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The Art of Loving

March 19, 2015
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The following article is reposted with permission from docpeter.com.

First things first!

Therefore I will devote this first post of mine to what I think is the most important issue ever for anyone: love !

We cannot only not live without it, we also can not live good, happy and meaningful lives without it. After more than 40 years as a practicing psychologist I am convinced that most psychological problems – if not all – are rooted in a person´s lack of feeling loved enough at the core. Thus, generally speaking, psychological treatment is all about either helping the afflicted person find love, or help her open up to and receive a love that may already be available. Or both. Love is a very tricky and vulnerable business. There is a lot of confusion, misunderstanding and outright wrong thinking about the phenomenon of love and how to achieve it. love

You may have heard people say “Love is a decision.” I disagree.

If we could all decide to love, we could – and would – change the world to a paradise in an instant. The problem is that we would like to love and be loved, yet we end up choosing or doing un-loving things very often instead. Perhaps it is against our “will,” but nevertheless we cannot help doing un-loving acts.

Therefore let us first understand that love has nothing to do with performance. To love is not something we can be good at, like we can become good at running a race, for example.

I can easily show you what I mean:

Most of you have experienced being in love with another, wonderful, person. When this takes place you experience a flow of love between you and the other. But this flow is not something you are doing, or concentrating on, or straining to do. It flows effortlessly from heart to heart. When I experience this I cannot pound my chest and exclaim proudly: “Oh my, I am really good at loving.” It just happens. It is free and that is one of the reasons why the flow of love is bliss on earth.

Love as a gift

When something so nice comes to us without our doing, we call it a gift.  Love, true love, is precisely that: a gift. Reflecting on this, we will soon sense one of the biggest predicaments about being a human person: the very thing we need more than anything is totally beyond our control! Oops! This explains why we all are vulnerable at the core.  Extremely so. You may be surprised to hear me claim “we all” this way. But  I firmly believe this. The only thing that differs from person to person is how good we are at hiding it.

You can use this insight right away to feel better the rest of your day – and perhaps even the rest of your entire life: if you think you are a vulnerable person – and/or have been told you are ( with a slightly critical attitude), do not feel bad about it. It is part of your existential baggage to be vulnerable or sensitive, which many people do not understand – or want to accept.  Trying to deny or hide our true nature will only make us more fragile. I have seen thousands of clients over the years struggling with this. If someone is trying to be psychoanalytically “helpful” by diagnosing you as “over-sensitive”, just ask how they can be sure that it is not they who are “under-sensitive?”

As a rule of thumb, do remember one of my simple psycho-doctrines (pd): “True mental and spiritual strength begins with accepting and embracing our true vulnerability.”

I know this is one of these Dr. Peter ESTDs (easier said than dones).

But somebody has to say it. So think about it, rather more often than not. And if you cannot make it work – ask for help.

Let us explore the huge need for love issue some more. Where does it come from? We are born with it. Big time. Think of  a newborn infant, the most vulnerable being you can imagine in the whole cosmos. No other newborn creature in creation is as vulnerable and in need of love and care as much as the human infant. Notice the implication here: We are born with a need to be loved by the other. Not with a need to love the other. That need is there too, sure, but in a certain sense it is secondary.

When we as excited parents look at this tender needy baby of ours we cannot help falling in love with it, and we initiate the gift of love by caring, cuddling, smiling etc. etc. The baby feels loved, is blissfully happy and responds by loving back with a totally passionate and irresistible expression of love by kicking, moving smiling, chuckling etc. etc.  And then we go out of our minds – we feel loved !

This scenario is well known to everyone, and so familiar that you may not notice that here we are witnessing a profound truth about the nature of love: We are not born with a capacity to love by our own power. We are born with a need to be loved before we can love back!

This understanding is profoundly significant for all who experience challenges in making love work on a consistent basis in their relationships. And what group am I alluding to? I might as well admit that I do have all of us in mind ! ☺ I am here mostly focusing on marriages, but everything I say likewise applies to other close relationships like siblings, friends, parents, children, grandparents and grandchildren.

