The Lord's Prayer

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The Lord's Prayer

Post  VicarJoe on Thu Jun 18, 2009 11:39 am

Today's reading:

Mt 6:7-15

Jesus said to his disciples:
"In praying, do not babble like the pagans,
who think that they will be heard because of their many words.
Do not be like them.
Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

"This is how you are to pray:

'Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.'

"If you forgive others their transgressions,
your heavenly Father will forgive you.
But if you do not forgive others,
neither will your Father forgive your transgressions."

---

A couple of observations: I find the Pater Noster a marvelous meditative prayer, which is to say I love the rosary. But I also find that like so many things one hears a million times, it's rather easy not to think about what it says. Unpacking it, that's the work of a lifetime.

Second, today's reading is very much about forgiveness. But for me it raises a question that I don't think the text itself answers, which is, Am I to forgive any transgression against me, or rather those specifically where the transgressor has asked forgiveness?

I think forgiving someone who is not at all sorry for what he's done may be actually impossible, if one assumes (as I tend to) that forgiveness is a communicative act and not just an interior feeling. Too, it can be condescending and even prideful to forgive someone who doesn't believe he's done anything wrong (e.g., "I forgive you for voting that way"). Also, as I understand God's forgiveness, which here is linked constantly with our need to forgive others, it is something we beseech God for, something we ask for, something we seek with a contrite heart. I've never encountered in the faith the notion that if I forgive people who aren't sorry for what they've done, God will forgive me for sins I still relish.

So that suggests, to me anyway, that forgiveness is a response to an apology, and really only exists as such. Is that too harsh? Am I misreading the text? If I'm required to repent of my transgressions against God, isn't that the model for forgiveness we are called to emulate in transgressions against each other?

On a side note, it seems to me like we've moved (culturally) into a WAAAY different definition or understanding of forgiveness than the one I describe, one where we're supposed to forgive without waiting for the expression of apology from the person who harmed us. Is it just me, or is that right?


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Fogivness.....

Post  stihl on Thu Jun 18, 2009 2:02 pm

Great topic.

My current understanding of forgiveness is this, if somebody has wronged you and is belligerent, in that they don't care and aren't asking for forgiveness, then forgiveness means you've opened the door, that you've done your part. You can't make somebody walk through the door if they don't want.

In think, in Earthly terms, we must distinguish between forgiveness and reconcilliation. Reconcilliation means to make things right. That means the offender must seek admit wrong doing, seek forgiveness, make amends and, try not to do it again.

As an offended party you can only play a partial role and that is to be prepared express your forgiveness to the other party when they ask for it. If you are sincere in being ready, then you have in fact forgiven them and have let go of your injury. This isn't to say you are willing to have an injury repeated.

I think the question is, are you holding on to that injury as a way to manipulate others? scratch
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I'm with

Post  BelievHUman on Thu Jun 18, 2009 2:53 pm

stihl on this one.

Forgiveness is a personal action, with the result of removing that which directly effect you as a person.

So if you forgive a person who isn't sorry for their act, you have completed your responsibility and no longer
held responsibility for any interaction with the other party.
One could say you 'Cleared the Karma' between you and the other.

The idea being to cleans ones self of the 'evils' of others in order to be a clean vessel for God to work through/on.

JMHO
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I think it's fair to say that you both believe

Post  VicarJoe on Thu Jun 18, 2009 3:52 pm

that someone should begin the process of forgiveness by forgiving the offending party before (or without the need of) any expression of regret on the part of the offender. And, if I'm not mistaken, you're both suggesting that forgiveness is a solo affair that doesn't require two parties to participate at all.

What I find difficult with that idea is that it removes the offending party from the occasion of forgiveness. It's not between two parties, it's within one party. I guess I still believe that forgiveness is a response, not an opening gesture.

I return also to my observation that it is, in fact, condescending to forgive someone who isn't sorry.

And I try to relate it to this passage, where we're told (and told again) that we will be forgiven by God as we forgive others. If your implicit position on forgiveness is right, I should forgive offenders for transgressions that they still might positively revel in, and so in kind God will forgive me for all the sins I haven't felt like repenting. But can that be right? Is that what Jesus and the apostles teach us about God's forgiveness?

