Thursday, August 4, 2016

OFFERING FORGIVENESS: IT'S NOT AS EASY AS YOU THINK!



The message of Pope Francis:



Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today I would like, before all else, to recall the words that, according to an ancient tradition, Saint Francis spoke in this very place, in the presence of all the townsfolk and bishops: “I want to send you all to heaven!” What finer thing could the Poor Man of Assisi ask for, if not the gift of salvation, eternal life and unending joy, that Jesus won for us by his death and resurrection?

Besides, what is heaven if not the mystery of love that eternally unites us to God, to contemplate him forever? The Church has always professed this by expressing her belief in the communion of saints. We are never alone in living the faith; we do so in the company of all the saints and of our loved ones who practised the faith with joyful simplicity and bore witness to it by their lives. There is a bond, unseen but not for that reason any less real, which makes us, by baptism, “one body” moved by “one Spirit” (cf. Eph 4:4). When Saint Francis asked Pope Honorius III to grant an indulgence to all who visited the Porziuncula, he was perhaps thinking of Jesus’ words to the disciples: “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (Jn 14:2-3).

Forgiveness – pardon – is surely our direct route to that place in heaven. Here at the Porziuncola everything speaks to us of pardon! What a great gift the Lord has given us in teaching us to forgive and in this way to touch the Father’s mercy! We have just heard the parable where Jesus teaches us to forgive (cf. Mt 18:21-35). Why should we forgive someone who has offended us? Because we were forgiven first, and of infinitely more. The parable says exactly this: just as God has forgiven us, so we too should forgive those who do us harm. So too does the prayer that Jesus taught us, the Our Father, in which we say: “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Mt 6:12). The debts are our sins in the sight of God, and our debtors are those whom we, for our part, must forgive.

Each of us might be that servant in the parable burdened with so great a debt that he could never repay it. When we kneel before the priest in the confessional, we do exactly what that servant did. We say, “Lord, have patience with me”. We are well aware of our many faults and the fact that we often fall back into the same sins. Yet God never tires of offering us his forgiveness each time we ask for it. His is a pardon that is full and complete, one that assures us that, even if we fall back into the same sins, he is merciful and never ceases to love us. Like the master in the parable, God feels compassion, a mixture of pity and love; that is how the Gospel describes God’s mercy towards us. Our Father is moved to compassion whenever we repent, and he sends us home with hearts calm and at peace. He tells us that all is remitted and forgiven. God’s forgiveness knows no limits; it is greater than anything we can imagine and it comes to all who know in their hearts that they have done wrong and desire to return to him. God looks at the heart that seeks forgiveness.

The problem, unfortunately, comes whenever we have to deal with a brother or sister who has even slightly offended us. The reaction described in the parable describes it perfectly: “He seized him by the throat and said, ‘Pay what you owe!’” (Mt 18:28). Here we encounter all the drama of our human relationships. When we are indebted to others, we expect mercy; but when others are indebted to us, we demand justice! This is a reaction unworthy of Christ’s disciples, nor is it the sign of a Christian style of life. Jesus teaches us to forgive and to do so limitlessly: “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven” (v. 22). What he offers us is the Father’s love, not our own claims to justice. To trust in the latter alone would not be the sign that we are Christ’s disciples, who have obtained mercy at the foot of the cross solely by virtue of the love of the Son of God. Let us not forget, then, the harsh saying at the end of the parable: “So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart” (v. 35).

Dear brothers and sisters, the pardon of which Saint Francis made himself a “channel” here at the Porziuncola continues to “bring forth heaven” even after eight centuries. In this Holy Year of Mercy, it becomes ever clearer that the path of forgiveness can truly renew the Church and the world. To offer today’s world the witness of mercy is a task from which none of us can feel exempted. The world needs forgiveness; too many people are caught up in resentment and harbour hatred, because they are incapable of forgiving. They ruin their own lives and the lives of those around them rather than finding the joy of serenity and peace. Let us ask Saint Francis to intercede for us, so that we may always be humble signs of forgiveness and channels of mercy.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

Francis loves St. Francis so much it is a shame that he failed to include the entire Canticle Of The Sun in his tree hugging encyclical. Gee what was in there that was not deemed important enough. Oh here is what Francis omitted:

Be praised, my Lord, through those who forgive for love of You;
through those who endure sickness and trial.
Happy those who endure in peace,
for by You, Most High, they will be crowned.
Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Bodily Death,
from whose embrace no living person can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin!
Happy those she finds doing Your most holy will.
The second death can do no harm to them.

