It is hard to ask for forgiveness. It is difficult to admit that we have done wrong, that we have failed in our relationships with God and with others. This is one reason people shy away from the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It is very humbling to have to name our failings out loud to another person. The bigger the failing, the more humbling it is. And yet God’s mercy is always there. The grace flowing through the sacrament as the priest utters the words of absolution is very powerful. The knowledge that we are forgiven can lift the weight of the world off our shoulders. More than once, I’ve left the confessional with tears of joy and relief streaming down my face.
As hard as it is to get in line for the Sacrament of Reconciliation and to admit our sins out loud to God in the person of the priest, it can be even harder to forgive those who have harmed us. The bigger the hurt, the bigger the challenge it is to extend mercy. Some wounds just don’t heal. Sometimes, we don’t want to forgive. Instead, we want to hold on to that anger and hurt because it gives us a sense of control over the situation. We feel righteous in our anger: We were right and the other person was wrong.
Yet the cost of holding on to bitterness and not forgiving is huge. Fr. Carlos Martins, CC, offers this perspective: “While refusing to forgive has appeal in terms of the power and energy that bitterness appears to offer, in the end it merely leaves us stuck in a cycle of perpetual loss and distress and holds us in permanent victimhood. Indeed, for a person to not forgive is equivalent to his drinking poison, but desiring someone else to die of it. It is completely irrational.”
I will be talking about how saints such as St. Maria Goretti, St. Jospehine Bakhita, St. Maximilian Kolbe, and St. Pope John Paul II show us how to forgive, even when it seems impossible. The webinar is July 25th at 2 pm, but if you miss it then, you can watch it later: https://bit.ly/2RAbRVY.