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Forgiveness Sunday: asking your forgiveness


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#21 Anna Stickles

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Posted 14 February 2010 - 06:45 PM

This is an excerpt from our bulletin insert I thought it might be food for thought.

"To forgive and be forgiven! This is exactly how we turn from division to unity, from hostility to love, from separation to unification. But to forgive is not simply to ignore the shortcomings... or worse to altogether dismiss others with the wave of a hand as hopeless and not worth the trouble. Forgiveness does not mean indifference or scorn or cynicism. Only someone who has suddenly realized with all his soul the full horror of love's absence from the world, who has felt the bottomless grief of that loneliness to which man has condemned himself by his self-affirmation and self-love -- only they are capable of forgiving and being forgiven." Fr Schmemman

The problem we have is that in experiencing Loves absence so often we get angry or bitter or hopeless, blaming the other rather then realizing that our own self-love and hardness of heart has caused this condition. We isolate ourselves in our anger, rather then praying to Christ and finding the power to forgive in His love. He who truly loves is the only one who can truly feel loved. But only in letting go of self-love, ie the demand to be loved, and cutting off the habit of blaming others for their lack of love - can we truly love.

The path to love and unity is to experience love's absence in sorrow not anger; in humility and willing suffering not demands for our own consolation; in forgiveness and compassion not blame. "Turn not your face away from your child, for I am afflicted." This is what we pray on Forgiveness Sunday. This is the path to bright sadness, and out of our dark grief.

#22 Michael Stickles

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Posted 14 February 2010 - 10:12 PM

I also ask forgiveness of all of you for the offenses I have given, whether by harshness, pride, lack of understanding, or any other means. May our Lord guide you throughout the Great Lent and into the joy of Pascha.

Humbly in Christ,
Michael

#23 Vasiliki D.

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Posted 14 February 2010 - 10:46 PM

I ask forgiveness from the Moderators who have had to moderate me for an entire year. I ask forgiveness for offending and hurting people unknowingly but most of all I ask forgiveness for not taking the time to pray for all of you as much as I know I can and should.

I propert wont change much but Im trying, may God forgive all of us and may we truly expand ourselves during Great Lent.

#24 Peter S.

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Posted 14 February 2010 - 11:31 PM

I asked my priest of forgiveness to him personally yesterday and he said "..and God will forgive us."

In Christ,
Peter

#25 Paul Cowan

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Posted 15 February 2010 - 12:30 AM

I asked my priest of forgiveness to him personally yesterday and he said "..and God will forgive us."

In Christ,
Peter


I would like to ask when asking people their forgiveness their response has been " God forgives". I wondered in my heart if I had hurt everyone so badly they were not willing to forgive me but saying only God will forgive me as if they were incapable of the act themselves.

This was humbling to think my sins against my parish were so great they could only ask God to forgive me and it stung a bit also that no one said they would forgive me.

Paul

#26 Father David Moser

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Posted 15 February 2010 - 12:44 AM

In question number three, one of the answers is:

It is also the last Sunday we will serve St. John Chrysostom's liturgy until Palm Sunday (which, by the way, is not considered to be in Great Lent). During the holy fast, St Basil's liturgy is served on Sundays.

This is a deceptively correct answer (IOW it is a trick question). While it is true that we will not serve the liturgy of St John Chysostom on a Sunday during lent, that does not account for the fact that all the Saturday liturgies during Lent and Lazarus Sat (which is also outside of lent - it is a part of Holy Week) are of St John Chrysostom and the liturgy of the Annunciation (when it falls during Lent as it usually does except for this year) is that of St John Chrysostom. So in a very literal sense the answer is correct, however, it is a "trick question".

Fr David Moser

#27 Olga

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Posted 15 February 2010 - 12:59 AM

My dear Paul

My understanding of the custom of the respondent of "God forgives" to the asking of forgiveness by another simply acknowledges the fact that only God Himself can truly wipe out our sins. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He taken our sins from us (Ps 102). However, as we know, each of us mere human mortals, still has the duty, for the sake our own salvation, of forgiving our neighbour, if we are to expect forgiveness of our own sins from God, as last Sunday's Gospel says.

Having said that, being mindful of my own faults, high-handedness, smugness and presumption, beg forgiveness from all whom I've offended and wronged on this forum.

#28 Evan

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Posted 15 February 2010 - 01:06 AM

Forgive me, my brothers and sisters, for all I have done and all that I have failed to do. May the Lord our God have mercy on us through His Son and Word and reconcile us to one another in the unity of His Spirit, in Whom we live and have our being, insofar as we truly live.

In Christ,
Evan

#29 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 15 February 2010 - 02:03 AM

I would like to ask when asking people their forgiveness their response has been " God forgives". I wondered in my heart if I had hurt everyone so badly they were not willing to forgive me but saying only God will forgive me as if they were incapable of the act themselves.

