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April 10, 1998     The Message
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April 10, 1998

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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 1 1 :i! , edge of Easter: Healing RICHARD RICE, SJ. Catholic News Service said to them, "Receive the Holy !you forgive are forgiven them, and whose !retained" (John 20: 22,23). pied with healing. We are foods, healing massages and are our gs we refuse to acknowl- we carry. So the New Testa- the words, "Whose sins you for- and whose sins you retain are that the deepest illness in need of heal- uences of our sin, which and abandonment at some abandon us in response to our God, each other and ourselves. We as we said we would be. We have friends' crosses, we have denied We have not believed that God through a friend's cancer, a parent's of employment. Withholding the ultimate gift of breath, on us in Jesus: "Receive the Holy testament begins, a testament extended and received; of recon- letter to the Corinthians, he pro- in Christ is a new creation: The away; behold, have new things is from God, who has reconciled us Christ and given us the ministry of 5:17,18). is not the settlement of a for stepping on another's rescued from,the edge of we are about to launch atom- People in 12-step programs know the sig- nificance of both the illness of broken rela- tionships and the healing of reconciliation. Well into recovery, one comes to the eighth step and makes a list of all those one has harmed. Next one climbs to the ninth step, which involves making amends to all unless that would do more harm than good. Barbara, for example, knew she was still furious four years after her husband divorced her. He remarried; she was mired in a swamp of resentment. Finally, she accepted the invitation of friends who pointed out to her that she was risking spiritual, if not physical, cancer. She began to pray for the Lord to take her bitter- ness, which she could not let go of by herself. Within days it dawned on her that the divorce was really more about him than about her. He had initiated an affair to try to hold onto a semblance of youth. Suddenly, it was easy to forgive him. She knew she had risen when she went to the local university one day to begin applica- tion for a master's degree in psychiatric nursing, a pursuit she had dropped 20 years earlier when she married. You see, forgiveness and reconciliation restore hope. The symbol of hope in the Christian tra- dition is the anchor. This originated in the sixth chapter of the letter to the Hebrews: "We are strongly encouraged to hold fast to the hope that lies before us. This we have as an anchor of the soul, sure and firm" (Hebrews 6:18,19). We throw out an anchor to hold Our little boat to the bottom of the body of water. So does hope function in the spiritual life. Vaclav Havel, Czech Republic president, eloquently writes, "Hope is an orientation of the spirit, an orienta- tion of the heart. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainly that something Point: WOrds played a key role in healing a damaged relationship for Readers at Nativity Church, Evansville: McConnell, O.S.F. . in my life, I asked my confessor how to rid myself of the Who had hurt me. His answer was to pray the prayer of St. Fran- me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred It is in pardoning that we are pardoned." This prayer started heart of the hatred that was preventing God's heart. ---C. Combs a class attended at the Catholic Center given by Father Love." --Linda Austin heart to someone we respect, gaining a new perspec- in John 21:15-17 new beginnings and becoming "the --Hans Bauer forgiveness. I ask for forgiveness in prayer to God wrong and then realize what Jesus had done for me [so healing. mKim Rousku been difficult to feel and awkward to say .... Several ,say to my mom, "I admire about you." It occurred to "I love about you" also. Before long I began to back to me. what we love about each other has brought healing to Would you believe we can and do use the generic "I love --D. Belparlando. i "In the mind of Jesus, our deepest illnesses are our broken relationships," explains Jesuit Father Richard Rice. "For- giveness and reconciliation restore hope. The symbol for hope.., is the anchor.... We throw out an anchor to hold our little boat to the bottom of the body of water. So hope function in the spl CNS illustmlion by Joan Hyme makes sense, regardless of how it turns out." Even more explicitly Christian is Dag Ham- merskjold, who wrote in his journal "Markings" on Easter Sunday: "Forgive- ness is the answer to the child's dream of a miracle by which what is broken is made whole again, what is soiled is again made clean. The dream explains why we need to be forgiven, and why we must forgive. In the presence of God, nothing stands between him and us -- we are for- given. But we cannot feel his presence if anything is allowed to stand between ourselves and others." The resurrection makes reconciliaon possible, and this restores hope for us. In showing us how to live and how to die, in going to his death with the words "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34) -- and in being brought through death, Jesus Christ forgives us all and empowers us to extend that forgiveness to each other. Each time we do that, it is Easter once again. Jesuit Father Rice is a spiritual director with Loyola, a spir- itual reneul resource in St. Paul, Minn Food The human capacity to weaken the bonds of support, respect or love that people need seems always to be in full view. So healing is needed everywhere: in homes, within communities and between nations. Why focus on healIng  reconciliation  at Easter? Because the resurrec- tion offers hope for whatever is broken in the "real worlds" we inhabit. But if wounded relationships are to heal, we need to keep dear about cer- tain realities: Healing may take time. Healing might not be instant; it won't be magic. Healing requires commitment. We need to keep our priorities clear and not give in to discouragement. -- Healing may demand working with another person -- or many others in new ways. That means listening and trusting that a new style of commu- nication is possible. Healing requires hope  the hope that we can proceed toward new life not because we are so wonderfully capable, but because the "energy" of the resurrection is powerful for us. In fact, the catechism says that the resurrection brings a "powerful energy" into our "old time" -- an energy that "permeates" things (No. t169). This means, as I see it, that the resurrection is morethan a simple fact of life; it isa powerful force at work on our behalL David Gibson Editor, Faith Alive!