"What does it take to forgive?" is the question that Fr. John Monbourquette, best-selling author, priest, and psychologist, poses to each and every one of us. In life, you will surely meet individuals who will shake your spiritual foundation and values to the core (I have already reached my quota, believe me!) - those rude, pesky, annoying, despicable, and repulsive creatures who offend you big time and leave you seething in anger and revenge. How to deal with those rats?
Fr. Monbourquette suggests a 12 step-by-step guide in order for us to arrive at authentic forgiveness. In his book How To Forgive, A Step-By-Step Guide, he enumerates each of these 12 steps with a corresponding practical exercise at the end of each step. That is the second part of his book. The first part deals with the nature of forgiveness. I will enumerate the 12 steps here and some relevant quotes, but I urge you to grab a copy of this book at St. Paul's Bookstore. It will be of great help to you especially if you are struggling with unforgiveness, bitterness, and resentment.
The 12 Steps to Forgiveness
Step I: Do Not Seek Revenge - Put an End to The Offending Actions.
"Violence never put an end to violence, only non-violence can."
Step II: Recognize Your Pain and Poverty
"No one who continues to deny that they have been hurt and that their inner poverty has been laid bare will be able to forgive."
Step III: Share Your Pain with Someone
"It gets complicated when offenders refuse to acknowledge what they have done or are absent, unreachable, unknown, or dead."
Step IV: Identify Your Loss Properly So You Can Grieve It
"If you do not grieve what you lost, you will not really know how to forgive."
Step V: Accept Anger and the Desire for Revenge
"To my mind, love is destroyed not by anger, but by indifference and the fear of opening up."
Step VI: Forgive Yourself
"Only by humbly forgiving ourselves will we be open to the possibility of forgiving someone else."
Step VII: Understand Your Offender
"Once we know a person's background and history, we can put ourselves in their place and understand their unusual behaviors more easily."
Step VIII: Make Sense of the Offence in Your Life
"I invite you to discover the positive meaning of the offence or give it some meaning in your life."
Step IX: Recognize That You're Worthy of Forgiveness - and Already Forgiven
"You are worthy of forgiveness; you have been forgiven many times in the past."
Step X: Stop Trying So Hard to Forgive
"Only when it comes from a heart that is free and forgiven can forgiveness spring forth."
Step XI: Open Up to The Grace of Forgiving
"While God takes the initiative in granting forgiveness, God cannot force anyone to accept it."
Step XII: Decide Whether to End or Renew the Relationship
"After a serious offence, it is impossible to resume the former relationship, for the simple reason that it no longer exists and cannot exist again."
I want to thank a community brother who gave this book to me. I am not yet finished reading the book as I must admit it is not an easy book to read. There are exercises at the end of each step and you might find yourself stuck in a particular step but that is okay. Move at your own pace and let Him guide you at each step. The book will not only guide you on how to forgive, but also on coming to terms with your personal issues, hence, a journey towards self-discovery.
How to Forgive is an honest and touching book which unlocks the liberating and transformative power of forgiveness.