In the church there is a special rite of forgiveness: bow to the ground, kiss icons, ask for forgiveness from priests, among themselves, in the family. Tears, penetration, the heart softens, you feel like a different person. It’s easier to live.
About 10-15 years ago, a secular joined the church custom. Phones are flooded with text messages from familiar and unfamiliar numbers with the words: “Forgive me.”
It has become a kind of “good manners”, an old new custom. Messages fly back and forth with the speed and ease of the fast-growing cheap habit of sending “valentines.”
Sometimes everything turns into spam. I would like to urgently throw away, without reading, text messages from the heads of advertising departments, for the sake of the show, filling them with a formal “sorry”. After all, someone in this way only confirms an important connection for him, someone wants to smooth out his sins before another, someone is noticeable in the eyes of his superiors or subordinates.
About 7 years ago, the protest mood against the general infection of the secular public was even turned on by the fashion of asking for forgiveness on Forgiveness Sunday – there is too much formal action, ostentatious ritual, nonsense in this. A certain manifestation of indicatively correct feelings and correct behavior in our culture, which does not allow everything to manifest itself.
No need to play dumb: forgiving and asking for forgiveness is one of the hardest inner jobs. One of the most serious acts of the interior life. Sometimes nothing is more difficult for us than truly asking for forgiveness. And really forgive.
Let’s imagine for a moment that “forgive me” comes from a person who has humiliated you in front of everyone and has offended you, ridiculed, and… is not going to change his attitude and stop ridiculing. And how to perceive such “forgiveness”? How easy is it for the taunts and pleas for leniency to follow? Of course, you will say “sorry”, but what next? There is even an unwritten custom to forgive in this case up to three times, and then talk to the person … about the bottom line. My first confessor, being a seminarian, meeting with an almost mocking “forgive me” from a gallant mocker, for the third time said in response: “But you don’t need my forgiveness.” Struck down by these words, the bold-minded acquaintance stopped both bouts of mocking and pleading for forgiveness with a laugh.
But, what to do if a “forgive me” comes from a person who has committed a real deception and hits you so that you are stung, broken by the pain of what happened? How to be a woman if she “sorry” comes from a man who cheated on her and refused to take any moral responsibility for the words, feelings and actions of a man? Or vice versa, from a mocking woman, similar to the one to whom a great poet dedicated poetry and cut his wrists?
My friend for many years repented in “I can’t forgive” confession, I can’t, that’s all. His “sorry” didn’t mean sorry. The priests brought her out of despair from the dead end of her: then at least forget about it.
And then you realize that forgetting is a wonderful mechanism, no less precious than memory. And the advice – in monastic life – not to go to bed without forgiving everyone and without asking for forgiveness for oneself, among other things, rests on the useful energy of oblivion.
No need to play dumb: forgiving and asking for forgiveness is one of the hardest inner jobs
A believer in confession asks God for forgiveness for his sins. And the priest releases them. But in general, this does not mean that one says “guilty”, and the other – God and the priest – automatically forgive. The condition of forgiveness: the penitent cuts off the opportunity to repeat the sin, to follow it. Give up on him. The publican Zacchaeus, repenting of his works, returned what was stolen from the people and embezzled for himself, not to the same extent, but two or three times.
If the sin is terrible, mortal, penance is imposed on the penitent in it. Sometimes it lasts many years and deprives the believer of the most important thing. Sometimes reduced to a certain number of ties at the waist. With the imposition of penance – with rare exceptions – they are now in no hurry, fearing that modern man will recoil from the already feeble efforts to save himself. But from experience I will say: it is easier with penance.
Now we live in a dramatic and tragic story. I would like to live to see the moment when people on opposite sides of the front lines or the barricades can utter a painful mutual “forgive us” for the perfect lie. Not for the “truth”, which is still different for the belligerents, for “falsehood” – torture of prisoners, looting, unjustified killings.
This is still a long way off. And even more so, it should not be squeezed by the torture of captivity, dreamed of on a warm sofa, excited by the ostentatious hysteria of popularity catchers who shout something without thinking much about meanings and resonances.
But despite all the precautionary burden of words about not always reflective custom, I am a supporter of the non-disappearance of “forgive me.” Sometimes even formally spoken words move the invisible mountains of pride, a person becomes simpler, calmer, opens up, straightens up, a heavy load falls off his shoulders. Even if this is problem solving “for a while”, not forever, it is usually an experience of a soft heart, a receding bitterness, a step to another, truer, to oneself.