I write this from the town of Nyiregyhaza, with a population of
110,000, in the northeast plains of Hungary near the Ukraine and
Romanian borders. This influences my reflections in nuanced ways
- by the spiritual reading books I brought with me for the four
month journey, for the application of these readings to the daily
television news I watch in this part of the world, etc.
One of the books I brought with me is Dean Brackley, S.J.'s book,
The Call to Discernment, which I received because of my
participation in a Cardoner at Creighton project. I highly recommend
it as it has greatly further educated me on the Ignatian Exercises.
The First Reading of today partially reads - 'but with contrite
heart and humble spirit let us be received' - integrates with some
of the content in the above book. St. Ignatius writes of the Kingdom
Meditation which Fr. Brackley designates as individuals considering
the 'call' Christ makes to us. The First Reading continues - 'so
let our sacrifice in your presence today as we follow you unreservedly'
- this strongly resonates with what St. Ignatius was teaching with
the ideas of desolation and consolation in one's daily life.
Sometimes, one feels like one has wake-up calls, experiences that
'hit you over the head', etc. I had that feeling when I discovered
which Gospel Reading I was to reflect and write on - the story of
forgiveness. Was this merely coincidence - or a God-moment? In my
spiritual journey, forgiveness is one of the behaviors I struggle
with. I have a long way to go to be where I need to be. In recognizing
this about myself, one of the spiritual booklets I packed with me
is a booklet on forgiveness (The Heart of God: A Call to Forgiveness)
by Sr. Joan Chittister. Since being in Hungary I have had the opportunity
to attend Mass at St. Stephan's Basicila in Budapest, the main Roman
Catholic Church in this town, and also the Greek Catholic Church
in this town. And, while I am observant of and participate in the
liturgy, there are also times when the language barrier provides
time for my reading and reflecting on Sr. Joan's words on forgiveness
as I take the booklet to Mass with me. In summary, her thoughts
are also derived from the important Gospel Reading of today.
I write this on February 24th and the television news daily tells
of conflict, violence, struggles, death, etc. - whether that be
the recent elections in Haiti and Uganda, delayed arrest of a former
Serbian leader, torture of Iraqi soldiers, sectarian violence in
Iraq, change of government in Palestine, etc. And, we know the need
for forgiveness. 'not seven times but seventy-seven times.' But,
can I forgive one times 7 people in my life?
We are called to forgive. We are called to remember and to follow
Christ's last words on the Cross - which were words of forgiveness.
To quote Sr. Joan Chittister - 'Clearly, to be everything we can
become, we must learn to forgive.' (p. 16).