Thursday, October 19, 2017

Women, We are Failing New Moms. By:C.C.

(Image from Global
It is easy to look at the feminist movement and find various ills that have actually resulted in the imprisonment and fostered a true sense of dependency in women by women. Perhaps this reality is overlooked and thus it is not explored adequately nor is it ever really known by some. The pain of this becomes quite apparent when we peer into the modern reality of motherhood and the wounds that linger there. There is this idea of being a mom as a burden one must be alleviated from opposed to a profound grace to be entered into, where we find the possibility to witness the hand of Our Lady guiding us and her mantle embracing us in love. There is incredible opportunity to know the profound sense of our potential as women in Christ.

As a young mom of two, I am baffled and disgusted by much of the mama culture out there. I see it damaging, and wounding to women, leading to isolation and a sense of victim-hood that hinders joy and a sense of thriving in these fragile and tremendously important years. 
What has become more apparent to me is the often overpowering and critical view of our mother's generation , I say this wanting to bring light to something that must be discussed lest we lose a young generation of moms to suffering and self loathing, never learning the beauty of sacrifice and their own inconceivable power as strong independant women dependent on God.
Surely many people have grown to view domestic life and motherhood as a prison, and if this is Alcatraz I'm in , I wouldn't exchange these shackles for anything in in the world!
Take into account visiting a new mom, ,or even just hearing many new moms chat about their early experiences, it is often laden with "my mom said to do this ", "my mother-inlaw told me I should do that", or "my dog's aunt's grandmother's neighbour said I'm doing this wrong" . Please for the sake of everything good in the world and the sake of true womanhood - Back OFF. 

Now perhaps that is seemingly bold. I'm also more inclined to dance to the beat of my own GOD's drum, so I did not give heed to how to's, but took the time in silence and solitude with my children to discover my own mama voice, I think it is very important for everyone to do this.
Women need empowerment and encouragement to build a confident sense of motherhood rather than it being dictated to them, often in a means that is imposing. And although it may not appear as such ,I have seen it cause tremendous confusion in many new moms and serve to deprive them of truly enjoying the experience.
I am not dismissing the reality of postpartum depression, or declaring that it is not a significant suffering needing proper help and assistance, so please be sure to intercede appropriately if one you know may be in that state.  For me it is important to bring forth the majority of cases I have seen  where women can overwhelmingly worsen the emotional state of a new mom by claiming to know all the answers or be the answer themselves. 

It is a grace  to be able to thrive in motherhood, and so continual glory to God for it all, but I think He is too sadly forgotten in the journey. It is also vital to empower women by affirming their capabilities and letting them set out for themselves on the task of walking this path as individuals.
We have long pressed careers and importance of academia , we have been groomed to see that as worthy work, but motherhood by society is seen as a 12 month endeavor (if you're lucky to have that as a mat leave) and then BAM sent back to the "most important"
Most times,  this is encouraged selfishly by the elder generation because they bask in the ability to child rear while their daughters return to work . I have seen alive a desire to be with ones child dismissed or not given proper attention, not because women don't yearn to be home from work, but because they don't know how, they don't know that it is worthy work , or that they are capable of it. More than this they have been so swamped by opinions and told a bunch of "how to's" that work is seen often as a means to "be oneself again" or to "come alive"
The notion that women can live this life giving vocation deadened inside is so wounding to me. It causes me great pain, and I'm sure Our Lady looks on and is there with her big maternal heart saying "Come to me, be with me, I am with you, I will guide you , just let ME mother you."
This awareness of damage done to new moms is continually affirmed as I often get calls from friends and such discussing difficulties and their experience of being torn. I am amazed at the light bulb moments that go off when I say "What works for you and your home?" "what do you feel is right?" "You are a good mother, you can do this, and find your own mama voice".

