March 31, 2015

From Abba There is no lesson Christ loves better to drive home, than this disconcerting fact of our common human fragility: which, when we have truly grasped it, kills resentment and puts indulgent pity in its place.  Let the man, the group, the nation that is without sin cast the first stone.  God’s forgiveness means the compassionate recognition of the weakness and instability of a man; how often we cannot help it, how truly there is in us a “root and ground of sin,” an implicit rebellion against the Holy, a tendency away from love and peace.  And this requires of us the constant compassionate recognition of our fellow-creatures’ instability and weakness; of the fact that they too cannot help it.  If the [...]

PRAYER: The Night The Angels Covered Their Ears, a story

February 2, 2015

From Angels Unawares, by Megan McKenna It was the holiest night of the Jewish Year: Yom Kippur.  The Ba’al Shem Tov was on his way to the synagogue to sing the Kol Nidre, the opening prayer.  He was looking at his own life on this holy night and reflecting on his own sin.  He thought sadly of all those that he had harmed, thought poorly of, ignored, was impatient with, and had forgotten to pray for, after telling them that he would remember them to the Almighty, blest be his name.  He thought of those he might have hurt carelessly with his fast retorts and public opinions and of all the times he had gotten angry and spoken harshly to those who needed a kind word or touch.  He made mental lists of all the people he needed to ask [...]

MOTHERHOOD: One Mean Mennonite Mama — A Pacifist Parent Faces Her Anger by Valerie Weaver-Zercher

January 6, 2015

From Christian Peace and Nonviolence I did something not long ago that I’ve always claimed I’d never do: I spanked my child.  Not only did I spank him, but I did it in a moment of complete, unfettered rage.  Even if you think spanking is effective discipline, everyone knows you’re not supposed to do it out of anger. My five-year-old was disappointed that he couldn’t go to a picnic and was slamming doors, kicking and yelling, “Bad Mama!”  (Considering what happened next, this was probably a fitting moniker.)  The three-year-old and one-year-old were also throwing minor fits, and I was facing several more hours with these tykes.  I was depleted, and after almost six years of parenting, I should have [...]

GOD 101: Finding Our Sin

October 30, 2014

This wouldn’t be the first time that I think the church has things completely backward. Back end front, and all that. Perhaps it’s the challenge of being a mystic that is at the root of this dissension. Don’t get me wrong, I think the church – any Christian church, really – does a great job in finding ways to point out to people how wrong they are. It’s just that they do this from a people perspective. And people aren’t God. This passion to point, condemn, and feel satisfied in the condemnation could be separated out into its own little sideshow and entitled, This Is Exactly What You Do That Pisses Off Others.  I think that would handle the phenomenon. And put it in its place. But the church, in [...]

FORGIVENESS: Anger by Mary Gordon

October 30, 2014

From Deadly Sins There would be no point to sin if it were not the corridor to pleasure, but the corridor of anger has a particularly seductive, self-deceiving twist.  More than any of the other sins, anger can be seen to be good, can perhaps even begin by being good.  Jesus himself was angry, brandishing his whip and thrillingly overturning tables: coins, doves flying, the villainous sharpsters on their knees to save their spoils.  It would seem to run in the family; by far the angriest character in the Old Testament is God. Of all the sins, only anger is connected in the common tongue to its twinned, entwined virtue: justice.  “Just anger,” we say.  Impossible even to begin to imagine such a phrase made with the others: [...]

FORGIVENESS: Jonah’s Legacy, by Janet Howe Gaines

September 21, 2014

From Forgiveness in a Wounded World We recall our terrible past so that we can deal with it, to forgive where forgiveness is necessary, without forgetting; to ensure that never again will such inhumanity tear us apart. (Nelson Mandela, Address) Forgiveness is only slightly less ancient than sin.  Yet we are much less experienced in the craft of pardoning than we are in the practice of wrongdoing.  There is a cycle of misconduct that diminishes everyone.  Over and over again we commit transgressions by the shameful things we do and the righteous things we leave undone.  Wounded, our instinct is to lash out, even though we have a desperate need both to give and receive forgiveness.  Yet alongside the perpetual circle of wrongdoing [...]

PEACEMAKING: Forgiveness, Reconciliation, And Justice — A Christian Contribution to a More Peaceful Environment, by Miroslav Volf

September 16, 2014

From Christian Peace and Nonviolence, edited by Michael G. Long In this essay I want to contest the claim that the Christian faith, as one of the major world religions, predominantly fosters violence, and to argue, instead, that it should be seen as a contributor to more peaceful social environments.  I will not argue that the Christian faith was not and is not often employed to foster violence.  Obviously, such an argument cannot be plausibly made; not only have Christians committed atrocities and other lesser forms of violence but they have also drawn on religious beliefs to justify them.  Neither will I argue that the Christian faith has been historically less associated with violence than other major religions; I am not at all [...]

