Sherry Antonetti is a freelance writer, blogger and published author of The Book of Helen. She lives just outside of Washington, DC with her husband and their ten children.
Want to feel more beautiful? Lighter? Younger? Braver? Happier? Stronger? More in love than you do now? There’s a drug-free, exercise-free, camp-free, guru-free means of becoming a more luminous you — and it’s free.
Let go of your grudges. Let go of the hurts you’ve remembered and allowed to dominate how you respond to everyone around you. Offer them at the altar. Offer them every time they remind you they exist. Offer forgiveness to those who hurt you. Offer your hurt as an offering for all those who did the hurting, and for all those you might have injured in response to those hurts you’ve held. Hand them over, one by one, on the beads of a rosary, or the Divine Mercy Chaplet. If need be, forgive the person who hurt you seventy times seven before the Blessed Sacrament. Forgive, forgive and forgive again. Be as lavish with forgiveness as you want the Lord of all Heaven to be with you.
It doesn’t matter if the person who offends you, who hurts you, isn’t someone you know, someone you knew, or someone you’ve never met but whose actions and words hurt. Forgive them. Surrender your right to hold on to your anger and offense, as an act of humility and generosity. Surrender it as you embrace your total trust that Our Lord God is fully just and fully merciful. Our Lord God wants to offer His grace to anyone who seeks it, and tells us to forgive as we wish to be forgiven. So we must forgive. We must surrender our demand to stand upon our rights, to have the pound of flesh, to win.
We live in an age that does not forgive — an age that demands we remain forever angry at anyone for any failing to live as the current world declares good. We cannot hope to meet this standard, we will all eventually succumb to the scourge of failing to properly respond to someone, either now or in the past. The only thing we can do as Catholics is to show an alternative response — forgiving and seeking forgiveness, offering reparations where we’ve done harm, and reparations where harm has been done even when we have not been the ones who caused the hurt. Catholics are to be sources of salt and light, Good Samaritans to those we encounter along the road. We are to right the wrongs we encounter, because we love Christ and seek to imitate Him.
So forgive. Forgive. Forgive. Forgive. Forgive. You will find your heart lighter, your thoughts lighter and your smile easier. This world needs the whole Body of Christ to be about the business of practicing kindness, of living a life where forgiveness is practiced readily. The world is starving for grievances to be both addressed and repaired, and the world is starving for an alternative to perpetual rage. The answer is perpetual offerings of forgiveness.
This doesn’t mean injuries didn’t happen. It just means that each of us will no longer allow the injuries done to us to define our lives. We will willingly practice what we want God to show us, so that our lives may bear sanctified scars that draw people to Christ. We will remind ourselves, we do not want to be like the prodigal son or the older brother, but like the Father in all things.
Do this in your life, at work, at home, online and with your past, and you will know a peace the world cannot give — and give to the world a witness of a grace it cannot buy, but only receive. Do this, and your soul will be a luminous witness of what it means to be Christian. The world will know you are a follower of Christ by your life, by your love.