c) Sin, Forgiveness, and Freedom

Forgiveness of the Prodigal Son JL ForainFirst, Here Are The Top Quotes At-A-Glance:
Sin, Forgiveness, and Freedom

(See Further Down the Page for the Full Quotes.)

(Note: there’s also other quotes on freedom on the Human Nature & Freedom page)

  1. “He looked up and said, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ ‘No one, sir’ she replied. ‘Neither do I condemn you,’ said Jesus. ‘Go away, and don’t sin anymore.’” (Jesus)
  2. Whatever we have done, God forgives it and forgets it. His sorrow is that, in sinning, we have damaged ourselves, not him. Every real sin narrows our capacity to receive him. Any real act of contrition offers us to God for him to restore us. (Sister Wendy Beckett)
  3. There is no sin which cannot be forgiven. (Pope John-Paul II)
  4. There is not a single case in the whole four gospels where we can find Jesus saying a hard word to a sinner, no matter how terrible his record, provided he repents sincerely. (Fr Robert Nash)
  5. Bear with one another; forgive each other as soon as a quarrel begins. The Lord has forgiven you; now you must do the same. (St Paul)
  6. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus did not emphasise that we should love one another, but rather that we should forgive one another. (Sister Wendy Beckett)
  7. Sex… I want to make it as clear as I possibly can that the centre of Christian morality is not here. If anyone thinks that Christians regard unchastity as the supreme vice, he is quite wrong. The sins of the flesh are bad, but they are the least bad of all sins. All the worst pleasures are purely spiritual. (CS Lewis)
  8. According to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind. (CS Lewis)
  9. Sin is an act of disobedience by creatures who reject, at least implicity, the very one from whom they came and who sustains them in life. (Pope John-Paul II)
  10. Wounded by sin, people almost inevitably cause damage to the fabric of their relationship with others and with the created world. (Pope John-Paul II)
  11. The sin of the century is really the loss of the sense of sin. (Pope Pius XII)
  12. We must ask ourselves what is within, because what is inside comes out and harms, if it is evil; and if it is good, it comes out and does good. And it is so beautiful to tell ourselves the truth, and feel ashamed when we are in a situation that is not what God wants. (Pope Francis)
  13. Confession: we might sometimes describe it as a hug from God. (Msgr Richard Mohan)
  14. The sacrament of confession/reconciliation leaves us energised with the energy of Jesus…. It is meant to change the way the penitent is living, and if there is no determination to change, the sacrament cannot be received. (Sister Wendy Beckett)
  15. God forgives us unconditionally. God’s forgiveness does not depend on our behaviour. God’s love is so perfect that God forgives us even before we repent.
  16. Anger, bitterness and resentment, understandable as it is, destroys one’s spirit just as much, or more, than the suffering that another person has inflicted. A person cannot regain the joy and peace, which is the hallmark of the person who knows that they are loved by God, until they have found it in them to forgive. (Fr Peter McVerry)
  17. Forgiveness removes our sin but also leaves us with a deeper understanding of it. (Fr Eamon Devlin)
  18. God is only too willing to forgive us. We do not even have to say sorry. We have only to desire to come back to him. He will not even let the prodigal son finish the little repentance speech he had made. (Anthony de Mello)
  19. Many of us have yet to learn that repentance doesn’t mean saying, “Lord, I’m sorry” but “Lord, I love you with all my heart.” Have you noticed that nowhere in the New Testament does Jesus tell us that in order to get forgiveness for our sins we must be sorry? He is not obviously, excluding sorrow for sin. He just doesn’t explicitly demand it…. After Peter’s denial of Jesus, this is what Jesus demands of him: an expression of love. “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than all else?” (Anthony de Mello)
  20. Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive, as we had during the war. And then, to mention the subject at all is to be greeted with howls of anger…. In Christianity it is made perfectly clear that if we do not forgive we shall not be forgiven, ‘Forgive us our sins as we forgive those that sin against us.’ There are no two ways about it. What are we to do?…. If we really want to learn how to forgive, perhaps we had better start with something easier than the Gestapo… Christianity does not want us to reduce by one atom the hatred we feel for cruelty and treachery. We ought to hate them…. I remember Christian teachers telling me long ago, hate the sin but not the sinner. (CS Lewis)
  21. I’d use the word freedom more than forgiveness… The idea behind writing my new book is that if I say ‘I forgive you’ it sounds like I’m doing something for you. In fact, I’m doing something for me. (Fr Brian Lennon)
  22. Forgiveness can only penetrate and become effective in one who is himself forgiving. (Pope Benedict XVI)
  23. Forgiveness exacts a price—first of all from the person who forgives. He must overcome within himself the evil done to him; he must, as it were, burn it interiorly and in so doing renew himself. (Pope Benedict XVI)
  24. Repentance was the theme of Jesus’ first sermons: ‘Repent, and believe the gospel, for the kingdom of God is at hand.’ (Anthony de Mello)
  25. Repentance in rendered in Greek by the word metanoia which indicates a total change of heart and mind. A turning of our heart and mind away from selfishness and on to God. (Anthony de Mello)
  26. Love means to love that which is unloveable, or it is no virtue at all; forgiving means to pardon that which is unpardonable, or it is no virtue at all. (GK Chesterton)
  27. “In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” (Jesus)
  28. ‘Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us’. The point is, we cannot receive God’s forgiveness if we are too stubborn to forgive ourselves. Forgiveness, as it were, bounces off a hard heart. Making the effort to forgive another person opens us up to receive forgiveness for ourselves. (Sister Wendy Beckett)
  29. When we ask forgiveness, we show our desire to restore what was lost – respect, honesty, love – and healing between family members is made possible.
  30. Do not forget this: the Lord never tires of forgiving! It is we who get tired of asking for forgiveness. (Pope Francis)