When we as kids look for friends, we do not come from a position of having a pressing need to like someone else, and therefore are willing to pick whoever is nearby. No, we are looking primarily for friends who will like us.  When we succeed in being liked by someone we are happy and like the other person in return. Then the other person is happy and likes us back again. From this you can see that we are looking more to be liked than to like.

This dynamic becomes even more interesting when we look at our search for love in adult relationships. Based on my experience from  marital counseling, psychodynamic theory and Christian anthropology I feel pretty confident claiming the following doctrine: “Our need to receive self -less love is much bigger than  our capacity to give it”.

Think about this for a while – if you dare. For the next step along this line of thinking is a shocking and embarrassing truth that you may not like to hear at all. I am truly sorry about this, but I have to reveal it to you anyway:

when we seek dating relationships and marriage we are primarily out to get something – not to give something. But when we get something first, well then of course we will be happy to give something back.

“Of course I will love you – if you love me. You go first! ”

This may sound terribly egoistical. That is because it is. And it may sound like I am  throwing unbearable pessimism into all the very beautiful and romantic ideas about marriage. Maybe so, but if it is the truth, we have to deal with it. The only right thing to do, now that we are caught on the spot is to explore this a little further.

So if you have not given up on me yet, hang in there with me and trust the promise that “the truth will set us free”. And if what I am claiming is not the truth, you better write me off ☹.

However, the principle that we cannot love without first having received the gift of love abides profoundly in scripture. Jesus states it very plainly himself when he says: “The love I give to you, I have received form my father. And now you go and love each other as I have loved you.” The message is clear: only if we have been loved first can we pass it on. Somebody has to initiate the love first. God the Father is the one in the Trinity who initiates and the son responds. Likewise the parents in our earthly family must initiate the love of the child in order for the child to love its parents back, and other persons as well. So there is nothing wrong, or unholy, about this principle.

Unfortunately, however, and here comes another terribly distressing fact: we are born with a need for an unconditional, totally selfless love that never fails. (We are created for perfect conditions, you know, see Genesis).

But no parents (after the fall) are capable of providing that – not even in the best of families. This means that we all come out of our family of origin and enter into adult life with a lack, or a “dent” in our heart, and perhaps also with many more or less painful experiences of un-loving input from our parents. Do not get me wrong, bless our parents, they did the best they could – the problem is just that “the best” was not good enough! Simply because we are born with a need for more than our earthly parents can provide. (You may want to hash this one out with your creator at some later, more appropriate time).

For now, we simply have to face the fact that we enter into adult life more or less deprived in our hearts of the totally selfless love that can fully satisfy us. And now we begin search for the one and only who can give us  what we did not get as children. (Notice the self-centered wording here – and just relax about it…I am not blaming or criticizing, just observing). As I said before, we are entering into relationships in order to be loved, more than in order to love.

Here is the problem then: if we are all running around looking for someone else to love us first, then who in the world is going to begin?

Let this be the riddle for you to ponder until next time.

Hopefully you begin to understand WHY so many (that is, all couples) experience difficulties making this love thing work in the way they desperately yearn for.

If it looks hopeless for you right now, you have understood what I am trying to say.

But we must first understand the nature of the problem before we can grasp the solution.

I promise have more to tell you. I know this is all terribly exciting so be careful that you do not hold your breath till then – it could be hazardous to your health.

If you cannot wait, however, get a hold of my talk “It is Not Good for Man to be Alone – But it is Not Easy for Man to be With Someone Either…

For now thanks so much for listening.

Keep breathing,

God bless you.

To hear more from Dr. Peter Damgaard-Hansen and integrative counseling, please visit his website.

