Forgiveness is Not Optional

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Our beloved Church, the Bride of Christ, one of the chief means of our salvation is having a bit of a tough time lately – we need to help!

Let us recall that our Catholic Church as given to man by God is both human and divine.  However, it is currently experiencing another difficult time as has often occurred over its two thousand year history.  Since the fall of Adam and Eve, we have witnessed the continuing struggle between good and evil, right and wrong, scandal and forgiveness within the Church and in the world at large.

Scandal and Forgiveness

We are all aware of the continuing sexual scandal that plagues our Church today.  We do not need to go into its details. It involves the highest levels of the hierarchy.  But what exactly is a scandal? The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines scandal this way, “Scandal is an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil.” (CCC 2284)  This is certainly a grave matter, especially when we consider the authority of those responsible for it and the weakness of some of those who have been affected.

We are all members of this Church, the Mystical Body of Christ of which He is the Head.  It helps us to remember that out of evil, our Lord will always bring a greater good. Albeit, this scandal concerns only a small fraction of men who have fallen compared with the great majority of excellent priests and members of the clergy.  We are truly grateful to them and pray for them to stay strong. It is unfortunate that so many people both within the Church and in the secular world tend to paint all members of the clergy with the same brush. We are blessed to have them to nourish us in the sacraments, the stepping-stones to Heaven, and to be there in our every need.  We thank them for the great sacrifices they make for us seven days a week and twenty-four hours a day. We thank them for the love and compassion they have for us as well as their interest in the salvation of our immortal souls. We are grateful for the miracle of their vocations. Let’s stand with them now and not abandon them and our faith.

A Time for Justice and Mercy

Before we rush to judgment and begin thinking about sinners trying to enter the Kingdom through the narrow gate or being thrown into the sea with a giant millstone around the neck, both valid biblical references of course, perhaps instead we can think of letting he who is without sin cast the first stone.  It is so easy to judge but so difficult to be judged by others.

Now, let’s look at the other side of the coin: forgiveness. This is what the Catechism has to say about forgiveness: “God shows forth His almighty power by converting us from our sins and restoring us to His friendship by grace.” (CCC 277) Forgiveness is a grace that God bestows on the contrite in many ways, but especially through the sacrament of Confession. It is a free gift from a loving God. It is unlimited! What a great benefit to avail ourselves of this inexhaustible treasure.  We need to forgive, too.

Forgiveness is Not Optional

As a follower of Christ, it is not optional, it is mandatory. Kind of like we have the Ten Commandments, not the Ten Suggestions. In this way, we cannot be separated from the love of Christ. It brings to mind the words of Saint Paul: “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 8:38-39) Wow!  Thank you, Lord!

Well, the path for us to follow is pretty clear.  We must strive to stay in the state of grace that our loving God has bestowed on us.  We must not, like Judas, despair but rather be like Peter and ask for forgiveness for ourselves and others.  Remembering the victims and praying for them would be a great benefit, as their suffering is so severe. Pray that they have the strength and courage to stay with the Church and that each of their individual situations may be reconciled in the way that God knows best.  It may be difficult to bear with each other patiently but we will thank God in a happy eternity for all the struggles he gave us on earth, in order to grant us a special place in His kingdom.

These current struggles are the dross that will be burned away so that we may see the gold beneath. This trial in the Church today will also be burned away, purifying the Church and making it even more golden, more brilliant.

 How We Can Help

We have the means to do it and the chief of these is prayer.  We have the Mass, Holy Communion, the Rosary, Novenas, Benediction, Eucharistic adoration, the Liturgy of the Hours, mental prayer, and the list goes on.  All of these prayers can add to the rich store of graces in the Church and aid our collective salvation. We have Mary, Saint Joseph, our Guardian Angel, and all and saints to help us if we only ask in faith.  So let us join our voices to the chorus of prayer that rises to Heaven from cloisters, monasteries, churches, humble homes and cottages across the globe praising, thanking, petitioning and adoring our loving God Who is the hope of our salvation.  He will see us through this current struggle!

We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.  (Rom 8:28)

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4 thoughts on “Forgiveness is Not Optional”

  1. But, How ever , what about the lives of priests, religious who have been cleared but not
    forgiven by their superiors? They are also shunned by their fellow religious. I know personally of two priests : the Vatican left it up to their Bishops to proceed with the reestablishment of their duties but chose not to. These men find it difficult to get employment and are living only with the help of family and the lay community. I was brought up in the same neighbor and Diocese as one Bishop…. only charity prevents me from giving scathing info about him. Does this fall under the canopy of Just anger ?

  2. No harm has been done to me so I have no one to forgive but justice must be served for the victims of this scandal. This can not be swept under the rug with a call for forgiveness. The hierarchy must face this issue straight on and stop with the political correctness and platitudes before the laity can be assured that justice is done and this kind of scandal will not be repeated.

    Helen Hawkins

  3. Thank you for a very nice article. One thing that I would add is mention of the Church Militant and its relevance to the current sad state of the Church. Besides serving as inward directed spiritual prayer advocates, the Laity, as part of the Mystical Body of Christ, also serves in times of grave need like today as the Church Militant, the spiritual warriors in defense of Holy Mother Church. This is especially relevant to today’s situation where so many of our Shepherds and priests have abandoned their flocks and where there is firm evidence of continued cover-ups and a reluctance for full transparency and accountability, right up the latter to the highest levels. As the Church Militant this demands open and unconditional opposition at every opportunity by every Catholic who is able. The Pope promised us zero tolerance and full transparency, and that as Catholics is what we should be demanding. Nothing less!

  4. Forgiveness, (especially for such heinous offenses) is, literally IMPOSSIBLE to do in one’s own ‘human’ strength; yet, we MUST embrace this call to forgive. IF we pray “The Lord’s Prayer” in Truth; then, we MUST forgive — even the ‘unforgivable’ — since we utter these words: “… and forgive us OUR trespasses, AS WE FORGIVE those who trespass against us”. ONLY GOD KNOWS the hearts and minds, and all of the ‘circumstances’ involved — for EVERY single sin that all of humanity has EVER committed, throughout all ‘time’.

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