Early Fathers & Doctors on Forgiving One Another

Hellllllllllllp! I'm in dire need of information about what the Church teaches is entailed in our forgiving each other. I am NOT looking for information on the Sacrament of Penance or about God's forgiveness of us, but for info about how we are supposed to forgive each other

One thing I need answers for:  is forgiveness owned to the unrepentant? On the Cross, Lord Christ said, "Forgive them, Father, they know not what they do" -- but this goes to ignorance and doesn't assume malice on the part of the evildoers (well, in this case, it doesn't "assume" that, it honors the fact that they were ignorant. Jesus would know their hearts, after all). The Sacrament of Confession, for ex., requires contrition or, at least attrition. IOW, if you're not sorry, God won't forgive you. So how could we be held to a higher standard?

In looking around, I am finding a surprising lack of catechetical materials about HOW we are supposed to "forgive those who trespass against us" -- the details of it, what considerations there are, what it actually means to "forgive" -- what it "looks like," etc.  Given the importance of the topic, I think that lack is kind of scary.

Anyone have any materials to point me toward?

There's this from the Catechism:

Catehcism Wrote:...as we forgive those who trespass against us

2842  This “as” is not unique in Jesus’ teaching: “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect”; “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful”; “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”139 It is impossible to keep the Lord’s commandment by imitating the divine model from outside; there has to be a vital participation, coming from the depths of the heart, in the holiness and the mercy and the love of our God. Only the Spirit by whom we live can make “ours” the same mind that was in Christ Jesus.140 Then the unity of forgiveness becomes possible and we find ourselves “forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave” us.141 (521)

2843  Thus the Lord’s words on forgiveness, the love that loves to the end,142 become a living reality. The parable of the merciless servant, [Vox: see http://www.fisheaters.com/parables10.html and note that at least attrition is involved in this parable] which crowns the Lord’s teaching on ecclesial communion, ends with these words: “So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”143 It is there, in fact, “in the depths of the heart,” that everything is bound and loosed. 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. (368)

2844  Christian prayer extends to the forgiveness of enemies,144 transfiguring the disciple by configuring him to his Master. Forgiveness is a high-point of Christian prayer; only hearts attuned to God’s compassion can receive the gift of prayer. Forgiveness also bears witness that, in our world, love is stronger than sin. The martyrs of yesterday and today bear this witness to Jesus. Forgiveness is the fundamental condition of the reconciliation of the children of God with their Father and of men with one another.145 (2262)

2845  There is no limit or measure to this essentially divine forgiveness,146 whether one speaks of “sins” as in Luke (11:4), or “debts” as in Matthew (6:12). We are always debtors: “Owe no one anything, except to love one another.”147 The communion of the Holy Trinity is the source and criterion of truth in every relationship. It is lived out in prayer, above all in the Eucharist.148 (1441)

    God does not accept the sacrifice of a sower of disunion, but commands that he depart from the altar so that he may first be reconciled with his brother. For God can be appeased only by prayers that make peace. To God, the better offering is peace, brotherly concord, and a people made one in the unity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.149

Re. 2845: If love is is willing the good of another, then wouldn't a desire for Justice come into play -- not wanting to see a doer of malice rewarded for it, getting away with evil deeds born of malice (as opposed to ignorance or some other mitigating condition)?  If so, could "forgiveness" in such a case include a desire to see the evildoer punished in order that he be brought to his knees, be humbled, and come to rely on God (as opposed to such a desire for Justice being a matter of our acting out of a sense of vengeance or some other nefarious motive)?

Is there a priest out there reading this who could clarify this stuff?

Well I'm no priest, but I do have Google.  :LOL:



Cyprian sheds some Light:

Quote:23. He has clearly joined herewith and added the law, and has bound us by a certain condition and engagement, that we should ask that our debts be forgiven us in such a manner as we ourselves forgive our debtors, knowing that that which we seek for our sins cannot be obtained unless we ourselves have acted in a similar way in respect of our debtors. Therefore also He says in another place, "With what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again." And the servant who, after having had all his debt forgiven him by his master, would not forgive his fellow-servant, is cast back into prison; because he would not forgive his fellow-servant, he lost the indulgence that had been shown to himself by his lord. And these things Christ still more urgently sets forth in His precepts with yet greater power of His rebuke. "When you stand praying," says He, "forgive if you have anything against any, that your Father which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive you your trespasses." There remains no ground of excuse in the day of judgment, when you will be judged according to your own sentence; and whatever you have done, that you also will suffer. For God commands us to be peacemakers, and in agreement, and of one mind in His house; and such as He makes us by a second birth, such He wishes us when new-born to continue, that we who have begun to be sons of God may abide in God's peace, and that, having one spirit, we should also have one heart and one mind. Thus God does not receive the sacrifice of a person who is in disagreement, but commands him to go back from the altar and first be reconciled to his brother, that so God also may be appeased by the prayers of a peace-maker. Our peace and brotherly agreement is the greater sacrifice to God—and a people united in one in the unity of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

