“Forgiving is not easy when you’re still hurting.” ― Ann Marie Aguilar
Yesterday was the first Tavern Talk with Father Don. I noticed in the Saint Gabriel Sunday bulletin that Father would be at Delaney’s Irish Pub Monday night to talk about Reconciliation and forgiveness. No one was sure how many people would attend, and it was jam packed standing room only. How great!
Father Don explained the importance of Reconciliation, which us old Catholics still call Confession. It’s one of the sacraments that is often neglected, mostly because most people find it difficult to admit their faults and sins. But, the old adage, confession is good for the soul, does have its merit, especially during this Lenten season. There’s definitely something powerful about admitting your faults out loud, and more importantly, asking for forgiveness.
After the presentation, Father opened up the forum for questions. There were some funny ones, meant to break the ice. One man asked, “Father, what’s the worst confession you ever heard?” Then, his friend, one of the many guys from the men’s club shouted out, “No, Father, don’t tell them that one.” Everyone laughed. There were several other more serious and interesting questions, and one in particular that I could relate to. I really appreciated the response.
One woman asked, “What if you just can’t find it in your heart to forgive someone?” Father said that was a common question, and added that it is all part of being human. When we are hurting and in pain, it is very difficult to forgive. It often takes a long time, and sometimes forgiveness never comes. Believe me, I know. As I said, I appreciated his response because Father shared these same words with me several years ago.
“If you recall, when Jesus was nailed to the cross and dying He said, ‘Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.'” Then Father went on to say, “Did you notice that He didn’t say, I forgive you? He asked His Father to forgive them. If you aren’t ready yet, if you are still in pain, ask God to forgive this person. Pray for that person.” That was such a good answer. I have leaned on that answer many, many times.
I thought it was a funny coincidence that this same afternoon, I went with my neighbor to see the movie, “The Shack.” It also addressed the subject of extreme pain and the struggle to forgive. It was a double dose of a thought provoking day.
What I learned from both events was, that forgiving someone for an excruciating painful hurt may take a long time, or perhaps may never come. But, you keep going, and you keep praying that someday you can forgive. You don’t have to feel guilty or selfish or hateful. Take care of yourself. In the meantime, you can ask God to forgive them. Keep praying for them. I do.