Forgiveness, Penance, and the Passage of Time

confession

If it’s true that forgiveness is an essential part of healthy living , are there any circumstances when forgiveness may be denied or at the least withheld for a period of time? Forgiveness can bring reconciliation, healing, peace and many gifts, but is it always beneficial for the forgiver and the forgiven? Does it always make people into better human beings ready to responsibly face the world and embrace important values? In other words, can the … [Read more...]

“And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.”

In order to apply Christ’s sayings to our daily life, we first have to understand them. And sometimes to understand them, we need to recover a context that in modern times is all but lost. It would seem to be the case with this particular verse from the Sermon on the Mount. Those who heard our Savior’s words were well familiar with the teaching of the Law that was meant to encourage compassion even with those who have not kept their promises: “If … [Read more...]

Being Conscientious, Being Warm, and Being Forgiving

mount

How we approach problems in our relationships with others and whether or not we are inclined to seek forgiveness depends not only on our free will and our openness to the teachings of the Gospel, but also on the virtues we hold most dear. Some people value warmth that translates into showing compassion, demonstrating empathy, and exhibiting altruism. Others tend to prize conscientiousness that means exercising self-control, manifesting integrity, … [Read more...]

Forgiveness in Writing

If failing to forgive is in large part due to an unwillingness to forgive, what are some practical means to increase our will to forgive? We can commit ourselves to daily reading Scriptural passages on forgiveness or patristic texts such as those used in this series on forgiveness. We can pray for the strength to forgive even as we have been forgiven. We can also use the written word in other ways to strengthen our intentions. Putting … [Read more...]

Distinguishing between I can’t and I won’t in efforts to forgive

I just can’t! How often have we heard these words from another person? How often have we uttered them ourselves? Often, other people hear these words as expressing not so much our inability to do something as our refusal to do so. We use the expression “I can’t” in order to absolve ourselves of making a choice, when in fact a choice has already been made. In the context of forgiveness, “I can’t” is often a pretext meant to imply that some force … [Read more...]

And They Say Revenge is Sweet

Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. Many in today’s world would agree with Lord Byron’s verse “Sweet is revenge” (Don Juan, Canto 1, Stanza 124). Revenge appears to recalibrate the balance of justice and restore a damaged ego. There seems to be something mathematically fair, … [Read more...]