We empower women by stepping back enough to let grace step in and to let them become who God has meant them to be. We should not strive to have carbon copy mini me's of another time and place. I value tradition immensely , I think it is a healthy and necessary means of learning about the depth of our being, but in some cases, a lot of passed down theories about motherhood have stunted the growth, or rather hindered growth completely.
Imagine a child learning to ride a bike, the training wheels are put on, when they are taken off every part of you is watching and praying that child won't fall or trip, but a healthy mother recognizes that yes , they will fall, they need to fall, and I must encourage them to get back on that bike.
To overwhelm a new mother, to be all Oedipal mama on them is to forever keep training wheels on, and suddenly they come off alarmingly without warning and more suffering is had, more falling, and more pain because they were never encouraged to ride alone or get back on the bike. Worse than this they are never taught that they can.
Granted , I am rather green in the eyes of experience , but age and quantity of time does not necessarily bring forth wisdom. This is extremely necessary to note. I am secure in recognizing the greatest gift I will give to my children is their independence on a personal level and their perpetual dependency on God. My role exists to show them this alone--to Whom they most belong, and with that I trust beyond measure where they will be taken. Primarily let us remember so much of doing the right thing as moms relies upon being who we are in love, and in God, and striving to be that well!
And so, based on my very limited and biased observances here is what everyone in the female population can do to help new moms 

  • Pray for them- Before you speak, before you offer an act of help, begin in praying for them.
  • Pray for yourself-  For the clarity to know the importance of healthy detachment and avoid  the selfish need to invade the necessary boundaries of a new mother's life.
  • Accept that you don't know it all
  • Recognize some suffering and struggle as necessary grounds for virtue, but pray to discern when  help is necessary.
  • Don't take over- It's not your right, or your job.
  • Be present, but sometimes that means distantly too - help with a hot meal in the early days , but knowing healthily when to back off, or ask the new mama what type of help she actually appreciates.
  • Women don't need more stuff they need to know that they are the MORE. 
  • Encourage , encourage, encourage, affirm, affirm, affirm. 
  • And please for the sake of all things. If you know a woman who truly and desperately desires to remain home, support her prayerfully, and help her provide guidance to do so. Remind her, as I once heard Dorothy Pilarski allude to many times The mortgage can wait, the reno is unnecessary , and this time will not be forgotten and you have the fruits of  it forever.
  • A working mom is NOT a bad mom 

And please above all, have recourse to Mary, Mother of us all and the source of all goodness. (CC) 

P.S. Having a sense of healthy community is a great way to navigate the journey of motherhood. The Archdiocese of Toronto has a great Mom's Ministry active in many parish communities...for more information check out--

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

To Sit and Listen. By: C.C.

"When Our Lord corrected Saint Martha, He said, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and upset about many things..." [Lk 10:41] Note that she would not have been troubled if she had been merely diligent, but she was overly concerned and uneasy; she was hurrying about and all stirred up. Rivers that flow gently through the plains carry along large boats and rich merchandise. Rains that fall gently on open fields make them fruitful in grass and grain, while violent storms devastate fields and pastures. A job done too eagerly and hurriedly is never done well. "He who is in a hurry should go slowly,: says the proverb. We perform actions quickly enough when we do them well. Drones make more noise and work more eagerly than worker bees, but they make only wax and not honey. So also, people who hurry about with tormented anxiety and solicitude never accomplish much, nor do they do anything well." (St. Francis de Sales)
It seems that our Western society has been victim to a fast paced lifestyle for quite some time. There is an illusion of forward motion in many areas, but not necessarily any meaning. In a sense we are guilty of superficially grazing across many pastures of life without taking root, and without acquiring any depth. 

We seem to lack the very thing we need in order to truly live as God has called us to. In saying this, it is important to note that many of us have also fallen away from the notion of God as creator and true architect of our lives. We often run ourselves to the point of exhaustion to accomplish our goals, meet deadlines, and to complete assignments. One must consider asking themselves in response to these words from St. Francis De Sales “What would happen if I just slowed down?"

    For many this idea of slowing down may appear as laziness, lack of ambition, or a deflation of their work ethic. However, if I may suggest, in slowing down one can better assess and complete their goals with clarity of mind and peace of heart that will ultimately carry them further;not leaving them utterly exhausted. It is also in this slowing down and freeing ourselves from the constant obsession to be in motion that one may also reconnect with our Lord. As I have shared many times before it is through silence and stillness that we encounter God and can truly hear His voice.

    Choosing to slow down and live free of hurry despite what is going on around us is a very challenging task. Many come to this decision when faced with no choice at all. It is often sadly after the death of a loved one, a health matter, or technological failure that may lead us to realize our need to just stop, breathe, feel, and think.

   Naturally the pressures of life may cause us to react as St. Martha did. Just as our Lord corrected her then, He is now speaking to each one of us saying “You are anxious and upset about many things there is need of only one thing." (Luke 10:40-42) The one thing Jesus refers to is the very thing that will enable us to be like the gentle falling rain which gives life and fruit to the dry open fields. It is through slowing down that we are able to accomplish great tasks. Let us learn from St. Martha's haste and not forget that as we hurry our Lord is calling us away from our distractions and anxieties to sit and listen to Him.