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Real Success: An interview with David and Noelle McHugh

March 13, 2015
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We interviewed David and Noelle McHugh, a couple who met on AveMariaSingles. The McHughs were are guest speakers on last year’s Catholic singles retreat and Catholic singles cruise. People know you met on AveMariaSingles, but they might not know how you ended up there. Can you tell us about that? David: I went to Franciscan University where the majority of students are female. For whatever reason, maybe it was a combination of where I was at in discerning my vocation or just my lack of maturity in having meaningful relationships with the opposite sex, I never managed to hit it off with anyone there. Coming home after graduation though, I discovered that my best friend who graduated college at the same time had signed up for Ave Maria Singles. This discovery about my friend coupled with a renewed sense of my own masculinity that God had brought on in that point of my vocation discernment gave me the nudge I needed to sign up on AMS and begin a purposeful search for a Catholic wife.

Noelle: I had just broken up with a man I dated for a couple of years, who I thought I would marry. I remember praying about this man and some trouble we were having and hearing the Lord clearly say, “You can stay in this relationship and I will be with you. Or.. You can let to and trust that I have something better in store for you.” God put the ball in my court! So I let go of that relationship and focused on my relationship with God. In the meantime, a friend who also met her husband on Ave Maria started telling me about the site. I was very much against online dating, but she suggested I pray about it before deciding. I did, and felt that The Lord was calling me to sign up on AMS. One night, knowing the desire of my heart was a holy, Catholic husband and I needed to put myself in a place where I could find one, I prayed a Rosary and signed up!
A lot of people have hesitations about joining the site because they want a guarantee of someone nearby. What made you decide that it was worth writing to someone who lived so far away? 

David: To be honest, in the beginning I never fully thought out the implications of a long distance relationship. All I knew was that I was going to use this website as a tool to find my wife. That was my intention and I was driven by it. The only reason I contacted Noelle, a woman halfway across the country, was simply because there were no women who interested me that were either in my own state or even the neighboring states. I knew I had my limits- the girl in Hawaii never got a message from me. But, I have to imagine that if things hadn’t worked out with Noelle and there were no other closer prospectives, that Hawaiian girl could have possibly entered back onto my radar. Like I said, I was driven by the intentional purpose and pursuit of my vocation.
Noelle: When I first received a message from David, I didn’t respond right away because I was unsure of the distance. Massachusetts was not up there on the list of places I would like to live (Michigan wasn’t up there either, but I enjoyed my job and being near family.) I kept being drawn back to David’s profile though, because we had so much in common. After three days of thinking about it and reading his profile, I decided to write him back. We had too much in common for me to not write back!
We’ve heard before that the first phone call was a little awkward. What about the first meeting? 
McHughs: The first meeting was even more awkward. We had spend two months building a friendship and quasi relationship through email and regular phone conversations. Both of us felt that meeting each other in person was like starting from scratch! When you build a virtual relationship with someone online, your brain can’t help but create an idea of what that person is like when they are speaking to you on the phone or you are reading their messages. However, meeting face to face shatters that image and before you is the person as a whole- their personality, their quirks, and mannerisms. It really is a brand new experience.
What would you say to someone who has an online dating profile but isn’t interested in anyone further away than their own city? 
David: I would say, remember Abraham that even at his old age, and through leaving his home and the rest of his family, God, through that active trust, blessed him abundantly with blessings specifically associated with his marriage and vocation. Abraham could have easily said, “No. I want to stay where I am. I’m too old and I don’t want to leave my friends and family.” But then he would have never received those vocational blessings. Not all of us are going to be called to leave the job we have and our friends and family to travel hundreds of miles to find a spouse, but all of us are called to have that same trust in God’s will for our lives. We have to trust that God has a plan for our happiness which is way better than anything we could imagine.
Noelle: I would simply say… I’m pregnant with my fourth child. Ha! I really think being open is a practice and a discipline. God always calls us out of our comfort zone to keep us from getting lukewarm. For example, now… David and I don’t live in Massachusetts OR Michigan–We live in Kansas! When seeking a spouse, especially in an avenue of online dating, I think it is important to be open. We tend to put limits on God’s desire to work in our lives. We limit Him geographically… “Help me find a wife Lord, but let her be within 30 miles!” We limit His knowledge of what will make us happy, “Lord please help me find a spouse that makes x much money or looks like this or that!” If we would let go of some of the control and micromanaging of what God is doing in our lives, not only would we be more open to being led to the fulfillment of our vocation, but also we would be less anxious!
You’ve been on our retreat as well as our cruise. Tell us about that experience. 
McHughs: There were two amazing benefits that everyone got from the experience that they can take home regardless of whether or not they made any romantic connections. The first is the art of mingling and conversation! Both the retreat and cruise provide ample opportunity to practice meeting new people and taking part in interesting and engaging conversation. In the digital world nowadays, in general, that art is lost. The second benefit is the spiritual one! There were so many times of quiet reflection and inspiration given by Fr. Tom Morrow that allowed all of us to slow down and really listen to the Lord and work on our relationship with Him. We met so many wonderful people from all walks of life that we would have never met were it not for this experience. They have blessed our lives and we hope to have blessed theirs as well!
What is your advice to someone who might be interested in our trips? 
David: Come with the mindset of letting God take you deeper in your vocational journey, whether that is actually meeting somebody or encountering more deeply your identity in The Lord so that when you do find your spouse you will be able to better give a renewed version of yourself to that person.
Noelle: I agree with David and just want to add that the opportunities AMS provides aren’t with the expectation that you will find your spouse. Rather, they are creating opportunities for you to build friendships or possible relationships in a relaxed, fun, Catholic, holy atmosphere. It’s really a beautiful experience that addresses not just your own vocation, but your life with Christ to prepare you for that vocation!
So, you’ve been married 5 years, you’re expecting your 4th child, and you just recorded your first CD together. What else is ahead?  
David: Well, we are a fifth of the way there for reaching our quota of children. By the time we are done, we hope to have a full orchestra of little musicians who can accompany us on future albums. No, really we just take one day at a time being open to what God lays before us.
Noelle: Um, I am not planning to have twenty more children unless God really has some major plans for some lottery winning and perhaps giving David the ability to give birth! We are open though, like David said, to whatever God has in store for us in ministry and family. We don’t like to set plans too far ahead, because quite often God has something else in mind… And better. 🙂
mchughsrecent
You can follow Noelle Garcia McHugh online at noellegarciamusic.net

