Saturday, December 7, 2013

I forgive

Pour yourself a cup of coffee or brew a cup of tea, and enjoy Jerry Vale remind you of God's power, love and mercy.


 performed by Jerry Vale

I forgive

He can turn the tides and calm the angry sea

He alone decides who writes a symphony

He lights every star that makes a darkness bright

He keeps watch all through each long and lonely night

He still finds the time to hear a child's first prayer

Saint or sinner call and always find Him there

Though it makes Him sad to see the way we live

He'll always say, I forgive

He can grant a wish or make a dream come true

He can paint the clouds and turn gray to blue

He alone is there to find a rainbow's end

He alone can see what lies beyond the bend

He can touch a tree and turn the leaves to gold

He knows every lie that you and I have told

Though it makes Him sad to see the way we live

He'll always say, I forgive

Friday, December 6, 2013

Devotion for today: There is no relationship with God without forgiveness


Matthew 6:14-15: If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.

We have spent the last few days taking a look at what the Bible  tells us about the need to forgive others. There simply is no room in God’s kingdom for anyone who can’t forgive as God forgives. We can’t even imagine how horrible life would be if God didn't forgive those who trespass against Him. The why do we justify our pride in feeling we are better than God when it comes to withholding forgiveness? Henri Nouwen wrote an amazing book, “The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming.’” (1992, Doubleday Press). In it he covers the issue of forgiveness from a look at the prodigal son, the older brother, and the father. Of course, in reading the book we start to see ourselves in all three roles throughout our lifetime. Here is a small section which helps to clarify the issue of holding back on forgiveness. Here Nouwen is talking about the role of the father in the forgiveness story. He has been wronged by his younger son who basically declared his father dead when he asked for his inheritance, something one gets upon the death of a parent, and by the older son, who now reveals that his love for his father had a string attached: his good deeds meant his father had to love him best – always.This is long, but you have all weekend to read it, and listen carefully to the attached song.

Nouwen writes:
Can I give without wanting anything in return, love without putting any conditions on my love? Considering my immense need for human recognition and affection, I realize that it will be a lifelong struggle. But I am also convinced that each time I step over this need and act free of my concern for return, I can trust that my life can truly bear the fruits of God’s Spirit…. It is through constant forgiveness that we become like the Father. Forgiveness from the heart is very, very difficult. It is next to impossible. Jesus said to his disciples: “When your brother wrongs you seven times a day and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I am sorry’ you must forgive him.”

I have often said, “I forgive you,” but even as I said these words my heart remained angry or resentful. I still wanted to hear the story that tells me that I was right after all; I still wanted to hear apologies and excuses; I still wanted the satisfaction of receiving some praise in return – if only the praise for being so forgiving!

But God’s forgiveness is unconditional; it comes from a heart that does not demand anything for itself, a heart that is completely empty of self-seeking. It is this divine forgiveness that I have to practice in my daily life. It calls me to keep stepping over all my arguments that say forgiveness is unwise, unhealthy, and impractical. It challenges me to step over all my needs for gratitude and compliments. Finally, it demands of me that I step over that wounded part of my heart that feels hurt and wronged and that wants to stay in control and put a few conditions between me and the one whom I am asked to forgive.

This “stepping over” is the authentic discipline of forgiveness. Maybe it is more “climbing over” than stepping over.” Often I have to climb over the wall of arguments and angry feelings that I have erected between myself and all those whom I love but who so often do not return that love. It is a wall of fear of being used or hurt again. It is a wall of pride, and the desire to stay in control. But every time that I can step or climb over that wall, I enter into the house where the Father dwells, and there touch my neighbor with genuine compassionate love….

There is a dreadful emptiness in this spiritual fatherhood. No power, no success, no popularity, no easy satisfaction. But that same dreadful emptiness is also the place of true freedom. It is the place where there is “nothing left to lose”, where love has no strings attached, and where real spiritual strength is found.

Prayer of St. Teresa of Avila:

Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.

-- St. Teresa of Avila

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Devotion for today: Dear Lord, I forgive…

This is a long prayer, but if you find a quiet spot, or go to church, and clear your mind, then pray this without interruption, and mean it, you should begin to feel the inner stirrings of peace which can only come from forgiving, and being forgiven.

Forgiveness Prayer:

 LORD JESUS CHRIST, I ask today to forgive everyone in my life. I know that You will give me the strength to forgive and I thank You that You love me more than I love myself and want my happiness more than I desire it for myself.

Father, I forgive You for the times death has come into my family, hard times, financial difficulties, or what I thought were punishments sent by You and people said "It's God's will," and I became bitter and resentful towards You. Purify my heart and mind today.

Lord, I forgive MYSELF for my sins, faults and failings, and for all that is bad in myself or that I think is bad. For any delving in superstition, using Ouija boards, horoscopes, going to séances, using fortune telling or wearing lucky charms, I reject all that superstition and choose You alone as my Lord and Savior. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit.

