Keeping up with the sacraments has, of course, been a great source of consolation and strength of grace for me. I love being able to offer Holy Mass as Jesus’ priest, offering these Masses now at the hermitage for our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, and for bishops and priests everywhere. I love going to confession, to receive the absolution, to receive an increase in friendship with Jesus, to receive the wherewithal to stay away from sin and to be pointed to heaven, even in the midst of the purgatory of this life.
As I’ve said for years, the Heart, the Sacred Heart of the new evangelization is the absolution imparted to penitents in the confessional. Of course it is. This changes absolutely everything for the pentitent and makes the penitent an evangelizer of Jesus’ mercy and goodness and kindness, opening them up to what is happening in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the fruits of which they have directly received in the confessional.
All this forgiveness from our Lord got me to thinking once again about the forgiveness we might be able to offer others, even if under the threat of eternal damnation from our Lord: “Forgive us AS we forgive those who tresspass (sin) against us!” If we don’t forgive, our Heavenly Father will NOT forgive us. Yikes! So… forgiveness…
I’ve written a rather incisive post on forgiveness HERE! That was instigated by the anniversary of the 9-11 attacks, but I made it applicable to all situations where forgiveness is especially difficult. Do we not have some difficulty sometimes with some people? Check out that post HERE!! I’d just like to add one more thing to what I’ve said there, about the possibility of forgiving even while aggression is still taking place. Before you jump to conclusions that this is classic passive/aggressive stupidity, read that previous post on forgiveness HERE!!! (That’s a lot of exclamation points, for a reason.)
There are many martyrs who, before dying, forgave their assailants, those who were still doing their best to put their victims to death. Was it wrong to forgive while the wrongdoing was still taking place?
When Jesus was on the cross, before He died, and while He was still being tormented by His executioners, He said: “Father! Forgive them! They know not what they do!” Was it wrong for Him to forgive while the wrongdoing was still taking place, and still is taking place today by way of any sin we might commit?
Jesus, of course, had the right in justice to forgive us just for coming into the hell of this world of our original and personal sin, doubly so for the very first injustice visited upon Him. But what of us? We deserve everything we get. And who are we to forgive if we are guilty of crucifying the Son of God with our sins?
Think of it this way: All things being equal, those who are forgiven incredibly egregious attacks while the attacks are ongoing know that this is not a permission to keep on doing what they are doing. Those who are forgiving know that the agressors are in no condition to take in the forgiveness at that moment. The hope is that, when all is done and the attacks have finished, even after the death of the one being victimized, that the aggressor will think back on the steadfast goodness and kindness of the victim and then repent and convert, much as did the soldier who thrust his spear into the side, into the Heart of Christ Jesus, only then to exclaim, despite himself, “Truly this was the Son of God!”
And oh! By the way! Holding out a spiritual forgiveness does not necessarily mean backing down from approving the consequences of justice that can be visited, finally, upon unjust aggressors, even in this life. For instance, for the sake of civil peace, an unjust aggressor may need to be taken to task for the unjust aggression, stopping such an aggressor from visiting stupidity on yet another victim. But, again, that doesn’t mean that spiritual forgiveness isn’t being offered. In fact, bringing an unjust aggressor to task may be what will open them up to receiving, finally, the forgiveness that has always been held out.
And oh! By the way! No good deed goes unpunished. Ever. Forget any sense of entitlement to being rewarded in this life for any good deeds done. That’s almost never going to happen. Instead, the opposite is probable. When people see goodness and kindness, they will want to test it to death. That is what we did with the Lord of the universe, the King of kings and the Prince of the Most Profound Peace. We tested His goodness and kindness to death. And, behold, truly this was the Son of God, and is the Son of God, and the Son of the Immaculate Conception. He emptied Himself, and was obedient unto death… What great good He brought out of the great evil we visited upon Him…
And oh! By the way! Forgiveness is possible, even if we don’t feel like it. Read that previous post if you haven’t yet: HERE!!!!! More recently, I’ve been drawn by our Lord to a state of soul in which even when injustice is ongoing, I only feel pity for the unjust aggressors, holding out at least in spirit the forgiveness that they may not be aware they need so very much. I no longer take offence. The things our Lord permits people to do I suppose are necessary for their eventual repentance and conversion, however long that may take. I know our Lord has been patient with me. Again, how can I not be patient with others? None of this is due to any goodness and kindness on my part, for I have none of that on my own. This is due entirely to the grace of our Lord Jesus, who has been so very good and kind to me throughout my life.
Of course, this last bit may just be my imagination. This spirit of forgiveness may need to be very severely tested so that I have a chance to grow more in utter simplicity before Jesus, trusting in Him no matter the circumstances. Actually, our Lord does not test us just to test us. He instead provides us opportunities to grow in His friendship, to grow in trust of Him by His grace. That’s what it’s all about.
Here’s Hebrews 13,3, which Father MacRae called to mind for us on TheseStoneWalls:
Be mindful of prisoners as if sharing their imprisonment, and of the ill-treated as of yourselves, for you also are in the body.
So, I’ve been in that spirit of solidarity, thinking of the unjustly accused and the horrific abuse that they can be subject to in jail, awaiting trial, and in prison. Father MacRae, unjustly accused, was subject to such a brutalization, such mistreatment with broomsticks [vomit here], that he was sent to the prison hospital until the injuries healed at least somewhat. Those accused of sexual abuse, however falsely, are subject not only to such brutalities, but also to being murdered, especially if they are priests. False accusation of a priest can be sentence to constant humiliations, violence and death. All for a little money. Courts easily convict priests just to do it, even with clearly falsified “evidence”. There are still more money grabbers, still more of those who seek to effectively rape real victims once again, utilizing the sufferings of the real victims for their own monetary gain.
My spirit of solidarity is rather intense, and so I’ve wondered if I were to be put in that position of being falsely accused, if I would easily forgive those bringing forward the false accusations, especially if I were to be raped and brutalized in jail awaiting trial, and then in prison upon fraudulent conviction. I wonder if I would so easily forgive when being sprayed with pepper spray, so often used in jails and prisons these days, and utterly, totally, immediately fatal for me because of a congenital disease that’s made the throat terribly vulnerable to such an acid. I would die of asphyxiation within minutes because of the throat swelling shut almost instantaneously. Would I have a spirit of forgiveness? On my own, left to myself, of course not. But anything is possible with Jesus, with His grace, with His strength. He is just that good and kind to permit us to remain His friends when we would, on our own, not be so forgiving. Jesus is the one, and I hope I would trust in Him by the strength of His grace. For as long as I would survive, what would be the worst aspect of prison? Never being alone? No. Theconstant mayhem, day and night? No. The frequent humilitations? No. Not being able to celebrate Holy Mass or have time with Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament? Yep.
Such thoughts one can have when one is in a spirit of solidarity with those who are unjustly imprisoned! Yikes! And Yikes! again. But forgiveness is the way to go. Always. It absolutely never occured to me to think of such things previously. I thank Father MacRae for opening my eyes to whole other world of priestly souls who suffer for our Lord, and who have come to know real beatitude in their suffering.