Letters & Opinion

Lent: A time for Forgiveness and Reconciliation

Sylvestre Phillip M.B.E
By Sylvestre Phillip M.B.E

At the start of the Lenten season, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Castries, Gabriel Malzaire, invited members of the faithful, and humans generally, to forgive and be reconciled with each other.

This article is intended to investigate the two terms in relation to God, our Creator, and each other.

Now what is Forgiveness? In order to make the article as clear as possible, I wish to provide other words for forgiveness: Pardon, tolerance, reprieve, mercy. Indeed, there are others.

As an educator, I wish to point out that, in a psychological sense, forgiveness is the deliberate and voluntary process by which one who may have been initially wronged, harmed or hurt and goes through a process of changing feelings and attitude regarding a given offender or groups of offenders.

Now, the three steps of forgiveness are: Step 1; Forgive yourself. Many times, people blame themselves for situation that went wrong. However, forgiveness does not imply blame or justify a certain action. Forgiveness is about offering yourself grace.

Step 2: Forgive the other person. The other person doesn’t need to be present or aware of a situation or experience. You have to find within yourself the reason for forgiving the other person. Now forgiving does not mean that the person should be allowed back into your life.

And Step 3: Let go and be free. Indeed, this is the final step towards healing. This means therefore, that we should leave the situation in the past and move forward.

Now what are some of the obstacles to forgiveness? Judging and Gossiping are the greatest obstacles to forgiveness. these are two things that occur in our society on a daily basis and may continue infinitely.

Indeed, many people struggle to practise forgiveness. And they may have very good reasons, including deep hurt, lack of remorse from the person or persons who hurt them.

Now if you struggle with offering forgiveness, you might: (a) Bring anger and bitterness into new relationships and experiences; (b) Become so wrapped up in the wrong that you can’t enjoy the present; (c) Become depressed, irritable or anxious; (d) Feel at odds with your spiritual beliefs.

Indeed, here is the big question. Why do people fabricate stories?

The experts in social psychology have indicated that lies are like wishes; often, what is said are things people wish were true. A large body of knowledge identifies three major reasons; to get something which they want; to protect or promote themselves; and simply, to harm others or to deceive them.

Now supporting another person’s lies     will only reinforce their behaviour. It is therefore important to let them know that you know that they’re lying and that they should stop the practice.

Indeed, many may feel distressed by their lies. If you notice that then do recommend medical treatment.

Now it is important to understand that persons who tell lies about other persons may very well receive support from onlookers, knowingly or unknowingly. They may even be held in high esteem feeding their fabrications.

Now we come to what I consider the ‘Big one’, reconciliation.

Reconciliation is the restoration of friendly relations with someone or persons who have fabricated a story about you.

Now there are four things needed for reconciliation: (a) confession of sin; (b) expression of contrition or sorrow for the offence committed; (c) doing penance, which expresses a desire not to repeat the sin which had been committed. (d) and to receive absolution for sin. By contrition I mean the act of showing that you are sorry for the sin that you have committed. And by penance, I mean voluntary self-punishment in which a member of the church, in my situation as a catholic, a priest, confesses sins and gives absolution. By absolution, I mean the priest gives a formal release from guilt or punishment.

Now I have given a catholic version here. I do not know how you do it in your religion.

I can tell you that in the Catholic Church, in which I belong, and in the Eastern Orthodox religion, the pronouncement of absolution means a pronouncement of remission or forgiveness for sin.

In most cases, the person or persons fabricating the story care very little or not at all, about the other persons. They bask in a selfish situation, to meet their ends.

As I write this article, I remember reading a children’s novel or story book – The basket of Flowers, during my Primary school days. James, the king’s gardener, teaches his 15-year-old daughter Mary, all the principles of godliness through his flowers. Mary is falsely accused of stealing, and the penalty is death. Mary remembers her father had taught her: that it is better to die for the truth than to live for a lie., and that the worst pillow to sleep on is the pillow of a guilty conscience. Towards the end of the story Mary was found to be telling the truth, and that the ring was actually taken away by a bird. Mary did not receive the punishment of death.

I wish that all humans would read that story.

Before I return to my maker, which may be sooner than later, I would like to produce my version of  “My basket of Flowers’.

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