Forgiveness can be especially advantageous when the law has been inadequate in exacting measured retribution. Justice is dependent on the existence of an authority perceived as just; so when that is absent, who then can bring justice? But if you try to move forward without attending to the pain and the hurt of the injustice and the trauma of the past, your move forward will probably be illusory, and you will carry some of that difficulty into the future and into your relationships as an individual or as a community. In South Africa, leaders sought to attend to the hurt of injustice and the trauma of the past through formation of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, as noted below.
In , Amy Biehl , an American student working in South Africa against apartheid, was stabbed to death in a black township near Cape Town. The first time I saw them on TV I hated them. I thought this was the strategy of the whites, to come to South Africa to call for capital punishment. I was very confused. They seemed to understand that the youth of the townships had carried this crisis, this fight for liberation, on their shoulders.
It is fundamentally a moral relation between self and other. Engaging in the P rocess of F orgiveness. Experiencing forgiveness either towards self or others can have a constructive, life-altering effect as part of the process of healing personal pain and trauma as well as building more peaceful communities. But much of what has been said about forgiving others also applies to forgiving yourself. While there is no set order of actions to take, one may start with putting an end to self-punishment. This involves letting go of your self-hatred and self-pity.
As with forgiving others, self-forgiveness is not about forgetting about the past or excusing bad behavior. It is about taking responsibility, healing, and changing. It is also worth noting that self-forgiveness is different from forgiving someone else in one important way, in that it must be about reconciliation. When you forgive another, reconciliation is a choice; but an important part of forgiving yourself is to integrate your previously unacceptable characteristics so that you can accept all of who you are without self-sabotaging, which can lead to self-abuse or any type of addiction.
Luskin makes a helpful distinction by breaking self-forgiveness into four main categories:. These categories can overlap; for instance, you could be upset with yourself for your alcohol abuse and the impact it has on your spouse. Self-forgiveness can also be an aspect of interpersonal forgiveness. While you can be angry and upset with someone else for hurting you, you can also be angry and upset with yourself for the part you may have played. Learning to forgive yourself gives you the freedom to heal, let go, and move on.
It is a tool that allows you to become more self-aware. Moreover, some believe that you cannot forgive another until you have learned self-compassion and self-forgiveness. In this sense, forgiveness is a movement of compassion; and learning to forgive yourself is an important step in learning to become a forgiving person. When aggression leads to injury, pain, and shock, people may go through different phases to deal with their hurt.
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The following stages may apply to the experience, thought processes, and actions of individual victims or perpetrators as well as whole groups:. Highlights and lessons from many of these stories are presented below. However, it is important to keep in mind that not everyone experiences all of these components, nor necessarily in the same order. Forgiveness is not a fixed process and it may have no completion. Triggers throughout life might throw one off course again; therefore it is probably more helpful to think of forgiveness as a direction, rather than a destination.
Brenda's father pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, and served two and half years in prison. I still felt a deep level of anger at myself for ever trusting my father, demonstrated by my over-eating. It was while taking a course in spiritual psychology that I recognized how with each negative thought directed at my father I was re-wounding myself. Shad Ali is a British Pakistani who has lived and worked in Nottingham all his life.
In July , he was violently attacked when he came to the rescue of two Pakistani women who were being racially abused by a passing pedestrian. In spite of this, forgiving has really helped me move forward after the attack. It has been about me, and has nothing to do with the man who attacked me.
In , Matthew Boger and Tim Zaal had a life-changing conversation. Both were working at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles when they realized they had met 26 years earlier, when a group of teen-aged Nazi punks attacked and beat a gay homeless year-old boy. Matthew Boger was that young boy and Tim Zaal, at age 17, was a member of the group who left Matthew for dead in a West Hollywood alley.
Samantha, at just 18, lost both parents in one fatal blow. Thirteen years later, for the first time since the murder, Samantha visited her dying father in prison. In Letlapa Mphahlele, the man who master-minded the attack, invited Ginn to his homecoming ceremony and asked her to make a speech.
Vulnerable feelings, when expressed to other people, have the potential to establish lasting bonds. Both men now live as neighbors in Rwanda. He brought food and banana wine. Again he started crying and repeatedly saying how sorry he was. Eventually I escorted him home.
I’m not married. Will God forgive me for being sexually active? Maybe even pregnant?
Then my wife and I embarked on the path of true reconciliation. We wanted to do more than just forgive, but to actually live as neighbors and friends, side by side. We wanted to improve society, to respond to evil with goodness. So now his mother also comes to my home, and we share meals. Acknowledging guilt is hard, because people are uncomfortable with their own shame, and afraid to recognize that they are to blame. Forgiving people, however, also recognize that some wrong-doers are simply unable to face their own shame and therefore cannot take responsibility.
In other words, if you wait for remorse and apology to happen, you may wait forever. Anne, a victim of sexual abuse, has forgiven the man who repeatedly abused her during her childhood. Frequently Rami gives public talks alongside his Palestinian friends, such as Bassam Aramin, whose year-old daughter, Abir, was killed by an Israeli soldier in Where does forgiveness fit into this difficult dialogue between two bereaved fathers, or two communities at war?