It seems to me that God shows us mercy by the very act of offering us forgiveness when we repent, but not by forgiving us when we don't even bother to repent.

I'm reminded of the final lines of Dr Faustus, where Faustus could be forgiven (even to the last moments of his life) for decades of sin, and that forgiveness is held out to him, if only he would call on God and confess his sinfulness. But he doesn't call on God, and so he is carted off to Hell. No contrition, no forgiveness.

BTW, I'm not saying I'm God, waiting for sinners against me to repent. Just noting that the gospel suggests two things: God will forgive us as we forgive others, and God will forgive us to the degree that we repent our transgressions and ask forgiveness.
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Forgiveness

Post  magyar1 on Thu Jun 18, 2009 4:09 pm

To forgive means to restore a bond of love and communion when there has been a rupture. Sin ruptures our relationship with God and others, as also do offenses taken and given among people.

When the bond is broken with other people, we tend to objectify them and judge them, not seeing them as persons, but only as objects of our anger and hurt. This is our sinful reaction. We categorize people in terms of their transgression against us. The longer we nurture the anger and alienation, the more deeply the resentment takes hold in our heart, and the more it feeds on our soul. Resentment is a cancer that will destroy us if we don’t forgive! It also leaks out and damages our relations with others when we slander and gossip about those who have offended us and try to draw others to our own side. Of course, no one should want to hear such things—but we do!

Forgiveness means overlooking the sin or transgression, and restoring a bond of love. It does not mean justifying the offensive action or accepting it as right, nor does it mean justifying one’s own anger or sinful reaction. Forgiveness means laying aside our judgments of the other person and our own sinful reactions, and accepting others for who they are.

God’s forgiveness of us and our sins against Him is unconditional and absolute. God does not reject us, objectify us, or bear anger or resentment against us. These are, I think, our projections onto God of our own issues and judgments against ourselves when we sin. God does not punish us. Rather, by alienating ourselves from God, we punish ourselves and ascribe this punishment to Him. We turn in on ourselves in anger and self-hatred, and thus shatter our personhood, cutting ourselves off from His love.

By asking God for forgiveness, we open ourselves to His love and acceptance, His grace and compassion. These were there already, but we neglected them. By confessing our sins, we surrender these areas of our lives where we have justified our self-alienation from God. Repentance means not only turning away from sin, but also turning to God. Judas was remorseful for his sin—but hanged himself. We need not only to be remorseful, but also to open ourselves to God.
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I still find this all a bit inward and not really relational very much

Post  VicarJoe on Thu Jun 18, 2009 4:57 pm

For one thing, just taking the sacrament of confession as a point of departure, why bother confessing if God has already forgiven me my sins before I even repented them? It sounds to me like I couldn't possibly go to Hell, since all my sins are already forgiven regardless of my disposition.

Too, all the talk about inwardness still ignores that forgiveness implies a second party, and it still seems unjust to me to presume to forgive someone who isn't sorry. It's like Bert or Rico "forgiving" me for being Catholic--gee, thanks. Which is to say, forgiveness can be wielded as a weapon of resentment and superiority.
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A Few Thoughts

Post  HumbleHank on Thu Jun 18, 2009 6:49 pm

As I read and think about this thread I am reminded of the readings from Pentecost Sunday, where living in the Spirit it described.

Gal 5:16-25 … Now the works of the flesh are obvious:
immorality, impurity, lust, idolatry,
sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy,
outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness,
dissensions, factions, occasions of envy,
drinking bouts, orgies, and the like.
I warn you, as I warned you before,
that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
patience, kindness, generosity,
faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

When I have been victimized, more often then not the matter ends up trapping me in the flesh. I hold onto hatred, rivalry, have outburst of fury, and sometimes selfishly use the act of victimization long after the event is over, for personal gain.

For me, I see the primary act of forgiveness as internal, a solitary act, where I release feelings of hatred, rivalry and fury regardless of the level of atonement in the other person. Subsequently, this opens the door to resuming my life in the Spirit as opposed to the flesh. At a minimum, this seems essential in our spiritual journeys. I am reminded of Christ’s actions form the cross where he seemingly forgives those who crucified him without evidence of atonement on their part. It seemed to be a freeing act for Him clearing the path for his reunion with His Father.