As for myself, I think it's impossible to forgive someone who will not admit fault. They say that they have no sin, and so their sin remain. I can be *willing* to forgive them, but I CAN'T, as they disallow it. But as soon as they come to me I cannot withhold it. I can either let it go or fume over it, and the latter is pointless.

For example, I got really truly ripped off by someone a few years ago, to the tune of about 4k. I was ready to skin him alive and burn his house down with him in it. Thankfully I didn't do that, but I was that angry as it wasn't just a money issue but a betrayal by someone I considered a friend. However, I'm willing to forgive him. But I also know he doesn't think he was wrong, despite that objective reality he was. He justified it in his mind.

So I must use this experience to ask myself, "have I ripped Christ off and justified it?" The answer is surely. Not just once either, but multiple times.

So then I think, if I was in this person's position, would I want to be forgiven if it dawned on me that I was wrong? Yes.

So, I am willing to pronounce a complete forgiveness of the wrong against me. But I cannot say I know Justice and Mercy better than God. So, if this person will not repent and admit fault, I must simply ask God to forgive him, for he knows not what he did. I've not suffered due to that loss in any manner I can pinpoint today. God dealt with it on my end and made up for it in ways I cannot even know right now.

But we also must recognize that God causes an awareness of wrongness, and this moves the person to seek forgiveness. So, while God will not forgive an unrepentant sinner, He does make them aware of their sin. Similarly, I think we should too. If, then, they say no... well, what can ya do?

Jon, thanks for your response. I really appreciate that!  There's honesty in it -- but still confusion in that the first two links contradict each other, which is the problem I'm having in "ciphering" this out, as Jethro would put it :P

One thing I appreciate about your answer is your real-life example which led to the question you asked yourself:

Jonborton Wrote:So I must use this experience to ask myself, "have I ripped Christ off and justified it?" The answer is surely. Not just once either, but multiple times.

So then I think, if I was in this person's position, would I want to be forgiven if it dawned on me that I was wrong? Yes.

So, I am willing to pronounce a complete forgiveness of the wrong against me. But I cannot say I know Justice and Mercy better than God. So, if this person will not repent and admit fault, I must simply ask God to forgive him, for he knows not what he did. I've not suffered due to that loss in any manner I can pinpoint today. God dealt with it on my end and made up for it in ways I cannot even know right now.

I'm seeing some wisdom in there, man!

I'd still be happy to find some stuff from the Fathers and Doctors about all this, though, so if anyone comes across something that could help us all understand what it really means to forgive each other, I VERY MUCH would appreciate seeing what you've founds.

Thanks, guys (and thanks, esp., to Jonborton!)

P.S., the reason I need this is because I'm writing a page -- one that I think could well be one of the most important pages on the FE site - about the "Conversion of the Heart" and all that entails.  I'm a stickler for orthodoxy and am TERRIFIED of putting something out there on the net that simply isn't right. So any help I can get, the bettah!


St John Chrysostom

Quote:Homily 17 on Ephesians

Ephesians 4:32 and 5:1, 2

"And be ye kind one to another, tender hearted, forgiving each other, even as God also in Christ forgave you. Be therefore imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, even as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for an odor of a sweet smell."

The events which are past have greater force than those which are yet to come, and appear to be both more wonderful and more convincing. And hence accordingly Paul founds his exhortation upon the things which have already been done for us, inasmuch as they, on Christ's account, have a greater force. For to say, "Forgive, and you shall be forgiven" Matthew 6:14, and "if you forgive not, you shall in nowise be forgiven" Matthew 6:15—this addressed to men of understanding, and men who believe in the things to come, is of great weight; but Paul appeals to the conscience not by these arguments only, but also by things already done for us. In the former way we may escape punishment, whereas in this latter we may have our share of some positive good. Thou imitatest Christ. This alone is enough to recommend virtue, that it is "to imitate God." This is a higher principle than the other, "for He makes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust." Matthew 5:45 Because he does not merely say that we are "imitating God," but that we do so in those things wherein we receive ourselves such benefits. He would have us cherish the tender heart of fathers towards each other. For by heart, here, is meant lovingkindness and compassion. For inasmuch as it cannot be that, being men, we shall avoid either giving pain or suffering it, he does the next thing, he devises a remedy—that we should forgive one another. And yet there is no comparison. For if you indeed should at this moment forgive any one, he will forgive you again in return; whereas to God you have neither given nor forgiven anything. And thou indeed art forgiving a fellow-servant; whereas God is forgiving a servant, and an enemy, and one that hates Him.