FORGIVENESS: An Art That Can Be Learned, by Geiko Müller-Fahrenholz

September 11, 2014

From The Art of Forgiveness Summary of a Seminar with Body Exercises In May 1993 I was approached by Elsa Tamez of the Seminario Bíblico Latinoamericano in San José, Costa Rica, to conduct a four-hour seminar on “forgiveness.”  She had heard of my interest in this subject and wanted to integrate it in her own seminar on “Reconciliation and Justice.”  I accepted the invitation with some trepidation; for I knew that it would be difficult to explain what perdón meant to me.  Elsa’s students – some twenty women and men – came from all parts of Latin America.  Many had already been working in their churches, most of which are very small and poor.  They bore in their lives the heavy burdens of a [...]

FORGIVENESS: Nourishing The Beauty — Forgiveness and Prayer, by Carla Mae Streeter

September 8, 2014

From Foundations of Spirituality The beauty that is human authenticity is nourished by liturgy, by sacrament, by art, by music, by human relatedness.  The consciousness drinks in what it needs.  The Divine empowers and purifies in the midst of the ordinary.  In the midst of this plethora of nourishments that feed soul making, I single out two: forgiveness and prayer.  Forgiveness I liken to a flushing out of the soul, an intentional release of toxins that could make us incapable of the nourishment that prayer is.  Prayer is coming before divine Love, clothed in nothing but faith, drawn by hope’s aching desire, and breathless on love’s bare feet.  Unforgiveness covers the ground with shards of broken glass. Living things [...]

SATURDAY READING: Jesus Reframes Forgiveness, by Michael Frost

September 6, 2014

From Jesus the Fool king christ the world is all aleak; and life preservers there are none —e. e. cummings If laws like the Ten Commandments serve only to remind us of our terrible inadequacy, what hope is there for the human race?  The answer is that Jesus also reframes how we find a way out of our impasse and it is not through an increased commitment to some external set of regulations.  In this regard, Jesus is running contrary to every belief in the Ancient Near East, whether educated or not, that religion is the regimen by which we purchase the deity’s good graces.  For Jesus, religion is an expression of devotion to a deity who has already bestowed his good graces upon his people.  Watch carefully and see how cleverly he [...]

HEALING: The Seven Last Words — Measuring Stick of Forgiveness, by Matthew Linn and Dennis Linn

September 5, 2014

From Healing Life’s Hurts To forgive as deeply as Christ forgives, you must be stretched by Christ’s mind until you can speak as he did his seven last words, his final attempt to forgive.  If a person has hurt you, Christ waits to say today through you the same words he spoke two thousand years ago at the cost of pain and life. Steps A. Pick one person who has hurt you (one you are not grateful for and would like to change). B. Recreate in your imagination the scene of the hurt until you can feel anger, fear, and the reaction you had when first hurt.  Share these feelings with Christ. C. Take the first of Christ’s seven last words and ask forgiveness for any way your forgiveness doesn’t match Christ’s [...]

FORGIVENESS: Finding Ground With Evil

September 4, 2014

As much as we would like it to be, it is not unusual to either experience personally or through someone else’s story evil spitting in our faces. What I am referring to is opening ourselves up to someone who has hurt us badly, in order to advance forgiveness on our part, and being told by that person that we are wrong to be upset by what happened. In the first place, it might begin. And then might finish up with, How can you blame me for what happened to you? This may come from rapists.  Or from someone who beat us.  Or degraded us for years. Or betrayed us. Betrayal can come from so many directions, and affect us profoundly. It can be found anywhere. And when we become aware of our reaction to those serious injuries that we wish [...]

FORGIVENESS: Forgiving As A Reconciling Practice, by Terrence W. Tilley

September 2, 2014

From The Disciples’ Jesus And then they brought him a paralytic lying on a stretcher, and having seen their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, “Cheer up, child!  Your sins are forgiven.” (Matthew 2:4) Sin is essentially the creating of separation, of fissure, between sinner and sinned against.  One can sin against oneself, one’s relatives and friends, one’s community, strangers, the environment.  In any and all of these, one also sins against God.  The forgiveness of sins is the restoration of right relationships.  It is a crucial practice of reconciliation. Mathew 9:2-8 (and parallels) portrays Jesus’s forgiving sin – and the accusation of blasphemy by some scribes.  To show that he has the [...]

PRAYER: For The Forgiveness Of Sins, by Thomas Aquinas

September 1, 2014

To You, O God, Fountain of Mercy, I come, a sinner. May You wash away my impurity. O Sun of Justice, give sight to the blind. O Eternal Healer, cure the wounded. O King of Kings, restore the despoiled. O Mediator of God and man, reconcile the sinful. O Good Shepherd, lead back the straying. O God, have pity on the wretched, show leniency to the guilty, bestow life on the dead, reform the impious, and give the balm of grace to the hard of heart. O most merciful God, call back the one who flees, draw back the one who resists, lift up the one who falls, support the one who stands, and accompany the one who walks. Do not forget those who forget You. Do not desert those who desert You. Do not despise those who sin against You. For in sinning, [...]

