From The Hand of Fr. Aaron Ferris For November 4, 2018

I mentioned last week that forgiveness is real work that can take time because it often takes time to sort through exactly what it is someone did. There might be many sins that you need to forgive someone for. The sins might have extended over a long period of time, and it can take a while to sort through the mess and to forgive someone for what they did to you.

Another complicating factor are the emotions that go along with sin. When someone sins against us, there can be a whole host of emotions and experiences. We might feel betrayed, abandoned, or violated. We might feel guilty or ashamed. We might feel sad and lonely. We might feel any number of things, but maybe most common of all is that we might feel anger.

Working through such emotions is related to the work of forgiveness, but it is a distinct process. They are distinct because we can really and truly forgive someone and still be dealing with the emotional fallout from the sin. The flipside can also be true: we may never have forgiven someone because we have buried the experience and the emotions so deeply it would take a nuclear blast to uncover them. We can feel fine because we have never dealt with the problem.

If the sins that have been perpetrated against us are severe, such as abuse, it can often help to get professional input. This is the point where I recommend the Franciscan Sisters just north of Lowell. Whether they can help you or not, I do trust that they can point you in the direction of competent professionals.

For the emotional work that we can and need to do on our own, an important place to begin is prayer. This prayer is one of the most honest forms of prayer. Like the many sick in the Gospel who came to the Lord for healing and mercy, we are coming to the Lord with the pains in our heart and soul seeking healing and mercy.

One of the most important healings we need is the healing of our memory. Our emotions are often tied into our memories of experiences, and when we remember what happened, we experience in some measure the emotions that go along with it. Asking the Lord to heal these memories is an invitation for the Lord to show us where He was at work in those situations, how He cared for us then and how He has been caring for us since then. It isn’t about asking to forget; rather, like Jesus, who in the Resurrection still bore the wounds of His crucifixion, it is a prayer for the pain to be transformed into glory.

Like forgiveness such prayers can take time to bear fruit. In part, as we sort through the emotional baggage, we often find more and more that needs to be healed. Regardless of how it progresses we can be sure that the Lord is working on us. This is what He came to do, to set us free from the power of sin. Actively engaging in overcoming the effects of sin in our lives is a guarantee that Jesus is at work in our lives.

Rev. Aaron Ferris
Rev. Aaron Ferris
Rev. Aaron R. Ferris Ordination Date: June 6, 2009 Pastor, St. Anthony Parish (Saranac) and St. Mary’s Parish (Lowell) 402 Amity Street Lowell, MI 49331 Phone: 616-897-9820
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