"Even as God," says he, "also in Christ forgave you."

And this, moreover, contains a high allusion. Not simply, he would say, has He forgiven us, and at no risk or cost, but at the sacrifice of His Son; for that He might forgive you, He sacrificed the Son; whereas thou, oftentimes, even when you see pardon to be both without risk and without cost, yet dost not grant it.

"Be therefore imitators of God as beloved children; and walk in love, even as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us an offering and sacrifice to God for an odor of a sweet smell."

That you may not then think it an act of necessity, hear how He says, that "He gave Himself up." As your Master loved you, love thou your friend. Nay, but neither will you be able so to love; yet still do so as far as you are able. Oh, what can be more blessed than a sound like this! Tell me of royalty or whatever else you will, there is no comparison. Forgive another, and you are "imitating God," you are made like God. It is more our duty to forgive trespasses than debts of money; for if you forgive debts, you have not "imitated God"; whereas if you shall forgive trespasses, you are "imitating God." And yet how shall you be able to say, "I am poor, and am not able to forgive it," that is, a debt, when you forgive not that which you are able to forgive, that is, a trespass? And surely thou dost not deem that in this case there is any loss. Yea, is it not rather wealth, is it not abundance, is it not a plentiful store?

And behold yet another and a nobler incitement: — "as beloved children," says he. You have yet another cogent reason to imitate Him, not only in that you have received such good at His hands, but also in that you are called His children. And since not all children imitate their fathers, but those which are beloved, therefore he says, "as beloved children."

Ver. 2. "Walk in love."

Behold, here, the groundwork of all! So then where this is, there is no "wrath, no anger, no clamor, no railing," but all are done away. Accordingly he puts the chief point last. Whence were you made a child? Because you were forgiven. On the same ground on which you have had so vast a privilege vouch-safed you, on that selfsame ground forgive your neighbor. Tell me, I say, if you were in prison, and had ten thousand misdeeds to answer for, and some one were to bring you into the palace; or rather to pass over this argument, suppose thou were in a fever and in the agonies of death, and some one were to benefit you by some medicine, would you not value him more than all, yea and the very name of the medicine? For if we thus regard occasions and places by which we are benefited, even as our own souls, much more shall we the things themselves. Be a lover then of love; for by this are you saved, by this have you been made a son. And if you shall have it in your power to save another, will you not use the same remedy, and give the advice to all, "Forgive, that you may be forgiven"? Thus to incite one another, were the part of grateful, of generous, and noble spirits.

"Even as Christ also," he adds, "loved you."

You are only sparing friends, He enemies. So then far greater is that boon which comes from our Master. For how in our case is the "even as" preserved. Surely it is clear that it will be, by our doing good to our enemies.

The entire homily can be read here: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/230117.htm

Mark 11:25-26

Quote:When you stand praying, forgive whatever wrong any man has done you; so that your Father who is in heaven may forgive you your transgressions; 26 if you do not forgive, your Father who is in heaven will not forgive your transgressions either.
(03-04-2014, 10:50 PM)Vox Clamantis Wrote: The parable of the merciless servant, [Vox: see http://www.fisheaters.com/parables10.html and note that at least attrition is involved in this parable] which crowns the Lord’s teaching on ecclesial communion, ends with these words: “So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”143 It is there, in fact, “in the depths of the heart,” that everything is bound and loosed. 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. (368)

St. John Chrysostom wrote on that parable (which you have given at that link). The entire homily might be useful for you, but this part in particular:

Quote:See again the lord's gentleness. He pleads with him, and excuses himself, being on the point of revoking his gift; or rather, it was not he that revoked it, but the one who had received it. Wherefore He says, "I forgave you all that debt, because you desired me; should not thou also have had compassion on your fellow-servant?" For even if the thing does seem to you hard; yet should you have looked to the gain, which has been, which is to be. Even if the injunction be galling, you ought to consider the reward; neither that he has grieved you, but that you have provoked God, whom by mere prayer you have reconciled. But if even so it be a galling thing to you to become friends with him who has grieved you, to fall into hell is far more grievous; and if you had set this against that, then you would have known that to forgive is a much lighter thing.

