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Michel Accad

Joined: Jul. 26, 2012

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Re: More on Unprincipled Forgiveness

Jul. 29 at 2:01pm | see this comment in context

Katie van Schaijik, Jul. 29 at 8:37am

I don't so much care for the idea that forgiveness (in big and serious matters) "should not ential any divine intervention."

 Thanks, Katie, I agree with you because that was not my idea! :)

I said offering forgiveness should not entail any divine intervention.  So it's more like putting your car for sale on your own, but then praying to God 1) buyer will agree to buy it and 2) you'll agree to the term even if he pays you in depreciating Euros, because getting rid of that lemon will really help you clear up your garage space.  (But I concede that I'm clearly stretching the limits of the analogy here...)

I agree that a wrong theory of forgiveness is unhelpful and potentially harmful the way you put it.

Thanks!

Michel

Re: More on Unprincipled Forgiveness

Jul. 28 at 11:25pm | see this comment in context

Pete,

Thank you for your comments.  As Katie has clarified, I was highlighting the distinction between offering forgiveness and forgiving, so I think you were misreading what I was saying.

Common usage is vague and misleading.  We say "I'm selling my car" when we mean "I am offering my car for sale."  The selling does not occur until there is a willing buyer who agrees to the term of the sale.  Likewise with forgiveness; the forgiving normally occurs when the offender repents and reconciliation can begin. 

Understood in this way, then, offering forgiveness should not entail any divine intervention and is an act of the will (in the ordinary sense of the term--I'm not well versed in philosophy). 

I agree that forgiving can be supremely difficult, cannot be willed, calls for special graces, must be hoped for, etc...Given that, we should be careful about overstating the psychological effects of "premature forgiveness."  If one is given the grace to forgive a nominally contrite offender (or even an unrepentent one), who is in a position to doubt that this very interior healing is truly taking place?  Doing so risks poisoning the gift.

Re: More on Unprincipled Forgiveness

Jul. 28 at 2:01am | see this comment in context

Yes, but my point is that offering forgiveness is not the same as forgiving, since the latter can only take place when the offender receives (accepts) it, thus indicating repentance. 

I suppose it is important to offer forgiveness unconditionally as a matter of duty (and act of the will) because one may not have the opportunity to do so later on if and when the offender repents and asks for forgiveness (at which time forgiving is imperative, per Matthew 18:21-35). 

Offering forgiveness should not be an empty gesture either, but a resolve to forgive from the heart when the offender repents, or at least begin the process of reconciliation.

Re: More on Unprincipled Forgiveness

Jul. 28 at 12:31am | see this comment in context

I'm not sure it is different...Let's try this:

We should offer forgiveness always...as we should go to Mass every Sunday...as practice makes perfect...as our Father in heaven is perfect.


You see, it all ties together :)

Re: More on Unprincipled Forgiveness

Jul. 27 at 6:18pm | see this comment in context

But while there's one sense in which we canforgive him even before he repents, there's another in which we can't.  

Forgiveness is a gift and it can't be given if the recipient won't take it.  (Unless he repents his wrong, he can't take it.)

 We're getting close!

The "one sense if which we can forgive" is what I mean by offering forgiveness, which I think we ought to do always.

Thank you everyone for the thoughtful discussion.  I have stumbled on this site a look forward to returning and learning more.  Michel

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