Tag Archives: forgiveness

Is there a limit on forgiveness?

I’m a crime-show junkie. But until recently, I’ve never read a real-life case that seems to have come directly from the writers of one of the TV crime shows that I love to watch.

A teenager comes home late, has a fight with his {apparently drunken} mother.

Later, as said Mom-of-the-year sleeps on her couch, Teen Boy shoots MOTY five times in the head with a bow & arrow. { according to the facts presented in the trial documents I found online}

He was convicted of the crime, but in 1999 was given a new trial,based on the defense’s supposition that evidence was withheld during the original trial.

According to the defense, the boy suffered from extreme ” battered-child syndrome.”

The State let this boy { now a man} free .The state does not see him as a threat to society, but would you want to have this guy as your neighbor ? I sure would not want to live next door to such a person–as people usually learn nothing honorable while incarcerated.

My question is: although the state has forgiven { & even rationalized his crime} should society forgive hm? Can someone { anyone , really} with the proven capacity to turn o deadly violence be allowed another chance? Inasmuch as I want to belive that anyone can turn his or her life around regardless of circumstances I find ex-cons with records of violent crimes heinous.

Does this make me a bad person? I am open-minded–but violence ” turns my stomach”.

I’ve acted in ways that were for sure questionable–but I am not violent. We all make bad choices, but most people’s bad choices do not result in the intentional taking of another human life.

I know that only God can forgive our sins—but I tend to want to categorize sins into what the Roman Church calls ” Mortal ” and Venial Sins. Is it up to us to distribute forgiveness. No it is not– God alone has the power to judge ALL of our sins.

Also, are some civil crimes too horrific to be forgiven by the Church’s Sacrament of Rconciliation? { clergy friends please share your thoughts on this topic} If a convicted rapist or murderer moved next-door to YOU, how would you treat him or her?

Upcoming 9/11 anniversary

This week will mark the anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

I remember that day well–literally as if it were yesterday. I am 36 years old & that i one of the pivotal moments that people of my generation will recall. Our parents recall where the were & what they were doing when President Kennedy was shot. For we late Generation Xer’s, this {along with the ” Challenger” disaster} is pivotal to our place in history. I was in my mid-20’s & still very naive. Although I’d grown up an avid reader , I never was exposed to hatred on any large scale.

I was a college student finishing my last semester at The University of West Florida. I was running late for my firs class, and I walked into the room full of VERY QUIET students { in a room full of communication arts’ majors, silence almost NEVER happens} I also noted that the professor had not arrived.

Curious, I asked a classmate ” Where is Dr Blonde?”

Student: “She is in her office crying. Didn’t you hear?”

Me: “Um , no. What did I not hear?”

Student:” Two planes flew into the World Trade Center in New York City this morning.”

Silence.

I ran the short distance to the Student Union where I knew there was a big-screen television. A huge crowd of students & faculty The _Today_ show was on & they had live reports from what later became known as Ground Zero.

I still have no words for what I felt when I saw what had happened to my sister & fellow Americans Never in my young life had I been witnes to such a display of deadly hatred.

As soon as I could, I called my Dad. he asked me if I’d wanted to come home { it was a Thursday} for the weekend & I said yes. tearfully, I walked back to my place to pack the few things I needed for the trip home. Dad met me at our usual meeting place on campus and all I could say during the 40-minute back to Beach Town was ” Why? Why, Dad ,do they hate us so much?”

Eleven years later, I still want to know why.

Our Inner “Judas Iscariot”

 Today’s Gospel reading  tells us about Jesus appointing & calling the first of His apostles. I am especially struck by the last sentence of the lesson: ” and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Him.” {Mark 3:19}

We 21st Century Christians know, as one of my favorite priests always said” the end of the story” We know that this Judas character will evebtually betray his rabbi & friend for a bribe. We are quick to judge Judas and for a good reason. After all, it was this guy who led the Roman soldiers to Jesus…and  he even betrayed Our Lord with a kiss! If tere is anyone in the Gospels who deserves our wrath, it is this man Judas Iscariot. It is HIS fault that Jesus was  sent to die on the Cross, correct?

But wait …do we not betray Our Lord every time we sin against another human? Even our venial sins betray Jesus. For instance, each time I withhold forgiveness from another person, I betray the One Who came, taught , died & was risen so that I may be free. When I hold a grudge, am I any better than the disciple who betrayed Jesus to His enemies?  No. I am as bad as was Judas Iscariot since I put myself & my petty need to hold grudges before Jesus’ teachings. 