And Now The Full Quotes:
Sin, Forgiveness, and Freedom

“He looked up and said, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ ‘No one, sir’ she replied. ‘Neither do I condemn you,’ said Jesus. ‘Go away, and don’t sin anymore.’”

—Jesus in John’s Gospel 8: 1-11

“One can sin, and then convert, and the Lord both forgives and forgets. We don’t have the right to refuse to forget… it’s dangerous. The theology of sin is important. St Peter committed one of the greatest sins, denying Christ, and yet they made him Pope. Think about that.”

—Pope Francis I, in his first press-conference, flying back from Brazil after World Youth Day, July 2013 (as quoted in The Irish Catholic newspaper, 1st August 2013)

“Whatever we have done, God forgives it and forgets it. His sorrow is that, in sinning, we have damaged ourselves, not him. Every real sin narrows our capacity to receive him. Any real act of contrition offers us to God for him to restore us.”

—Sister Wendy Beckett in ‘Sister Wendy On Prayer’

“There is no sin which cannot be forgiven, if we approach the throne of mercy with humble and contrite hearts.”

— Pope John Paul II in his Mass at Liverpool Cathedral, 1982 as seen online and quoted on page 19 of “The Pope in Britain: Collected Homilies & Speeches”, St Paul Publications, Slough; 1982.

“There is not a single case in the whole four gospels where we can find Jesus saying a hard word to a sinner, no matter how terrible his record, provided he repents sincerely.”

—Fr Robert Nash, SJ, in ‘My Last Book’, 1983, Dun Laoghaire: The Glendale Press

“Bear with one another; forgive each other as soon as a quarrel begins. The Lord has forgiven you; now you must do the same.”

—St Paul in his letter to the Colossians (3: 13)

“In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus did not emphasise that we should love one another, but rather that we should forgive one another.”

—Sister Wendy Beckett in ‘Sister Wendy On Prayer’

“Sex… I want to make it as clear as I possibly can that the centre of Christian morality is not here. If anyone thinks that Christians regard unchastity as the supreme vice, he is quite wrong. The sins of the flesh are bad, but they are the least bad of all sins. All the worst pleasures are purely spiritual: the pleasure of putting other people in the wrong, of bossing and patronising and spoiling sport, and back-biting, the pleasures of power, of hatred…. That is why a cold, self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute. But, of course, it is better to be neither.”