How can you forgive when the power imbalance is so vast and when justice is so far from being achieved? For Rami, forgiveness is not the solution, but part of a quest to understand what makes a young man so angry that he chooses to blow himself up alongside a group of year-old girls. The feeling was mutual. It was powerful and passionate and we described each other as soul mates. This was going to be the defining relationship of my life. However, just six months later Jack started to behave differently.
Sensing something was wrong, I confronted him and he confessed he had strong feelings for someone else. Our relationship quickly and painfully unravelled. I was stunned, angry, and very upset. I thought of all the special things that Jack had said to me and wondered how his feelings could just have evaporated into thin air.
I felt humiliated, betrayed, and profoundly hurt. I changed my lens and gained a new perspective. I found comfort there. If there was a place I could find grace, it was in the streets. Based on the above-mentioned key components, forgiveness can be difficult to bring about, and may require a series of challenging intellectual and emotional stages for those involved to go through. To conclude our discussion of forgiveness at an individual level, the following story of the over collected and shared by The Forgiveness Project sums up the complex, untidy, and often intangible journey of forgiveness:.
Forgiveness is a fresh, on-going, ever-present position of the mind, which takes on many different forms. This will be discussed under the Engaging in the Reconciliation Process heading, just below. Forgiveness is often portrayed as a deeply individual process with personal healing as its prime goal. But individual traumas are often part of a larger societal trauma, and therefore larger change can often come about from healing and forgiveness at both individual and societal levels.
Mark Umbreit, founding director of the Center for Restorative Justice and Peacemaking at the University of Minnesota, explains his work in restorative justice. The film represents one of the most useful and comprehensive insights available into the practical application of forgiveness and reconciliation at a community level.
The film also shows interviews with members of the Native American Somali Friendship Committee in the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis. This initiative grew out of conflict arising when thousands of Somali refugees settled in the Twin Cities in the early nineties. The result was the beginning of a cross-cultural dialogue intended to promote peaceful community building. Peacemaking in this context was a process based on traditional methods of dispute resolution, which is a cornerstone of Native American culture and addresses the need to rebuild relationships between people. The first meeting between the two communities took place on Martin Luther King Day in At first, only negative feelings were aired as people were able to safely express their pain and fear; but in time and through sharing stories, food and other cultural activities, the two communities discovered they had more similarities than differences.
This peacebuilding initiative worked because both communities were able to look at each other in the eye, find respect, and build a relationship with greater understanding. Moving beyond small, local communities, forgiveness in large-scale peace-building processes that involve two or more opposing social, ethnic, or religious groups can affect the future of a country. It did so in South Africa, where politicians and civic leaders urged large groups of people to forgive other groups with whom they had previously been locked in conflict.
In addition, several public figures spoke out in favor of forgiveness, thus modeling a way forward for the communities they represented. Nelson Mandela, by publicly forgiving those who had wronged him, became a global symbol for forgiveness, compassion, and peace-building. Albie Sachs — the anti-apartheid campaigner who lost an arm and was partially blinded in a car bomb in — has spoken about ubuntu, the spirit of reconciliation that allowed a nation not to resort to bloody recriminations post-apartheid.
It was a moving encounter, from which we both emerged better human beings. Some laud man so extravagantly that their faith in God lapses into a kind of anemia, though they seem more inclined to affirm man than to deny God. Again some form for themselves such a fallacious idea of God that when they repudiate this figment they are by no means rejecting the God of the Gospel.
Some never get to the point of raising questions about God, since they seem to experience no religious stirrings nor do they see why they should trouble themselves about religion. Moreover, atheism results not rarely from a violent protest against the evil in this world, or from the absolute character with which certain human values are unduly invested, and which thereby already accords them the stature of God.
Modern civilization itself often complicates the approach to God not for any essential reason but because it is so heavily engrossed in earthly affairs. Undeniably, those who willfully shut out God from their hearts and try to dodge religious questions are not following the dictates of their consciences, and hence are not free of blame; yet believers themselves frequently bear some responsibility for this situation.
For, taken as a whole, atheism is not a spontaneous development but stems from a variety of causes, including a critical reaction against religious beliefs, and in some places against the Christian religion in particular. Hence believers can have more than a little to do with the birth of atheism. To the extent that they neglect their own training in the faith, or teach erroneous doctrine, or are deficient in their religious, moral or social life, they must be said to conceal rather than reveal the authentic face of God and religion.
Modern atheism often takes on a systematic expression which, in addition to other causes, stretches the desires for human independence to such a point that it poses difficulties against any kind of dependence on God. Those who profess atheism of this sort maintain that it gives man freedom to be an end unto himself, the sole artisan and creator of his own history. They claim that this freedom cannot be reconciled with the affirmation of a Lord Who is author and purpose of all things, or at least that this freedom makes such an affirmation altogether superfluous. Favoring this doctrine can be the sense of power which modern technical progress generates in man.
Not to be overlooked among the forms of modern atheism is that which anticipates the liberation of man especially through his economic and social emancipation. This form argues that by its nature religion thwarts this liberation by arousing man's hope for a deceptive future life, thereby diverting him from the constructing of the earthly city. Consequently when the proponents of this doctrine gain governmental power they vigorously fight against religion, and promote atheism by using, especially in the education of youth, those means of pressure which public power has at its disposal.