SATURDAY READING: My Journey Towards Wholeness And Forgiveness With The Aid Of Therapy, by Joy Green

August 30, 2014

From Forgiveness and the Healing Process, Cynthia Ransley and Terri Spy, ed. Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive. (C. S. Lewis) At 50, after working for 30 years in children’s homes, I started a social work training course and found myself in a place of fear and depression, questioning my abilities.  My self-esteem plummeted and my Christian faith, somehow, became less fulfilling and available to me.  Psychotherapy started me on an unexpected journey to self-discovery and ultimately forgiveness. In this chapter I will offer my journey in order to encourage others to find what is hidden within their lives and to give therapists an understanding of the complexity of any process towards [...]

FORGIVENESS: The Process Of Healing, by J. Norman King

August 28, 2014

From The God of Forgiveness and Healing in the Theology of Karl Rahner Both the forgiving grace of the mystery and the responding conversion of man occur at the center or spiritual nucleus of the person, at the deepest roots of his being.  The challenge and task of an authentic conversion is to progressively extend that core decision to every sphere and layer of one’s existence.  One must integrate more and more all that one has and all that one is into a total “yes” to that freely forgiving presence which we call God.  Indeed, the radical decision of conversion involves by its very nature the will to achieve this integration.  According to Karl Rahner, the gift of conversion is intended to draw into its sphere of [...]

HEALING: Forgiveness, by Francis MacNutt

August 26, 2014

From The Prayer That Heals “Yes, if you forgive others their failings, your Heavenly Father will forgive yours; but if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive  your failings either.” (Matthew 6:14-15)  Similarly, just as our Father will not forgive us, he will not heal us until we forgive those who have injured us. Part of this is a natural spiritual law: We have all sinned and, as a sign that we believe God will forgive us out of his compassion and goodness, we must be willing to pass that forgiveness on to others and break the chain of hate that affects the whole human race.  “It is the man who is forgiven little who shows little love.” (Luke 7:47)  We cannot receive the love of Jesus, the [...]

FORGIVENESS: The Dynamics Of Processes Of Reconciliation — Three Steps, by Geiko Müller-Fahrenholz

August 25, 2014

From: Comfortable Words, John D. Koch, Jr., and Todd H. W. Brewer, ed. Why do I introduce reconciliation here?  My observation is that forgiveness is only one step although of central importance within a wider process for which I use the term reconciliation.  I hope to be able to explain this in the following part.  What I have tried to say thus far leads me to conclude that each act of wrongdoing produces a twofold history of effect (Wirkungsgeschichte).  Simply put, on the side of the perpetrator we are bound to find a history of denial – in other words, psychic maneuvers such as rationalizations, justification, or trivializations to cover up shame and guilt. On the side of the victims we find a history of shaming which also [...]

GOD 101: The Leveling Virtue Of Gratitude

May 27, 2014

I was standing at the information desk of a very busy suburban library the other day.  Next to me was a breathless nine-year-old boy, impatient with the help he was not getting from the librarian behind the counter.  The librarian, in his turn, was making a nominal effort to sift through the assorted junk in an open drawer in front of him, letting one of his fingers draw across the surface of the contents like a lover hanging his hand over the side of a boat and lightly disturbing the smooth surface of the lake. Do you really need a pencil? sighed the librarian. NO! Just an eraser!  It sounded to me as though this, to the boy, had already been explained quite clearly. I watched the librarian, who appeared even to me to have no [...]

PRAYER: Prayers Of GratitudeAnd Praise, by Edward Hays

May 26, 2014

Blessed Are You, Lord Our God, Who Gives To Us Nourishment In Times Of Silence And Solitude From uplifted hearts, hearts full of gratitude, may this prayer of thanksgiving rise to You, God of All Gifts and of Great Generosity. We are thankful for times of stillness which allow us to listen to that holy river of prayer flowing in the heart; for the presence of Your Holy Spirit within, the Spirit who prays [...]

FORGIVENESS: Being Found, or The Problem with Hidden Enemies

May 19, 2014

We do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy: Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body, and our souls washed through his most precious blood, and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen. The Prayer of Humble Access.  Written by Thomas Cranmer for the newly forming Anglican Church.  A prayer that has been said, while kneeling, for centuries.  And yet when I was a child I choked on [...]