—CS Lewis

“To honour the risen Jesus, the best we can do is to come to him as we are, and let his light shine on our dark parts too. There’s no need for a double-take on ourselves, others, or God. Because God conquers everything; if only we are true, straight-forward with the risen Christ.”

—Fr Eamon Devlin, CM, sermon, Third Sunday of Easter, April 2012

“Sins are the weeds which stifle the growth and development of the seed. The person really determined to attain to holiness will pluck up by the roots every weed, no matter how tiny—and this process goes on till death. Positively, growth in the divine life is fostered by prayer and the sacraments.”

—Fr Robert Nash, SJ, in ‘My Last Book’, 1983, Dun Laoghaire: The Glendale Press

“Our sins can weigh us down with discouragement. Saint Ignatius of Loyola tells us that discouragement is never from God because it clouds faith and hope. God’s love does not deal in punishment as human vengeance does. God’s love disciplines us in order to free and purify us–sometimes a painful process–so that we may not die but live in Christ.”

—Thought in the booklet ‘Magnificat’, July 2012 preceding Psalm 38 9-14

“The story of doubting Thomas… God will always forgive, and his love remains unaltered no matter what we do. But in doing what is against his will, we hurt ourselves. Our capacity for love is diminished. We can restore it, and that is the purpose of penance. It is not to set ourselves right with God, but to repair the spiritual hurt we have done to ourselves and perhaps to other people.

—Sister Wendy Beckett (the art expert and contemplative hermit who lives under the protection of a Carmelite monastery in England), as quoted on page 56 in the July 2012 booklet ‘Magnificat’

“According to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.”

—CS Lewis

“You must ask God to give you power to fight against the sin of pride which is your greatest enemy — the root of all that is evil, and the failure of all that is good. For God resists the proud.”

—St Vincent de Paul (as commonly quoted, including on the parish newsletter of the Vincentian Community in St Peter’s, Phibsboro, 6th January 2013)(For a good clarification of what pride is, see here.)

“Sin really is when we refuse to accept the truth that we ARE loved and so act in ways not suitable for people loved by God. When we really believe that we are loved, we become confident and strong and we live well. Sin is not really about rules and regulations but about how we live our lives. Sin is about damaging ourselves and others. Sin is when we hurt others…  when we cheat in our business dealings or in our relationships… when we don’t look after ourselves properly… and perhaps the biggest sin of all is when we forget that we are forgiven, we are loved, and to give thanks to God for that.”

—Dr Fainche Ryan, 2011 Limerick

“Sin is an act of disobedience by creatures who reject, at least implicity, the very one from whom they came and who sustains them in life. It is therefore a suicidal act. Since by sinning human beings refuse to submit to God, their internal balance is also destroyed and it is precisely within themselves that contradictions and conflicts arise. Wounded in this way, they almost inevitably cause damage to the fabric of their relationship with others and with the created world.”

—Pope John-Paul II, in section 15 of his December 2nd 1984 ‘Reconciliatio et Paenitentia’ on the Vatican website and also in ‘Pope John-Paul II: A Reader,‘ edited by O’Collins SJ, published by Paulist Press: Mahwah, New Jersey, 2007, page 179.

“The sin of the century is really the loss of the sense of sin.”

