Tag Archives: Forgiveness

Owning Forgiveness

One nun came to Blessed Sarah and said to her: Pray for me, my lady.  – The blessed one said to her: Neither will I have mercy on you nor will God unless you have mercy on yourself, fulfilling the virtues as the Fathers have commanded us.

——-Amma Sarah of the Desert

Forgiveness is the act of pardoning an offender. In the Bible, the Greek word translated “forgiveness” literally means “to let go,” as when a person does notclip_image002 demand payment for a debt. Jesus used this comparison when he taught his followers to pray: “Forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone who is in debt to us.” (Luke 11:4) Likewise, in his parable of the unmerciful slave, Jesus compared forgiveness with canceling a debt.—Matthew 18:23-35.

We forgive others when we let go of resentment and give up any claim to be compensated for the hurt or loss we have suffered. The Bible teaches that unselfish love is the basis for true forgiveness, since love “does not keep account of the injury.”—1 Corinthians 13:4, 5.

The ability to forgive yourself is key to your psychological well-being. Unforgiveness of self causes a wide range of problems. Suicide, addictions and depression are just a few of the many things associated with self-condemnation. Psychologists struggle to develop creative ways to address this issue. Many suffer from a lack of awareness of their problem with this issue. Behavioral professionals, religious and irreligious, know the importance of self-forgiveness. Many corporate hours are spent in seminars that stress the necessity of learning the importance of forgiveness. This endeavor is tremendously costly for the corporate world.

Amma Sara knew about such forgiveness 1500 years ago, and said it was the place to start. God is a God of forgiveness and grace, and we must forgive ourselves in order to receive forgiveness. Our problem with self-forgiveness is that we don’t really believe in grace – that marvelous property of God that allows Him to forgive us even though we are most undeserving. Amma Sarah called the forgiving of ourselves a fulfillment of the virtues that were bestowed upon us by the Creator. Forgiveness, even of our own faults, is a virtue.

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PRAYER

Lord, teach me to forgive others and to own forgiveness for myself. This ownership allows me to move forward. Lord allow me to set aside the crippling pain and shame that so possesses my life and move forward forgiving and forgiven.

AMEN


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The Great Work of Man

Abba Anthony said to Abba Poemen, “This is the Great Work of a man: always to take the blame for his own sins before God and to expect temptation to his last breath.” He also said, “Whoever has not experienced Temptationtemptation cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.” He even added, “Without temptation, no one can be saved.” Abba Pambo asked Abba Anthony, “What ought I to do?” and the old man said to him, “Do not trust in your own righteousness, do not worry about the past, but control your tongue and your stomach

—-Abba Anthony of the Desert

There are several very biting suggestions made here by the old Monk. Perhaps we can use his advice to bring us a little closer to God. I am convinced that all men seek closeness to God. Some call this closeness getting in touch with their inner bein., Others may call it karma, but I just call such closeness prayer, and prayer allows me to know  God. He is my creator, friend and redeemer.

Our first step is to take blame for our own sins. A good expression for this is “owning up.” We live in a world of excuses and explanations, but raw truth is always best. I confess to being amused when I heard the expression”alternative facts” this past week. Anthony tells us to simply take blame for our own failures. The scripture says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” That is the beginning of our path to heaven and peace on this earth.

He reminds us to expect temptation every day of our lives. On face value that is very depressing, but temptation drives us to the grace of God. The scripture reminds us that we have all sinned but it also says,“Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Simply put, temptation drives us to a choice – God or self satisfaction. God created us with a free will and salvation is a choice, a serious and demanding choice that we all have to make. Our easy, comfortable and pleasure seeking world resists the concept of choices that limit our “freedom.” For those that choose Jesus, there is no greater freedom to be had.