This was humbling to think my sins against my parish were so great they could only ask God to forgive me and it stung a bit also that no one said they would forgive me.

Paul


To say "I forgive you" is not a very humble answer. To say "God forgives" is to remind ourselves that we are not greater than God and we, as professed followers of Christ, are commanded to forgive, for us it is not a "favor", but merely an obedience, so we shouldn't claim too much credit for ourselves. Therefore we say "God forgives" and our own forgiving should merely be assumed, since if we do not forgive, we ourselves will not be forgiven.

To all whom my foolish posts or actions (or inaction) have given offense, I beg forgiveness.

Herman

#30 Nina

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Posted 15 February 2010 - 05:42 AM

Father David, thank you.

Paul I also feel like you... not that ppl had smth against me but I was in my mind asking "why would you call God into this when I am asking forgiveness from *you*." I felt basically that the other person said because God forgives that person is obliged to forgive, not that the person genuinely forgives. Now leave God out of this. Cause God told we must forgive each other. If I keep something against someone but God forgives him I still keep God bound to not forgive him. So this expression (although Olga's and Herman's answers make a lot of sense) gives a bit of space for misinterpratation. This is between two people so shouldn't we keep the responsibility to ourselves and know that fulfilling this duty we will also make the job easier on God so He does not have to not forgive our fellow human because we keep resentment or similar feelings(?). No truly. It is not we who forgive of course, but if someone has done something against me it is I who is responsible in front of the entire universe and the other person and God to forgive. It is I who has the responsibility to forgive my "enemy" or friend. :) Paul you can see this expression is not so easy on me too. In some cases it just can come across as prideful and cause more pride. We can simply say what we have in our soul. I can't forgive you at this particular moment. or I forgive you and please forgive me. Or You have done nothing wrong to me, but please forgive me if I have done smth. I do not ask "God forgives please forgive me." God has the final word but this at this particular moment is between me and you. Truth is better.

#31 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 15 February 2010 - 09:04 AM

On forgiveness Sunday, children visit their parents' home, kiss their hands, and ask for their forgiveness.

Our relatives and friends telephone us and we ask each other's forgiveness.

The love you feel when you do this is amazing. Not once have I ever had anyone express anything other than the love they feel for me.

Forgiveness blesses the one forgiving and the one being forgiven.

I am one day late I admit but I had guests yesterday and we had a really severe snowstorm, not really good excuses but they are true.

I ask for everyone's forgiveness for anything that was inappropriate in my posts, and also for my huge ego.

I am deeply appreciative of all the people on this forum and can find nothing to forgive really. I benefit so much from reading all the posts that I can only feel gratitude.

Have a wonderful Lent.

Effie

#32 Michael Stickles

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Posted 15 February 2010 - 11:55 AM

I would like to ask when asking people their forgiveness their response has been " God forgives". I wondered in my heart if I had hurt everyone so badly they were not willing to forgive me but saying only God will forgive me as if they were incapable of the act themselves.


There must be variations in practice. In our parish, the response during Forgiveness Vespers is some variation on "God forgives, and I forgive also", or, "I forgive and God forgives". Personally, I've found it very meaningful to have God's forgiveness of us all, and our forgiveness of each other, linked in that way.

In Christ,
Michael

#33 Anna Stickles

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Posted 15 February 2010 - 01:28 PM

Actually even within our parish it varies. Most people do say both, but some just say "God forgives". I sometimes feel funny saying "I forgive" when someone hasn't offended me, or asking forgiveness from people I have almost no interaction with, but there is a sermon in the front of our book for the Forgiveness Vespers that I found really helpful.

"One may ask, however: Why should I perform this rite when I have no 'enemies'? Why should I ask for forgiveness from people who have done nothing to me, and whom I hardly know? To ask these questions is to misunderstand the Orthodox teaching concerning forgiveness. It is true that open enmity, personal hatred, real animosity may be absent from our life, though if we experience them, it may be easier for us to repent, for these feelings open contradict divine commandments. But Christ reveals to us that there are much subtler ways of offending Divine Love. There are indifference, selfishness, lack of interest in other people, of any real concern for them -- in short, what wall which we usually erect around ourselves, thinking that by being 'polite' and 'friendly' we fulfill God's commandments. The rite of forgiveness is so important precisely because it makes us realize -- be it only for a minute -- that our entire relationship to other men is wrong, makes us experience that one encounter of one child of God with another, makes us feel that mutual "recognition" which is so terribly lacking in our cold and dehumanized world.

On that unique evening, listening to the joyful Paschal hymns we are called to make a spiritual discovery: to taste of another mode of life and relationship with people, of life whose essence is love. We can discover that always everywhere Christ, the Divine Love Himself, stands in the midst of us, transforming our mutual alienation into brotherhood. As I advance toward the other as the other comes to me -- we begin to realize that it is Christ who brings us together by His love for both of us."

I guess realizing how uncomfortable we feel with each other says something about our need to ask forgiveness and go through this rite so that we can make that step toward each other even if it is only this tiny step once a year.

