Saturday, September 10, 2011

Forgive the terrorists? Really?

The subject of forgiveness has come up in my life a lot lately. Especially on the anniversary of the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, it is important to remember that forgiveness is the only way through the anger, frustration and pain the comes with the horrific acts that were committed that day. It also applies to us, personally, to the hurts inflicted upon us by family members, friends...anyone during our entire lifetime.

There have been times when people have almost gone postal on me when I say I forgive bin Laden for what he did on 9/11. I do. I forgive him. I also love him.

I can say these things because, as a Catholic Christian, I am called to love everyone, not just the people who are easy to love. But what is love? Love is wanting only good for the person, not bad. It doesn't mean they are a nice person; it doesn't mean their actions are just means you no longer wish evil on them.

After the events of 9/11, which did not affect me personally, but did affect several family members and acquaintances of mine, I began to ponder this...whether to to forgive. Forgiveness is not an easy thing, but, ultimately it is a decision and not a feeling. It is a decision to say to the person who hurt you, "I break the bond that anger, resentment, frustration and pain have forged between you and me. I am no longer connected to you." It is releasing them from your life so they no longer have any power over you.

Think about this: someone murders a man's wife. He spends all his time cursing the murderer and harboring anger and resentment toward him. The anger stresses the man and he starts to become ill because of it. In effect, this man is allowing the murderer to kill him as well. He is giving the murderer power over his life. If this man makes the decision to forgive, he releases the murderer from his life forever and can go on living a relatively normal life. His pain will still be there, his loss is still there, and the murderer has not, himself, changed or been affected in any way. Yet this man's life is no longer consumed with anger and he may be able to then experience joy. What better way to honor his wife's memory than to go on and live a productive, peaceful life?

Shouldn't we all be able to do this? Catholic Christians are called to forgive. How can we not forgive, when God is there, waiting for us in the confessional; just waiting to forgive us our sins at any moment? How can we not forgive when Jesus forgave the men who were hammering the nails into his hands, even as they were doing it?

The anger of unforgiveness is destructive. The ironic thing about it is, it only destroys the person who won't forgive. St. Maximillian Kolbe said, "Love alone creates." Loving--hoping only for the good of the person--is healing. The ability to love and forgive are graces from God that are both healing and freeing.

In those times in my life when I was unable to forgive, I simply prayed for the desire to forgive. In those moments when I was so wounded and in pain, I prayed the words of Psalm 51:

A clean heart create for me, God;
renew in me a steadfast spirit...
Restore my joy in your salvation;
sustain in me a willing spirit...
My sacrifice is a broken spirit; God, do not spurn a broken, humbled heart.
(Ps 51: 12, 14, 19)

Forgiveness is far from easy. Sometimes, in our woundedness, we need divine assistance. But the act of asking, of opening our hearts to the possibility of forgiveness can result in a healing and the freedom that comes with it.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

An Open Letter to Fr. Corapi

You don't know me, but I love you. You taught me almost everything I know about my Catholic faith. When my children were little and my husband worked nights, I would truck the kids in and turn on the TV and there you were, preaching to me. Because of you, I am now an educated Catholic in love with my faith.

I learned a lot from you. I learned how to pray, I learned about spiritual warfare and resisting temptation and I also learned the most important lesson, which is to be obedient to Holy Mother Church.

Well, many years have gone by since you kept me company at night when my husband was working at his job. We cancelled our cable and I stopped listening to your preaching, but I have always carried with me the lessons I learned from you.

Tuesday, after the announcement from your order that there may be evidence that you have broken your priestly vows, and after I had a good cry, I realized that I am still learning from you. Here are the things I have learned in the past few days:

That, although my family prays for priests on a daily basis, we need to step up the prayer, because all priests seem to be under tremendous attack, especially of late.

I learned that, although we are all sinful in many ways, the Holy Spirit can and does still use us for good despite our sinfulness. All the teachings you taught me are still valid even though you may have been living a sinful lifestyle while preaching to me.

And the most important thing I learned recently is that the Church goes on despite the sins of mankind. Jesus told us this was the case and, over and over it has proven to be true. The Church is both a sign and a sacrament. She is not merely a fellowship. Your actions and circumstances have underscored that for me today.

I cannot judge whether or not the charges against you are true or false. That is between you and God. I do know that you have been ordained a priest forever and it breaks my heart to see you in street clothes and referring to yourself as 'John.'

Father Corapi, the Lord has brought you to your knees in the past and it seems that He is doing it again. I am not presuming guilt or innocence, but the Lord is allowing you to be publicly humiliated for a reason. This time, reach out to Him in humility and allow Him to heal you. There are thousands of people praying for your conversion. Do not waste the prayers of those who love you. Many of us are faithful Catholics because you brought us deeper into our faith. We are here for you now and we hope that you will benefit from our prayers and petitions just as much as we have benefited from your preaching.

With love from your spiritual child,


Monday, February 21, 2011

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do...

Joe called me from the store today, for clarification on something I asked him to pick up on the way home. Mobile phones never work properly in this particular store. He called once and he couldn't hear me. He called again and I couldn't hear him. Then he called a third time. "Your breaking up," I tell him, but a few seconds of clarity come and I give him the info he needs.

A couple of hours later, I hear Genevieve tell Bella, "Mom and Dad broke up on the phone today."