Peace to you.
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Not to beat a dead horse

Post  VicarJoe on Thu Jun 18, 2009 6:56 pm

or, yes, to beat a dead horse...

Is forgiveness about two persons or one? Is it a transaction, or something that happens in one party alone?
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Re: The Lord's Prayer

Post  HumbleHank on Thu Jun 18, 2009 10:21 pm

VicarJoe wrote:or, yes, to beat a dead horse...

Is forgiveness about two persons or one? Is it a transaction, or something that happens in one party alone?

My sense is that forgiveness is always about the person doing the forgiving, and sometimes about both.

As an example, my son has been getting into a little bit of trouble at the afterschool program that he attends. It resulted in him being suspended from the program for four days, which made me very angry with him. Primarily because he is 10 years old and I know that he had been taught all the things that he needed to handle the situation in the proper way, yet he chose a course that embarrassed our family and made me feel wounded as a parent. I would never in a million years expect a 10 year old to appreciate that. Waiting for him to come to that realization and atoning for the transgression could be years. While there were clear consequences at home in addition to the suspension from the program, in my heart I forgave him for the pain that he caused me within hours of the incident. While he is still paying the price in consequences, by forgiving him in my heart, I feel as though it has let the Holy Spirit back into our relationship. So, in that example, the forgiveness was primarily an act of my own. It could eventually be about both of us, but in terms of the state of my heart, it will never have to be.

Peace to you.
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I can certainly appreciate that, Hank

Post  VicarJoe on Fri Jun 19, 2009 8:47 am

But a child is a bit different than an adult. In a way, you forgive a child's transgressions because you make allowances for children not being capable of full moral agency. If you treat adults that way, I think you enter into the kind of condescending posture I mentioned, where you forgive people for being somehow beneath you.

I thought a bit more about the kind of psychological component of forgiveness spelled out by some of you above, where forgiveness is about cleansing MY soul of anger and hate and not nearly so much about extending peace to the person who harmed me. I wonder if that view of forgiveness isn't post-Freudian, where anger becomes some form of repression that eats away at the psyche and perhaps damages us in unconscious ways. It seems more modern, and more inward, than what the Bible is talking about. I can't think of a single Bible passage that counsels forgiveness because it will bring the forgiver mental health and wellbeing.

It also occured to me that I disagreed with the claims that somehow not forgiving someone is synonymous with carrying around a lot of self-defeating bitterness and resentment. As my wife always says of me, for example, "you're amazing at forgetting things that you don't remember fondly." I don't, personally, harbor any long-held resentment or bitterness because I put stuff behind me pretty quickly and move on. That is, I move on without needing to forgive. We say "I can forgive, but I can't forget." Actually, I can forget that I need to forgive. LOL

And that gets to the heart of the matter, which is that we can shed ourselves of bitterness and resentment while still reserving forgiveness. The two things aren't really all that related. Conversely, we can definitely forgive someone and still harbor feelings of sadness, bitterness and resentment. No one forgives a spouse for adultery, say, and is then just SNAP! back to feeling exactly the same as before. Not forgiving isn't the same as carrying around bitterness or resentment, and forgiving isn't a perfect solvent in which bad feelings dissipate.

I come back to the idea that forgiveness is a gift to the person who harms you. He's in agony because he has a wounded conscience. Forgiveness is care of those who harm you, not so much care of the self.

As my wife pointed out, I'm not so much "against" the idea that forgiveness can also be good for the self. I don't think it's wrong. I just don't think it's what the Christian point of forgiveness happens to be.
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Try to mimick God

Post  stihl on Fri Jun 19, 2009 10:38 am

Maybe it is because I just finished the Great Divorce that I am thinking this way but...

Since there is free will, all God will do is build a bridge half-way. The trade-off is that by excepting God's mercy we must let go of our selves.

In Lewis's story, God's love is infinite, that the soul's in Hell/Purgatroy/Earth, are given an infinite amount of time and chances to go to Him. Although, it seems the more one refuses, the less likely one is to join God.

There was a comment by the spirit of George MacDonald that resonated with me. In dealing with the ghost of the grieving mother, he said by not being direct (and sometimes hard) with others, we are not truly loving them.