—Pope Pius XII, Radio Message to the US National Catechetical Congress in Boston, October 26, 1946

“The sense of sin disappears when (as can happen in the education of youth, in the mass media and even in education within the family) it is wrongly identified with a morbid feeling of guilt or with the mere transgression of legal norms and precepts…. If sin is the breaking off of one’s filial relationship to God in order to situate one’s life outside of obedience to him, then to sin is not merely to deny God. To sin is also to live as if he did not exist, to eliminate him from one’s daily life….
certain trends inevitably favor the decline of the sense of sin. For example, some are inclined to replace exaggerated attitudes of the past with other exaggerations: From seeing sin everywhere they pass to not recognizing it anywhere; from too much emphasis on the fear of eternal punishment they pass to preaching a love of God that excludes any punishment deserved by sin”

—Pope John-Paul II, in section 18 of his December 2nd 1984 ‘Reconciliatio et Paenitentia’ on the Vatican website and also in ‘Pope John-Paul II: A Reader,‘ edited by O’Collins SJ, published by Paulist Press: Mahwah, New Jersey, 2007, page 183 and 184.

“If you should at times fall, don’t become discouraged and stop striving to advance. For even from this fall God will draw out good.”

—St Teresa of Avila, as quoted in a section named ‘The Interior Castle’ on page 94 of “A Little Book of Teresa of Avila”, the Columba Press, Blackrock, County Dublin, 2003, compiled by Don Mullan

“Forgiveness is the fundamental condition for reconciliation…. A world from which forgiveness was eliminated would be nothing but a world of cold and unfeeling justice, in the name of which each person would claim his or her own rights vis-à-vis others.”

—Pope John Paul II (Dives in Misericordia)

  • Focus more on the wheat that’s growing than on the weeds in the field.
  • It’s not in the last ‘five minutes’ that those weeds grew: Ask yourself what you can do in advance to ensure those situations don’t happen.
  • “I renounce the world, the flesh, and the devil.”—An old traditional saying/prayer on Lough Derg.
  • “Confession: we might sometimes describe it as a hug from God”—Msgr Richard Mohan

—Teachings at Lough Derg, Ireland

“And I believe that it it would do us good today to think not about whether my soul is clean or dirty, but rather about what is in my heart, what do I have inside, what I know I have but no one else knows. Being honest with yourself is not easy! Because we always try to cover it up when we see something wrong inside, no? So that it doesn’t come out, don’t we? What is in our heart: is it love? Let us think: do I love my parents, my children, my wife, my husband, people in the neighbourhood, the sick?… Do I love? Is there hate? Do I hate someone? Often we find hatred, don’t we? “I love everyone except for this one, this one and that one!”. That’s hatred, isn’t it? What is in my heart, forgiveness? Is there an attitude of forgiveness for those who have offended me, or is there an attitude of revenge — “he will pay for it!”. We must ask ourselves what is within, because what is inside comes out and harms, if it is evil; and if it is good, it comes out and does good. And it is so beautiful to tell ourselves the truth, and feel ashamed when we are in a situation that is not what God wants, it is not good; when my heart feels hatred, revenge, so many situations are sinful. How is my heart?…

…. Jesus said today, for example — I will give only one example: “You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, ‘you shall not kill’. But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother has killed him in his heart”. And whoever insults his brother, kills him in his heart, whoever hates his brother, kills his brother in his heart; whoever gossips against his brother, kills him in his heart. Maybe we are not conscious of it, and then we talk, “we write off” this person or that, we speak ill of this or that … And this is killing our brother. That is why it is important to know what is inside, what is happening in my heart. If one understands his brother, the people, he loves his brother, because he forgives: he understands, he forgives, he is patient…. Is this love or hate? We must be sure of this. And we must ask the Lord for two graces. The first: to know what is in our own heart, not to deceive ourselves, not to live in deceit. The second grace: to do what is good in our hearts and not to do the evil that is in our hearts.

…. We must always ask for this grace: to know what is happening in our heart, to constantly make the right choice, the choice for good. And that the Lord help us to love one another. And if I cannot love another well, why not? Pray for that person, pray that the Lord make me love him. And like this we move forward, remembering that what taints our lives is the evil that comes from our hearts. And that the Lord can help us.”

—Pope Francis in his homily on his visit to the Roman parish of San Tomasso 16th February 2014 as recorded on the Vatican website

“The sacrament of confession/reconciliation leaves us energised with the energy of Jesus…. It is meant to change the way the penitent is living, and if there is no determination to change, the sacrament cannot be received…. It purifies us, by taking us into the purity of our Lord. There could be no better preparation for prayer.”

