Tag Archives: forgiveness

Fraternal love and correction essential, Pope reminds

Christ washing the feet Tintoretto.jpgOne of the themes from Oblate retreat this past weekend was humility. And from within the Gospel and Saint Benedict’s vision of humility Brother John Mark spoke about love and fraternal relations, particularly rubbing elbows in true charity with your brother and sister in community. A stone is only polished when it meets other stones.

Pope Benedict brings up the human desire to be in community with other other people: how good it is for brothers and sisters to live in unity, St Paul says. But this unity and love have one condition: “You will love your neighbor as yourself” (Romans 13:8-10). Some take this point as an easy thing to do. I assure you, it is not. This past Sunday’s Scripture readings teach this point.
In his Rule, Saint Benedict places a strong emphasis on mutual responsibility (“a reciporcal responsibility” the Pope calls it) and charity toward the other person is lived only in a personal way. Benedict XVI argues as Saint Benedict did before him, “that there is a co-responsibility in the journey of the Christian life: everyone, conscious of his own limits and defects, is called to welcome fraternal correction and to help others with this particular service [of forgiveness and healing injuries].

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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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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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