This takes a high level of consciousness to pull off. First, because we can fall in a trap of using this to have power over others. Second, given the temperment, of modern society, we don't do it because we don't want ot be considered judgmental.

If forgiveness is indeed healing a breach (I don't doubt that it is), to do so takes tact, wisdom and humility. There are times when you are feuding with somebody, that if you walk up and say "I forgive you", you will simply widen the breach. If you approach them with forgivenss in your heart and offer to buy them a cup of coffee, you may better heal the breach with never saying the words, "I forgive you".

You may extend your hand only to have it slapped. But, by extending your hand you may have planted a seed. It takes wisdom, however, to know how many times to extend your hand. When you are not healing a breach but, just presenting a target.

The really tough thing is when somebody has offended you and they don't realize it.

I am dealing with somebody now that I apparently have offended. Having known this person for a number of years, they are easily offended and this is a game that they play.

So the question is, do I approach them and ask them what is bothering them, knowing full well that I will be feeding something that isn't very good? confused
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This is such an interesting topic!

Post  cradlerc on Fri Jun 19, 2009 12:27 pm

Yay for our forum!

Warning--quite a long post here.

Anyway, to answer one of your questions, Joe--the one about whether we are just being condescending by forgiving someone who has respassed against us without them seeking our forgiveness: I would have to say no, because what we're doing is acknowedging that God has forgiven us and that really we are no better than our brother who has sinned against us. I draw on Pope Benedict for this, who writes in Jesus of Nazareth, particularly about this section of the Lord's Prayer:

"You cannot come into God's presence unreconciled with your brother: anticipating him in the gesture of reconciliation; anticpating him in the gesture of reconciliation, going out to meet him, is the prerequisite for true worship of God. In so doing, we should keep in mind that God himself--knowing that we human beings stood against him, unreconciled--stepped out of his divinity in order to come toward us, to reconcile us. We should recall that before giving us the Eucharist, he knelt down before his disciples and washed their dirty feet, cleansing them with his humble love. In the middle of Matthew's gospel we find the parable of the unforgiving servant (cf.MT 18:23-35). He, a highly placed satrap of the king, has just been released from anunimaginably large debt of ten thousand talents. Yet he himself is unwilling to cancel a debt of a hundred denarii--in comparison a laughable sum. Whatever we have to forgive one another is trivial in comparison with the goodness of God, who forgives us. And ultimately we hear Jesus' petition from the Cross: 'Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do'(Lk 23:34)."

So what I get from this analysis is that, while it isn't unimportant what the other person does, we
must "anticipate him in the gesture of reconciliation" to stand in the presence of God. We must be open to reconcliation, and to be open we need to begin the process of forgiveness.

But he also implicitly supports your point, Joe, about forgiveness being relational. But he suggests that what we try to do, again, is to imitate Christ, who anticipates reconcilation with us by burning our sins for us. Our forgiveness has transformational power, not simply for ourselves, but for the person being forgiven--even if they don't earn it or accept it. He goes on to ask what, exactly, forgiveness is, supporting your statement that it's not about forgetting or ignoring: "Guilt must be worked through, healed, and thus overcome. Forgiveness exacts a price--first of all from the person who forgives. He must ovecome within himself the evil done to him; he must, as it were, burn it interiorly and in so doing renew himself. As a result, he also involves the other, the trespasser, in this process of transformation, of inner purification, and both parties, suffering all the way through and overcoming evil, are made new. At this point, we encounter the mystery of Christ's Cross. But the very first thing we encounter is the limit of our power to heal and overcome evil. We encounter the superior power of evil, which we cannot master with our unaided powers."

So, what I get from this is that yes, forgiveness is relational, but that it does not necessarily require repentance of the guilty party. Reconcilation does. In regard to your question about confession, my understanding has always been that God is like the parent of of the prodigal son, forgiving and running to meet us. But He's not going to drag us home, either. The primary means of reconcilation we have is, in fact, the Eucharist. But we're people, we do better with human interactions. So we go to confession, not to obtain God's forgiveness, but for reconcilation.