Our Lord taught mercy, agape love & forgiveness, but there is evidence throughout our collective & individual lives of betrayal of what Jesus stands for and Who He is. 

Perhaps a good discipline would be to pray the Prayer of Humble Access every evening throughout the remainder of this Lenten season.{ you can find this in the Book of Common Prayer on page 337} This beautiful prayer is a reminder that all of us come to The Lord’s Table with the sin of betrayal on our hearts. But our God is a loving God Who * can* & *does* forgive us our manifold sins.

Thanks be to God.

Amen!

Don’t be a mule!

I love how the Spirit works through the lectionary.

And no, for once I am sincere and not sarcastic.

The Psalms, especially, are wonder-full especially since he poetry found here covers every human emotion felt we humans.

Part of the Truth { capital T} of God’s Word as revealed in Holy Scriptures is in its universality

This afternoon When I was reading the lectionary & came upon the first Psalm listed for today, te word ” FORGIVENESS” caught my attention.

Forgiveness isn’t easy for me. Sadly, I can hold grudge & often I do. But the Psalmist says

“Do not be like a horse or a mule, without understanding,
whose temper cannot be curbed with bit & bridle”

OUCH!

Have you ever heard of the expression * Stubborn as a mule*? Yep, I’m the proverbial mule. When I am wronged, I hold on to my indignation forever.

I pray for forgiveness for my own sins but I also pray for the grace to forgive others more easily.

” Spiritual Housecleaning”: Part 2

Continued….

I have my ” prayer table” pretty much set up as I want it. In addition to the aforementioned objects I discussed yesterday, I also placed a prayer card with the Chaplet of Divine Mercy  written on it. I received this prayer card as part of a Confirmation gift & it also reflects the Catholic heritage of both myself & my Church. It looks lovely.

Sometimes it is hard to let go of friendships…especially when there is apparently no good reason for the other person to end said friendship with you.  I never got any answers from one such friendship ending abruptly & it REALLY bothered me.  I like logic & illogical human behavior baffles me. I’d much rather study betta fish behavior than that of my own species. At least bettas flare at you when they are angry. One never knows when humans are angry. :o/

A gal with whom I’d gone to church at my previous denomination { Lets call her M} was * very* supportive of me when I felt led to TEC. She supported me, asked me questions about my early Anglo-Catholic journey, took me with her family to my first Mardi-Gras parade ever, & assured me we would be ” friends forever”  I invited her to the Mass at where I was to be confirmed & not only did she show up, but she sat in the front row in the nave during the Mass. At the reception she took a ton of photos & presented me with a gorgeous sarum-blue rosary.  Approximately one week after the Confirmation Mass, M cut off all contact with me. She blocked me on Facebook, and would not answer my phone calls or e-mails.

In the past three years I’ve learned that true friends want you in their lives, they just to play lip service to the idea of friendship. I’ve forgiven M, but I have not forgotten how her behavior hurt my feelings.

But she isn’t my problem anymore and I am where God wants me to be .

I’ve had to gently cut many people loose over these past four years . Spiritual-social housecleaning isn’t easy but somehow always worth it.

Amen.

Ten years later: Part 1

I am so glad that I am not a priest , preaching the Gospel on this Sunday would be extra-tough. Why? In case you have been hiding under a rock for the past month, Sunday marks the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001. As was the attack on Pearl Harbor,this date in indelibly imbedded into the collective conscience of we 21st Century Americans.

Defensively speaking, we’ve accomplished much since then. We did capture & kill both Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. Both ” needed a killin'” & I am VERY glad that our military came through & rid our world of these horrible men. But I question the validity of the continued campaign in Afghanistan… will the presence of our military in that region really keep al Qaeda away? While I hope & pray that our defensive tactics will keep another terrorist attack away from our country I doubt that we’ll * ever* be completely free of al Qaeda. Now that bin Laden is dead, is our continued presence in the Middle East justified? I don’t know the answer for sure to that rhetorical question. I know that killing bin Laden was necessary, but yet I cannot imagine a continued war with al Qaeda as a good thing for our great nation. The more we antagonize these extremists over in the Middle East, I fear that we’ll ” digging our hole deeper” when it comes to our national security. It’s true that al Qaeda hates us & wishes harm to befall our nation, but will violence on our part adversely affect the ” big picture” that is our future? Again, I don’t have any answers.