In her loyal devotion to God and men, the Church has already repudiated 16 and cannot cease repudiating, sorrowfully but as firmly as possible, those poisonous doctrines and actions which contradict reason and the common experience of humanity, and dethrone man from his native excellence. Still, she strives to detect in the atheistic mind the hidden causes for the denial of God; conscious of how weighty are the questions which atheism raises, and motivated by love for all men, she believes these questions ought to be examined seriously and more profoundly.
The Church holds that the recognition of God is in no way hostile to man's dignity, since this dignity is rooted and perfected in God. For man was made an intelligent and free member of society by God Who created him, but even more important, he is called as a son to commune with God and share in His happiness. She further teaches that a hope related to the end of time does not diminish the importance of intervening duties but rather undergirds the acquittal of them with fresh incentives. By contrast, when a divine instruction and the hope of life eternal are wanting, man's dignity is most grievously lacerated, as current events often attest; riddles of life and death, of guilt and of grief go unsolved with the frequent result that men succumb to despair.
Meanwhile every man remains to himself an unsolved puzzle, however obscurely he may perceive it. For on certain occasions no one can entirely escape the kind of self-questioning mentioned earlier, especially when life's major events take place. To this questioning only God fully and most certainly provides an answer as He summons man to higher knowledge and humbler probing. The remedy which must be applied to atheism, however, is to be sought in a proper presentation of the Church's teaching as well as in the integral life of the Church and her members.
For it is the function of the Church, led by the Holy Spirit Who renews and purifies her ceaselessly, 17 to make God the Father and His Incarnate Son present and in a sense visible. This result is achieved chiefly by the witness of a living and mature faith, namely, one trained to see difficulties clearly and to master them. Many martyrs have given luminous witness to this faith and continue to do so.
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This faith needs to prove its fruitfulness by penetrating the believer's entire life, including its worldly dimensions, and by activating him toward justice and love, especially regarding the needy. What does the most reveal God's presence, however, is the brotherly charity of the faithful who are united in spirit as they work together for the faith of the Gospel 18 and who prove themselves a sign of unity. While rejecting atheism, root and branch, the Church sincerely professes that all men, believers and unbelievers alike, ought to work for the rightful betterment of this world in which all alike live; such an ideal cannot be realized, however, apart from sincere and prudent dialogue.
Hence the Church protests against the distinction which some state authorities make between believers and unbelievers, with prejudice to the fundamental rights of the human person. The Church calls for the active liberty of believers to build up in this world God's temple too. She courteously invites atheists to examine the Gospel of Christ with an open mind.
Above all the Church knows that her message is in harmony with the most secret desires of the human heart when she champions the dignity of the human vocation, restoring hope to those who have already despaired of anything higher than their present lot. Far from diminishing man, her message brings to his development light, life and freedom. Apart from this message nothing will avail to fill up the heart of man: "Thou hast made us for Thyself," O Lord, "and our hearts are restless till they rest in Thee. The truth is that only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light.
Christ, the final Adam, by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love, fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear. It is not surprising, then, that in Him all the aforementioned truths find their root and attain their crown. He Who is "the image of the invisible God" Col. To the sons of Adam He restores the divine likeness which had been disfigured from the first sin onward.
Since human nature as He assumed it was not annulled, 22 by that very fact it has been raised up to a divine dignity in our respect too. For by His incarnation the Son of God has united Himself in some fashion with every man. He worked with human hands, He thought with a human mind, acted by human choice 23 and loved with a human heart. Born of the Virgin Mary, He has truly been made one of us, like us in all things except sin.
As an innocent lamb He merited for us life by the free shedding of His own blood. In Him God reconciled us 25 to Himself and among ourselves; from bondage to the devil and sin He delivered us, so that each one of us can say with the Apostle: The Son of God "loved me and gave Himself up for me" Gal. By suffering for us He not only provided us with an example for our imitation, 26 He blazed a trail, and if we follow it, life and death are made holy and take on a new meaning.
The Christian man, conformed to the likeness of that Son Who is the firstborn of many brothers, 27 received "the first-fruits of the Spirit" Rom. But, linked with the paschal mystery and patterned on the dying Christ, he will hasten forward to resurrection in the strength which comes from hope. All this holds true not only for Christians, but for all men of good will in whose hearts grace works in an unseen way.
Such is the mystery of man, and it is a great one, as seen by believers in the light of Christian revelation. Through Christ and in Christ, the riddles of sorrow and death grow meaningful. Apart from His Gospel, they overwhelm us. Christ has risen, destroying death by His death; He has lavished life upon us 33 so that, as sons in the Son, we can cry out in the Spirit; Abba, Father One of the salient features of the modern world is the growing interdependence of men one on the other, a development promoted chiefly by modern technical advances.
