There is a call deep within us asking for forgiveness, to feel sorry for the times we are not just with the other, and for the hurtful words we have said and the actions that we have done or failed to do. The right time, however, will come when you are ready to say sorry for your wrongdoings.
Seeking forgiveness is the beginning of having room in one’s heart for conversion, reconciliation and the healing of the painful memories that you have with the other, whom you have hurt so much. And yet, you have hurt yourself so much too.
The very first time I had a deep longing for reconciliation was with the people closest to me – those who are part of my life: my family. They are the ones who taught me what love is and how to live this beautiful life to the fullest. There are strong memories, events in my life that need reconciliation because I want to move on and let go of the past.
One experience I had was when I was Novice – the final stage of formation before I would become a Sister. During formation, we were given a chance to go home and settle all our unfinished business, especially that of being reconciled with our family as the number one priority. This raised all the heartaches, one after the other, that I had, especially with my parents. I planned to do this in a religious way: in the form of prayer, specifically during the rosary that we prayed together as a family at home. During that time I also took the opportunity to formally say goodbye to them, letting them know that I was ready to embrace the religious life. As part of process of letting go, I asked for their forgiveness for the wrongdoings that I had done. It was a liberating experience. I forgave myself, I forgave them and I was forgiven.
The second poignant moment of reconciliation in my life was on the day of my First Profession. I felt the need for reconciliation, asking again for forgiveness from my father and mother while walking with them down the aisle of the Chapel as the Mass started. First I whispered to my mother, asking her to forgive me and then I asked my father the same. We were all teary-eyed as we held each other’s hands, experiencing that moment of forgiveness coming from above – a divine intervention. Oh, what a wonderful experience it was, just before the celebration of the sacrament of the Eucharist. It was truly a thanksgiving, and a moment of reconciliation that made us whole and renewed persons. There was a real peace in our hearts.
On another occasion, when my mother was on her death bed, our hearts were reconciled again. I had the time to say sorry for the wrongdoings I had committed. Likewise, when I was with my father for the last time, I talked to him before he died and I was able to express my gratitude to him for being a good father to us, his children, and a faithful, good, and loving husband to my mother. I asked him to forgive me for my bad attitude and my wrongdoings. Like all families, our family life had its joys and challenges. My parents were not perfect but they tried hard to be one in their love and care for us. I especially remember my parents for their teachings of prayer, work and love – and forgiveness was there for us always.
The act of forgiveness gives us peace of mind and heart. It is true what the scripture says to us, that there is not only one time for you to ask for forgiveness but many times (Matthew 18:21-22), and always to be humble enough to forgive yourself firstly, before others. This Lenten season is a chance for us to start doing an act of reconciliation so that what lies heavily within our hearts can be taken away and not just accumulated with sin after sin. How to do this? Seek your Parish Priest for Confession. Prayer is so important as it helps you and gives you the courage to do an act of reconciliation for those people whom you have hurt.
For those of you in Melbourne, Australia, St Ignatius’ Church, across the road from our Convent will be having Reconciliation on:
- Tuesday 08 March 2016, 7:30pm (Examination of Conscience in English)
- Wednesday 09 March 2016, 7:30pm (Examination of Conscience in Vietnamese)
Act of Contrition
O My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart.
In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good
I have sinned against You,
whom I should love above all things.
I firmly intend, with Your help, to do penance,
to sin no more, and to avoid whatever leads me to sin.
Our Saviour Jesus Christ suffered and died for us.
In His Name, my God, Have Mercy.