   May those burdened by work, worry, and unrest find the time to slow down. Let us not fear the stillness- but rather embrace it with openness. May the Lord provide us with the clarity to see that great tasks are accomplished with great surrender. May we be inclined to prioritize our lives and our daily agendas in ways that acknowledge our need for God. 

In moments of great distraction and defeat, may we seek the face of Christ, and hear Him reminding us to sit and listen.(CC)

Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Rock of Our Faith. By:C.C.

"For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter,and upon this rock I will build my church,and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." Then he strictly ordered his disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ."(Matthew 16:13-19)

"In her voyage across the ocean of this world, the Church is like a great ship being pounded by the waves of life’s different stresses. Our duty is not to abandon ship but to keep her on her course." (Saint Boniface)

The Cross contains everything that we need to understand the human condition and to make sense of faith and suffering. It is through this avenue, and by no other that we can also better navigate what it means to follow and serve Christ within His Church, built upon the rock of St. Peter.
Jesus promised in today's Gospel that the netherworld would not prevail against His Church. This is consoling and also calls into question the reality of our own faith and to whom we give our obedience and following.
As life's difficulties beat against the Church there is great whiplash felt throughout. As times seem to veer progressively away from the teachings of the Church and what it is She stands for, people are perhaps more inclined to jump ship rather than stay aboard and further seek a means to keeping afloat and on course.

Understandably, there are numerous reasons why one may decide to do so. Perhaps it is a result of questions being poorly answered, or unanswered, perhaps it is ignorance to what the Catholic Church truly stands for, or rather Whose Church it  is. 

Revisiting this Gospel is humbling and at the same time inviting of a faith in Jesus Christ alone, despite what one may perceive, fear, or see the Church becoming. We are reminded to Whom it most belongs and in this is every assurance of truth. We aid in keeping the Church on course by remaining present at this moment shared in today's Gospel and obedient to the role that has been given us in faith. It is not a finite moment , it is not an empty phrase to do away with, It is an establishment of a promise , that we must take time to bear witness to, so that we can then increase our sense of the modern day challenges surrounding, and even greet them with the freshness of faith that Jesus's first disciples had.

From this fresh encounter is the means for living in the promise of Jesus for His Church. The implications that this has in all of our lives, and especially in those Holy men appointed to higher roles of leadership within the Church becomes more apparent through our own own humble obedience and daily surrender to follow Jesus, despite the poundings of criticism and counter Christ ways from our culture. 

If the ship is abandoned at the sight of any difficulty then we can be assured that our faith is not in Jesus Christ, nor is it really faith at all. Difficulty invites a renewal of understanding and trust in the Lord. We can affirm faith in the face of challenge, we can pray for the clarity in our own lives., and beg to have the courage to persevere. 

In many ways from the most subtle to the most alarmingly significant we can each play a role in helping to keep the Church on Her course, by remaining on course ourselves. Not so that we desire a following, or to be held up as an icon of some esteemed example. But so that we remain in the embrace of our Lord and seek to glorify Him in all that we do by the simplicity of faith that we live.

In the face of scandal, in the face of "fake church news" and through encountering challenges with doctrine/dogma and perhaps even some Papal decisions it is well that we are reminded of Jesus' promise and to continually entrust ourselves to God. 

The primacy of our faith and our belief in the Church must stem from our belief in Jesus Christ. As if He were before us everyday asking "But who do you say that I am?"  If our answer professes that He is the Son of God, then all things necessary for embracing the Rock of our faith become possible. (CC)

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! 

How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways!
For who has known the mind of the Lord
or who has been his counselor?
Or who has given the Lord anything
that he may be repaid?
For from him and through him and for him are all things. 
To him be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11: 33-36)

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Are You Truly Listening? By:C.C.

"Consider this great mystery. The sound of my words strikes the ears, and the Master is within! Do not suppose that any human is the teacher of another. We can Admonish by the sound of our voice; but unless there is one Who teaches on the inside, the sound we make is futile.
I, for my part, have spoken to all; but those to whom the Anointing within does not speak, those to whom the Holy Spirit within does not teach, go back untaught." (Sermon on 1 John 3, 12)

The mystery belonging to our faith and all things divine is something that perpetually calls us to renew our ideas about what it mean to believe, and why we do. We need to embrace this mystery with childlike simplicity and trust so that we may truly be attentive and receptive to the Master within. 