describe the person you are seeking.

December 5, 2014
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On AveMariaSingles, we have a portion of the profile called “My Personal Interests” and a section of that is called “describe the person you are seeking.”

Counter productive as it may be, this subsection of the profile and this particular feed are the most likely to be left blank on a profile. This is huge mistake! Although the spiritual aspect of a person is incredibly important, you are seeking to marry an individual, which interests, fears, hopes, and dreams. fictional

How to tackle this tricky part of the profile? We’re here to help!

Worst possible answer:

A blank space.

I don’t know what you’re looking for in another person at all, so I have to assume it’s not me.

Bad:

Overly intimidating or overly vague answers!

Overly intimidating statements such as “I’m looking for someone who can keep up with me!” could be better accepted as “seeking fellow go-getter.”

Overly vague statements such as “I’m seeking a partner on the road to heaven” doesn’t give potential matches something concrete to go on. Adding specific details shows more of your personality to potential matches and gives them the opportunity to contact you with something interesting.

Instead of “I’m seeking a partner on the road to heaven,” try including a specific aspect of the faith life that is important for you, such as a devotion to Eucharistic Adoration. Make sure to include some non-faith elements as well.

Better:

A thoughtful answer that cites specific things you’re seeking.

“Looking for someone fun-loving, spiritual, and dedicated. If you love dogs and Chinese food, even better. Sunday Mass followed by brunch would be a great first date!”

(This is still a little vague and could be longer. However, it’s much better than nothing at all or a very vague and short answer. The specifics in the second half (dogs, Chinese food, ideal first date) are great. Change the vague first sentence to “Looking for someone who loves roller coasters, prays the rosary daily, and is passionate about their career” and you’ve got something specific and unique.

