Apologies, Theology of
Ok, since I guess I’m blogging requests, let’s talk about one way in my wife rocks. I don’t do sonnets, but I’ll riff for a little while on the subject.
Specifically, let’s tie it into the homily the RC chaplain gave this morning on the subject of forgiveness. That’s always a fun thing.
Jen mentioned on her LJ that she was looking for an "I'm sorry" card because we had a misunderstanding, one of those married things where nothing either one of you says seems to be the right thing to say at that moment. We both crabbed at each other, feelings were hurt, etc.
Seems she couldn't find one at Walmart, although she could locate a card which expresses fulsome appreciation for your partner's ass. I could go on a riff about that why your average American marriage has a shelf life of 5 years, people are more interested in commenting on each other's physical features than in developing a relationship and moving past difficulties by apologizing and forgiving. I will bet any three internal organs that you cannot find anywhere a card which reads, "Apology accepted. I was a bonehead too, will you forgive me too?" Or how about one that says "Apology accepted. This incident is closed." People don't want to apologize, because they know it won't be accepted—the same incident gets brought up over and over. Women are notorious for this—their Significant Other screws up and they make him pay and pay and pay for years.
One of the greatest arguments I have found for Christianity is that many of the moral precepts are common sense. If you discard Christianity, suddenly you need marriage counselors to tell people this. That's ridiculous. Marriage is a sacrament, and everything you need to know about it is found within the Church and Holy Scripture.
As married Christians, we are supposed to be Christ for each other. We are supposed to love as Christ loves the Church. We are supposed to forgive as Christ forgives. Not a lot of leeway there, when you think about that.
Fr. Rochefort spoke this morning of a retreat which he went on with a group of fellow priests, and the retreat director asked one evening each of these men to recall something they had not forgiven themselves for or something they had not forgiven someone else for. He then asked, "What part of Christ’s sacrifice was inadequate to cover that sin? What more do you require of God?"
Where there is forgiveness, there is no more sin. God does not merely hold off punishing you immediately, and wait to see if you screw up again. He's not composing a list of offenses with which he will berate you at an opportune time. We do this to ourselves and each other. That’s not how the Almighty rolls, and for us to do this is a sin, a gross impiety by which we reject forgiveness not only of others but of ourselves. For we pray, "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."
One of the reasons that Jen and I are still together after all the stress and even though I'm a knucklehead, and that our marriage is stronger now than it ever has been is because we both understand this reality. I have a real tendency to be less diplomatic than I should be sometimes. And I'm also irrationally prickly about certain topics and blow up or shut down when Jen broaches them. But we both seek forgiveness from each other quickly, and the reason I'm willing to do that is because Jen is willing to grant it in truth. I know that when she does accept my apology, that is the end of things. When she talks to me after a fight and apologizes for her part, I forget it—often literally. And I don't forget things easily.
In case anyone is wondering, this morning we both exchanged apologies over the silliness last night which provoked this line of thought.