St. Augustine in all of the greatness we come to revere him for was primarily a humble and obedient student of divine mystery and completely surrendered to the power of our Lord's work within Him. 

It is this necessary and admirable detachment that allows for his words to pierce the ears and hearts with a resounding truth that still echos today in all of his words remaining with us, and thanks be to God that they do remain!

In the small sharing from his sermon today he captures a very important aspect about being a messenger for the Lord, and the important work of evangelization. There are many words spoken today striking many ears by the faithful. It can be overwhelming, but seeds are surely being scattered. The fruitfulness of the seeds, while much of it does depend upon the soil that they land on, does also have something to do with the vessel from which they are being thrown from, or the tongue that shares these words.

To be able to share and speak of the divine and with great conviction takes being mindful of our baseness and shared need for God's incredible mercy and grace. We can look at St.Augustine as a prime example for better understanding the reality of his own words shared here today. 

Undoubtedly, those minutely familiar with his life will see that he was not the poster child for holiness in his earlier days, nor was he an ignorant fellow in the eyes of education or learning. Truly from the lap of his mother, St. Monica, and many others who would have tried to instruct him in the ways of faith, numerous words struck his ears. At first there was little impact, he did not attend to them, nor did they initially stir up anything convincing enough for him to turn completely away from his sin, and into the fullness of faith. We do know though, how he ended. His beginning is made all the more of a powerful testament to us, a true testament of God's incredible mystery.

He speaks in his sermon here of the impact that words can have, but also he is mindful of Whom it is that must speak within, Whom it is that must work within and lead one to true transformation. The hearing and the listening leading to conversion and understanding   belongs completely to God. 

To be a witness for the Lord is to be first obedient to His precepts and live out in love the way He instructed to do so. To preach and share the good news is more about doing so reverently, than doing so with the intention of entertaining, and opening hearts. It is not our work to do that, it is the work of God alone. Many may "go back untaught" but this does not mean that the work is unimportant. 

We must pray,  to place primacy on our relationship with the Lord and to be humble vessels. Let us not pray that our words are received, but that God's grace may open hearts to hear, and eyes to see His mystery. We must recognize that we are merely instruments in God's symphony and not the conductor, or the composer. 

May we renew ourselves daily to be taught by our Lord, to sit at His feet always recognizing the need to be perpetually fed and filled with His love. May we then go forth ministering to those in the active vineyard of Christ for God's glory, sent by His grace alone. (CC)

Friday, August 25, 2017

Fasting, Fish, and Phones By: C.C.

Fasting seems to be a lost concept. I am not suggesting that it doesn't exist anymore at all, but truly it does not seem to be spoken about enough anymore. Fasting is needed as many of us are entrenched in a "want world" and self gratified society. 

What comes from fasting is a much needed detachment from things, and ordering of our passions, and ultimately an avenue that welcomes a much necessary closeness to God. 

It is not easy, nor should it be. It is a radical way of attuning ourselves to living more presently in the presence of our Lord and purifying ourselves. It liberates us from the temporal things, albeit not without much enduring.

Most Catholics are perhaps more traditionally familiar with fasting from meat on Fridays, many still do practice this within their homes. But often fish Fridays can take on an even more gluttonous reality than a fast would suggest. For example, being Italian-Canadian extremely rich and battered calamari fritti is surely a beloved favorite of a Friday fish menu, but is perhaps even more lavish in indulgence than my breaded chicken. Therefore the heart of my fast is not pure in it's intention nor sacrificial. I'm sure it would be an interesting thing to dialogue about. 

When we talk about fasting we are talking about a sacrifice, and not something that is easy or enjoyable for us. It should shed us, and prune us, and unearth some of the vices that we battle with. It can be a tremendous and necessary helper as we strive to live a life of virtue. As our western world progressively climbs toward more consumption, more indulgence, and more self gratification, a fitting and crucial response by the faithful at the face of all of this is much needed temperance and self denial. 

I am not trying to foster a population of "sour faced saints" of sorts, but to help cultivate the recovering of encountering true joy and true peace belonging to a heart completely abandoned to God. To be mindful of sacrifice is an authentic aspect of following Christ. To be present enough to encounter His presence, even in the face of others, means that we must be willing to unplug ourselves quite literally from time to time.

