Understanding Forgiveness

Forgiveness: A Catholic ApproachI call it the “F-word.” As far as I can tell it’s the hardest part of being a Christian. Our sense of justice often won’t let us forgive, and yet it is one of the most important things that Jesus tells us to do. It’s also, I believe, God’s most important and oft-given gift to us. How do we forgive when forgiveness isn’t deserved? Is there ever a time when we shouldn’t forgive? I could go on and give my own ideas and beliefs and conclusions on this subject, but what do I know? I’m no expert at forgiving. I get as angry as anyone else and hold grudges as long as the next guy. But I pray that God help me to change. I pray that God help me to be more like Him. I pray for the love to forgive as I have been forgiven.

Luckily for me Father R. Scott Hurd has written a wonderful little book called Forgiveness: A Catholic Approach. Lisa Helene and I recently read the book and discussed it with a group of friends at our parish. In the book, Fr. Hurd describes forgiveness as a process. A process that does not involve forgetting the injury we’ve suffered and does not necessarily involve reconciliation with the other person. At it’s very essence forgiveness is a letting go of the anger and resentment we hold when someone hurts us. It means wishing our offender well, praying for our offender, and coming to place of peace where we can remember the pain without feeling the anger. This can take time, (it took St. Jane de Chantal several years to forgive her husband’s accidental killer) but it can be done and done only with God’s help.

There is nothing I could say here that Fr. Hurd doesn’t say better. So I’m just going to plug this wonderful book and hope it gets into the hands of all who need to read it!

Have a blessed week!  

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