St. Augustine

Quote:Sermon 33 on the New Testament


On the words of the Gospel, Matthew 17:21 , "How oft shall my brother sin against me," etc.

1. Yesterday the holy Gospel warned us not to neglect the sins of our brethren: "But if your brother shall sin against you, rebuke him between him and you alone. If he shall hear you, you have gained your brother. But if he shall refuse to hear you, take with you two or three more; that in the mouth of two or three witnesses, every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them too, tell it to the Church. But if he shall neglect to hear the Church, let him be unto you as an heathen man and a publican."  Today also the section which follows, and which we heard when it was read, relates to the same subject. For when the Lord Jesus had said this to Peter, he went on to ask his Master, how often he should forgive a brother who had sinned against him; and he enquired whether seven times would be enough. "The Lord answered him, Not only seven times, but seventy times seven." Then he added a parable very full of terror: That the "kingdom of heaven is like an householder, which took account with his servants; among whom he found one that owed ten thousand talents. And when he commanded all that he had, and all his family, and himself to be sold, and the debt to be paid, he fell down at his lord's feet,"  and prayed for delay, and obtained  entire remission. For as we have heard, "His lord was moved with compassion, and forgave him all the debt." Then that man free from his debt, but a bondslave of iniquity, after he had gone out from the presence of his lord, found in his turn a debtor of his own, who owed him, not ten thousand talents, the sum which had been remitted to him, but a hundred denarii; and "he began to drag him by the throat, and say, Pay me that you owe."  Then he besought his fellow-servant as he had done his lord; but he did not find his fellow-servant such a man as the other had found his lord. He not only would not forgive him the debt; but he did not even grant him a delay. He hurried him along with great violence  to make him pay, he who had been but just now set free from his debt to his lord. His fellow-servants were displeased; and "went and told their lord what was done;" and the lord summoned his servant to his presence, and said to him, "O you wicked servant, when you owed me so great a debt, in pity to you I forgave you all. Should not you also have had compassion on your fellow-servant, even as I had pity on you?"  And he commanded that all which he had forgiven him should be paid.

2. It is then for our instruction that He put forth this parable, and by this warning He would save us from perishing. "So," said He, "shall My heavenly Father do also unto you, if you from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses."  Lo, Brethren, the thing is plain, useful is the admonition, and a wholesome obedience is by all means due, that what has been bidden may be fulfilled. For every man is at once God's debtor, and has also some brother a debtor to himself. For who is there who is not God's debtor, but he in whom there can be found no sin? And who is there who has not a brother his debtor, but he against whom no one has sinned? Think you that any one among mankind can be found, who is not himself bounden to his brother by some sin? So then every man is a debtor, yet having himself his own debtors too. The righteous God therefore appoints a rule for you toward your debtor, which He also will observe with His. For two works of mercy are there, which deliver us, which the Lord has Himself briefly laid down in the Gospel: "Forgive, and you shall be forgiven: give, and it shall be given unto you." "Forgive, and you shall be forgiven," relates to pardoning. "Give, and it shall be given unto you," relates to doing kindnesses. As to what He says of pardoning, you both wish your sin to be pardoned you, and you have another whom you may pardon. Again, as to the doing kindnesses; a beggar asks of you, and you are God's beggar. For we are all when we pray God's beggars; we stand, yea rather we fall prostrate before the door of the Great Householder, we groan in supplication wishing to receive something; and this something is God Himself. What does the beggar ask of you? Bread. And what do you ask of God, but Christ, who says, "I am the living Bread which came down from heaven"?  Would you be forgiven? Forgive. "Forgive, and it shall be forgiven you." Would you receive? "Give, and it shall be given unto you."