Nevertheless brotherly dialogue among men does not reach its perfection on the level of technical progress, but on the deeper level of interpersonal relationships. These demand a mutual respect for the full spiritual dignity of the person. Christian revelation contributes greatly to the promotion of this communion between persons, and at the same time leads us to a deeper understanding of the laws of social life which the Creator has written into man's moral and spiritual nature. Since rather recent documents of the Church's teaching authority have dealt at considerable length with Christian doctrine about human society, 1 this council is merely going to call to mind some of the more basic truths, treating their foundations under the light of revelation.
Then it will dwell more at length on certain of their implications having special significance for our day. God, Who has fatherly concern for everyone, has willed that all men should constitute one family and treat one another in a spirit of brotherhood. For having been created in the image of God, Who "from one man has created the whole human race and made them live all over the face of the earth" Acts , all men are called to one and the same goal, namely God Himself.
For this reason, love for God and neighbor is the first and greatest commandment. Sacred Scripture, however, teaches us that the love of God cannot be separated from love of neighbor: "If there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself Love therefore is the fulfillment of the Law" Rom.
To men growing daily more dependent on one another, and to a world becoming more unified every day, this truth proves to be of paramount importance. Indeed, the Lord Jesus, when He prayed to the Father, "that all may be one. This likeness reveals that man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself.
Man's social nature makes it evident that the progress of the human person and the advance of society itself hinge on one another. For the beginning, the subject and the goal of all social institutions is and must be the human person which for its part and by its very nature stands completely in need of social life. Among those social ties which man needs for his development some, like the family and political community, relate with greater immediacy to his innermost nature; others originate rather from his free decision. In our era, for various reasons, reciprocal ties and mutual dependencies increase day by day and give rise to a variety of associations and organizations, both public and private.
This development, which is called socialization, while certainly not without its dangers, brings with it many advantages with respect to consolidating and increasing the qualities of the human person, and safeguarding his rights. But if by this social life the human person is greatly aided in responding to his destiny, even in its religious dimensions, it cannot be denied that men are often diverted from doing good and spurred toward and by the social circumstances in which they live and are immersed from their birth.
To be sure the disturbances which so frequently occur in the social order result in part from the natural tensions of economic, political and social forms. But at a deeper level they flow from man's pride and selfishness, which contaminate even the social sphere. When the structure of affairs is flawed by the consequences of sin, man, already born with a bent toward evil, finds there new inducements to sin, which cannot be overcome without strenuous efforts and the assistance of grace.
Every day human interdependence grows more tightly drawn and spreads by degrees over the whole world. As a result the common good, that is, the sum of those conditions of social life which allow social groups and their individual members relatively thorough and ready access to their own fulfillment, today takes on an increasingly universal complexion and consequently involves rights and duties with respect to the whole human race.
Every social group must take account of the needs and legitimate aspirations of other groups, and even of the general welfare of the entire human family. At the same time, however, there is a growing awareness of the exalted dignity proper to the human person, since he stands above all things, and his rights and duties are universal and inviolable.
Therefore, there must be made available to all men everything necessary for leading a life truly human, such as food, clothing, and shelter; the right to choose a state of life freely and to found a family, the right to education, to employment, to a good reputation, to respect, to appropriate information, to activity in accord with the upright norm of one's own conscience, to protection of privacy and rightful freedom even in matters religious. Hence, the social order and its development must invariably work to the benefit of the human person if the disposition of affairs is to be subordinate to the personal realm and not contrariwise, as the Lord indicated when He said that the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.
This social order requires constant improvement. It must be founded on truth, built on justice and animated by love; in freedom it should grow every day toward a more humane balance. God's Spirit, Who with a marvelous providence directs the unfolding of time and renews the face of the earth, is not absent from this development.
The ferment of the Gospel too has aroused and continues to arouse in man's heart the irresistible requirements of his dignity. Coming down to practical and particularly urgent consequences, this council lays stress on reverence for man; everyone must consider his every neighbor without exception as another self, taking into account first of all His life and the means necessary to living it with dignity, 8 so as not to imitate the rich man who had no concern for the poor man Lazarus.
In our times a special obligation binds us to make ourselves the neighbor of every person without exception and of actively helping him when he comes across our path, whether he be an old person abandoned by all, a foreign laborer unjustly looked down upon, a refugee, a child born of an unlawful union and wrongly suffering for a sin he did not commit, or a hungry person who disturbs our conscience by recalling the voice of the Lord, "As long as you did it for one of these the least of my brethren, you did it for me" Matt.
Furthermore, whatever is opposed to life itself, such as any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia or wilful self-destruction, whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, torments inflicted on body or mind, attempts to coerce the will itself; whatever insults human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children; as well as disgraceful working conditions, where men are treated as mere tools for profit, rather than as free and responsible persons; all these things and others of their like are infamies indeed.
They poison human society, but they do more harm to those who practice them than those who suffer from the injury.
Moreover, they are supreme dishonor to the Creator. Respect and love ought to be extended also to those who think or act differently than we do in social, political and even religious matters. In fact, the more deeply we come to understand their ways of thinking through such courtesy and love, the more easily will we be able to enter into dialogue with them. This love and good will, to be sure, must in no way render us indifferent to truth and goodness.
