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Evansville, Indiana
September 18, 1987     The Message
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September 18, 1987
 

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Faith Today Supplement, The Message, Catholic Diocese of Evansville, September 18, 1987 1 ' , , . I I L__/Faith Todav / A supplement to Cad'lic newspppe published by i NATIONAL CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE I I t3t2 Massachuse Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20005. I with grant assistance from 1 -- The Cathol,c Curch [] l['00l EXTeNSiON I 35 East Wadder Dr., Chicago, Illinois 60601 l Aft contents copydght1987 by NC News Sewtce. 31 1 By Nell Parent NC News Service ur family outing was beginning to fall apart. The hot summer sun had caused the temperature in the car to rise to an uncomfortable level, the traffic was becoming snarled and our tWO older daughters were arguing in the back seat. "Look," I warned them for the third time, "I want you to stop this bickering. Your arguing is real- ly getting on my nerves and we're going to have an accident in all this traffic." Pausing only slightly to take note of my rising anger, the girls went at it again. That did it. The last vestige of restraint drained from me like the sweat running down my temples. Stopping the car on the side of the road, I reached around the back of the seat and rapped the offenders across their legs. "Ouch," cried the older. The younger one's eyes widened, but she didn't let out a peep. The ride back was long and silent. When we arrived home, I asked the two girls to stay in the car while my wife took our youngest daughter into the house. I once again reprimanded them for their poor behavior, but I also apologized for smacking them. I The sacrament of reconciliation "is a beautiful testimonial to the belief that as disciples of Jesus, we ore both forgiven and called to be forgivers," writes Neil Parent. This week, as Faith Today discusses the place of confession in Christian growth, Parent illustrates how important it can be in ordinary life to soy "I'm sorry." explained that I did not permit their hitting other people, yet I had done that very thing to them. I asked their forgiveness. My oldest daughter helped lessen my anguish by quickly responding, "That's OK, Dad, no one's perfect." The younger one added, "Yeah, besides, it didn't hurt." After hugging, we went inside. Arriving home from work a few weeks later, I discovered that my middle daughter had been sent to her room for talking back to her mother. 1 went upstairs and found her lying face down on the bed. Plopping down beside her, I first inquired about the incident and then suggested that she apologize to her mother. "I won't," she snapped. I explained that all of us do things that hurt other people, and when that happens it is important that we apologize and ask forgiveness. She was unmoved. Finally, I referred to the incident that occurred on the family outing and spoke of how difficult it was for me to apologize in that situa- tion. This seemed to make an im- pression on her. After listening for a few more minutes, she slipped off the bed and went downstairs. Shortly, I could hear her weak but sincere voice: "Morn, I'm sorry." There is power in the mutual ex- pression of forgiveness and recon- ciliation. The more we pardon or are pardoned, the more we come to value and actively seek recon- ciliation in our lives. It is as though the grace of God that heals human alienation compounds with each forgiving act. ODD When the sacrament of recon- ciliation is celebrated today, it often begins with a communal ser- vice in which people pray and prepare together. In this way, peo- ple benefit together from the celebration of God's compas- sionate mercy. On such occasions, people pray for God's gracious forgiveness and for his help to live more peaceful lives. They also pray for one another, that they can live up to the ideals to which the sacrament calls them. The sacrament of reconciliation has a way of pointing back to the acts of forgiveness already bccur- ring in the life of the believing community. In a sense, the sacra- ment is a beautiful testimonial to the belief that as disciples of Jesus, we are both forgiven and called to be forgivers. As God forgives us, so are we to forgive others. As God reconciled the world to himself in Jesus, so are we to be reconcilers --at home, at work, in the neighborhood, between groups, races, nations. This ministry of reconciliation is one that we Christians need to take seriously, especially today when divisions among people have such profound consequences for the human family. Indeed, it is perhaps our most important ministry. We approach the sacrament as a means of experiencing God's forgiveness of sin, but also as a source of strength in dealing with issues of concern for living a better Christian life. We may find that we are experiencing some sense of brokenness -- strung out in our relationships with family members and friends or suffering from a strained relationship with God. But the healing and supportive powers of this sacrament are there for us. (Parent is a staff assistant in the U.S. Catholic Conference Depart- ment of Education.) i: J,, % .,, ,,