Best:

A thorough, interesting description of what you’re looking for in another person that is unique and specific – but not so specific that it excludes potential interested parties! 

Here are real-life examples from David and Noelle McHugh, our guest speakers on this year’s cruise. They met on AveMariaSingles. Here are their answers:

Noelle: I am looking for someone who enjoys spending quality time with friends and family, who views the Catholic faith as a priority and life-force, who would be interested in hanging out with crazy teen youth groups, and who is self-driven. I am looking for someone who is ready to have a serious relationship headed towards marriage. I want to be able to find spiritual, moral, and emotional support in this person. I am hoping for someone light-hearted, funny, outgoing, excited about life, open to adventure, likes to travel, likes to cook… 🙂

NB: Notice that Noelle specifics someone who would be interested in hanging out with youth groups, as opposed to asking for a youth minister or someone who has experience with youth groups.

David: I am seeking someone who is both trusting and trustful. I would like to be with someone who is family oriented. Resilience is another quality I look for, someone who is able to bounce back when things do not go well. Christ should be the center of her life.

NB: David specifies someone who is able to bounce back when things don’t go their way. This is a specific quality. It’s also subjective, meaning it’s someone’s opinion that they fit this description. Specific yet subjective qualities are a great way to make your profile inviting to someone that God might have in mind for you!

Think of the “describe the person you are seeking” as talking to a good friend over coffee, and express your thoughts that way. Or e-mail us and we are happy to review your profile for you and offer suggestions!

If you’re interested in meeting Noelle and David and asking about their online dating success story, make sure to register for our cruise!

 

A Love Letter

November 19, 2014
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The below is reposted with permission from Noelle Garcia McHugh’s blog MTV: Ministry Through Vocation. Noelle and her husband David met on AveMariaSingles. To hear more from the McHugh’s, join the 12th annual Catholic singles cruise

[…] I started to think about what I want my kids and husband to hear from me, should I not have the opportunity to have a “final countdown” so to speak… should I die unexpectedly. I know this seems morbid, but in my mind, it is beautiful because I truly try to live an intentional life. I do my best to love and serve, though imperfectly, often laced with insecurity, impatience, sin, and selfishness. For example, just today… I had to apologize to my kids for losing my temper, taking toys away and basically telling them they couldn’t have fun ever again! It was literally just one thing after another, but I know that’s no excuse.

I especially reflect on my mortality and love of family when we are separated. I am flying to El Paso for an event this weekend, and I will miss them terribly, but they know that “Mommy goes to tell people that Jesus loves them.” And they want to grow up to do that too. It would be so amazing to me if they did. Every time I travel, I really consciously have to surrender my family and my own future.

But what I would say to them is this…

My Beautiful Children, My Holy Husband,

If you should ever learn anything from me, I pray that it is that you know and believe that God loves you so much. Sometimes I look at you each, so different, and I am so full of love for you that I could burst. I see how you love each other and I know in those moments I am experiencing Christ Himself.

Just love.

When you do something wrong, and I am upset at first, I am moved to forgive you not just because you are sorry, but because I love you so much. In these moments, I imagine how God has mercy on me, in the same way.

Be merciful.

I hope that you saw me have a welcoming heart and welcoming home. I hope you saw me treat others with respect and kindness and generosity and when I didn’t, I hope you saw me apologize and ask forgiveness. I hope you saw me forgive others. I hope I was a good example of “doing unto others…” I mainly just hope you saw me start over day after day, because that’s really what being holy takes. Sometimes we fall so we can get back up again.

Don’t ever give up.

My boys… I pray especially for your virtue of chastity and honoring women. I pray that you know what it takes to be a man. You are a defender and protector. Your dad is my true love because he puts Christ first and would do anything to protect me from not just physical harm, but spiritual harm as well. I was his first kiss, and that was a priceless gift to me. Be a holy man of God, because that is the most deeply desired quality in a woman’s heart. Be a holy man of God, because you will make your mama so, so proud. I never stop praying for you, ever.