Indeed love itself impels the disciples of Christ to speak the saving truth to all men. But it is necessary to distinguish between error, which always merits repudiation, and the person in error, who never loses the dignity of being a person even when he is flawed by false or inadequate religious notions.
The teaching of Christ even requires that we forgive injuries, 12 and extends the law of love to include every enemy, according to the command of the New Law: "You have heard that it was said: Thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thy enemy. But I say to you: love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who persecute and calumniate you" Matt. Since all men possess a rational soul and are created in God's likeness, since they have the same nature and origin, have been redeemed by Christ and enjoy the same divine calling and destiny, the basic equality of all must receive increasingly greater recognition.
True, all men are not alike from the point of view of varying physical power and the diversity of intellectual and moral resources. Nevertheless, with respect to the fundamental rights of the person, every type of discrimination, whether social or cultural, whether based on sex, race, color, social condition, language or religion, is to be overcome and eradicated as contrary to God's intent. For in truth it must still be regretted that fundamental personal rights are still not being universally honored.
Such is the case of a woman who is denied the right to choose a husband freely, to embrace a state of life or to acquire an education or cultural benefits equal to those recognized for men. Therefore, although rightful differences exist between men, the equal dignity of persons demands that a more humane and just condition of life be brought about.
For excessive economic and social differences between the members of the one human family or population groups cause scandal, and militate against social justice, equity, the dignity of the human person, as well as social and international peace. Human institutions, both private and public, must labor to minister to the dignity and purpose of man. At the same time let them put up a stubborn fight against any kind of slavery, whether social or political, and safeguard the basic rights of man under every political system.
Indeed human institutions themselves must be accommodated by degrees to the highest of all realities, spiritual ones, even though meanwhile, a long enough time will be required before they arrive at the desired goal. Profound and rapid changes make it more necessary that no one ignoring the trend of events or drugged by laziness, content himself with a merely individualistic morality. It grows increasingly true that the obligations of justice and love are fulfilled only if each person, contributing to the common good, according to his own abilities and the needs of others, also promotes and assists the public and private institutions dedicated to bettering the conditions of human life.
Yet there are those who, while possessing grand and rather noble sentiments, nevertheless in reality live always as if they cared nothing for the needs of society. Many in various places even make light of social laws and precepts, and do not hesitate to resort to various frauds and deceptions in avoiding just taxes or other debts due to society.
Others think little of certain norms of social life, for example those designed for the protection of health, or laws establishing speed limits; they do not even avert to the fact that by such indifference they imperil their own life and that of others. Let everyone consider it his sacred obligation to esteem and observe social necessities as belonging to the primary duties of modern man.
For the more unified the world becomes, the more plainly do the offices of men extend beyond particular groups and spread by degrees to the whole world. But this development cannot occur unless individual men and their associations cultivate in themselves the moral and social virtues, and promote them in society; thus, with the needed help of divine grace men who are truly new and artisans of a new humanity can be forthcoming. In order for individual men to discharge with greater exactness the obligations of their conscience toward themselves and the various group to which they belong, they must be carefully educated to a higher degree of culture through the use of the immense resources available today to the human race.
Above all the education of youth from every social background has to be undertaken, so that there can be produced not only men and women of refined talents, but those great-souled persons who are so desperately required by our times. Now a man can scarcely arrive at the needed sense of responsibility, unless his living conditions allow him to become conscious of his dignity, and to rise to his destiny by spending himself for God and for others.
But human freedom is often crippled when a man encounters extreme poverty just as it withers when he indulges in too many of life's comforts and imprisons himself in a kind of splendid isolation. Freedom acquires new strength, by contrast, when a man consents to the unavoidable requirements of social life, takes on the manifold demands of human partnership, and commits himself to the service of the human community. Hence, the will to play one's role in common endeavors should be everywhere encouraged. Praise is due to those national procedures which allow the largest possible number of citizens to participate in public affairs with genuine freedom.
Account must be taken, to be sure, of the actual conditions of each people and the decisiveness required by public authority. If every citizen is to feel inclined to take part in the activities of the various groups which make up the social body, these must offer advantages which will attract members and dispose them to serve others. We can justly consider that the future of humanity lies in the hands of those who are strong enough to provide coming generations with reasons for living and hoping. As God did not create man for life in isolation, but for the formation of social unity, so also "it has pleased God to make men holy and save them not merely as individuals, without bond or link between them, but by making them into a single people, a people which acknowledges Him in truth and serves Him in holiness.
Revealing His mind to them, God called these chosen ones "His people" Ex. This communitarian character is developed and consummated in the work of Jesus Christ. For the very Word made flesh willed to share in the human fellowship. He was present at the wedding of Cana, visited the house of Zacchaeus, ate with publicans and sinners. He revealed the love of the Father and the sublime vocation of man in terms of the most common of social realities and by making use of the speech and the imagery of plain everyday life.
Willingly obeying' the laws of his country He sanctified those human ties, especially family ones, which are the source of social structures. He chose to lead the life proper to an artisan of His time and place. In His preaching He clearly taught the sons of God to treat one another as brothers. In His prayers He pleaded that all His disciples might be "one. He commanded His Apostles to preach to all peoples the Gospel's message that the human race was to become the Family of God, in which the fullness of the Law would be love.