#34 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 15 February 2010 - 02:18 PM

I would like to ask when asking people their forgiveness their response has been " God forgives". I wondered in my heart if I had hurt everyone so badly they were not willing to forgive me but saying only God will forgive me as if they were incapable of the act themselves.

This was humbling to think my sins against my parish were so great they could only ask God to forgive me and it stung a bit also that no one said they would forgive me.

Paul


Remember though that "I forgive" and "God forgives" are two very different things.

When we say "I forgive" this means that I lay aside the passion of resentment, remembrance of wrongs, etc and instead embrace reconciliation with my fellow man. This is a person to person act you could say.

When we say that "God forgives" however we mean something very different from this. What we mean is that His grace is at work in our regards in a restorative sense. And how is this? Because we have already approached Him in asking other's forgiveness of our offenses towards them.

It is crucial then that we recognize this dynamic in the rite of forgiveness. Although my forgiving you is an aspect of what is going on more central to the rite is that I ask you to forgive me (ie I admit my sin in your regards, I admit to you that I am a weak sinner and that my sin affects your life). From this God 'forgives' and restores us.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#35 Nina

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Posted 15 February 2010 - 04:11 PM

Remember though that "I forgive" and "God forgives" are two very different things.

When we say "I forgive" this means that I lay aside the passion of resentment, remembrance of wrongs, etc and instead embrace reconciliation with my fellow man. This is a person to person act you could say.

When we say that "God forgives" however we mean something very different from this. What we mean is that His grace is at work in our regards in a restorative sense. And how is this? Because we have already approached Him in asking other's forgiveness of our offenses towards them.

It is crucial then that we recognize this dynamic in the rite of forgiveness. Although my forgiving you is an aspect of what is going on more central to the rite is that I ask you to forgive me (ie I admit my sin in your regards, I admit to you that I am a weak sinner and that my sin affects your life). From this God 'forgives' and restores us.

In Christ- Fr Raphael


Father Raphael, thank you.
I like how you explain this and it makes much more sense.

It is indeed two different things. And of course (Michael) bringing God's name in any interaction is a blessing and of course I do not find that weird. Plus as Fr. Raphael says that by participating in the forgiveness act which God has instituted and commanded, by default He is present. What is important, is to express it in a way (esp. if there has been a problem between the 2 people involved) that the person who asks forgiveness does not get hurt, or that a word does not cause the pride to awake. This will defeat the goal of forgiveness act. I think how we formulate our response to someone asking forgiveness will make a big difference. If someone has hurt me I can't just say: "God forgives. I forgive" This makes it seem prideful. So I align myself with God in this case? And where does it leave the person that approached me, that placed himself below me by humbling himself and asking *me* to forgive, if I place myself in the same line with God? I'd rather say. "I forgive you my brother/sister. Please forgive me too. And may God forgive us both." This places us in the same place with the offender since we both are sinners and no fault belongs 100% to one party, and ultimately each sin is against Christ. The purpose of the forgiveness act is to place ourselves below our fellow man even if he/she has hurt us. And not act like the Pharisee. Christ did not offend anyone and still He washed the feet of His disciples. He placed Himself below than His Apostles. This teaches a lot.

Anna, if someone has not hurt you and asks your forgiveness (which is normal since often we do not know if we have hurt, or not the other person) it is not bad at all to say. "My sister/brother you have not offended me. Please forgive me if I have offended you. And may God forgive us both." :)

#36 Peter S.

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Posted 15 February 2010 - 11:35 PM

When my priest said "..and God will forgive us" I knew he had forgiven me not saying it. What is more important is that God forgives. In addition my priest asked publicly of forgiveness beforehand. What is important is that we admit that we have done wrong as Fr Raphael says. That will also be important on Judgement Day, if we are in that position then, I suppose/speculate.

If I had approched a person with a flower and admited my wrongs asking for forgiveness and he/she didnt forgive me...then it is his/her problem.

In our parish we say "forgive me" and answer "forgive me" usually. (This is what I suppose and think). Maybe the best is this version or answering "..and God will forgive us".

Although I dont feel worthy to say ..and God will forgive us/forgives. Maybe this is a wrong thought?

Dont approach someone in the rite thinking of forgiving that person beforehand. No. Just think of your own fault(s). If not, the devil can play you a trick. I know this... Admit your wrongs and ask for forgiveness. Then God will work it out. Maybe you dont get forgiveness.. As Effie and Anna says Forgiveness Sunday is/ can be a loveable day.

In Christ,
Peter

#37 Peter S.

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Posted 16 February 2010 - 12:06 AM

And always forgive when someone asks you of forgiveness of course... but that comes after admitting your own faults.

#38 Peter S.

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Posted 26 February 2010 - 04:23 PM

This is late, but please forgive me all you I have offended willingly or unwillingly the last year.

In Christ,
Peter




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