Finally, Pope Benedict goes on to discuss how it all comes back to the Cross, which is difficult for us to grasp because of our entrenchment in notions of individualism. "The fact that all individual beings are deeply interwoven and that all are encompassed in turn by the being of the One, the Incarnate Son, is something we are no longer capable of seeing. . . .The petition for forgiveness is more than a moral exhortation--though it is that as well, and as such it challenges us anew every day. But, at its deepest core, it is--like all other petitions--a Christological prayer. It reminds us of he who allowed forgiveness to cost him descent into the hardship of human existence and death on the Cross. It calls us first and foremost to thankfulness for that , and then, with him, to work through and suffer evil by means of love." I think this dual nature of the prayer is important to keep in mind. I also know that, for me, it's important because it reminds me that I need to discern what forgiveness is, and hwere it is really needed, for myself and for others. Often we harbor grudges about things we shouldn't, about things others don;t even know we're angry about--at least I do. This reminds me to let it go, because I want to be forgiven not only for wat I do purposely, but for all the evil I do without even knowing that I do it, like those whom Jesus forgives fromt he Cross. I guess I'm saying that the two need to go together--that the prayer is always pointing to Calavary and to the unearned grace that is to be poured out upon all of humanity.
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Confessing to a priest

Post  magyar1 on Fri Jun 19, 2009 12:49 pm

Vicar Joe,
Greetings!
You asked about confessing our sins to a priest.

People ask Catholics questions like where in the Bible does Jesus give authority to men to forgive sins? And why can’t Catholics confess their sins directly to Jesus, the only mediator between God and us? Doesn’t sacramental confession deny that we have been justified through faith and made righteous by the redemptive blood of Jesus?

First, Jesus did give the power to forgive sins to human beings. In John 20:21–23, Jesus says, "As the Father has sent me, even so I send you." Then he breathed on them, saying, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." This is the bedrock on which the sacrament of confession stands or falls.

The meaning of this passage is clear to Catholics: Jesus, who alone has the power to forgive or retain sins (Mark 2:10; Luke 5:24), transmits that power to the apostles. But Evangelicals usually have a different take on John 20:21–23. One of the most popular is that Jesus sent the apostles to preach the gospel and to inform hearers that if they have faith in him their sins are forgiven, and if they do not believe in him their sins are retained. This "preaching only" interpretation comes from reading John 20:21–23 in light of 1 Timothy 2:5, in which Paul says that Jesus is the one and only mediator between God and us. Because Evangelicals approach the text believing that Jesus could not have really given the apostles this power, they conclude that he instead commissioned them to preach about the forgiveness and retention of sins. The Evangelical then draws a parallel between John 20 and the "Great Commission" texts, as they are referred to by many Protestants, where Jesus commanded the apostles to "go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation" (Mark 16:15; cf. Matt. 28:18–20, Luke 24:47). John was saying the same thing but using different words. To the Evangelical mind, John is saying, "Whoever believes the gospel, you can declare their sins to have already been forgiven through the preaching of the cross." Of course, that is not what the text says. Jesus clearly commissioned the apostles to carry out his ministry of reconciliation as his agents.

But Paul teaches that Jesus is the one and only mediator between God and us (1 Tim. 2:5), so isn’t the priest an unnecessary intermediary? Shouldn’t Christians confess their sins directly to God?

Catholics do confess their sins directly to God both within and outside the confessional. Jesus advocated praying directly to the Father to ask forgiveness for our sins (Matt. 6:12), and Catholics do this communally at every Mass and in prayer groups, and individually during private prayer. But Catholics also believe that Jesus gave the Church a unique role in his ministry of reconciliation by entrusting it with his power to forgive and retain sins. It is useful to clarify what happens in the sacrament of confession. During confession, the priest perpetuates this ministry by acting in persona Christi, "in the person of Christ." In other words, when Catholics receive absolution from the priest for sins confessed, it is Jesus’ forgiveness that is granted, not the priest’s.

An essential principle of the ministerial priesthood is that God works through men who have a special spiritual role within the Church to communicate his grace and truth. Both Catholics and Evangelicals affirm Paul’s teaching that Jesus is the sole mediator between God and us, but Catholics recognize that Jesus was at liberty to allow his mediation to be worked through the apostles and their successors in the Church.