Another topic I’ll address this week is the phenomenon of what Lisa Bloom, in her book _THINK_ called ” blind patriotism.” It seems as though the anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 bring out some frerce tribalism among many Americans.

Of course I love my country but at the same time , I believe that metaphorically ” wrapping onself in the flag” is not right. I do believe with all my heart & soul that we live in the best nation in the world, but I * do* try to remember that not every government of every nation in the world wants to be Americanized. Maybe if we dropped less missles & engaged in diplomacy with ACTIVE LISTENING between hostile nations & ours we might lose less American lives?

God Bless the USA!

Today’s quotation…

” It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend.” ~William Blake.

Amen. Amen. People who love you should know not to intentionally act hurtful.

It’s really hard to tell friends, especially longtime friends, that they hurt your feelings. And it further complicates matters when said friends say something hurtful via the Internet. I am not one to start ” flame wars” on Facebook or any other medium with ANYONE, especially friends whom I otherwise adore.

There are few things that I hold sacred enough to feel * really* defensive when people say{ inadvertently or on purpose} or post links via email about: my family, my heritage & my Church. I am a proud Anglo-Catholic Episcopalian. I really do not appreciate when friends, no matter how well-meaning they perceive themselves to be, send me links that demean my Church. Even though I am one of the most opinionated people I know, I do not want to start ideological wars with friends via the Internet. So please please, don’t send me any links that criticize my Church, the Church I love. Inasmuch as I try hard to keep religious differences from affecting my wide variety of friends, it isn’t too much to ask that people I know respect MY faith. Christians are not supposed to attack one another & when folks send me such links , it hurts.

Please, send no more inflammatory propaganda my way.

Lent 1 2011

First Sunday of Lent 2011

Today is the first Sunday in Lent.

In addition to my usual abstinence from chocolate , these next 40 days I am planning to take on more disciplines.

~ Pray the Prayer of Humble Access every morning. Everyone needs a good dose of humility to start the day & I figure that Lent is as good a time as any to actively seek humility.

~Forgive a debt…and I am not speaking of a monetary debt. During Lent I vow to prayerfully seek out a way in which to forgive “Melli” a former friend here on the Redneck Riviera who totally, & with no explanation, cut me clean out of her life. On Tuesday I made a tangible step towards this endeavor by finding a new home for the gorgeous Marian rosary that M. had given me as a Confirmation gift when I came into the Church. This sacramental has been blessed by a priest{ and one of my all-time favorite priests, too!} so I could not throw this strand of beads away. Since I’ve purged myself of any tangible gift from Melli, I hope & pray that I will find it in my heart to finally forgive her. Hmm, it would be * so* much easier to forgive a debt of money owed than to forgive an ex-friend but I am committed to working on such forgiveness. My refusal to forgive M. her unexplained rejection of my friendship hurts only ME & my walk with Our Lord.

~Meet with { Via phone} My Spiritual Director once weekly. After my conversations with Bob+ I always feel more hopeful. at our last meeting, Bob+ gave me the ” homework” of praying Psalm 121 aloud every day for one week.

~ Continue to work on gaining enough weight to be healthy. “Best Dude” is & has been a wonderful champion for my quest to gain & maintain a healthy weight for my tall frame. Most people take on the discipline of losing weight during Lent, but to someone with a history of disordered eating, gaining & maintaining enough poundage to be healthy is just as hard. Truly. And I believe that I WILL succeed, with God’s help!

Lent 2011

I posted this graphic on my Facebook page.

Blessed Lent, Y’all,

Burnout

Those of us who are ministry heads are prone to burnout. I think I have hit that point Now don’t get me wrong, I love the ministry in which I am involved, but something today set me off on the wrong ” foot”, so to speak. Without using any identifying factors, let me just say that I hate to be criticized for minute details when I am th ONLY person trying to bring two different programs in my ministry with next to no help from volunteers.

I am not looking for any self-glorification here. But I do need folks to understand that I am not perfect. I am doing the best I can with what I have & with pretty much no help from any other lay volunteers. I’ve asked for help in every article I’ve written for the parish newsletter since I took over this particular ministry. No one has come forth to help me & I’m trying my best with what time & talents I have.

I am praying for strength.