FORGIVENESS: The Mechanics Of Resistance

February 24, 2014

I love insights.  Along with a few other things on Earth, they make life almost worth living, I find. I’ve been pondering on this very real reality of mine, this result of having been a mystic all my life and having lived squashed up tight under God’s arm pit that gave me a sense of being very separate in certain ways from the rest of mankind. It began when I was very young, and it has been my definition all my life. And so now, God bless God, the tables have turned on me and I am to look, to study, to probe my humanness.  Myself as one who interacts with other people. And I want, to be honest, to just sit here and stammer. But, but, but. . . . You get the drift. This “closing the gap” between myself and others [...]

FORGIVENESS: An Unsteady Happiness

February 13, 2014

My prayer life changed a few months ago.  I can’t remember why, exactly, I did this, but I began to follow an Ignatian online retreat that has meditations and whatnots that change on a weekly basis.  A 34-week retreat.  Something to sink my spiritual teeth into. I found that I liked snippets of the prayers offered, and decided to use them for the basis of my rosary prayers.  So, instead of praying everyday the same prayer as I worked completely through it, I changed my rosary prayer every Monday morning. Now, let’s face it, prayers aimed at our relationship with God pretty much settle on one basic concept: I’m inadequate in this, help me to do that better, I’m confused about everything. Our weakness. Our [...]

GOD 101: Love Without Pity

January 28, 2014

Recently, I figured out a way to organize the “categories” section of my blog.  As I was happily sorting through the various entries and putting them into subcategories – Raphael goes under Angels – I noticed something that I had never thought about. There were concepts that belong entirely to God.  Creation.  Death.  Final judgment.  And there were concepts that belong entire to man.  Sadness.  Motherhood.  Enemies. And, then, there they were: concepts that belong to both God and man.  Love being the biggest one I noticed. And so I felt confirmed in my “discovery” that love is not really an emotion: how could it be if there are different applications of it?  How could it be if at least one aspect of [...]

SPIRITUALITY: Jesus’s Story of Divine Forgiveness by Roger Haight

December 8, 2013

From Christian Spirituality For Seekers Then Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons.  The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’  So he divided his property between them.  A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living.  When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need.  So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs.  He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything.  But [...]

SATURDAY READING: Forgiving God, by Solomon Schimmel

December 7, 2013

From Wounds Not Healed By Time “I will never forgive God for allowing my innocent son to suffer so much from cancer of the brain.” “After many years of anger at God for the loss of my entire family in a horrible car accident I have finally been able to forgive him.” “I can no longer pray to God because I cannot forgive him for sitting idly by while the Nazis tortured my beloved and pious father to death in front of my younger sister’s and my eyes.” Why are some people angry at God? Does it make sense to talk about “forgiving or not forgiving God?” These questions have to be addressed at two levels, the theological one and the personal, emotional [...]

POETRY: Forgiveness

December 6, 2013

Forgiveness Laura Kasischke Mercy, like the carcasses of animals in a foyer, being burned. Fragrant, dreaming, unreal, and having to do, terribly, with love. The sun shining dumbly all over this world and its troubles. The self on tip- toes sneaking away from the self. In the passing lane today, a woman with her mouth open behind the wheel of her car. Singing, or swearing, wearing a coat, driving through her life, and mine. Hello, little lifeboat made of straw. Hello, floating multitude of my sins in a basket called Forgiveness on an ocean the name of which my son once mis- pronounced the Specific. Hello, ugly memory of myself crouched down with my fists on my thighs yelling at that child: Something about a stuffed animal and [...]

SACRAMENTS: Baptism And The Forgiveness Of Sins by Ronald P. Byars

December 5, 2013

From The Sacraments In Biblical Perspective Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38) And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord. (Acts 22:16) Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the [...]

POETRY: Poems Of Pain

December 4, 2013

To A Terrorist For the historical ache, the ache passed down which finds its circumstance and becomes the present ache, I offer this poem without hope, knowing there’s nothing, not even revenge, which alleviates a life like yours. I offer it as one might offer his father’s ashes to the wind, a gesture when there’s nothing else to do. Still, I must say to you: I hate your good reasons. I hate the hatefulness that makes you fall in love with death, your own included. Perhaps you’re hating me now, I who own my own house And live in a country so muscular, so smug, it thinks its terror is meant only to mean well, and to protect. Christ turned his singular cheek, one man’s holiness another’s absurdity. Like [...]

FORGIVENESS: The Human And The Divine, by The Monks Of New Skete

December 3, 2013

From In The Spirit Of Happiness To forgive may be divine, but it is also a distinctively human phenomenon.  One of the principal effects of forgiveness in an increase in the humanness of the forgiver as well as of the one being forgiven.  The perennial popularity of Jesus over and above institutional religion is the peacefulness and serenity of his life, the way he treated others, the magnanimity of his heart, and his ability to say, “Your sins are forgiven” – not “I forgive you,” but, “Your sins are already forgiven” – restoring the individual to serenity of mind and peacefulness of soul.  As much as anything else, this is what Jesus embodied. Brother David raised his hand and asked if he [...]