As the firstborn of many brethren and by the giving of His Spirit, He founded after His death and resurrection a new brotherly community composed of all those who receive Him in faith and in love. This He did through His Body, which is the Church. There everyone, as members one of the other, would render mutual service according to the different gifts bestowed on each. This solidarity must be constantly increased until that day on which it will be brought to perfection.
Then, saved by grace, men will offer flawless glory to God as a family beloved of God and of Christ their Brother. Through his labors and his native endowments man has ceaselessly striven to better his life. Today, however, especially with the help of science and technology, he has extended his mastery over nearly the whole of nature and continues to do so.
Thanks to increased opportunities for many kinds of social contact among nations, the human family is gradually recognizing that it comprises a single world community and is making itself so. Hence many benefits once looked for, especially from heavenly powers, man has now enterprisingly procured for himself. In the face of these immense efforts which already preoccupy the whole human race, men agitate numerous questions among themselves. What is the meaning and value of this feverish activity? How should all these things be used? To the achievement of what goal are the strivings of individuals and societies heading?
The Church guards the heritage of God's word and draws from it moral and religious principles without always having at hand the solution to particular problems. As such she desires to add the light of revealed truth to mankind's store of experience, so that the path which humanity has taken in recent times will not be a dark one.
Throughout the course of the centuries, men have labored to better the circumstances of their lives through a monumental amount of individual and collective effort. To believers, this point is settled: considered in itself, this human activity accords with God's will.
For man, created to God's image, received a mandate to subject to himself the earth and all it contains, and to govern the world with justice and holiness; 1 a mandate to relate himself and the totality of things to Him Who was to be acknowledged as the Lord and Creator of all. Thus, by the subjection of all things to man, the name of God would be wonderful in all the earth.
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This mandate concerns the whole of everyday activity as well. For while providing the substance of life for themselves and their families, men and women are performing their activities in a way which appropriately benefits society. They can justly consider that by their labor they are unfolding the Creator's work, consulting the advantages of their brother men, and are contributing by their personal industry to the realization in history of the divine plan.
Thus, far from thinking that works produced by man's own talent and energy are in opposition to God's power, and that the rational creature exists as a kind of rival to the Creator, Christians are convinced that the triumphs of the human race are a sign of God's grace and the flowering of His own mysterious design. For the greater man's power becomes, the farther his individual and community responsibility extends. Hence it is clear that men are not deterred by the Christian message from building up the world, or impelled to neglect the welfare of their fellows, but that they are rather more stringently bound to do these very things.
Human activity, to be sure, takes its significance from its relationship to man. Just as it proceeds from man, so it is ordered toward man. For when a man works he not only alters things and society, he develops himself as well. He learns much, he cultivates his resources, he goes outside of himself and beyond himself. Rightly understood this kind of growth is of greater value than any external riches which can be garnered. A man is more precious for what he is than for what he has.
For these advances can supply the material for human progress, but of themselves alone they can never actually bring it about. Hence, the norm of human activity is this: that in accord with the divine plan and will, it harmonize with the genuine good of the human race, and that it allow men as individuals and as members of society to pursue their total vocation and fulfill it. Now many of our contemporaries seem to fear that a closer bond between human activity and religion will work against the independence of men, of societies, or of the sciences.
If by the autonomy of earthly affairs we mean that created things and societies themselves enjoy their own laws and values which must be gradually deciphered, put to use, and regulated by men, then it is entirely right to demand that autonomy. Such is not merely required by modern man, but harmonizes also with the will of the Creator. For by the very circumstance of their having been created, all things are endowed with their own stability, truth, goodness, proper laws and order.
Man must respect these as he isolates them by the appropriate methods of the individual sciences or arts. Therefore if methodical investigation within every branch of learning is carried out in a genuinely scientific manner and in accord with moral norms, it never truly conflicts with faith, for earthly matters and the concerns of faith derive from the same God. Consequently, we cannot but deplore certain habits of mind, which are sometimes found too among Christians, which do not sufficiently attend to the rightful independence of science and which, from the arguments and controversies they spark, lead many minds to conclude that faith and science are mutually opposed.
But if the expression, the independence of temporal affairs, is taken to mean that created things do not depend on God, and that man can use them without any reference to their Creator, anyone who acknowledges God will see how false such a meaning is. For without the Creator the creature would disappear. For their part, however, all believers of whatever religion always hear His revealing voice in the discourse of creatures. When God is forgotten, however, the creature itself grows unintelligible.
Sacred Scripture teaches the human family what the experience of the ages confirms: that while human progress is a great advantage to man, it brings with it a strong temptation. For when the order of values is jumbled and bad is mixed with the good, individuals and groups pay heed solely to their own interests, and not to those of others. Thus it happens that the world ceases to be a place of true brotherhood. In our own day, the magnified power of humanity threatens to destroy the race itself.
For a monumental struggle against the powers of darkness pervades the whole history of man. The battle was joined from the very origins of the world and will continue until the last day, as the Lord has attested. That is why Christ's Church, trusting in the design of the Creator, acknowledges that human progress can serve man's true happiness, yet she cannot help echoing the Apostle's warning: "Be not conformed to this world" Rom. Here by the world is meant that spirit of vanity and malice which transforms into an instrument of sin those human energies intended for the service of God and man.
