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Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Dr. Enright and Forgiveness
A propos this
blog, I received a dispatch from Zenit regarding an interview with a
psychologist about forgiveness. Please read this article posted at A
Glitch In Time. In last Sunday's homily on the theme of forgiveness,
I pointed out three steps in forgiving:
1. Stop hating the offending person
2. Forget the reason for the
3. Love the offender
These three steps corresponded to the process that arouses hatred/anger
towards an offender:
1. An offense is made that is seen as an attack towards one; anger is
2. One remembers the offense and lets it simmer; anger
3. When the offender is thus hated, one begins to
Thus, in the process thus described, one has not really forgiven the
other person unless one makes the step to love him, that is, to treat
him once more as a person. In the Enright interview, the psychologist is
quoted as he describes the process he uses in forgiveness therapy:
for those who cannot forgive, I ask, “Are you ready to explore what
forgiveness is and is not?” Such a question does not ask a person to
forgive, but instead to examine what forgiveness is.
If a person has examined the dimensions of forgiveness, I ask, “Are you
ready to examine forgiveness in its most basic form toward the one who
hurt you? Are you willing to try to do no harm toward that person?”
Notice that this question does not ask the person to love the offender,
but to refrain from the negative, to refrain from harming even in subtle
Next comes the question “Do you wish the person well?” Notice that this
shifts the focus to the positive, toward at least a wishing, if not a
deliberate acting toward, wellness in the other person.
All of these questions are intended to move the offended person a little
closer to love. If a person still refuses to forgive, we must realize
that their emphatic “no” today is not necessarily the final word. That
person may change tomorrow. (More
Posted by bible student
at 11:58 PM
Edited on: Wednesday, September 14, 2005 12:22 AM
, New Testament
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
The Gospel of Luke and the Letter to the Colossians
For those who are in the habit of reading the Scriptures as part of
their daily activities: Today, we began reading the Letter to the
Colossians as the first reading for the daily mass. This will continue
until next week and will cover until the third chapter of the letter.
Yesterday, we began reading from the gospel of Luke, and this will
continue until November, when the new liturgical season begins with
Advent. We've just finished reading selections from the first letter to
the Thessalonians. Below is a table showing how the selections are
distributed during the weekday masses:
August 31, Wednesday
September 1, Thursday
September 2, Friday
September 3, Saturday
September 5, Monday
September 6, Tuesday
September 7, Wednesday
The readings for Sunday (September 4) and the feast of the Nativity of
Mary (September 8) was not included since readings for these days follow
a different rationale. Following Colossians is the first letter to
Posted by biblista
at 9:24 PM
Edited on: Wednesday, August 31, 2005 10:25 PM
Rom. 8:26-27 Praying When It Is Difficult
"How can one pray when it is difficult to pray?" Rom.
8:26-27 gives us an indication to the answer: the Holy Spirit which has
been poured into our hearts enables us to pray even when we feel we
The word "Spirit" appears in the Letter to the Romans 20 times and 14 of
these instances are found in Romans chapter 8. This only shows that the
word "Spirit" is a key-word in this chapter. The word "Spirit" however
does not have the same value in the way it is used throughout Romans.
Rom. 1:4 "spirit of sanctification"; Rom. 1:9
"my spirit" = I ; Rom. 2:29 "spirit" vs. "letter"; Rom.
7:6 "newness of spirit" vs. "oldness of letter"; Rom.
8:2 "law of the spirit of life" vs. "law of sin and death"; Rom.
8:4 "walk according to spirit" vs. "walk according to the flesh." Rom.
8:5 "flesh-mind" vs. "spirit-mind" Rom. 8:6
"wisdom of the flesh" vs. "wisdom of the spirit" Rom.
8:9 "flesh" vs. "spirit" / "Spirit of God" "Spirit of Christ" Rom.
8:10 "body" vs. "spirit" Rom. 8:11
"Spirit of Him" "His (Christ's) Spirit" Rom. 8:13
"live according to flesh" by the Spirit "mortify deeds of the flesh" Rom.
8:14 Spirit of God Rom. 8:15 spirit of bondage and fear,
spirit of adoption Rom. 8:16 Spirit himself > our spirit Rom.
8:23 firstfruits of the Spirit Rom. 8:26 Spirit ... Spirit Rom.
8:27 Spirit Rom. 11:8 "spirit of insensibility" (as opposed
to the "spirit of wisdom") Rom. 12:11 "in spirit" (as
opposed to "in body")
In all these instances, the Holy Spirit is referred to in the
following verses: Rom. 1:4; Rom. 8:9.11;8:18.104.22.168.23.26.27 .
The passage under consideration therefore refers to the Spirit which is
both called "Spirit of God" and "Spirit of Christ" in 8:9 and "Spirit of
Sanctification" (= "Holy Spirit") in Rom. 1:4. And the function that is
underlined here is that of prayer. The Holy Spirit empowers the baptized
to pray by interceding for him/her through groanings that are
The Catechism makes use of Romans 8:26-27 in synchrony with Hebrews in
explaining the prayer of intercession:
Intercession is a prayer of petition which leads us to pray as Jesus
did. He is the one intercessor with the Father on behalf of all men,
especially sinners. He is "able for all time to save those who draw
near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession
for them "(Heb. 7:25). The Holy Spirit "himself intercedes for us ...
and intercedes for the saints according to the will of God". (Rom.
