Tag Archives: forgiveness

Saint Mary Magdalen: a witness to the “healing power of Christ’s tender mercy.”

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“Everywhere in our culture, people seem so quick to condemn. It is very hard to find words of mercy or understanding for someone who has done something wrong, many good people out there saying things they know they shouldn’t be saying.

People make mistakes. They sin. Some people do evil that causes scandal and grave harm. We can condemn the offense and work for justice — without trying to destroy the person who committed the sin.

We need to reject every temptation to shame or condemn people. Let us never be the cause of turning someone away from seeking God’s forgiveness and redemption.

Let us pray for one another this week, ask the Virgin Mary to ‘give us a faith like Mary Magdalene and hearts to forgive.'”

José H. Gomez, Archbishop of Los Angeles

The Tidings, July 22, 2011

Healing and forgiveness: a spiritual & psychological path to renewal

Franciscan Life Center, Meriden.jpgEarlier today I had the space of time to begin my lenten observance by thinking about healing and forgiveness. Without these two legs of the spiritual life personal renewal won’t happen. A talk was hosted by the Franciscan Life Center in Meriden, Connecticut, a ministry of the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist. The executive director of the FLC Sister Barbara Johnson, FSE, made the presentation to about 75 people.

Sister Barbara, a licensed Marriage and Family therapist, began our discussion by eliciting areas that typically need healing and forgiveness: relationships (in families, among friends, infidelities, harmful family secrets, being alienated from others due to mis-awareness of reality), past events, yourself, deaths, trauma, illness, abortion, divorce, impatience, anger, acts of violence, abuse, addiction, etc. The list can be expanded. But you get the point: the human person is full of complexities.

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Did God Correct Himself?

Today’s Gospel from Saint Matthew poses a crucial question for our following Christ: How do we do it? The line that is frequently often misunderstand:

Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it
was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, offer no
resistance to one who is evil.

Several credible witnesses give a fruitful look at what it means to be a Christian today. Saint Basil the Great  (330-January 1, 379) wrote in Letter 2 that:

We must
try to keep the mind in quietness. For if the eye is constantly shifting its
gaze, one moment this way or that, then veering between upwards and down, it
cannot see clearly what lies directly in front of it
. It has to bring its
gaze to bear on this object so as to see it clearly in focus. In the same way a
mind distracted by thousands of worldly concerns cannot possibly bring a steady
gaze to bear
on the truth.

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Why forgive?

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Time magazine asks an excellent question, don’t you think? I do. The only answer I am muster to give is: because it is the right thing to do AND our Savior forgave his killers. Therefore, we ought to do the same.
BUT, if you are ashamed to forgive and to receive forgiveness, you must be convinced that Jesus Christ is blowing smoke or not real. The 4th century Persian bishop, Aphrahat said as much in his treatise On Penitents where he taught that a Christian in the state of sin should seek sacramental forgiveness as the Church taught. Aphrahat decapitates the sin of presumption and pride when he says,
… the man wounded by Satan should not be ashamed to confess his, and leave it behind, and beg for the medicine of penance. For gangrene comes if a man is ashamed to show his wound, and then the whole is harmed. Whoever is not ashamed has his wound healed, and goes back to battle again; but if gangrene comes, he cannot be healed, and he cannot take up his arms again.

So, why forgive? Because if one doesn’t forgive the sins of another, how will you face your own humanity and the Savior face-to-face?

Aphrahat, On Penitents 2-3 (Demonstrations 7), adapted translation by Frank H. Hallock, Journal of the Society of Oriental Research 16 (1932), pp. 43-56.
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Iraqi Christians pray Mass in assaulted Church for victims and the attackers

candle memorial Syrian Church.JPGThe pain and suffering endured but not consumed by some people is an extraordinary testimony to Grace. The AP news stories about the Mass prayed in the church assaulted by the slayings of Syrian Christians on October 31 brings tears to my eyes especially when I read that the walls retained the blood and flesh of the victims. No doubt poignant relics of the witnesses of humanity and Christ. I bet you no one entered Our Lady of Salvation Church expecting to lay down their life in such a dramatic manner.

Our Lady of Salvation Church has become the School of the Cross and Resurrection in which new life is being formed and born. The Christian response is exactly what Jesus taught his followers: pray for your enemies and those persecute you for love of Me. The priest who celebrated the Divine Liturgy the other day told his congregants that “We will perform a strange kind of prayer because Christ tells us: ‘Love your enemies.'”  Father Mukhlis also said that “We will pray for those who assaulted our church and shed the blood of our martyrs.”
Father Mukhlis recalled for his people that one of the murdered priests, Father Thair, said to his attackers: “Kill me, not the families and children.”
Have the Syrian Catholics become 21st century icons of love? How have we changed since hearing of these brutal deaths? What does Christ want us to learn from these events?

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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