My daughter or daughters, should I be blessed to have another 🙂 You are beautiful. Always listen when your dad tells you that you are beautiful because he loves you and wants the best for you. Let him be the man that you hold all other men up to. He is the standard, don’t let anyone love you less, though it would be pretty hard for anyone to love you more. Pray everyday. Your holiness makes you beautiful. It makes you loving and kind and forgiving and hopeful. Sure, don’t neglect your appearance, but know that when you have the light of Christ in you, that is the most attractive quality in the world. I never stop praying for you, ever.

My holy husband, David. I know that I have a long ways to go in the area of good wife and mother. I know you have suffered greatly through my lack of culinary expertise. But I want you to know that I’m your biggest fan. I believe in you and I love you. When you pray every morning, you remind me to not neglect my relationship with the Lord in the midst of our crazy lives. You are the one that brings our family close to the Lord and I am so happy that you will teach our boys to be men of God and show our daughter, or daughterS someday, what to look for in a man. I know that no matter what, we will always meet in the Eucharist.

I love you.

I love you Damien, Lucia, Elias. I love you, David.

I hope I tell you that everyday. You are the best gifts I’ve ever received. I can’t believe sometimes, that I have the privilege to be your wife, your mother.

God must really, really love me.

Love, Mommy/Noelle

Annual Catholic Singles Cruise

November 12, 2014
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vacation-flyer

Prayer of Thanks

November 6, 2014
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Heavenly Father,  I thank You for my very existence which You gave me out of the abundance of Your love and which You sustain at every moment. I thank You for my health, which I so often take for granted, for my family which I also take for granted. I thank You for my intellect, by which You enable me to think, and for my will, by which You enable me to love. Thank You for my body, and the food and drink by which You sustain it, and the shelter by which You protect it. Thank You for my soul, and the grace of Your Holy Spirit by which You nourish it.

My every talent comes from You, my ever possession, my every moment of time, for which I will be eternally grateful.

Thank You for Blessed Mary who intercedes for me before You. And thank You most of all for Jesus, who has given us new life, new hope, new love by his death and resurrection, and for the Church which brings Him to us each day. What an awesome, generous, loving God You are!

You ask me to worship You at least weekly and to pray without ceasing. It is my privilege and my joy to do so in thanksgiving for all You have given me. Amen

©2013 Rev. T.G. Morrow

When you can’t forget the past.

November 3, 2014
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This article reposted with permission from Anthony Buono.

Recently, I wrote that a key thing to working through being hurt is to forgive and forget. This is how God deals with our offenses against Him, therefore we are required to do the same. I assumed this was common knowledge.

But I was wrong! There was no problem with the forgive part, but the forget part seemed to cause quite a stir. I have to admit that this idea of forgiving and forgetting could be confusing. Perhaps I should have touched on the concept of resentment, because that seems to be the problem with understanding the concept of forgetting. When we harbor resentment, it causes harm to ourselves, it does nothing positive or productive, and it keeps us from healing and moving forward.

“But how can I forget what was done to me?” That is what we ask when we are badly hurt. It’s a fair question. But have we ever considered what might be motivating this question? Is it because we want to prevent what hurt us from happening again? Is it because we believe it should not have happened to us? Do we get mad at God because of how unfair it seems? Or is it because we have a “need” to remember it?

All of these motives seem reasonable. But realistically, the pursuit of any one of them is likely to end in disappointment. Wanting to find out the cause and prevent future happenings sounds good and is a noble goal. But doesn’t it to eat away at us as we try to answer the question “Why did you do it?” And why questions are very difficult to get answered in a way that brings peace. Many times the answer is “I don’t know, ”and that can make it worse.