We see Jesus giving specific power to the apostles to perpetuate his presence and ministry not only in John 20:21–23 but also in other Gospel accounts: Jesus confers his authority to baptize, saying, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matt. 28:18–19); he also gives Peter and the apostles the power to teach and to excommunicate within the Church in a way that would be ratified in heaven (Matt. 16:18; 18:19).

Jesus chose to use the apostles as his instruments. Most Evangelicals will agree that this instrumentality is at work in their own pastors, who perform baptisms in their churches. In a similar way, God employs priests as ministers of forgiveness in the sacrament of confession.

At the heart of the Evangelical tradition is the doctrine of justification by faith alone (sola fide), which says that once we accept Jesus as our personal savior in faith, we are clothed with his righteousness and forever righteous in his eyes. Because we are justified entirely by God’s grace, which we accept through faith, our past, present, or future sins have no bearing on our standing before him. Scriptural passages that Evangelicals use to support this belief include Paul’s references to justification by faith apart from the law in Romans 3:21–23 and 10:4.

Catholics and Protestants believe that we are justified by God’s grace through faith but differ on what that actually means. Evangelicals usually understand justification as a one-time historical event, but Catholics see it as a dynamic process of conversion that includes the forgiveness of sins and the interior renewal of the person (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2018). By our faith in Jesus and the unmerited grace that we receive in baptism, God comes to dwell within us. In doing so, God does not simply declare us righteous. He arms us with the power of his Holy Spirit to become truly righteous and reflect his love to the world.

The faith that justifies us, according to Catholic doctrine, is alive and expressed through love (Gal. 5:6), not just intellectual belief or personal trust. In Romans 3:21–23 and 10:4, which Catholics interpret differently than Evangelicals, Paul teaches that Jesus ushered in a new mode of justification—apart from the Mosaic law but not apart from good deeds, which James tells us are essential for justification (Jas. 2:24–26). In fact, Jesus says he will measure our righteousness by how well we have put our faith to work in acts of love for our neighbor (Matt. 25:37–40).

Unlike Evangelicals, Catholics believe that after baptism we can lose the grace of justification by sinning. Jesus is clear on this point. The wheat will be gathered into the master’s barn while the weeds will be burned (Matt. 13:30); the good fish will be kept while the bad ones will be thrown into the furnace (Matt. 13:47–50). Paul echoed Jesus’ teaching when he warned the Galatians, who were already baptized believers, that if they commit serious sins they "shall not inherit the kingdom of God" (Gal. 5:21). He also cautioned the Romans that those who perform wicked deeds will receive "wrath and fury" instead of eternal life (Rom. 2:7–8).

Living the Christian faith in love has always been easier said than done. Like Paul, sometimes we do evil instead of the good we want to do (Rom. 7:19). Even when we have professed our faith in Jesus and become regenerated by the Holy Spirit in baptism, at times we will separate ourselves from God by offending him. At these times, we are called to "be reconciled to God" (2 Cor. 5:20).

The sacrament of confession incarnates Jesus’ "ministry of reconciliation" (2 Cor. 5:18) so that we can walk together with God again after we have strayed away in sin. Like Evangelicals, Catholics affirm that Jesus’ love unto death was entirely sufficient to redeem us, but Catholics believe that it is precisely by the power of his redemptive blood that our personal reconciliation with God is then possible.

By virtue of the new covenant in Jesus, God’s mercy has been made available to us when we sincerely ask for forgiveness. Being reconciled with God means exercising our freedom to make a U-turn back to God in humility and love. Placing this process of conversion and forgiveness within the context of sacramental confession allows us to experience Jesus’ redemptive power in our own lives.

In the words of Pope John Paul II:
This reconciliation with God leads, as it were, to other reconciliations, which repair the other breaches caused by sin. The forgiven penitent is reconciled with himself in his inmost being, where he regains his innermost truth. He is reconciled with his brethren whom he has in some way offended and wounded. He is reconciled with the Church. He is reconciled with all creation (Reconciliation and Penance 31, 5).

Hope this helps,
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This article from Catholic answers

Post  cradlerc on Fri Jun 19, 2009 1:23 pm

addresses the issue of whether we are required to forgive someone who hasn't asked it.

http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/2003/0309bt.asp

Preemptive Forgiveness?