8:26-27) (CCC, §2634)
Thus, when we intercede as the Church in behalf of all men and the whole
community of the faithful, we extend on earth what the Lord, our High
Priest, is doing before the Father, and at the same time, we mirror in
our act of intercession what the Holy Spirit is doing in our lives.
Romans 8:26-27 when seen within its immediate context gives us an idea of
what the Spirit is doing in our lives as the future of God inexorably
makes itself present. Romans 8:18-30 develops within the contrast "present
sufferings -- future glory". The inexpressible groanings of the Holy
Spirit mirrors the groaning of creation and of the Christian that labours
in pain under the present which is in the process of being transformed
For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of
childbirth right up to the present time. And even we Christians, although
we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory,
also groan to be released from pain and suffering. We, too, wait
anxiously for that day when God will give us our full rights as his
children, including the new bodies he has promised us. (8:22-23, NLT)
The Holy Spirit which has been poured into our hearts, enabling us to
call God "Father",(Rom. 5:5;8:15; cf. 8:29) just as Jesus did, is a
companion in this present time of "groaning". In our prayers, He is
there helping us with His own prayers and in so doing, helps us to pray
even when we feel that we cannot (Rom. 8:26). It is thus, that in times
of anguish and distress brought about by the difficulties of the
present, it is the Holy Spirit that helps the Christian raise his/her
heart to God and pray with faith for all that he/she needs.
The Lectio Divina
"Lectio Divina" is the particular way by which Catholics read the
Scriptures. It is a reading of the Scriptures that seeks to encounter
God through the sacramentality of the Word. As such, it is not mere
understanding, it is "knowing" the Word of God in the spirit of prayer.
It is in this way that the Catechism explains it as the first
"wellspring of prayer" (nn. 2653-4)
The Church "forcefully and specially exhorts all the Christian
faithful ... to learn 'the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ'
(Phil. 3:8) by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures... Let them
remember, however, that prayer should accompany the reading of sacred
Scripture so that a dialogue takes place between God and man. For 'we
speak to him when we pray; we listen to Him when we read the divine
The above paragraph from the Catechism (n. 2653) puts together two lines
from Dei Verbum par. 25. The quotation from Phil. 3:8
about "the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ" should be -- for the
Christian -- the life-project. St. Paul is not referring here to a
knowledge that is merely informational; he refers to a knowledge that is
existential, that is, one that touches one's being, transforming it in
the power of the resurrection. The second quotation from St. Ambrose
puts the reading of the Scriptures within an ongoing dialogue with God
in prayer. Let it be remembered that it was St. Ambrose whom Augustine
writes about in the Confessions who alternated work with sacred reading
throughout the day.
In paragraph 2654, the Catechism puts the reading of Scriptures within
the monastic tradition of the lectio:
The spiritual writers, paraphrasing Matthew 7:7, summarize in this way
the dispositions of the heart nourished by the word of God in prayer: "Seek
in reading and you will
find in meditating; knock
in mental prayer and it
will be opened to you by contemplation.
Reading must lead to meditation, meditation to prayer and prayer to
contemplation -- the ladder of the lectio divina. Guy the Carthusian
explains how the steps of this ladder lead from one to the other.
Interesting is the process that he describes. One reads by pronouncing
the words and listening to them. Meditation is understanding what the
words or phrases mean. This is a slow process likened to the act of
masticating that involves an internal dialogue between the reader and
the author of the text about the text. Once the text is understood, one
can now pray "from" the text: by petition, adoration, praise or
thanksgiving. Finally, when the Holy Spirit allows it, the reader is
given a glimpse of the mystery thus understood. This is the final stage
of the reading: contemplation -- a glance into God Himself.
The Prayer of Tobiah and Sarah
Here is a prayer that newly weds can pray on wedding night:
Blessed are you, O God of our fathers;
praised be your name forever
Let the heavens and all your creation
You made Adam and you gave him his wife Eve
to be his help and
and from these two the human race descended.
`It is not good for the man to be alone;
let us make him a partner
Now, Lord, you know that I take this wife of mine
not because of
but for a noble purpose.
Call down your mercy on me and on
and allow us to live together to a happy old age."
The passage is taken from Tobit 8:5-7. Tobias has just redeemed Sara,
Raguel's daughter, by way of levirate marriage. The prayer is Jewish but
it may as well be used by Christians.
The prayer can be divided into three parts. The opening blessing to God
is characteristic of the berakah. "Baruk Adonay" is the normal
beginning of a berakah -- "Blessed be the Lord." This is the "upward"
motion of the prayer. Then the prayer moves to the remembrance of an
action of God, in this case, the first marriage between Man and Woman,
Adam and Eve. Tobias then professes the purity of his intention in
marrying Sarah. He married her out of a "noble purpose," he proclaims.
The Jerusalem Bible translates this phrase as "singleness of heart". The
Septuagint has ep alhtheiaV, literally "on
account of the true" which perhaps is the reason why the NAB reads
"noble purpose". "Singleness of heart" may be the better translation
since ep alhtheiaV is contrasted with the
phrase for "lustful desire (dia porneian)."
In any case, Tobias professes a pure motive for wedding Sarah and asks
from God one thing: that he and Sarah grow old together.
"Grow to a happy old age" saith Tobias. How many do you think still want
this for their marriage?
Posted by bible student
at 5:17 AM
Edited on: Friday, June 03, 2005 5:27 AM
, Old Testament