Because this is a special year to both remember the mercy we have received and to be merciful, I took some time to reflect on the many times I have received God's mercy; many times this has been in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, but often it has also been through the love and mercy of others.
I have always thought that I never had trouble forgiving; in fact, the few times that I have felt either wronged or misjudged, I tried quickly to think that I was not going to hold a grudge. I thought I let things go rather easily and tried to forget and go on loving the person.
I think I have shared in other years in this blog the practice that helped me so much as a child at the Visitation. Each year when we returned from the holidays, there would be a huge bonfire made with all the Christmas trees that had decorated our classrooms, the Chapel, and the halls at the convent. The entire school would be around the fire and each of us would have a paper with the names of anyone we might have a grudge against; one by one, we burned those papers so that our grudges went up in smoke and we were free to begin the new year without any resentment or bad feeling about anyone. It is a practice that I loved and kept.
After all these years, it is humbling to find that I still find some resentment inside of me when I look back over my life. I need to not only forgive but ask for the grace to forget. One does not want to harbor any ill will as we approach Christmas. I always thought that it was easy to forgive, but now I realize that I must learn to both forgive and forget; that is the way God forgives us.
Again, I did not sit down to write any of this, but I am preparing for the Sacrament of Reconciliation today. What a gift this Sacrament is for us; a channel of God's mercy.