We aren’t obligated to forgive people who do not want us to. This is one of the biggest stumbling blocks that people have regarding the topic. People have seen "unconditional" forgiveness and love hammered so often that they feel obligated to forgive someone even before that person has repented. Sometimes they even tell the unrepentant that they have preemptively forgiven him (much to the impenitent’s annoyance).

This is not what is required of us.

Consider Luke 17:3–4, where Jesus tells us, "If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him; and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, and says, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him."

Notice that Jesus says to forgive him if he repents, not regardless of whether he does so. Jesus also envisions the person coming back to you and admitting his wrong.

The upshot? If someone isn’t repentant, you don’t have to forgive him.

If you do forgive him anyway, that can be meritorious, provided it doesn’t otherwise have bad effects (e.g., encouraging future bad behavior). But it isn’t required of us that we forgive the person.

This may strike some people as odd. They may have heard unconditional love and forgiveness preached so often that the idea of not indiscriminately forgiving everybody sounds unspiritual to them. They might even ask, "But wouldn’t it be more spiritual to forgive everyone?"

I sympathize with this argument, but there is a two-word rejoinder to it: God doesn’t.

Not everybody is forgiven. Otherwise, we’d all be walking around in a state of grace all the time and have no need of repentance to attain salvation. God doesn’t like people being unforgiven, and he is willing to grant forgiveness to all, but he isn’t willing to force it on people who don’t want it. If people are unrepentant of what they know to be sinful, they are not forgiven.

Jesus died once and for all to pay a price sufficient to cover all the sins of our lives, but God doesn’t apply his forgiveness to us in a once-and-for-all manner. He forgives us as we repent. That’s why we continue to pray "Forgive us our trespasses," because we regularly have new sins that we have repented of—some venial and some mortal, but all needing forgiveness.

If God doesn’t forgive the unrepentant, and it is not correct to tell people that they need to do so, what is required of us?
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cradlerc

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There's more to the article

Post  cradlerc on Fri Jun 19, 2009 1:24 pm

than the section I posted, BTW!
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This reflects my orignal point...

Post  stihl on Fri Jun 19, 2009 1:49 pm

....Maybe not always forgiving BUT always being prepared to forgive. We can't do any better than what God does. Very Happy
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I love this thread

Post  VicarJoe on Fri Jun 19, 2009 2:48 pm

and I can totally get on board with being ready to forgive, having forgiveness on our lips ready to drop as soon as it's asked for. I can totally support the notion of forgiveness that says holding back forgiveness after someone has repented is to be hard-hearted, and it is to tell God that he can ignore our repentance as well. I have no problem whatsoever with any of that. But I do think the Christian tradition clearly teaches that God forgives those who confess and repent. The magnanimity of God, the amazing and overpowering love of God, is in his readiness to forgive us as soon as we come to him in contrition and ask for forgiveness. Forgiveness, then, is like a balm that heals the transgressor. As such, in my mind, forgiveness is primarily a kind of care of the soul of those who have done ill and exists (in the Christian sense) for the transgressor, s that he might be reconciled. I think that gets confused with some kind of spiritual exercise where letting go of anger and bitterness is good for my own soul--I just don't think they're the same thing.
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I agree.

Post  cradlerc on Fri Jun 19, 2009 3:53 pm

You make a very good point, and in fact, I'm really glad to have this clarified and to have found the article from Catholic Answers. Because I definitely grew up with the unconditional forgiveness idea, and I've heard it preached from the pulpit as well. My sense is that there's some confusion about this teaching, on the part of both clergy and laypeople.
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Thanks Cradle

Post  HumbleHank on Sat Jun 20, 2009 12:26 pm

That article you shared was a great contribution to the thread. I think it comes down to me, and probably a few others here, more broadly including the act of opening our hearts up to forgiveness of the offender as part of the definition of forgiveness, whereas, Joe and the author of the article use a more precise definition of forgiveness as the transaction of words between the two people.

In the example that I shared about my son, I may never experience "the transaction" of words with my son, but as I said my heart is open and ready to move on, which changes my spirit considerably. Perhaps there is, or should be, a different word for that, more personal response to a instance of offense.