In our world today there is a lot of talk  about the prominence of social media and technology and a complete loss of strong/healthy human interactions and attentiveness to people. Last night on Twitter I was reading a thread regarding this very concept and it invited further reflection. I also had the privilege of chatting with Arleen Spenceley for my humble podcast some time ago and she brilliantly shared even more on this subject (which will be posted in the near future).

We are consumed by screens locked in everywhere we go. How much we boast about free wifi in some locations at coffee shops and such, only to see people out for coffee, which is arguably a lovely pastime, now sitting across from one another tweeting, chatting, and youtubing away with everyone but the person before them. We are seemingly more connected, but truly people are starving for more genuine connections and authentic friendships.

While our social media can be implored for some good, no doubt. It is a refreshing idea to think of implementing a fast from phones. To limit use within the day and do so drastically. Perhaps even choosing one day completely to shut down. Detachment should not belong solely to time away in retreat, or the feeling that you need to have an excuse of sorts to not answer your phone. Simply select time and be obedient to it to be unplugged. 

I remember well my first ever retreat I shut my phone down as soon as I had text home about my safe arrival and off I went phone free.  I can't begin tell you how many times I looked for my phone almost shamefully on numerous occasions desiring to check it and did not. I had to work up to a sense of peace with the idea that it was not there. It was extremely liberating, but also more concerning to me was my dependency upon this device. 

Eventually, and not too long into retreat that instinct faded and I was absorbed in the most important. Yes, the environment was obviously more favorable in some ways of having this occur, but here I am amidst the daily grind of things and I can recognize that there is a dependency still lingering for sure; a habitual reliance upon a device that I think can be purified, and even must be purified if I am to be present to the most important within my day.

I can not boast of having a TV in our home and this is a wonderful thing. That itself seems to be a heroic endeavor in today's world, so I have absolutely no idea what is hip or happening in TV land, and I couldn't care less to be quite frank, but more than this I have come to see that though the absence of TV is profound, my phone can very well make up for lost time, time that many lose in front of the tube. 

And so, I am challenging myself, and even maybe some of you out there to fast from phones as you would fast by eating fish. It can be as structured or unstructured as you would like. You may choose to simply shut down completely for a day, a morning/ afternoon whatever, or to limit your use of what you use your phone for. 

I am officially launching the phone fast challenge and to be attentive to how this deepens your self awareness, and also your relationship with God. 

I am not expecting there to be magnificent Moses mountain top type of elaborate enlightening, but there will be growth, there will be clarity. I am joining in this too.My phone is off, and has been for the entire morning. (CC)

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Desiring to be Last. By: C.C.

"But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first." (Matthew 19:30)

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you,  who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.  In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,  for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls" (1 Peter 1-9)

We spend our lives in a state of yearning for achievements and accolades. From the classroom setting into various sporting and artistic endeavors we can be geared toward acquiring and deeply desiring tangible merit for our successes. The pat on our backs perhaps proclaims to us that we are worthy, that we have done well. 

To be imbued with the Gospel is to live out our natural lives and numerous tasks that we are given, mindful of the supernatural aid that sustains us. While also being ever reminded of our limitations and the Lord's provision in our lives of all that we have received.  

The daily Gospel readings over past little while have focused on the inheritance of heaven and how we can strive to live eternally with our Lord. This eternal reality that is so very hidden from us, yet by faith so very visible, can be a difficult concept to fully understand. It is fitting however that we do not understand it completely, and even necessarily so. For we must strive only to understand the importance of seeking God and living our lives in accordance to His teachings, and in imitation of the virtues that were so visibly exuded by the holy men and women we come to know throughout our rich Church history. 

When we reconcile ourselves to understanding the baseness of our earthly inheritance  in order to keep proper order of things and recognize the true value of things eternal we can begin to live well and to use our worldly merit and gain for the good of the kingdom of God. 

The close of today's Gospel proclaims to us that "many who are first will be last, and the last will be first."   It is a very defeated message in the eyes of the world. We are so groomed to be first in all things and failure is shunned and even feared by many. Thus, we do never acquire a true sense of greatness at all, but are merely like hamsters running endless wheels getting no where. If we desire heaven, and we want to take our faith life seriously then we must meditate upon our end. I'm not suggesting to live with a fear of apocalyptic ending per say or to go out and purchase caskets and jump out of airplanes as some part of a bucket list. But rather to give each day fully to our Lord in gratitude, to offer Him back the gifts that He has so freely given to you, and to cultivate these using them for His glory. 