Allow me to chase the “sin rabbit” for just a moment. God offers forgiveness and the world offers forgiveness. There is, however, an astounding difference between God’s forgiveness and the forgiveness of the world. Convicted felons Forgive-Forgetwho have served their time and even expressed genuine remorse for their crimes are excluded from voting and holding public office, have limited credit privileges, can be denied a job,cannot serve on some juries, and are excluded from other rights in ways that vary from state to state. They have served their time, but their crime is not forgotten. ALL of us, whether we admit it or not , are unable to forget the sins (we may forgive and even move on) of those that have offended u., Only God can do that. God’s offer of forgiveness and salvation is the one that we can’t pass up. No one, I mean no one, offers such a gift but God.God says, “For I will be merciful towards their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” God is so good to us!

Now back to the monk, “do not trust your own righteousness but control your tongue and stomach” The tongue has the ability to destroy others and ourselves. When we utter a false wittiness against some we have the potential of denying that person so much. With our tongues we can cause people to lose their relationships, reputations and in some cases their lives. In World War Two there was an expression,”Loose lips sink ships.” The importance of keeping confidences and telling the truth cannot be underestimated. Control of the stomach is an analogy for controlling our carnal nature. We should think before we use our bodies in ways that dishonor ourselves and God. Control your carnal nature or it will be the end of you.

Work-of-Man

The great work of man is to trust God and control our nature with the tools He provides. I found a poem that calls this an act of wisdom.


He, in whose bosom wisdom’s seed is sown,

To waste a single day was never known;

Either he strives to work God’s will,

Or else exalts the cup, and works his own.

Omar Khayyam


Prayer

O Lord as I embark on my great work this day I do so fully aware of my dependence on you. Walk with me and keep me aware of your company. Rebuke when I need rebuking. Give me encouragement when I am down. Most of all remind me when I have moved into my own path while forgetting your path. In doing these things you give me the richness of your grace and the benefit of your remarkable love.

Amen

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I Can’t Remember

The late Brennen Manning shares this humorous look at forgiveness in The Ragmuffin Gospel.brennan

A few years ago, rumors spread that a certain Catholic woman was having visions of Jesus. The archbishop decided to check her out.

‘Is it true, m’am, that you have visions of Jesus?’ asked the cleric.

‘Yes,’ the woman replied.

‘Well, the next time you have a vision, I want you to ask Jesus to tell you the sins that I confessed in my last confession. Please call me if anything happens.’

Ten days later the woman notified her spiritual leader of a recent apparition.

Within the hour the archbishop arrived. ‘What did Jesus say?’ he asked.

She took his hand and gazed deep into his eyes. ‘Bishop,’ she said, ‘these are his exact words: I CAN’T REMEMBER.

We all has some difficulty imagining that god is really that way. “For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” (Hebrews 8:12)

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A Sense of Forgiveness

One nun came to Blessed Sarah and said to her: Pray for me, my lady.  – The blessed one said to her: Neither will I have mercy on you nor will God unless you have mercy on yourself, fulfilling the virtues as the Fathers have commanded us.

——-Amma Sarah of the Desert

depressedThe ability to forgive yourself is key to your psychological well-being. Unforgiveness of self causes a wide range of problems. Suicide, addictions and depression are just a few of the many things associated with self-condemnation. Psychologists struggle to develop creative ways to address this issue. Many suffer from a lack of awareness of their problem with this issue. Behavioral professionals, religious and irreligious, know the importance of self-forgiveness. Many corporate hours are spent in seminars that stress the necessity of learning the importance of forgiveness. This endeavor is tremendously costly for the corporate world.

Amma Sara knew about such forgiveness 1500 years ago, and said it was the place to start. God is a God of forgiveness and grace, and we must forgive ourselves in order to receive forgiveness. Our problem with self-forgiveness is that we don’t really believe in grace – that marvelous property of God that allows Him to forgive us even though we are most undeserving. Amma Sarah called the forgiving of ourselves a fulfillment of the virtues that were bestowed upon us by the Creator. Forgiveness, even of our own faults, is a virtue.

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Filed under Amma Sarah of the Desert, Depression, Desert Mothers, Forgiveness

The First Stone

So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.