Believing it should not have happened in the first place is a fruitless exercise. First, no one can promise they will never hurt you. Secondly, am I entitled to never be hurt? Is there something so special about me that I get to be excluded from Jesus’ promise of the cross and that those who follow Him would have to go through what He went through? Or is it that we should be entitled to choose our own cross, of which we would definitely exclude being hurt by someone we love as an option?

It’s the last motive that gives me the most reason to pause; namely the “need” to remember the hurt. This is a reality about human beings that we all have to be careful about. Sadly, some people feel better remembering the hurtful things done to them. There is a kind of comfort in revisiting those feelings and recalling the events. What a prison we build for ourselves when we harbor resentment. It’s like listening to the same song over and over, letting yourself feel the pain each time.

And who wins in that scenario? The person who has offended you has likely already forgotten it or does not even realize they did anything “wrong”, either because it was unintentional or because they are chronically abusive. There you are, in a torture chamber, holding someone else responsible for the misery you choose to continue dwelling in. You are the one building your own prison when you keep a hurtful event on a continual loop in your mind.

If there is abuse in the relationship (physical, verbal, psychological), then this is a different story. Abusive relationships are in a class by themselves. Abused people need to be handled with care and more information. Though still called to forgive and forget, but they must also tend to their personal safety and sanity. But being abused does not give license to behave however you like. If you continue to dwell on the horrible things that happened to you, then you are just as broken as you were when you hadn’t the spirit to defend yourself.

Putting abused persons aside, I want to stick with the typical person who is a sinner, who can have normal, healthy relationships, though they have fallen human nature capable of hurting other people. Being hurt in a relationship is part of our journey and helps us become the saints we are called to be.

Because of this fact, we need to expect to be hurt. Christ’s call to forgive “seventy times seven” implies we will be hurt a great deal throughout life. His commandment to “love one another as I have loved you” is the explicit call to live love even when it hurts the most. Jesus’ love for us is not just a forgiving of our sins, but also forgetting them.

We must pause to ask ourselves, “Do I truly know how to forgive as Jesus forgives?”

Take the Gospel scene of Peter, whom Jesus loved (with as real of an affection as any of us have for any person), betraying Jesus in his darkest hour (Peter abandons Him and denies knowing Him three times). Look at how Jesus handles Peter after the Resurrection. Jesus does not make Peter recount what he did, but instead receives him with welcome and draws out Peter’s love with a call to prove his love in service.

Jesus forgets about what Peter did and moves forward in the assumption of Peter’s core love for Him, not Peter’s human weakness capable of betraying him. Peter, in turn, never forgets what he did to the Lord, and strives all his life to make up for it. This is the power of forgiving and forgetting.

So what does it mean to forget?

It does not mean forgetting how it felt to experience an unjust action. It means the ability to face that memory prevent it from having power to influence us in a negative way, whether it be thought, action, or feeling. It is an act of the will, and it does not require the absence of negative memory. How is it possible to make such an act of the will when the memory of feeling that pain still exists?

It’s called the grace of God. God can heal us in very impressive ways if we will let Him. His grace can help anyone rise above what is humanly “normal.”

Therefore if we pray enough, and seek God with great humility, and we act on this desire for God via the sacraments Jesus provided for us in the Catholic Church (particularly Confession and the Holy Eucharist), there is nothing we cannot rise above and or be totally renewed from.

The point is forgiving and forgetting are both supernatural actions, meaning only God can forgive in such a way. We need to develop a deep relationship with Jesus Christ. This is the way we forgive.

Grace does not remove the memory of the injustices of our life. It does something even better. It sanctifies these events, giving us a peace to understand, and a new pair of eyes to see the deeper purpose. Grace overcomes resentment and empowers us to control the memory of feelings. This is the way we forget.

Forgetting what someone did to you does not mean giving someone permission to keep hurting you in the same way. Letting go of the resentment and anger requires detachment from your belief that you are entitled to protection from pain.

Controlling the power feelings of the past have over you and living the grace of God, Who is love itself, is how you forget. Go to Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament for that grace and ability to control the feelings and memories.