We must live desiring to be last in all things so that He may be first, and in this we begin well, and even live well. Through this humble manner we can acquire a true sense of peace and joy in our time of serving. 

I have chosen to follow the close of today's Gospel reading with a passage from 1 Peter, because I think this does well to further drive home the true promise of eternal life and our inheritance by faith. Though we are presented with the reality of suffering, we are given a reminder of our hope. And to Who we must be ever mindful of. 

We are naturally drawn to the good, to want glory, and peace, to want to live in a state of "happiness". But when the reality of suffering inevitably comes we do not always greet it with pleasantry. we can be led to ask some serious questions "What is such a life?" "What's the point of faith?" If we ask the questions, then we too must welcome the answers that have already been answered. In the Person of Jesus Christ. 

When we are refined by fire we can learn how to praise all the more. And indeed recognize how much our God loves us if we remain desiring union with Him. 

For much of my adolescent years and young adult life I spent desiring to be first. In many ways. Running on my own esteem and the baseness of human passions----(that's an understatement in avoidance of wanting to be crude) The emptiness of it was undeniable. Surely I had every good reason to remain that way through a worldly lens, but how then did it fade ever so quickly? how did I soon see how worthless and how lost I was? That alone belongs to the mystery of God and to the reality of our faith. When eternal life can be accepted as real, then the daily life that we are given takes on great purpose and meaning. We do not climb the ladder to heaven as one climbs the corporate ladder, for in many ways, and even the most essential way this is done is by always desiring to be last.

We begin well, by desiring to end well in our Lord alone. 

May we strive daily to live mindful of the inheritance of heaven so that we may spend our days living as Jesus taught us. Loving God above all things, and striving to love our neighbor. (CC)

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Freedom in Forgiveness By: C.C.

"Lord, if my brother sins against me, often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?" Jesus answered, "I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times."

Every now and then there are Gospel verses that pop up and truly cut to the heart of what it means to be a follower of Christ. We are given and presented with a lofty challenge of sorts demanding deep inner work and clinging to Christ. 
We are reminded in today's Gospel of the very difficult and necessary reality of forgiveness. 
This work is as ongoing as conversion should be. 
It is impossible without great love of God. To forgive means first that we recognize our own brokenness and imperfection, and reconcile ourselves to accepting that we are but broken instruments and people with vast limitations. Yet, simultaneously we are invited to forgive, not because of what we owe another, but more because of Whose we are, and the freedom and peace which our Lord so desires all of us to have. 
A lack of forgiveness weighs us down more than the wounds that a single act, or repeated acts of hurt can create in our hearts. The heaviness can cause us to live shackled by emotions and lead us into desolation. It is not an easy predicament to be in. 
Surely there are various reasons where one is invited to forgive. The gravity of these reasons will undoubtedly vary.
I think forgiveness needs to be better understood at times though. Because I do feel we can lose many people with today's Gospel if we expect forgiveness to mean having a Sunday picnic with the individual who has wronged us. Forgiveness is essential, but can truly look different in many cases and depending upon scenarios will demand something as varying as the circumstance. 
There can be no forward motion toward union with Christ if we have a lack of forgiveness in our heart toward our neighbour. It is a barrier like no other and it is one that continues to ooze out resentment and anger, leaving little room for peace, and cultivates division. 
To forgive does not mean that we forget our worth, or to suggest that we endure dangerous circumstances. Of course good prudence is needed in what forgiveness looks like. It is an inner work. 
Jesus forgave the unimaginable. From the sufferings of the Cross he begged His Father to forgive--"Father, forgive them for they know not what they do" (Lk 23:34).  And yes, while this radical moment of forgiveness is incredibly difficult to live up to or imitate it is something we can look toward for helping us understand the depth of what Christian forgiveness means. 
To forgive from the heart as the close of today's Gospel reminds us requires us to offer up all of our sufferings and difficulties to Jesus. As we carry our various crosses and even feel nailed down in pain by many wrongs that may have been done to us we are invited to gaze upward to our Lord and plea for the help and peace of His forgiveness. 
We come to recognize the immense work of prayer to aid the process of forgiveness. The way to transform our heart to doing so requires that we pray more than we point blame. 
Let us be patient with ourselves and others as we attempt to forgive from our heart, so that we may one day experience the freedom of Christ centered love, and comfort found in clinging to the Cross. (CC)