Peace to you.
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Also, Hank,

Post  cradlerc on Sat Jun 20, 2009 2:29 pm

I think that forgiveness is complex (wow, that was an obvious statement). But what I mean is that the question of forgiveness for me, at least, involves first discerning whether there is debt owed to me in the first place. This is where we differ from God--He knows clearly what is sin and what is not. And certainly, there are ome instances in life, terrible instances, where it's quite obvious that someone has sinned against both us and God and may require both to repent and to seek our forgiveness.

But as a human, I often find that I am culpable in situations where there is strife as much as the other person. Or I'm holding a gridge about things that I really ought not to--maybe someone was acting out of ignorance or some other restraint. I'm not God, so I can't know.

Here's an example: my father committed many sins, overt ones, towards my nother and my family as I was growing up, and into adulthood. Some of them still cause me a lot of pain and confusion. But as I've become a parent, and sometimes find myself struggling with character traits I saw in my dad--excessive anger, the desire to withdraw from people and do my own thing--I have more sympathy for his human failings. I don't excuse them, though--is this not excusing a form of unforgiveness? I'm not sure. My father passed away several years ago, so some things are now beyond repair, at least in this life. At the same time, I love my father and I pray for him (and I am convinced that he has occasionally been in contact with me since he passed). I can say that part of forgiveness is trying to discern where the debt lies, and what forgiveness would mean when someone isn't around anymore to receive it, in the flesh.

My sense from the Lord's Prayer, and from my reading of Pope Benedict's work, is that there are two things going on in the phrase "forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us." One is almost legalistic--where there is true debt, and true repentance, we give up the right to retaliation while still serving justive. But the Christological sense urges us towards something a bit more--understanding who we are in relationship to each other as the body of Christ. I also get the sense that we are to concentrate more on our own sins than the ways we have been sinned against, with our eyes on the Cross at all times.

So I guess what I'm saying is that I don;t think the definitions of forgiveness we're seeing here are necessarily at odds with each other, they just point to the complexity of the concept of forgiveness.
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It's so ironic

Post  SursumCorda on Sat Jun 20, 2009 4:37 pm

that this topic came up, along with all of the insightful discussion of forgiveness. I thank you all for
posting all of your thoughts, and you, CradleRC, for posting that link. I bookmarked it. My Catholic
bible study group had a long discussion of the topic of forgiveness vs. anger more than once (i.e., can
you truly forgive someone and yet remain angry at him/her). For years, I have been trying very, very
hard to "take the high road" and forgive my father for his callous and selfish (narcissistic even)
attitudes and actions. Even when my sister and my own husband stopped speaking to him, I tried
to keep the lines of communication open, because I heard a homily last October (on my dad's
birthday, ironically enough) in which the priest mentioned people who love "to the extent that they
are capable."

This all blew up in my face a few weeks ago when I took the kids to visit him and his new wife, a
visit that ended up with a very ugly argument.

So, I've been mulling over the many aspects of forgiveness a LOT lately. I've also been mindful of
the injunction in the Lord's Prayer to "as we have forgived others who have trespassed against us."
At what point does forgiveness become almost a moot point?

Anyway -- just wanted to say I appreciate all of your insights, as usual.

(I love this emoticon library!!)
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Without knowing too much

Post  cradlerc on Sat Jun 20, 2009 5:18 pm

about your father, sursum, I wonder if this may be a situation where you have to remove yourself from his presence as much as possible. This is not necessarily selfish; even if he's loving to the point that he is capable, perhaps he need to "hit bottom" with you, and realize the extent of his damage? Anyway, please forgive me if I'm stepping in where I shouldn't. Good luck to you, and I'll say a prayer for you.
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Thank, you, Cradle,

Post  SursumCorda on Sat Jun 20, 2009 5:24 pm

I genuinely appreciate that. And you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned removing myself
from his presence (which I have).

A therapist once told me that sometimes one is better off taking a teaspoon of arsenic than
involving onself with a "toxic" person.
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One quick thing:

Post  SursumCorda on Sat Jun 20, 2009 5:29 pm

This (my father) is a man who told my sister he doesn't go to confession because he doesn't
commit any sins.

I thought you might all get a kick out of that. Talk about narcissism!

I'm most likely sinning (calumny?) by posting this, so I'll cut it short.
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Re: The Lord's Prayer

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