Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Golden Leaf of Forgiveness

Benedictine Monasteries are known as such because they follow the 5th century rule of Saint Benedict. The fourth principle of that community rule is that the monastery must cultivate a spirit of forgiveness among the brothers. Forgiveness is the glue that prevents the community from devolving into divisions and even violence or dissolution. 

Does it matter whether monks live this way? For sure, as monks are supposed to be living examples that it's possible for all of us to live harmoniously and in the Gospel-way of Jesus. At the heart of Jesus' way is forgiveness, probably the hardest requirement of Christian living. That's why I'm calling it the Golden Leaf: in a nasty world, dropping resentments and getting on with loving people is golden

Forgiving the offender does't mean, "Hey, no problem, don't worry about it. Let's go on a cruise together." On the contrary, being cheated, slandered, abused, neglected, tricked, manipulated, lied to, ripped off (we get the picture) is a problem. So then what does forgiveness mean? 

Forgiving someone means: "From the bottom of my heart (and I may have to reach down as deep as that to find it) I simply wish you well. I wish you all good. I wish you health, peace, change of heart, growth in goodness, salvation, success..." To wish this for anyone is loving.

And if I can't do this, but at least want to be able to wish someone well, I have made a start. We grow, with God's help. It's important as well to remember, that I'm as vulnerable and as capable of error and folly as the next guy. Indeed, some of us have a keen awareness of our own errors over the years and having been the recipient of someone else's forgiveness. In which case, forgiving someone is just a variation on the Golden Rule: Treat others the way you want to be treated. 

The Golden Leaf: Dropping resentments and extending forgiveness: "I wish you well."


  1. One of my biggest regrets in life is not being able to offer forgiveness to someone before they passed on. With death came the end of opportunity to get this grace from God.

    1. This Sunday offer your Mass for this person's soul. It is a great kindness to offer Mass for someone. It says, "Jesus, let what you did for us at Calvary be specially felt/experienced by (and you name the person)." I'd also place a prayer at the altar asking Jesus to forgive my procrastination. Then drop it. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. Forgiveness is difficult. Some situations are just so hard to get past. But I like the idea of at least trying this approach.

  3. I understand the difficulty. But yes, "Jesus, I would like even to feel the DESIRE to forgive." That's an important first step. To WANT to love is already loving.

  4. Even when you feel like holding a grudge, and the pain of hurt is stinging and it's the last thing you want to do, you have to open your ears to God's little whisper. I forgive you. Three little words so hard to say and mean.

  5. This was a beautiful inspiring post. Resentment fills every crevice of our being if we allow it. Repentance can also. When I had a really difficult time of praying for someone I was given the advice to ask for just the desire to do so, instead of fighting the idea that I couldn't pray, it released me in such a profound way. It was probably the best healing I ever received. Your story of the monks comes at a time of me wondering if I should return to Spencer, MA. It's where I stayed for a weekend and was open to the prayer cycle of the monks. An experience I'll never forget . Thanks for the reflections.

  6. I truly enjoyed this post as it applies to me in so many ways. I also need to remeber that Christ who has loved me and done so much for me. Also loves my enemy who may have trodden over me; with the same Zeal Christ loves him as Christ showed his love towards me. Thank you Fr Stephen for keeping this in the front of my mind.

  7. Yes indeed. And to remain assured of all that I've been personally forgiven. Then we're free!

  8. Forgiving someone isn't the hardest part. It is being able to trust them again. Even if you can get past the resentment, how do you put your faith in someone who has done you wrong or hurt you?

  9. But trusting someone again who has done me personal harm isn't what's required. There are people who have hurt me deeply. I wish them well, but I steer clear of them. I won't let them hurt me again.