3. But now hear what in so plain a precept I may cause a difficulty. In this question of forgiveness when pardon is asked, and it is due from him who should grant it, it may be a difficulty to us as it was to Peter. "How often ought I to forgive? Is up to seven times sufficient?" "It is not sufficient," says the Lord, "I say not unto you, Until seven times; but, Until seventy times seven."  Now reckon up how often your brother has sinned against you. If you can reach the seventy-eighth fault, so as to get beyond the seventy times seven, then set about revenge. Is this then what He really means, and is it really so, that if he shall sin "seventy times seven," you should forgive him; but if he shall sin seventy times and eight, it should then be lawful for you not to forgive? Nay I am bold to say, that if he should even sin seventy-eight times, you must forgive. Yea, as I have said, if he shall sin seventy-eight times, forgive. And if he sin a hundred times, forgive. And why need I say, so and so often? In one word,  as often as he shall sin, forgive him. Have I then taken upon me to overpass the measure of my Lord? He fixed the limit of forgiveness in the number seventy-seven; shall I presume to overleap this limit? It is not so, I have not presumed to go at all beyond. I have heard the Lord Himself speaking in His Apostle where there is no measure or number fixed. For He says, "Forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any, as God in Christ has forgiven you."  Here you have the rule. If Christ have forgiven you your sins "seventy times and seven" only, if He have pardoned up to this point, and refused to pardon beyond it; then do you also fix this limit, and be loth to forgive beyond it. But if Christ has found thousands of sins upon sins, and has yet forgiven all; withdraw not then your mercy, but ask the forgiveness of that large number. For it was not without a meaning that the Lord said "seventy times seven;" forasmuch as there is no trespass whatever which you ought not to forgive. See this servant in the parable, who being a debtor was found to have a debtor, owed ten thousand talents. And I suppose that ten thousand talents are at least ten thousand sins. For I will not say how but one talent will include all sins. But how much did the other servant owe him? He owed a hundred denarii. Now is not this more than "seventy and seven"? And yet the Lord was angry, because he did not forgive him. For not only is a hundred more than "seventy-seven;" but a hundred denarii, perhaps are a thousand asses. But what was this to ten thousand talents?

4. And so let us be ready to forgive all the trespasses which are committed against us, if we desire to be forgiven. For if we consider our sins, and reckon up what we do in deed, what by the eye, what by the ear, what by thought, what by numberless movements; I know not whether we so much as sleep without a talent. And therefore do we daily beg, daily knock at the ears of God by prayer, daily prostrate ourselves and say, "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors."  What debts of yours? All, or a certain part? You will answer, All. So then do you with your debtor. This then is the rule you lay down, this the condition you speak of; this the covenant and agreement you mention when you pray, saying, "Forgive us, as we forgive our debtors."

5. What then, Brethren, is the meaning of "seventy times seven"? Hear, for it is a great mystery, a wonderful sacrament. When the Lord was baptized, the Evangelist St. Luke has in that place commemorated His generations in the regular order, series, and line in which they had come down to that generation in which Christ was born. Matthew begins at Abraham,  and comes down to Joseph in a descending order; but Luke begins to reckon in an ascending order. Why does the one reckon in a descending, and the other in an ascending order? Because Matthew set forth the generation of Christ by which He came down to us; and so he began to reckon when Christ was born in a descending order.  Whereas, because Luke begins to reckon when Christ was baptized; in this is the beginning of ascension, he begins to reckon in an ascending order, and in his reckoning he has completed seventy-seven generations.  With whom did he begin his reckoning? Observe with whom? He began to reckon from Christ up to Adam himself, who was the first sinner, and who begot us with the bond of sin. He reckoned up to Adam, and so there are reckoned seventy-seven generations; that is, from Christ up to Adam and from Adam up to Christ are the aforesaid seventy-seven generations. So then if no generation was omitted, there is no exemption of any trespass which ought not to be forgiven. For therefore did he reckon up his seventy-seven generations, which number the Lord mentioned as to the forgiveness of sins; since he begins to reckon from the baptism, wherein all sins are remitted.

6. And, Brethren, observe in this a yet greater mystery.  In the number seventy-seven is a mystery of the remission of sins. So many are the generations found to be from Christ to Adam. Now then, ask with somewhat more careful diligence for the secret meaning of this number, and enquire into its hidden meaning; with more careful diligence knock, that it may be opened unto you. Righteousness consists in the observance of the Law of God: true. For the Law is set forth in ten precepts. Therefore it was that the servant in the parable "owed ten thousand talents." This is that memorable Decalogue written by the finger of God, and delivered to the people by Moses, the servant of God. He "owed" then "ten thousand talents;" which signifies all sins, with reference to the number of the Law. And the other "owed a hundred denarii;" derived equally from the same number. For a hundred times a hundred make ten thousand; and ten times ten make a hundred. And the one "owed ten thousand talents," and the other ten times ten denarii. For there was no departure from the number  of the law, and in both numbers you will find every kind of sin included. Both are debtors, and both implore and beg for pardon; but the wicked, ungrateful servant would not repay what he had received, would not grant the mercy which had been undeservedly accorded to him.