Marye said...

Pope Francis was chosen by the Holy Spirit to guide the church during this period of time. To question his authority is to question the decision of God The Holy Spirit. For those of you who miss Pope Benedict you must remember that he was guided by the Holy Spirit to give up the position of Peter.

Why is it that every day the works of this Pope are riddled with insults? He reaches out to women. Why are so many so insecure concerning women deacons? God looks at a person's heart and not the gender. During a time when the brotherhood of priests is declining why not women deacons to help with the work of the lord. Women are not any less holy than men. Women are capable of serving as priests or at least deacons. It is amazing the fear that many have that a woman could possibly become a priest. Human beings are human beings what does it matter if you serve the lord as a woman or a male. Women don't want "power" they want to serve. Women don't want to be men they want to serve God as they are. Should the Pope with the guidance of the Holy Spirit allow women in higher roles to help God's church who are we to question. Why such disagreement over women serving in the church.

The church is the living body of Christ. Anything that is alive changes with time. To not accept change is to die. We do not want our church to die. The youth of today see no problem with women serving as priests and if this should occur then we must accept that the Holy Spirit has guided this change.

No longer are Catholics willing to just pray, pay and obey. The church has suffered with abuse from many priests. Our own district has had to pay almost 5 million dollars to settle abuse cases. That money could have been spent to pay for St. Anne's church building debt. Male priests are not perfect so why would they think that a woman could not serve God in this way.

Jesus did not choose women apostles however during his time women were very different from women today. I feel certain that today he would accept a woman within his group.

But, women are not the issue here. The Pope is the issue. He is a good and holy man. He is serving at the pleasure of the Holy Spirit. It is so sad the insults and disrespect that he is given especially on this blog. We pray that he will have a long life and will bring wonderful changes to our church. Perhaps for those who show such hatred for this man, perhaps you should pray that the Holy Spirit will help you understand the purpose of Pope Francis during this time in history. To question this pope is to question the will of the Holy Spirit. God told us we are not to judge. His ways are not our ways. Everything alive changes. Our church will change. I pray to God that it will.

Billy the Kid said...

Marye, how do you know that this pope is not God's judgement on the Church?

Clark Kent said...

You mean like if somebody gets cancer, it might be God's judgement because somebody else committed birth control...?

Billy the Kid said...

No, Clark, I mean like the Church has been walking the line of apostasy for so long since Vat II that God finally gave us the Pope we deserve. Enjoy.

Marye said...

Billy don't you think that God will do anything he can to protect his church?
Why would God send a bad pope to hurt the church? God might possibly want changes in his church so that
it can survive. I tho do not know the mind of God. It just does not seem like he would send someone to to hurt the church and judge the church in that way. I honestly believe that this pope is here to open doors and make changes. Things never stay the same. I see God doing everything he can do to help his church. Just my opinion.

William the Grown-up said...

You're both really saying the same thing.

Billy the Kid said...

Marye, have you ever read the Bible?

Marye said...

Yes Billy I have read the bible from cover to cover several times. I have also been in biblical study groups off and on for many years. I have read the bible with supervision so that it is interpreted correctly according to the Catholic Faith. If I read the bible alone as I do every night I have a Catholic Handbook that helps me understand the parts I do not understand. Why do you ask?

John Nolan said...

Marye,

No-one here questions the Pope's authority (and he does not have the authority to change doctrine, so you can forget about priestesses and suchlike). They may question his leadership or his fitness for the role. It would appear that many of the cardinals who voted for Bergoglio three years ago are already regretting their choice.

To suggest that the Bishop of Rome is God's direct nominee is the worst sort of papolatry and even a cursory study of the history of the papacy should be enough to disabuse anyone of this notion. Eamon Duffy's 'Saints and Sinners' is a good starting point.

We can believe that the Holy Ghost guides the Church, prevents her falling into material error, and enables her to survive even the worst popes (and some of them have been pretty dire).





George said...

