t quite understand that a system of justice applied. I thought purgatory was about what we didn’t confess, what we weren’t sorry for, all the times we didn’t do what we thought we should. Now- I get that it’s (also) about justice. That simple fact changes quite a bit.

I don’t know what’s in place for people who have a basic education in their faith (but no more), but it’s really warranted. If you’ve info on what/where on that, pass it along. I’m finding myself getting frustrated in trying to self-educate on all the things I somehow missed along the way. Some of the things I come across are more than small bumps.

At 9:59 PM, Blogger CynthiaBC said...

This afternoon I told my second-grader that I'd be going to church to hear the second half of Fr G's talk about Heaven Hell & Purgatory. I asked whether she wanted to come with me, as she'd heard the first half last week. She said no, she only liked hearing about Heaven. She didn't want to hear about Hell, and wasn't too keen on Purgatory, either. [She suggested that I cover my ears when Fr G finished with heaven...a directive I declined to follow.]

I suppose it's understandable that Hell might be scary for a seven-year-old, and that she might not be able to wrap her mind around the concept of Purgatory.

I suspect that there are adults who'd also like to avoid hearing about Hell. It's not a particularly comfortable topic. It's even less comfortable to hear about the sins that can land us in Hell (or at the very least earn us a stint in Purgatory).

Not that we can ever fully appreciate the magnitude of Christ's sacrifice for us, but we surely won't ever have a clue if we deny that Hell exists. We perhaps won't strive as much as we should to live a goodly life if we think we can just skate into Heaven. Thanks, Fr G, for telling us what we need to hear.

At 12:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


If you forgiven this person, and God can forgives us for what we do. Take baby steps with this individual and see if reconcilation is in the cards. It might not be what it once was but maybe it would blossom into something much stronger. Why go back to what it was, that is where the hurt came from, move toward this person in a smart and stronger relationship. If they are sorry for what they did, they will be understanding if everything is open and needs to take time to work it all out.


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