—Sister Wendy Beckett in ‘Sister Wendy On Prayer’

“Martin Luther and the Gospels emphasise continually it is not weakness that is problematic within our relationship to God, but rationalism, denial, lying, and the hardening of our hearts in the face of truth…. At one point in his ministry (Mark 3:22-30), Jesus makes the statement that all human sins and blasphemies will be forgiven, except if one blasphemes against the Holy Spirit…. Scripture scholars generally agree that (this) is a warning against sustained dishonesty and rationalisation. Jesus’ warning, paraphrased, might sound like this:

‘Be careful not to lie, not to distort the truth, because the real danger is that, by lying, you begin to distort and warp your own hearts. If you lie to yourself long enough, eventually you will lose sight of the truth and believe the lie and become unable any longer to tell the difference between truth and lies…. You can so warp your own conscience that you see God’s truth and forgiveness itself as a lie, as Satan, and see your own lie as truth and forgiveness.’

The singular value of honesty for a healthy soul is verified today in virtually all therapeutic programmes that are in any way effective in dealing with addictions. It is the literature of these programmes (e.g. Alcoholics Anonymous) that coined the expression: ‘You are as sick as your sickest secret and you will remain sick as long as it remains a secret.’ As one pamphlet puts it: Sobriety is only ten percent about alcohol; it’s ninety percent about honesty. The gospels would essentially agree with that assessment, spiritual health is ninety percent about honesty.”

—Fr Ron Rolheiser

“God loves us unconditionally. God’s love does not depend on our behaviour. But forgiveness is the greatest form of love; to forgive someone who has offended against us is the greatest expression of our love for them. God forgives us unconditionally. God’s forgiveness does not depend on our behaviour. God’s love is so perfect that God forgives us even before we repent. Conventional thinking believes that we must repent first, then subsequently God forgives us. But perhaps repentance comes from the experience of being forgiven unconditionally.

When we break our relationship with God through sin, God restores that relationship, not by punishing us, not by getting his own back on us, not by teaching us a lesson—but by forgiving us, freely and unconditionally…. Full healing requires the strength to find forgiveness. Anger, bitterness and resentment, understandable as it is, destroys one’s spirit just as much, or more, than the suffering that another person has inflicted. A person cannot regain the joy and peace, which is the hallmark of the person who knows that they are loved by God, until they have found it in them to forgive.”

—Fr Peter McVerry, SJ, pages 126 & 129 of his book ‘Jesus: Social Revolutionary?’, Veritas Publications, Dublin, 2008

“Love will be seen: not hidden in corners but in the midst of the occasions of falling.”

—St Teresa of Avila, in her ‘The Book of Foundations’ as quoted on page 76 of “A Little Book of Teresa of Avila”, the Columba Press, Blackrock, County Dublin, 2003, compiled by Don Mullan

“After each failure, ask forgiveness, pick yourself up, and try again. Very often what God first helps us towards is not the virtue itself but just this power of always trying again. For however important any virtue may be, this process trains us in habits of the soul which are more important still. It cures our illusions about ourselves and teaches us to depend on God.”

—CS Lewis

“Forgiveness removes our sin but also leaves us with a deeper understanding of it.”

—Fr Eamon Devlin, CM (Sermon, 19th February 2012, 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time)

“Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.”

—Jesus, in Luke 15

“God is only too willing to forgive us. We do not even have to say sorry. We have only to desire to come back to him. He will not even let the prodigal son finish the little repentance speech he had made.

The problem is not with God but with us…. I know of no greater obstacle to progress in the spiritual life than this false sense of unworthiness. Even sin is not so great an obstacle. Sin, far from being an obstacle, is a positive help, if there is repentance. But this false sense of unworthiness (this refusal, on our part, to forget the past and push on into the future) makes it just impossible for us to make any progress at all.”