7. Consider then, Brethren; every man begins from Baptism; he goes out free, the "ten thousand talents" are forgiven him; and when he goes out, he will soon find some fellow-servant his debtor. Let him note then, what sin itself is;  for the number eleven is the transgression of the law. For the law is ten, sin eleven. For the law is denoted by ten, sin by eleven. Why is sin denoted by eleven? Because to get to eleven, there is the transgression of the ten.  But the due limit is fixed in the law; and the transgression of it is sin. Now when you have passed beyond the ten, you come to eleven. This high mystery was figured out when the tabernacle was commanded to be built. There are many things mentioned there in number, which are a great mystery.  Among the rest, curtains of haircloth were ordered to be made not ten, but eleven;  because by haircloth is signified the confession of sins. Now what do you require more? Would you know how that all sins are contained in this number "seventy-seven"? Seven then is usually put for a whole; because in seven days the revolution of time is completed, and when the seventh is ended, it returns to the first again, that the same revolution may be continued. In such revolutions whole ages pass away: yet there is no departure from the number seven. For He spoke of all sins, when He said "seventy times seven;" for multiply that eleven seven times, and it makes seventy-seven. Therefore would He have all sins forgiven, for He marked them out by the number seventy-seven. Let no one then retain against himself by refusing to forgive, lest it be retained against him, when he prays. For God says, "Forgive, and you shall be forgiven." For I have forgiven you first; you at least forgive after that. For if you will not forgive, I will call you back, and put upon you again all that I had remitted to you. For the Truth does not speak falsely; Christ neither deceives, nor is deceived, and He has said at the close of the parable, "So likewise shall your Father which is in heaven do unto you."  Thou findest a Father, imitate your Father. For if you will not imitate Him, you are devising  to be disinherited. "So likewise" then "shall My heavenly Father do also unto you, if you from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses." Say not with the tongue, "I forgive," and put off to forgive in the heart; for by His threat of vengeance God shows you your punishment. God knows where you speak. Man can hear your voice; God looks into your conscience. If you say, I forgive; forgive. Better is it that you should be violent in words, and forgive in the heart, than in words be soft, and in the heart relentless.

8. Now then unruly boys will beg, and take it  hard to be beat taking exception against  us when we wish to chastise them after this fashion. "I have sinned, but forgive me." Well, I have forgiven, and he sins again. "Forgive me," he cries, and I have forgiven him. He sins a third time. "Forgive me," he cries, and a third time I have forgiven him. Now then the fourth time let him be beat. And he will say, "What! Have I tired you out to seventy-seven times?" Now if by such exceptions the severity of discipline sleep, upon the suppression of discipline wickedness will rage with impunity. What then is to be done? Let us reprove with words, and if need be with scourges; but let us withal forgive the sin, and cast away the remembrance of it from the heart. For therefore did the Lord add, "from your hearts," that though through affection discipline be exercised, gentleness might not depart out of the heart. For what is so kind and gentle as the surgeon with his knife? He that is to be cut cries, yet cut he is; he that is to be cauterized cries, but cauterized he is. This is not cruelty; on no account let that surgeon's treatment be called cruelty. Cruel he is against the wounded part that the patient may be cured; for if the wound be softly dealt with, the man is lost. Thus then would I advise, my Brethren, that we love our brethren, howsoever they may have sinned against us; that we let not affection toward them depart out of our hearts, and that when need is, we exercise discipline toward them; lest by the relaxation of discipline, wickedness increase, and we begin to be accused on God's behalf, for it has been read to us, "Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear."  Certainly, if one, as is the only true way, distinguishes the times, and so solves the question, all is true. If the sin be in secret, rebuke it in secret. If the sin be public and open, rebuke it publicly that the sinner may be reformed; and "that others also may fear.


St. John Chrysostom

Homily 1 on Philemon
Quote:Let any one examine himself, and he will see that he does everything on account of men. Exceedingly blessed we should be, if we did as many things for the sake of God, as we do for the sake of men, and of the opinion of men, and for the dread or the respect of men. If then we have so many things to answer for, we ought with all alacrity to forgive those who injure us, who defraud us, and not to bear malice. For there is a way to the forgiveness of our sins that needs no labors, nor expense of wealth, nor any other things, but merely our own choice. We have no need to set out upon our travels, nor go beyond the boundaries of our country, nor submit to dangers and toils, but only to will.

What excuse, tell me, shall we have in things that appear difficult,  when we do not do even a light thing, attended too with so much gain and so much benefit, and no trouble? Can you not despise wealth? Can you not spend your substance on the needy? Can you not will anything that is good? Can you not forgive him that has injured you? For if you had not so many things to answer for, and God had only commanded you to forgive, ought you not to do it? But now having so many things to answer for, do you not forgive? And that too, knowing that you are required to do it on account of things which you have from Him? If indeed we go to our debtor, he knowing it, receives us courteously, and shows us honor, and pays us every attention in a liberal way; and that though he is not paying off his debt, but because he wishes to render us merciful in our demand of payment: and thou, who owest so much to God, and art commanded to forgive that you may receive in return, dost not thou forgive? And wherefore not, I beseech you? Woe is me! How much of goodness do we receive, and what wickedness do we show in return! What sleepiness! What indolence! How easy a thing is virtue, attended too with much advantage; and how laborious a thing is vice! But we, flying from that which is so light, pursue that which is heavier than lead.

