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 Post subject: Can a person forgive themself?
PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2008 3:11 pm 
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Handmaids of the Lord
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I thought that a long while back that question was posed on the board and the general consensus was that no, a person cannot forgive himself. He/she can forgive others who sin against them but he cannot forgive himself.

Last night I was watching a tv show where protestants were talking about how people need to forgive themselves of sins they have committed if they are to find true happiness. I guess that struck me as being odd since if we have the power to forgive ourselves then why ask God for forgiveness? Why have confession? Am I on the right thinking track or am I wrong here. Can people actually forgive themselves?

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 Post subject: Re: Can a person forgive themself?
PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2008 3:20 pm 
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When you get absolution for a sin God forgives you. You are required to forgive yourself too. If you don't you'll go crazy.

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 Post subject: Re: Can a person forgive themself?
PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2008 3:21 pm 
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I remember hearing a talk on forgiveness by a priest and he did touch on the subject of forgiving ourselves.

He certainly did not say that the Sacrament of Reconciliation was not necessary. What he explained is that some people, who have already made their peace with God in the confessional, go over and over in their minds their sins, many times for years, getting down and depressed about them.

The priest was telling us that we have to forgive ourselves because God already has, and just move on, thankfully.


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 Post subject: Re: Can a person forgive themself?
PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2008 3:24 pm 
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I think the term "forgiving oneself" is being used equivocally here. Two different things are being talked about here. One cannot absolve themselves from the guilt they have before God. But that is not what is meant when people talk about forgiving themselves.

What is meant is that sometimes people tend to not be able to come to terms with the fact that they have sinned or done something wrong or they cannot accept that God can or has forgiven them. A person may have seriously hurt another, Offended God, or even messed up their own life in some way. At times, people will hang on to this fact and beat themselves up with it so to speak or allow it to continually afflict them. Scrupulous people, for instance, are one group that this happens to. A scrupulous person will often endlessly berate themselves for a sin committed long ago.

What is meant by forgiving oneself is accepting God's forgiveness and allowing yourself to see yourself as God does...as a sinner redeemed by Christ and forgiven by him.

Spiritual writers give various causes for the inability to forgive oneself. It can come from a lack of trust in God or a lack of belief that He can heal you and forgive you, it can come from pride in that we can't come to terms with the fact that we have really sinned, it can come from a unhealthy self hatred of oneself (hence people who have been abused or hurt badly in some way can have trouble with this), scrupulosity or a false sense of contrition, etc.

Anyway, forgiving oneself might be better termed "allowing God to forgive you and to see yourself as He sees you".

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 Post subject: Re: Can a person forgive themself?
PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2008 3:36 pm 
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aventure (Bon) wrote:
I think the term "forgiving oneself" is being used equivocally here. Two different things are being talked about here. One cannot absolve themselves from the guilt they have before God. But that is not what is meant when people talk about forgiving themselves.

I think you're right.

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 Post subject: Re: Can a person forgive themself?
PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2008 3:42 pm 
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When we sin we have the possibility of offending 3 parties. God, others, and oneself.

Let us say that you stole something. To be absolved of this sin you must go to confession and have God forgive you. To make things right you would have to return the item or the value of the item to the person whose goods you stole. This person may or may not forgive you, but this has nothing to do with God's forgiveness although if they do not forgive you, they may be comitting a sin. By entering into sin, you have offended yourself. You have taken yourself where you should not go. You must forgive yourself or you will continue to beat yourself up. Whether you forgive yourself or not does not affect God's forgiveness of you for that particular sin, but if you do not forgive yourself it may lead to committing another sin.

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 Post subject: Re: Can a person forgive themself?
PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2008 3:42 pm 
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aventure (Bon) wrote:
I think the term "forgiving oneself" is being used equivocally here. Two different things are being talked about here. One cannot absolve themselves from the guilt they have before God. But that is not what is meant when people talk about forgiving themselves.

What is meant is that sometimes people tend to not be able to come to terms with the fact that they have sinned or done something wrong or they cannot accept that God can or has forgiven them. A person may have seriously hurt another, Offended God, or even messed up their own life in some way. At times, people will hang on to this fact and beat themselves up with it so to speak or allow it to continually afflict them. Scrupulous people, for instance, are one group that this happens to. A scrupulous person will often endlessly berate themselves for a sin committed long ago.