—Anthony de Mello, SJ, in ‘Contact with God: Retreat Conferences’ Chapter 11

“Many of us have yet to learn that repentance doesn’t mean saying, “Lord, I’m sorry” but “Lord, I love you with all my heart.” Have you noticed that nowhere in the New Testament does Jesus tell us that in order to get forgiveness for our sins we must be sorry? He is not obviously, excluding sorrow for sin. He just doesn’t explicitly demand it. Whereas we have made such a fuss about contrition; and how many penitents I have had who were bothered to distraction about whether they had sufficient contrition, whether their contrition was ‘perfect’ or ‘imperfect’ and such other largely irrelevant questions as far as forgiveness is concerned. And while we got lost in what Jesus did not explicitly demand of us, we conveniently overlooked the things that he explicitly demanded. He said, “If you want forgiveness from my heavenly Father, then you must forgive your brother.”

There’s another thing that Jesus demanded of us if we would have our sins forgiven; Love. As simple as that. Come to me and say you love me and your sins will be forgiven…. After Peter’s denial of Jesus, this is what Jesus demands of him: an expression of love. “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than all else?”…. I advise you to spend some time with Our Lord after this conference, a time of repentance in which you just tell him again and again as Peter did, “Lord, you know all things, you know that I love you.”

—Anthony de Mello, SJ, in ‘Contact with God: Retreat Conferences’ Chapter 11

“Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive, as we had during the war. And then, to mention the subject at all is to be greeted with howls of anger…. In Christianity it is made perfectly clear that if we do not forgive we shall not be forgiven, ‘Forgive us our sins as we forgive those that sin against us.’ There are no two ways about it. What are we to do?…. If we really want to learn how to forgive, perhaps we had better start with something easier than the Gestapo… Christianity does not want us to reduce by one atom the hatred we feel for cruelty and treachery. We ought to hate them…. I remember Christian teachers telling me long ago, hate the sin but not the sinner. We must try to feel about the enemy as we feel about ourselves—to wish that he were not bad, to hope that he may, in this world or another, be cured: in fact, to wish his good. That is what is meant in the Bible by loving him: wishing his good, not feeling fond of him or saying he is nice when he is not…. Perhaps it makes it easier if we remember that is how God loves us.”

—CS Lewis

“In advice pertaining to prisoners, the theme often highlighted is respect for basic human rights and the need for the punishment to fit the crime. This is certainly an essential aspect of prison policy and it deserves great attention. However this perspective is not enough if it is not accompanied and completed by the Institutions’ concrete commitment to bring about an effective reintegration into society….

When this objective is neglected, the implementation of the penalty degenerates into an instrument of punishment alone and of social retaliation, which in turn is detrimental to the individual and society. And God does not do this with us. God, when He forgives us, He accompanies us and helps us along the way. Always. Even in the small things. When we go to confession, the Lord tells us: “I forgive you. But now come with me”. And He helps us to get back on the path. He never condemns. He never simply forgives, but He forgives and accompanies. Then we are fragile and we have to return to confession, everyone. But He never tires. He always takes us by the hand again. This is the love of God, and we must imitate it! Society must imitate it. Take this path.

On the other hand, a true and complete reintegration of the person does not come about as the end of an exclusively human journey. This path also involves an encounter with God, the ability to allow ourselves to be looked at by God, who loves us. It is more difficult to allow God to look at us than to look at God. It is more difficult to allow God to encounter us than to encounter God, because we always resist. He waits for us, He looks at us, He always seeks us. This God who loves us, who is capable of understanding us and forgiving our mistakes. The Lord is a master at reintegrating people. He takes us by the hand and brings us back to society and the community. The Lord always forgives, always accompanies and always understands; it is up to us to allow ourselves to be understood, to be forgiven and to be accompanied.

I wish that for each of you this time may not be wasted but that it be a precious time, when you ask and obtain this grace from God. By doing this, you will contribute to bettering, first of all, yourselves but at the same time the community as well, because for better or for worse our actions affect others and the whole human family.”