Here there is no need of bodily strength, nor of wealth, nor possessions, nor of power, nor of friendship, nor of any other thing; but it is sufficient only to will, and all is accomplished. Hath some one grieved you, and insulted you, and mocked you? But consider, how often you have done such things to others, and even to the Lord Himself; and forbear, and forgive him it. Consider that you say, "Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors." Matthew 6:13 Consider, that if you dost not forgive, you will not be able to say this with confidence: but if you forgive, you demand the matter as a debt, not by reason of the nature of the thing, but on account of the lovingkindness of Him that has granted it. And wherein is it equal, that one who forgives his fellow-servants should receive remission of the sins committed against the Lord? But nevertheless we do receive such great lovingkindness, because He is rich in mercy and pity.

And that I may show that even without these things, and without the remission, you are a gainer by forgiving, consider how many friends such a person has, how the praises of such an one are everywhere sounded by men who go about saying, "This is a good man, he is easily reconciled, he knows not to bear malice, he is no sooner stricken than he is healed." When such an one falls into any misfortune, who will not pity him? When he has offended, who will not pardon him? When he asks a favor of others, who will not grant it to him? Who will not be willing to be the friend and servant of so good a soul? Yea, I entreat you, let us do all things for Him,  not to our friends, not to our relations only, but even to our domestics. For He says, "Forbearing threatening, knowing that your Master also is in heaven." Ephesians 6:9

If we forgive our neighbors their trespasses, ours will be forgiven to us, if we bestow alms, if we be humble. For this also takes away sins. For if the publican, only for saying, "God be merciful to me a sinner" Luke 18:13, went down justified, much more we also, if we be humble and contrite, shall be able to obtain abundant lovingkindness. If we confess our own sins and condemn ourselves, we shall be cleansed from the most of our defilement. For there are many ways that purify. Let us therefore in every way war against the devil. I have said nothing difficult, nothing burdensome. Forgive him that has injured you, have pity on the needy, humble your soul, and though thou be a grievous sinner, you will be able to obtain the kingdom, by these means purging off your sins themselves, and wiping off their stain. And God grant that we all, having purified ourselves here by confession from all the filth of our sins, may there obtain the blessings promised in Christ Jesus our Lord, etc.


Cyril of Jerusalem

Quote:16. And forgive us our debts as we also forgive our debtors. For we have many sins. For we offend both in word and in thought, and very many things we do worthy of condemnation; and if we say that we have no sin, we lie, as John says.  And we make a covenant with God, entreating Him to forgive us our sins, as we also forgive our neighbours their debts. Considering then what we receive and in return for what, let us not put off nor delay to forgive one another. The offenses committed against us are slight and trivial, and easily settled; but those which we have committed against God are great, and need such mercy as His only is. Take heed therefore, lest for the slight and trivial sins against you, you shut out for yourself forgiveness from God for your very grievous sins.


St Augustine

Sermon 8 on the New Testament

Quote:6. "Forgive us our debts,"  we say, and we may well say so; for we say the truth. For who is he that lives here in the flesh, and has no debts? What man is there that lives so, that this prayer is not necessary for him? He may puff himself up, justify himself he cannot. It were well for him to imitate the Publican, and not swell as the Pharisee, "who went up into the temple,"  and boasted of his deserts, and covered up his wounds. Whereas he who said, "Lord, be merciful to me a sinner," knew wherefore he went up. This prayer the Lord Jesus, consider, my brethren, this prayer the Lord Jesus taught His disciples to offer, those great first Apostles of His, the leaders of our flock.  If the leaders of the flock then pray for the remission of their sins, what ought the lambs to do, of whom it is said, "Bring young rams unto the Lord"?  You knew then that you have repeated this in the Creed, because among the rest you have mentioned there "the remission of sins." There is one remission of sins which is given once for all; another which is given day by day. There is one remission of sins which is given once for all in Holy Baptism; another which is given as long as we live here in the Lord's Prayer. Wherefore we say, "Forgive us our debts."