——–John 8:7

Medical doctors and counselors tell us that a great deal of sickness, both mental and physical, is brought on by the fact that people carry around a tremendous burden of unresolved guilt.  As creations of God, we long for His forgiveness, even though we don’t even recognize the need.  Hear a story of forgiveness.

            The woman was being shoved and jostled along the dusty road.  Her long, dark hair was covering her face.  She could see little.  She had stumbled and fallen several times and the brush burns on her elbows and knees stung.

The men harassing her called her terrible names as they roughly pushed her along.  They were taking her to the right place – the church.  They were taking her to the right person – Jesus.  But, they were taking her there for all the wrong reasons.

The men were well dressed, finely appointed religious leaders.  On the outside, they were excellent examples of the best religion had to offer, but on the inside, they were dead and filthy.

They had found this woman in the act of adultery and were anxiously anticipating stoning her to death.  Thinking to entrap Jesus with a violation of the law at the same time, they took the woman to the temple where Jesus was teaching.

In response to their question about the death sentence on this woman, Jesus at first ignored them and began writing in the dirt with His finger.  The woman cowered, terrified that she would be stoned to death within minutes.  She dared not lift her eyes to meet any of theirs.  Her whole body shook in fear and horror at the situation.

Jesus knew her fear – He could see it.  But since He was God, He also knew her heart and the hearts of the pompous men so ready to crush her bones.  Jesus looked at the adulterous woman as He looks at you and me.  He was filled with love for this woman He had created just a few years before.  Maybe as He wrote on the ground, He thought of you and me.  People He would create 2000 years later.

His eyes met the eyes of the religious leaders.  He looked into the emptiness and rot of their hearts.  He made a simple statement that carried with it the authority from heaven and said, “If you have not sinned, you can throw the first stone.”  Those men convicted by the irrefutable authority of the Lord walked away – one by one.
Then His eyes met the frightened eyes of the woman.  He asked her where her accusers were.  Upon her reply, He performed a remarkable miracle.  He forgave her.

God’s miracle of forgiveness continues 2000 years later.  During this Lenten season confess your need for God’s forgiveness.  By the grace of Jesus Christ – you are forgiven!               Monica Boudreaux

PRAYER:  Father – We confess our need for forgiveness and gratefully receive it.  May we forgive those who have “trespassed against us” as you have forgiven us.

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Forgiveness, Revenge and Prayer

English: Jesus Christ. A page from the "P...

Abba Nilus said, ‘ Everything you do in revenge against a brother that has harmed you will come back to your mind at the time of prayer.’

  

—-Abba Nilus of the Desert

The Christian act of forgiveness is the most difficult of all Christian charisms. Repeatedly Jesus calls for us to turn the other cheek, go the second mile, and forgive seven times seventy, and yet this is not our created nature. We are created as “get even” people. As we follow Christ we are to become a new creation and to put the old behind us. After all, that is why God send the spirit to “dwell among us.” Forgiveness is sometimes elusive, but revenge is deadly. If we exercise revenge it will block our prayers. The Abba points out the importance of refraining from revenge, even when it may be justified. We are to strive to let nothing interfere with our prayers.

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Not There Yet


A brother went to Abba Mateos and said to him, ‘How is it that the monks of Scetis did more than the scriptures required in loving their enemies more than themselves?’ Abba Mateos said to him, ’As for me I have not yet managed to love those who love me as I love myself.’

——Abba Mateos of the desert

The Christian journey is a long series of “not there yet” experiences. Too often we are prodded along by people that have very high views of their own spiritual worth. These high minded ones are often sources of discouragement to us, but we must always remember that we, and they, have not yet attained perfection. Our lives are a saga of moving toward God but always being fully aware of our sinful nature. Life is about forgiving ourselves and our neighbors as God forgives us. Somehow we must summon the level of mercy that God pours out on us, and understand that it is applicable to all. In that spirit we can love and forgive, not as inferiors or superiors to anyone, but as equals to all.

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Filed under Ascetics, Christian Journey, contemplative, Desert Fathers, Forgiveness