—Pope Francis in an address to prisoners, 21st June 2014, at the Rosetta Sisca jail in Castrovillari, Italy

“Some 15 years ago I would have preached you should forgive. Now I’d be more cautious. You shouldn’t put burdens on people. Now I ask them about choosing freedom, for themselves. I’d use the word freedom more than forgiveness… The idea behind writing my new book is that if I say ‘I forgive you’ it sounds like I’m doing something for you. In fact, I’m doing something for me. By changing the context I free myself.”

—Fr Brian Lennon, S.J. (in an interview in the Redemptorists’ Reality magazine, Summer 2009)

“God is a Father who forgives. His mercy is greater than our sin. He will forgive our sin — but let us try not to commit the sin again.”

—Mother Teresa

“We can forgive each other’s sins; not we, but the power of Christ within us. As Jesus himself tell us, ‘In truth I tell you, whoever believes in me will perform the same works that I do myself, and will perform even greater works.’ If you are a member of the body of Christ, when you forgive someone, he or she is forgiven… Your touch is Christ’s touch. The power is still with God, not with us, but in the incarnation God has chosen, marvellously, to let his power flow through us.”

—Fr Ron Rolheiser

“And if Christ established his Church on earth with Peter as its rock, that faulty one who denied him three times, who fled from Him when he was in trouble, then I, too, wanted a share in that tender compassionate love that is so great. Christ can forgive all sins and yearns over us no matter how far we fall.”

—Dorothy Day (page 9 of her book, ‘Selected Writings’; 2005, London: Darton, Longman and Todd, which credits this line to the introduction to her first autobiographical work, ‘Union Square to Rome’)

“It is only through a Christ-like love that man can forgive.”

—Dorothy Day (page 8 of her book, ‘Selected Writings’; 2005, London: Darton, Longman and Todd, which credits this line to the introduction to her first autobiographical work, ‘Union Square to Rome’)

“We do not, at the most basic of all levels, need explicit confession to a priest to have our sins forgiven—that is an unequivocal truth taught in scripture, in the church fathers, in Christian theology of every kind, in dogmatic tradition, in church tradition, and especially in the lived practice of the faith. The essential sacrament of reconciliation has always been sincerity and contrition as one approaches the Eucharist and touches the Christian community…. Actions speak louder than words and essential reconciliation happens through an act. But words, at a certain point, become very important.  Mature people apologise explicitly and we become mature by apologising.”

—Fr Ron Rolheiser

“Don’t be afraid of Confession. When you go into a confessional, you have so many emotions, including shame. But afterwords you feel free, great, beautiful and forgiven.”

—Pope Francis in a ‘General Audience’ in St Peter’s Square on the 19th February 2014 as reported in word and video by RomeReports.com

“God is a God who forgives, because he loves his creatures, but forgiveness can only penetrate and become effective in one who is himself forgiving…. Forgiveness exacts a price—first of all from the person who forgives. He must overcome within himself the evil done to him; he must, as it were, burn it interiorly and in so doing renew himself.”

—Pope Benedict XVI in his first book as Pope: ‘Jesus of Nazareth: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration’, 2007, London: Bloomsbury Publishing

“Repentance was the theme of Jesus’ first sermons: ‘Repent, and believe the gospel, for the kingdom of God is at hand.’ Indeed, it was the theme of the early sermons of the Apostles in Acts: ‘Repent,’ says Peter, ‘repent and be baptised.’….
Repentance is, indeed, the fundamental disposition of a Christian… The first thing he must do is confess his sinfulness. No excuses, no claims, no self-complacency. And he must confess his inability to get out of his sinfulness and his absolute need for God’s saving power in Jesus.
Repentance in rendered in Greek by the word metanoia which indicates a total change of heart and mind. A turning of our heart and mind away from selfishness and on to God.”

—Anthony de Mello, SJ, in ‘Contact with God: Retreat Conferences’ Chapter 10

“If we say we have no sin in us, we are deceiving ourselves and refusing to admit the truth; but if we acknowledge our sins, then God who is faithful and just will forgive our sins and purify us from everything that is wrong. To say that we have never sinned is to call God a liar and to show that his word is not in us.”