7. And God has brought us into a covenant, and agreement, and a firm bond  with Him, in that we say, "as we also forgive our debtors." He who would say it effectually, "Forgive us our debts," must say truly, "as we also forgive our debtors."  If this which is last he either say not, or say deceitfully, the other which is first he says in vain. We say to you then especially who are approaching to Holy Baptism, from your hearts forgive everything. And ye faithful, who taking advantage of this occasion are listening to this prayer, and our exposition of it, do ye wholly and from your hearts forgive whatsoever you have against any. Forgive it there where God sees. For sometimes a man remits with the mouth, and in the heart retains; he remits with the mouth for men's sake, and retains in the heart, as not fearing the eyes of God. But do ye remit entirely. Whatever you have retained up to these holy days,  in these holy days at least remit. "The sun ought not to go down upon your wrath,"  yet many suns have passed. Let then your wrath at length pass away also, now that we are celebrating the days of the great Sun, of that Sun of which Scripture says, "Unto you shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in His wings."  What is, "in His wings"? In His protection. Whence it is said in the Psalms, "Keep me under the shadow of Your wings."  But as to others who in the day of judgment shall repent, but all too late, and who shall mourn, yet unavailingly, it has been foretold by Wisdom what they shall then say as they repent and groan for anguish of spirit, "What has pride profited us, or what good has riches with our vaunting brought us? All these things are passed away like a shadow." And, "Therefore have we erred from the way of truth, and the light of righteousness has not shined unto us, and the Sun of righteousness rose not upon us."  That Sun rises upon the righteous only; but this sun which we see, God "makes," daily "to rise upon the good and evil."  The righteous attain to the seeing of that Sun; and that Sun dwells now in our hearts by faith. If then you are angry, let not this sun go down in your heart upon your wrath; "Let not the sun go down upon your wrath;" lest haply you be angry, and so the Sun of righteousness go down upon you, and you abide in darkness.

8. Now do not think that anger is nothing. "My eye was disordered because of anger,"  says the Prophet. Surely he whose eye is disordered cannot see the sun; and if he should try to see it, it were pain, and no pleasure to him. And what is anger? The lust of vengeance. A man lusts to be avenged, and Christ is not yet avenged, the holy martyrs are not yet avenged. Still does the patience of God wait, that the enemies of Christ, the enemies of the martyrs, may be converted. And who are we, that we should seek for vengeance? If God should seek it at our hands, where should we abide? He who has never in any matter done us harm, does not wish to avenge Himself of us; and do we seek to be avenged, who are almost daily offending God? Forgive therefore; from the heart forgive. If you are angry, yet sin not. "Be angry, and sin not."  Be angry as being but men, if so be you are overcome by it; yet sin not, so as to retain anger in your heart (for if you do retain it, you retain it against yourselves), lest ye enter not into that Light. Therefore forgive. What then is anger? The lust of vengeance. And what is hatred? Inveterate anger. If anger become inveterate, it is then called hatred. And this he seems to acknowledge, who when he had said, "My eye is disordered because of anger;" added, "I have become inveterate among all mine enemies."  What was anger when it was new, became hatred when it was turned into long continuance. Anger is a "mote," hatred, a "beam." We sometimes find fault with one who is angry, yet we retain hatred in our own hearts; and so Christ says to us, "You see the mote in your brother's eye, and see not the beam in your own eye."  How grew the mote into a beam? Because it was not at once plucked out. Because you suffered the sun to rise and go down so often upon your wrath, and made it inveterate, because you contracted evil suspicions, and watered the mote, and by watering hast nourished it, and by nourishing it, hast made it a beam. Tremble then at least when it is said, "Whosoever hates his brother is a murderer."  You have not drawn the sword, nor inflicted any bodily wound, nor by any blow killed another; the thought only of hatred is in your heart, and hereby are you held to be a murderer, guilty are you before the eyes of God. The other man is alive, and yet you have killed him. As far as you are concerned, you have killed the man whom you hate. Reform then, and amend yourself. If scorpions or adders were in your houses, how would ye toil to purify them, that you might be able to dwell in safety? Yet are you angry, yea inveterate anger is in your hearts, and there grow so many hatreds, so many beams, so many scorpions, so many vipers, and will you not then purify the house of God, your heart? Do then what is said, "As we also forgive our debtors;" and so say securely, "Forgive us our debts." For without debts in this earth ye cannot live; but those great crimes which it is your blessing to have been forgiven in Baptism, and from which we ought to be ever free, are of one sort, and of another are those daily sins, without which a man cannot live in this world, by reason of which this daily prayer with its covenant and agreement is necessary; that as we say with all cheerfulness, "Forgive us our debts;" so we may say with all truth, "As we also forgive our debtors." So much then have we said as touching past sins; what now for the future?


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