The Compass: Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay
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February 25, 2000 Issue
Local News

Practice premeditated mercy

Missionary says it takes an act of will to forgive

By Sr. Pat McCormick and Andrea Sabor
Department of Total Catholic Education

To truly find peace, we must practice premeditated mercy, Precious Blood Fr. Joe Nassal said at the Green Bay Diocese's annual Leadership Gathering.

The missionary and author of several books and articles told the 180 diocesan leaders that premeditated mercy implies a deliberate, thoughtful and willful act to forgive, to be reconciled and to live at peace with others - even those who have betrayed us.

In his two-day presentation, which included plenty of humor and stories, Fr. Nassal offered the following recipe for making peace:

-- A Magnum Of Memory: Confronting The Past - If we want to make our hearts into homes for peace, we might place on the altar of our heart the pictures of those women and men who have taught us to forgive. With a magnum of memory, we toast those who have favored us with their forgiveness. We begin, then, to make peace with our past.

-- One Cup Of Blessing: A Grateful Heart - The cup of blessing creates a grateful heart, where we discover that the wounds inflicted by life - illness, loss of loved ones, dashed dreams, deaths - can draw us closer to each other and to God.

-- Yeast: An Ounce Of Forgiveness, Not A Pound Of Flesh - The desire for revenge will fill us with rage, and the heat of this rage will kill the yeast of forgiveness so that reconciliation can never be realized. Just as yeast needs warm water to work, so the ability to forgive works best in an environment of warmth - trust, acceptance and hospitality.

-- One Cup Of Compassion: Handle With Care - Being compassionate means paying careful attention to any grieving we or others may be grappling with as a result of an experience of loss. When we mix compassion into the recipe of reconciliation, we sense the truth that only when we believe in something or someone, can we see our way through this dark and dreary, wounded and weary world.

-- Pass The Salt: The Flavor Of God - We add grains of salt to the recipe of reconciliation with simple acts of kindness and friendship, gentle words of affirmation and hope. When we pass the salt of the covenant, we awaken in another his or her own goodness. When we throw a little salt on an icy situation, the ice begins to melt. When we take the time to comfort another that is grieving, we taste the mourner's tears.

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