Hence if anyone wants to know how this unhappy situation can be overcome, Christians will tell him that all human activity, constantly imperiled by man's pride and deranged self-love, must be purified and perfected by the power of Christ's cross and resurrection. For redeemed by Christ and made a new creature in the Holy Spirit, man is able to love the things themselves created by God, and ought to do so.
He can receive them from God and respect and reverence them as flowing constantly from the hand of God. Grateful to his Benefactor for these creatures, using and enjoying them in detachment and liberty of spirit, man is led forward into a true possession of them, as having nothing, yet possessing all things. For God's Word, through Whom all things were made, was Himself made flesh and dwelt on the earth of men. To those, therefore, who believe in divine love, He gives assurance that the way of love lies open to men and that the effort to establish a universal brotherhood is not a hopeless one.
He cautions them at the same time that this charity is not something to be reserved for important matters, but must be pursued chiefly in the ordinary circumstances of life. Undergoing death itself for all of us sinners, 12 He taught us by example that we too must shoulder that cross which the world and the flesh inflict upon those who search after peace and justice.
Appointed Lord by His resurrection and given plenary power in heaven and on earth, 13 Christ is now at work in the hearts of men through the energy of His Holy Spirit, arousing not only a desire for the age to come, but by that very fact animating, purifying and strengthening those noble longings too by which the human family makes its life more human and strives to render the whole earth submissive to this goal. Now, the gifts of the Spirit are diverse: while He calls some to give clear witness to the desire for a heavenly home and to keep that desire green among the human family, He summons others to dedicate themselves to the earthly service of men and to make ready the material of the celestial realm by this ministry of theirs.
I found comfort there. If there was a place I could find grace, it was in the streets. Based on the above-mentioned key components, forgiveness can be difficult to bring about, and may require a series of challenging intellectual and emotional stages for those involved to go through. To conclude our discussion of forgiveness at an individual level, the following story of the over collected and shared by The Forgiveness Project sums up the complex, untidy, and often intangible journey of forgiveness:.
Forgiveness is a fresh, on-going, ever-present position of the mind, which takes on many different forms. This will be discussed under the Engaging in the Reconciliation Process heading, just below. Forgiveness is often portrayed as a deeply individual process with personal healing as its prime goal.
But individual traumas are often part of a larger societal trauma, and therefore larger change can often come about from healing and forgiveness at both individual and societal levels. Mark Umbreit, founding director of the Center for Restorative Justice and Peacemaking at the University of Minnesota, explains his work in restorative justice.
The film represents one of the most useful and comprehensive insights available into the practical application of forgiveness and reconciliation at a community level. The film also shows interviews with members of the Native American Somali Friendship Committee in the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis. This initiative grew out of conflict arising when thousands of Somali refugees settled in the Twin Cities in the early nineties. The result was the beginning of a cross-cultural dialogue intended to promote peaceful community building.
Peacemaking in this context was a process based on traditional methods of dispute resolution, which is a cornerstone of Native American culture and addresses the need to rebuild relationships between people. The first meeting between the two communities took place on Martin Luther King Day in At first, only negative feelings were aired as people were able to safely express their pain and fear; but in time and through sharing stories, food and other cultural activities, the two communities discovered they had more similarities than differences.
This peacebuilding initiative worked because both communities were able to look at each other in the eye, find respect, and build a relationship with greater understanding. Moving beyond small, local communities, forgiveness in large-scale peace-building processes that involve two or more opposing social, ethnic, or religious groups can affect the future of a country.
It did so in South Africa, where politicians and civic leaders urged large groups of people to forgive other groups with whom they had previously been locked in conflict. In addition, several public figures spoke out in favor of forgiveness, thus modeling a way forward for the communities they represented. Nelson Mandela, by publicly forgiving those who had wronged him, became a global symbol for forgiveness, compassion, and peace-building.
Albie Sachs — the anti-apartheid campaigner who lost an arm and was partially blinded in a car bomb in — has spoken about ubuntu, the spirit of reconciliation that allowed a nation not to resort to bloody recriminations post-apartheid. It was a moving encounter, from which we both emerged better human beings.
The key to the encounter was that our country had changed. Ubuntu, the spirit of reconciliation, requires dealing with the causes of the conflict. But it can help overcome those causes, and be liberating to the individuals involved in a very personal way. In a similar matter, reconciliation must involve actively rebuilding relationships by creating opportunities for people to engage with each other through spaces, activities, and enterprises. In order to build or rebuild relationships, there must be platforms on which to develop understanding between groups and communities.
Cultivating dialogue: Enabling people to embrace tensions in the process of reconciliation and dialogue is the starting point. Dialogue can take place in many settings, such as a national dialogue or within communities across divisions of race, religion, or gender. Dialogue can be practiced in community halls, schools, prisons, and corporate institutions.