I further forgive myself for taking Your name in vain, not worshiping You by attending church, for hurting my parents, getting drunk, fornication, adultery…. You have forgiven me; today I forgive myself. Also, for abortion, stealing, lying, defrauding, hurting peoples' reputation, I forgive myself.

I truly forgive my MOTHER. I forgive her for all the times she hurt me, she resented me, she was angry with me and for all the times she punished me. I forgive her for the times she preferred my brothers and sisters to me. I forgive her for the times she told me I was dumb, ugly, stupid, the worst of the children or that I cost the family a lot of money. For the times she told me I was unwanted, an accident, a mistake or not what she expected, I forgive her.

I forgive my FATHER. I forgive him for any non-support, any lack of love, affection, or attention. I forgive him for any lack of time, for not giving me his companionship, for his drinking, arguing and fighting with my mother or the other children. For his severe punishments, for desertion, for being away from home, for divorcing my mother or for any running around, I do forgive him.

Lord, I extend forgiveness to my SISTERS AND BROTHERS. I forgive those who rejected me, lied about me, hated me, resented me, competed for my parents' love, those who hurt me, who physically harmed me. For those who were too severe on me, punished me or made my life unpleasant in any way, I do forgive them.

Lord, I forgive my SPOUSE for lack of love, affection, consideration, support, attention, communication; for faults, failings, weaknesses and those other acts or words that hurt or disturb me.

Jesus, I forgive my CHILDREN for their lack of respect, obedience, love, attention, support, warmth, understanding; for their bad habits, falling away from the church, any bad actions which disturb me.

My God, I forgive my IN-LAWS, my mother-in-law, father-in-law, son/daughter-in-law and other relatives by marriage, who treat my family with a lack of love. For all their words, thoughts, actions or omissions which injure and cause pain, I forgive them.

Please help me to forgive my RELATIVES, my grandmother and grandfather, aunts, uncles, cousins who may have interfered in our family, been possessive of my parents, who may have caused confusion or turned one parent against another.

Jesus, help me to forgive my CO-WORKERS who are disagreeable or make life miserable for me. For those who push their work off on me, gossip about me, won't cooperate with me, try to take my job, I do forgive them.

My NEIGHBORS need to be forgiven, Lord. For all their noise, letting their property run down, not tying up their dogs, who run through my yard, not taking in their trash barrels, being prejudiced and running down the neighborhood, I do forgive them.

I now forgive all priests, ministers, nuns, my parish, parish organizations, my pastor, bishop, the Pope, and the church for their lack of support, affirmation, bad sermons, pettiness, lack of friendliness, not providing my family with the inspiration we needed, for any hurts they have inflicted on me or my family, even in the distant past, I forgive them today.

Lord, I forgive all those who are of different PERSUASIONS, those of opposite political views who have attacked me, ridiculed me, discriminated against me, made fun of me, economically hurt me.

I forgive those of different religious DENOMINATIONS who have tried to convert me, harassed me, attacked me, argued with me, forced their views on me.

Those who have harmed me ETHNICALLY, have discriminated against me, mocked me, made jokes about my race or nationality, hurt my family physically, emotionally or economically, I do forgive them today.

Lord, I forgive all PROFESSIONAL PEOPLE who have hurt me in any way: doctors, nurses, lawyers, judges, politicians and civil servants. I forgive all service people: policemen, firemen, bus drivers, hospital workers and especially repairmen who have taken advantage of me in their work.

Lord, I forgive my EMPLOYER for not paying me enough money, for not appreciating my work, for being unkind and unreasonable with me, for being angry and unfriendly, for not promoting me, and for not complimenting me on my work.

Lord, I forgive my SCHOOLTEACHERS AND INSTRUCTORS of the past as well as the present. For those who punished me, humiliated me, insulted me, treated me unjustly, made fun of me, called me dumb or stupid, made me stay after school, I truly forgive them.

Lord, I forgive my FRIENDS who have let me down, lost contact with me, do not support me, were not available when I needed help, borrowed money and did not return it, gossiped about me.

Lord Jesus, I especially pray for the grace of forgiveness for that ONE PERSON in life who has HURT ME THE MOST. I ask to forgive anyone who I consider my greatest enemy, the one who is the hardest to forgive, the one I said I will never forgive.

Lord, I beg pardon of all these people for the hurt I have inflicted on them, especially my mother and father, and my marriage partner. I am especially sorry for the three greatest hurts I have inflicted on them.

Thank you, Jesus, that I am being freed of the evil of unforgiveness. Let your Holy Spirit fill me with light and let every dark area of my mind be enlightened.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Devotion for today: Our death is in the details, or in the little word “as”

Matthew 6:12: And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.

