How does one reconcile some of today's readings (Sunday, Sept. 17) with how they and others are treated at their parishes?

How does one reconcile some of today’s readings (Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017) with how they and others are actually treated at their own parishes?

No where else I frequent do I observe people being treated with such indifference and outright rudeness. If I did, I would simply stop attending. I would go elsewhere.

The politics can be appalling. The typical outcome is for good people is to drift away and leave the parish, further raising the remaining parish toxicity level. Realizing there will be no corrective action after many, many years (and pastors), the only way I survive is to forgive those who have wronged me and then do everything I can to completely avoid/ignore them, particularly when it comes to how they are allowed to continue to mistreat others.

I’m sure some parish communities are not like mine, but I have taken great pains to choose the least offensive one in my local deanery. I’m also so very tired of the excuses for the poor behavior of those “in charge” at my parish towards others. While I honestly don’t feel any hatred today as I once did, I do sometimes feel disgust towards those at my parish who treat people poorly, and do so from a position of power/control.

How to reconcile some of today’s readings with what actually is allowed to take part in many parishes?

Readings:

Sirach 27:30-28.9 Wrath and anger are hateful things, yet the sinner hugs them tight. The vengeful will suffer the LORD’S vengeance, for he remembers their sins in detail. Forgive your neighbor’s injustice; then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven. Should a man nourish anger against his fellows and expect healing from the LORD? Should a man refuse mercy to his fellows, yet seek pardon for his own sins? If he who is but flesh cherishes wrath, who will forgive his sins? Remember your last days, set enmity aside; remember death and decay, and cease from sin! Think of the commandments, hate not your neighbor; of the Most High’s covenant, and overlook faults. Avoid strife and your sins will be fewer, for a quarrelsome man kindles disputes, Commits the sin of disrupting friendship and sows discord among those at peace.

Matthew 18:21-35 Then Peter approaching asked him, Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times? Jesus answered, I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times…

To Forgive seems not so hard, but to forget? If we don’t forget, how can we claim to have forgiven?

Forgetting is not a requirement of forgiveness. Obviously it makes things far easier if one is able to also forget transgressions against them or others, but it’s not a requirement when forgiving someone.

2 Likes

Really? Someone steals from your store, you say you ‘forgive’ him, but the next time he comes in, you remember and watch him closely. Did you really forgive, or just say so for your own reasons? True forgiveness is very hard, and in truth, very rare. Just my opinion mind you…

1 Like

There is a parable where the landowner says “an enemy has done this”. An enemy sowed weeds among the wheat. Both are allowed to grow together until the harvest. Then the weeds/tares get burned.

There will be sinners in the Church. We cannot expect otherwise. Even a just man falls seven times (Proverbs 24:16), so even the wheat is going to do things that cause trouble for others now and then.

I’m sorry there is indifference in your parish. I’m sorry you were wronged. You have stuck it out and stayed and not lost your faith. Hang in there. :tulip: God loves you and has not forgotten you.

1 Like

Forgetting is definitely not a requirement to forgiving someone. In fact, not being able to forget certain transgressions can be useful in not physically placing oneself in an occasion of sin.

2 Likes

Given we are all sinners, that’s quite true and I am at ease with that, although I am appalled at the level of personnel problems in so many parishes. I’m just curious if there is a way to reconcile the readings I noted with how many are actually treated at their parishes?

That is just prudence. Forgiving someone doesn’t mean ignoring what they did. You could ban a person who stole from your store but still have forgiven them.

You can’t. That is why it is sin. Jesus tells us what we should do. Some people do not do it. There is no reconciliation or excuse. Only conversion and the actual Sacrament of Reconciliation will heal this dissonance.
:pray:

1 Like

I appreciate that, but there is at least one other solution I can think of – at least in how it effects me. I could move (which I am not willing to do) and become a member of a parish that enjoys strong leadership which simply does not allow this sort of nonsense.

Think of all the spiritual growth you will miss. :rofl: Seriously, when times are toughest, God will give us the most grace. I understand if you need to move for your own spirituality, but don’t overlook the opportunities where you are.

Either way, I hope God will bless you whatever you do.

Thanks for your comments. It’s terribly sad how so many parishes have such poor leadership. Yes, I have heard the barge-load full of excuses and it doesn’t make things any easier.

I’m not going to move. Sadly, like MANY others, I would just stop attending Mass if it every got too bad. Thankfully I have learned to adapt so I don’t think that will ever become a necessity.

One thing I really do believe is that those who have really had their spiritual lives beaten-down by parish shenanigans and stop attending Mass, if they have no other options, receive a special grace on their judgement days. I also firmly believe that those who drive people away from parishes/the Church, also end up enduring very surprising judgement days.