—St. John in his first letter (1 John 1:8-10)

“Love means to love that which is unloveable, or it is no virtue at all; forgiving means to pardon that which is unpardonable, or it is no virtue at all.”

—GK Chesterton

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’ But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.
Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

—Jesus (Matthew 18:21-35 [The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant])

“If we love the hatred, it’ll poison us. It is in forgiving we receive the healing. Healing from bitterness, anger, resentment…. And potential for the other (person) to heal too…. We receive forgiveness in abundance from God. Put forgiveness into our daily lives and it’ll make a huge difference.”

—Fr Eamon Devlin, CM, in sermon on Matthew 18:21-35 (The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant), 11th September 2011

“They confuse God’s way of acting with that of a sorcerer. But God does not behave like a sorcerer, God has his own way of proceeding. And God is patient. Each time we receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we sing a hymn to God’s patience. And the Lord carries us on his shoulders with much patience! Christians must live their lives in time with the music of patience, because it is the music of our fathers, of the people of God, of those who believed in his Word, who followed the commandment that the Lord gave to our father Abraham: “walk before me and be blameless.”

—Pope Francis in his homily at one of his daily morning Masses at the Vatican 17th February 2014 as reported by RomeReports.com in word and video

“When Peter posed the question of forgiveness, he characteristically offered an answer he thought Jesus would be pleased with. Why not forgive seven times! How unthinkable for Jesus to counter with the proposition that one must forgive seventy times that. Jesus made it clear that there is no reckonable limit to forgiveness….

Jesus teaches that one must forgive in order to be forgiven (Matthew 6:12,14-15). If we do not forgive our fellow human beings, we cannot expect God to forgive us in turn. The Apostle James says that “judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy” (James 2:13). Mercy is truly a gift and it is offered in such a way that justice is not negated. Mercy seasons justice as salt seasons meat and gives it flavor. Mercy follows justice and perfects it. To pardon the unrepentant is not mercy but license.

C.S. Lewis, a 20th century Christian author wrote: “Mercy will flower only when it grows in the crannies of the rock of Justice: transplanted to the marshlands of mere Humanitarianism, it becomes a man-eating weed, all the more dangerous because it is still called by the same name as the mountain variety.”  If we want mercy shown to us we must be ready to forgive others as God has forgiven us. Do you hold any grudge or resentment towards anyone?

“Lord Jesus, you have been kind and forgiving towards me. May I be merciful as you are merciful. Free me from all bitterness and resentment that I may truly forgive from the heart those who have caused me injury or grief.””

—Don Schwager, as published on his daily reflections/meditations website dailyscripture.net 16th August, 2012, reflecting on The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant

“‘Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us’. The point is, we cannot receive God’s forgiveness if we are too stubborn to forgive ourselves. Forgiveness, as it were, bounces off a hard heart. Making the effort to forgive another person opens us up to receive forgiveness for ourselves.”

—Sister Wendy Beckett in ‘Sister Wendy On Prayer’

“Pardon me” – Without these words, hurt can develop in our relationships, and weaken our life as a family. But when we ask forgiveness, we show our desire to restore what was lost – respect, honesty, love – and healing between family members is made possible.

—Pope Francis as part of a General Audience May 15th, 2015 focusing on family life as noted on the news.va website

“We should never allow ourselves be held back by our sinful past.”

—Fr Michael Brown, the last line of his sermon on the story of Jesus publicly making the hated tax collector Zacchaeus “feel special” (Luke 19:1-10) while the public’s judgementality showed “a touch of self-righteousness” and displayed “a failure to understand God’s mercy.” (Sermon delivered evening of 2nd Nov 2013 in St Teresa’s church, Clarendon Street, Dublin)

 “Do not forget this: the Lord never tires of forgiving! It is we who get tired of asking for forgiveness.”

—Pope Francis I, in his first Sunday Angelus, 17th March, 2013

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