What is meant by forgiving oneself is accepting God's forgiveness and allowing yourself to see yourself as God does...as a sinner redeemed by Christ and forgiven by him.

Spiritual writers give various causes for the inability to forgive oneself. It can come from a lack of trust in God or a lack of belief that He can heal you and forgive you, it can come from pride in that we can't come to terms with the fact that we have really sinned, it can come from a unhealthy self hatred of oneself (hence people who have been abused or hurt badly in some way can have trouble with this), scrupulosity or a false sense of contrition, etc.

Anyway, forgiving oneself might be better termed "allowing God to forgive you and to see yourself as He sees you".

In a much more eloquent fashion then I would have.

If I remember correctly; Luther struggled with this. His guilt would make him crazy enough to torture his body.

To not forgive yourself as explained by aventure is denying the power of what Christ did for us.

He truly forgives us and sees us differently and so should we.

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 Post subject: Re: Can a person forgive themself?
PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2008 4:13 pm 
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Like I said you'll go crazy.

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 Post subject: Re: Can a person forgive themself?
PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2008 4:48 pm 
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DesertSailor wrote:
Like I said you'll go crazy.


I agree.


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 Post subject: Re: Can a person forgive themself?
PostPosted: Fri May 23, 2008 4:15 pm 
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Quote:
Can a person forgive themself?


[nitpick] No, Absolutely not! A person may be able to forgive himself, or if she is female, herself. However, a person (singular) cannot forgive themself (plural). It ain't proper grammar. :D [/nitpick]

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 Post subject: Re: Can a person forgive themself?
PostPosted: Fri May 23, 2008 5:37 pm 
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Learner wrote:
Quote:
Can a person forgive themself?


[nitpick] No, Absolutely not! [/nitpick]



I actually had a priest at a Cursillo say the following:

"People are always saying, 'I just can't forgive myself!' to which I reply, 'Of course you can't, only God can, that's why there's confession and you need to come see me!'"

What people are talking about is not forgiveness, but how they feel about themself due to their sin. Sometimes the hardest thing is to accept the forgiveness God offers. Some, like Judas, reject it by never asking for it, believing themself such a sinner that God cannot forgive them; this is the sin against the Holy Spirit, in one of it's manifestations. Others, reject it by not believing it and acting on it.

That feeling which some describe as "I can't forgive myself" can make you a saint, if you accept it as the just consequence of your sin, and, accepting God's forgiveness, work to give back to God the restitution for the evil done. An excellent example of this is Bl. Carino, the hit-man who murdered St. Peter Martyr.

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“therefore is my people led away captive, because they have not knowledge … therefore hath hell enlarged her mouth without any bounds” (Is 5:13-14).

But he that shall persevere to the end, he shall be saved. (Mt 24:13)


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 Post subject: Re: Can a person forgive themself?
PostPosted: Fri May 23, 2008 6:43 pm 
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The M Word wrote:
When we sin we have the possibility of offending 3 parties. God, others, and oneself.


I agree with this. Only the party who is hurt is the one who can forgive. As far as our eternal salvation, the only offended party that needs to do the forgiving is God. This is why people were so shocked when Jesus publicly proclaimed peoples sins were forgiven that had not directly involved an offense against him that they knew of. We do hurt ourselves when we sin as well and this is the only part that we can forgive. We should always keep in mind I think that the hurt to ourselves is secondary.

I think sometimes having difficulty forgiving ourselves may be part of our penance for sin, it can be cleansing and sanctifying. Forgiving others, Forgiving yourself, and being forgiven by others are all good things as well but only as long as this forgiveness is tempered by justice. You can forgive the drunk driver who killed your son, but that does not mean you have to help him to get off easier, it simply means you don't want to murder and spit on him. If you go around doing all kinds of evil things and you forgive yourself with out feeling guilty there is something very very wrong. You hear people do this, even Catholic's, when they defend their behavior or attitudes with the claim of "Hey, I am not perfect." Sorry, but that is no defense and not a reason not to feel guilty. Feeling guilt is not always a bad thing as it is necessary for repentance. Feeling guilty doesn't mean you have not been forgiven. Should the drunk driver immediately feel no guilt because the parents forgave him? Is that the reason he wants their forgiveness? If he still feels guilty was their forgiveness meaningless? Confession I do not think should be expected to wipe out all feelings of guilt, but it should certainly help and offer hope.

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