I don’t believe that forgetting is a sign of forgiveness. “Forgive and Forget” notion mostly likely came from Shakespeare’s play, King Lear, it is not a biblical teaching.

Biblical teaching on forgiveness:

  • We must forgive 70 x 7 times (Matthew 18:22).
  • Forgive, and you will be forgiven (Luke 6:37 and Matthew 6:14-16).
  • The Lord’s Prayer:
  • Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors (Matthew 6:12).

Forgiving isn’t the same as forgetting as stated in the The Catechism of the Catholic Church:

It is not in our power not to feel or to forget an offense; but the heart that offers itself to the Holy Spirit turns injury into compassion and purifies the memory in transforming the hurt into intercession.
(CCC 2843)

Jesus, asks us to forgive, but he does not ask us to forget. Situations that involve breaking the trust upon which relationships are based, sometimes we forgive knowing we won’t soon forget. The relationship has changed and it will take time to regain trust again.

Jesus does ask that we heal our memories. God nurtures our physical health as well as our spiritual health.

THT

4 Likes

You wish hell on no one. That is how you learn to forgive. Whatever abhorant sin they have committed or offense, you wish to see them restored. It it sad, though, that our parishes, what should be our holy places, are populated by sometimes unrepentive sinners, it’s the closest they will ever get to heaven so let them go.

2 Likes

I would really need to know the circumstances of how people were treated and by whom to make a statement on this one. I haven’t seen any giant patterns of hurtful maltreatment at parishes where I’ve been. I have seen the usual patterns of pettiness, bickering, occasional insensitivity, occasional “having a bad day” or getting angry, touchiness, etc. that I have often seen among office workers. It can stem from a difference of opinion, somebody whose self-esteem is all caught up in being the “boss” of a particular area, or a personality or priorities clash. I generally avoid this type of drama wherever it breaks out…just walk away and do something else.

Having said that, Catholics and Christians are human. They sin, and sometimes I do too. I forgive them, but I also take practical steps to make it not happen again, like avoid that person. Also, if I feel it’s appropriate, I’ll say something. Sometimes there’s no point in speaking as it would fall on deaf ears, or we all know a person has an issue, or it’'s more prudent to just let it go by. Again, depends on the situation.

If you really feel unjustly treated in your parish, switch parishes. If it happens again there, maybe look closely to see if you yourself are contributing to the problem; if not, offer it up and remember that you go to church to see Jesus, not other parishioners.

1 Like

I’ve been told by a priest that true forgiveness is a miracle

God does not ask a woman who is abused by her husband to forgive and forget. Forgive - yes, but not to forget and so live with the continued abuse. That is absurd. Forgetting would entail something that is physically impossible as our brains create memories and do so for a reason. We learn from our experiences. The abused woman can forgive her husband and still leave the situation of abuse. These two actions are not counter to one another.

Forgive and forget are two separate actions. Jesus did not command us to do both.

1 Like

I think there is some conflating of “forgetting” with “holding a grudge” going on in this thread. Forgetting, per se, is not a part of forgiveness. We have somewhat of a duty to not give other people an opportunity to sin against us. It would be wrong to continually leave your possessions out all night in an area where theft is problem. Your “forgetting” of the sin would only enable the sin of the thief to continue. We pray to God, “lead us not into temptation”, and we should do the same for others as best we can.

1 Like

I could have written this post. You don’t happen to live in Western NY, do you? :wink:

I am battling this right now in my own parish. There is a small, yet vocal group who has painted me and a few others as overly orthodox zealots who don’t "meet people where they are."
Why do you ask? Because we are Confirmation catechists and had the audacity to require Mass attendance on the Sundays we have class and taught our students the Precepts of the Church as part of their catechesis. :scream: :crazy_face:

The director’s phone rang off the hook the day after we told our kids that not attending Mass is a grave, possibly mortal sin. The Pastor’s too. It was crazy. Lucky for us, the Bishop has outlined the curriculum for Confirmation prep and the precepts are a part of it. That doesn’t make it any easier, as many here do not like what our Bishop is doing or “undoing” as the case may be. Our previous Bishop was in office for over 33 years and let Pastors have a lot of latitude over Sacramental prep. Our new Bishop does not, and has a very strict program in place for Confirmation, it makes things difficult all the way around.

I wish I could offer some advice, but all I can do is commiserate and offer prayers. In the end, it is Jesus in the Eucharist that keeps me Catholic. As Peter said, “Lord, where shall we go? It is you who have the words of everlasting life!”

1 Like

As another posted noted, there isn’t, not really. It ought not be. You stated in the original post that there wasn’t a better place in your deanery, so I’m not going to suggest moving. I’d go with keeping my head down and participating in Church activities that are less vulnerable to the political, like providing food at fundraisers, etc. Offer a daily prayer for all people at your parish.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.