Marye:

The Holy Spirit prevents the Pope, through the authority he has as the occupant of the Chair of Peter, from proclaiming doctrine or dogma which is heretical. The Holy Father can have opinions which come from his experiences as a human being, but unless he is referring to or quoting that which is official Church teaching, these are not doctrinal or dogmatic.

The Church down through her history has had Popes who in their private lives were corrupt and immoral. Despite this, no doctrinal and dogmatic teachings of the Church were overturned or done away with.

Marye said...

George: Do you think Pope Francis in his private life is corrupt and immoral? I see him as a man who is trying to change the church in a positive way. I don't see his behavior as corrupt. Maybe I just do not see the same man as traditional Catholics. I just see a holy man.

Anonymous said...

"Jesus did not choose women apostles however during his time women were very different from women today. I feel certain that today he would accept a woman within his group."

Wrong again "Mar". Priestess were very comman in our Lord's time. Not in Judiasm but in evry other religion at the time. They were very common in all parts of the Roman Empire. Sorry to burst another liberal pipe dream.

Anonymous said...

It's becoming clearer and clearer that Francis has major emotional problems. Psychological or otherwise, I don't know what it is but something is going on. Maybe he has an alcohol problem. He never shuts up, he says the most inane things publicly without weighing the effect they have on the entire Church. He is imprudent, undiciplined and arrogant. He is a long way from being a teenager he should start acting like a grown man. His recent incredible remark about equating radical Islamic terrorism along with crimes committed by people who happen to be Catholic is quickly making him a worldwide laughing stock. He is an imprudent, undicpilines, impulsive, self absorbed leftist. How is that for a counter balnce to his insulting " self absorbed prometian neo palagian"?

John Nolan said...

'The youth of today see no problem with women serving as priests'. This needs qualification. If we consider those young Catholic adults who still attend Mass and receive the Sacraments, and who bring their children up to do likewise, we are looking at a very small proportion of the 'youth of today' and I don't think their opinion has been canvassed; my hunch is that they are less 'liberal' than the previous two generations.

The Holy Spirit is given to the Pope not to proclaim new doctrine, but to defend and put forth the Deposit of Faith. The reservation of Holy Orders to men is part of this; it is a doctrinal not a disciplinary matter; it is set forth by the Ordinary and Universal Magisterium and cannot be overturned.

One of the unfortunate effects of Vatican II was that it gave people the impression that just about everything could change, and many of that generation (now elderly) still harbour this delusion.

Billy the Kid said...

"The youth of today" see nothing wrong with sex in the street at noon, random drug use, and general sexual perversion for anyone over six years of age. Sheesh!

Anonymous said...

I see the youth of today in a much different light. I see the youth of today struggling to pay for an education. Working hard to even try to buy a first home. I see them as caring to older parents. Raising children while both parents work to just put food on the table. That is the youth that I see today. They have it much harder than the baby boomer parents.

George said...


Marye said...

" George: Do you think Pope Francis in his private life is corrupt and immoral?

No I don't-I have not read anything to suggest that he is corrupt and immoral.
I was referring to popes in the history of the Church who were. That does not mean
that even the most virtuous Pope is without sin. He is a human being like the rest of us.
Impeccability is not conferred on the person who is elected to the Chair of Peter.

Infallibility comes into play when the Holy Father proclaims a doctrine or dogma which is to be accepted and believed by all members of the Church. In this the Pope is preserved from the possibility of error. Infallibility itself is a doctrine but is rarely invoked and does not apply to everything a Pope says or writes.

Marye said...

George, I need to read more about the history of Popes and about the role of the pope. I honestly was not aware that there have been immoral popes in prior times. I have a lot to learn.

John Nolan said...

Anonymous @ 9:45

I couldn't agree more. I was born in 1951 and had it easy. My higher education (aged 18-22) cost me nothing and the government actually paid you to study. And it was our generation who benefited from the consumerism of the 1980s and 1990s and then retired on pensions that the younger generation could never dream of.

My parents, on the other hand, had to live through war and austerity and were better people (and better Catholics) than I am.

Anonymous said...

John, yes our parents did live through a difficult time. I am around your age. And I also agree that they were better Catholics than we are. I do so worry about the generation after us. The young I see are working so hard and can't even buy a house.

Anonymous said...

what kind of house? many houses built in the 40's & 50's were only 1200 sq ft or less. Now this seems to be a modest master bedroom (which by the way none of the older homes had).