March 27 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

11-FORGIVENESS

But for the grace of God…

This week’s editorial leader

Today, Friday March 27, priests are available all day in St Andrew’s Cathedral Glasgow for the Sacrament of Reconciliation before Easter Sunday, reminding us of the importance of confessing our sins and seeking forgiveness during Lent and throughout the year.

Seeking and finding forgiveness is one of the final stages of healing after admitting guilt, making amends, and before moving on. Some academics break the journey down into stages, such as these seven steps—recognition (an offence has occurred), an emotional response, the need re-evaluate (the meaning of the offence); reframing (the hurt is defined examined); reduction (a softening of bad feelings); restoration (a partial restoration of the relationship) and release (moving on.) Like the stages of grief, each person will go through the steps to forgiveness in their own order.

As Catholics, we have confession to guide is to forgiveness—to find our way back to the Church and to God. We believe to forgive is a very Christian process, from Jesus’ instruction on the Sermon on the Mount on turning the other cheek to Christ dying on the Cross for our sins.

Today we still seek God’s forgiveness yet we often struggle to forgive one another. Grudges within families and groups of friends can cause rifts and pain that last generations. To take away someone’s hope of forgiveness and redemption must surely be one of the cruellest things we as Christians can do. We must remember that to forgive is not to forget, it is to let go, to heal and to learn. And remember, in three words, blunt and absolute, Jesus commanded us, ‘Do not judge’ (Matthew 7:1.) It could be said there is a righteous kind of judgment we are supposed to exercise—with careful discernment—but remember Jesus’ words: “Did no one condemn you?… Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

There has been a great deal of discussion about the Crosses the Church here in Scotland has had to bear and the long road to recovery. Yes, there are many stages to seeking and finding forgiveness, but the first has to be opening our hearts. Our Church must lead by example and we must be ready to follow. Remember, there but for the grace of God, go I.

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