This petition in The Lord’s Prayer, given to us by Jesus Himself, has a qualifier in it, the only one that does. Jesus is telling us in no uncertain terms that God will forgive us “as” we forgive others. Plain and simple: this is not hard to understand. We cannot hold back forgiveness, continue to punish others for actual or perceived wrongs, stand in judgment of others and declare them unworthy of our forgiveness, or continue to exact payment for wrongs once the offenders have said they are sorry unless we want God to do this to us when we die. Our offenses against God, every day of our lives, are horrible when we realize that God is pure love, and we are not. It is like mixing pure white snow with snow from the street. One is so beautiful, the other, well, not so much. If we honestly feel justified in withholding forgiveness and love from someone who we believe has offended us, then let us meditate on the Scripture passages below. It doesn’t get any clearer than this. We will continue our meditation tomorrow.
In answer to the question: Is it that important to forgive even if I believe I have been seriously wronged, meditate on Jesus’ words:

Matthew 6:14-15: For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Matthew 18:34-35: 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.” (parable of the servant who was forgiven a large debt by his master, but refused to forgive a small debt owed to him)

Matthew 18:21-22: 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.”

Matthew 26:28: This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Mark 11:25: And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.

Luke 6:37: Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

Luke 7:41-44: Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.” “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

Luke 7:47: Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.

Luke 17:3: So watch yourselves. If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them.

Luke 17:4: Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”

Luke 23:34: Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

Prayer for the grace to forgive:

Dear Lord, I come to you with a heart that is heavy with resentment. The hurt I carry with me is taking its toll… slowly closing the door of my heart to love. I have been unjustly hurt and I don’t want to forgive, yet, I beg you to grant me the grace to forgive the one who has hurt me, even though the very thought of doing so is painful to me.

Turn my eyes now to you and show me your wounds. Show me your bloody face. Show me your torn flesh. Help me to always remember that you are the True Victim who was suffered the most unjust hurt ever know to humankind. Give me the grace to be sorrowful for my sins that nailed you to the cross and whisper in my ear your loving words, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” With your tenderness, O Lord, I know my heart will melt and be filled with your love, that I may forgive my offender. Amen.

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44) 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Devotion for today: I have no voice, except an inner cry…

I was talking to a friend last week who is going through a really rough time. She told me that the glitz and glamour of this commercial holiday season makes her feel terrible, like there is something wrong with her. Her sadness is deep, and real. She finds herself believing the lie that everyone is walking around beaming and laughing and going to a million parties all bedecked in gorgeous clothes, walking into gorgeously decorated homes. Holiday madness makes her so sad. She wants to feel happy, yet she cannot. Many of us have times like these. The holly jolly season gets lost on those of us who have children deployed or wounded by war, spouses who have lost their jobs, loved ones who have died, illnesses and wounds (mental and physical) that keep us weak and frustrated, and a host of other sad events that strip us of any desire to trim a tree and tie a bow. What can we do? It is tough. To tell someone to pray is, of course, the best answer, but to know how deep the sadness runs, we need a prayer that speaks to really deep sadness, sadness this commercial Christmas season may bring to a head. Commercial Christmas, you ask? Yes, this, for us Catholics, is Advent, a solemn time of year when we meditate on the second coming of Christ, when we clean our personal homes of the heart and soul and mind for a renewed love of all things that belong to God, and when we wait for the time when He will be among us forever. The secular world is celebrating Christmas now because they have no idea why they are even celebrating. We begin on the 25th, the birth of Christ, because our reason for joy will then enter our lives.  But for now, for those whose hurt is so deep, here is a prayer I found in the November issue of the Magnificat (  Let us pray daily for those of us who are suffering at this time. (We will return to our meditation on The Lord’s Prayer tomorrow.)

Matthew 26:38: Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.”

Persecution and Perseverance
Lord Jesus, I am struck dumb,
inside and outside.
My heart is shrouded by this misery;
my eyes, which look upon your holy face, are stricken, assaulted by the light,
aching red, longing to be shut beneath their lids.

I have no voice
except an inner cry,
a mute, distressed animal whimper
that cannot even summon itself to ask for mercy.
My fingers drift
away from my hands,
and the tokens of your love
are beyond their reach.

How do I pray?
O Lord, where is the longing of my prayer?
Jesus, Mercy,
hear the scream inside
the shaken contours of this skull,
with brain pierced
by some fiery blade.

O God, Love!
Hear the endless noise,
the pounding,
the howling of skin and nerve,
muscle and joint;
this cacophony of pain
that groans all through the place
where I once felt that I had a body.

Jesus, Mercy, forgive me.
Jesus, Love.
Jesus, I offer.

I long for these to be my words to you,
but lips are speechless quiver,
and thought and heart are frozen in exhaustion.
Prayer is ice that does not flow.
Prayer is a voice of distant memory;
it feels like a still corpse
beneath my soul’s total turmoil.

In the end there is nothing
but the hollowness of a thing called me
wanting You.

I want You, Jesus.
                                                John Janaro