However, dialogue by itself can be a fairly shallow gesture. To be effective, it has to include:. Starting grassroots initiatives: Reconciliation often builds on grassroots initiatives, such as theatre, music, and sport, so that barriers between people can be addressed and broken down. Other examples might include initiatives such as workshops that promote psychological healing, perhaps offering safe spaces for narrative sharing and storytelling; or social projects that bring together individuals from diverse groups and communities.
By so working to effect social change, people also learn to respect each other and to coexist peacefully. An important element of the reconciliation process is the restoration of broken relationships, which may be addressed in various ways. Utilizing the healing power of sharing stories: Stories of hope in hopeless times can change lives. The Forgiveness Project collects and shares real stories of forgiveness in order to create opportunities for people to consider, examine, and choose forgiveness in the face of atrocity. Its work in restorative storytelling demonstrates that personal narratives can broaden perspectives and bring healing to those impacted — whether victim or perpetrator — as well as motivate others regarding future life choices.
Research has shown that storytelling is a powerful tool for which humans are hard-wired. Storytelling enables individuals and groups to form connections and collaboration at the same time as they overcome differences and defenses. Some other examples follow. At the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Rwanda there is the story of Nsengiyuumra, a Muslim who during the genocide is said to have saved over 30 people by protecting or hiding them in his outhouse.
I was going to die any second. I banged on the door of the yard. It opened almost immediately. He Nsengiyumra took me by the hand and stood in his doorway and told the killer to leave. For eight years The Forgiveness Project has run RESTORE , a group-based restorative justice RJ intervention program in England to enable prisoners to turn their lives around and give them the tools to re-enter society as active and responsible citizens. Restorative justice views crime as injury rather than law-breaking, and justice as healing rather than punishment.
This restorative justice process demonstrates how individual transformation can lead to societal change. As participants learn about different aspects of forgiveness and reconciliation, and practice them in their own lives, there is a ripple effect into communities. The overall impact of this restorative program can lead to reduced offending behavior both in prison and beyond release; it has been shown to result in fewer victims and offenders amongst participants, their families, and the communities they live in. In these communities, naming and shaming is considered justice, and while forgiveness is imperative, it is not granted without remorse.
This community-healing process of reconciliation and forgiveness addresses the roots of conflict at the local level, and restores dignity to the lives of those who suffered most directly from violence. The work helps war-affected individuals reflect on the past and move forward in ways that avert the renewal of aggressions.
By grounding reconciliation in traditional practices, it also helps create healthy communities capable of building new foundations of peace. How does the Fambul Tok process work? With Fambul Tok, we can now share our stories and have the opportunity to forgive and reconcile. After the war, plenty of people are afraid to return to their homes for fear of revenge. Now that Fambul Tok is creating the platform for victims, witnesses, and perpetrators to mediate reconciliation for peaceful co-existence, we have no alternative but to welcome Fambul Tok. I am sure community reconciliation will help us fight poverty.
Some of them amputated hands, some of them slaughtered women, some split women open to see what baby was in their stomach; but at the ceremony most of them came forward and confessed and asked for forgiveness and we have forgiven them. We have encouraged them, embraced them, we do things together. Even myself, my elder sister was killed during this war. Those that killed her, I knew who they were, but when they confessed, I forgave them.
To practice forgiveness and reconciliation in daily life comes with its own challenges, and prompts a number of reflection questions.
It’s Time To Forgive the ‘How I Met Your Mother’ Series Finale
As one example, there is a popular notion that if you do not forgive you will be depleted in some way, tied to the past, holding on to grudges, filled with negative and even violent thoughts. But it glosses over the fact that forgiveness is a slippery and complex concept, meaning many things to many people. The above assumptions not only ignore the real pain many people suffer, but shame those who chose not to forgive. Rowan Williams, warned against forgiving too easily.
I sought help through Christian literature, but it just told lovely stories about reconciliation. Trusted Christian friends offered well-meaning advice, and in one case an exorcism. It is not hard to see how in this context, forgiveness can allow abuse to thrive. Many of the questions below are thought-provoking and challenging. What are your own answers to them? Forgiveness, as a means of relieving oneself from the burden of victimhood, is intrinsically subjective. Forgiveness may unfold like a mysterious discovery, or it may be a totally conscious decision, something you line yourself up for having exhausted all other options.
For those working to promote forgiveness and reconciliation, it is important to remember that forgiveness is first and foremost a choice, and not necessarily the best medicine for all people all the time. At the same time, it is also important to remember that when introduced as an option, as a concept with limits as well as opportunities, forgiveness if chosen as a path through trauma is undoubtedly a powerful healing process that can mend broken hearts and repair broken communities.
The Forgiveness Project has no religious or political associations. Visit The Forgiveness Project on facebook and twitter. Cantacuzino, M. The forgiveness project: Stories for a vengeful age. London and Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers. Transforming lives through the power of personal narrative. London: Winston Churchill Memorial Trust. Enright, R.
Forgiveness is a c hoice. Washington, D. Exline, J. Forgiveness and justice: A research agenda for social and personality psychology, Personality and Social Psychology Review , 7 4 , Gobodo-Madikizela, P. A human being died that night: A South African woman confronts the legacy of apartheid. Boston and New York: Mariner Books. Sawatsky, J.