Saturday 16 April 2022

Ways of Forgiveness How to Let Forgiveness Set You Free - Father John Edwards SJ - CTS Devotions

Ways of Forgiveness: 
How to Let Forgiveness Set You Free
Brother John Edwards SJ
ISBN 9781860827686
eISBN 9781784694210
CTS Booklet D556

Over the last few years, I have read over 250 books and booklets from the Catholic Truth Society. I have been blessed, encouraged, and challenged by these wonderful resources for the Catholic Faith. This is the first I have read by Father John Edwards SJ. I believe he has only one other volume from the CTS, Christian Love: Sexuality, Marriage, and the Single Life. I believe he wrote 2 other volumes and has contributed to a handful of others. This book was originally published in 2012 and the eBook edition was released in 2017. 

 The description of this booklet is:

“This inspiring and practical guide opens us up to the spiritual gift of forgiveness. The author considers what sin is and how it affects our lives, and then shows how the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) can heal us from the effects of sin. What is more, in seeking God's Forgiveness, granted to all who ask for it, we can in turn obtain the grace to forgive others and heal our relationships with them.”

The chapters in this volume are:

God’s forgiveness
Forgiveness granted: the Sacrament of Penance
Forgiveness of others
Practicalities of the Sacrament

But I believe the sections will give a clearer outline of the book so the chapters and sections are:

God’s Forgiveness:
What forgiveness means
Certainty of forgiveness – what it means
How forgiveness happens; two sorts of sorrow
The need of forgiveness
Asking for mercy
The touch of Christ

Forgiveness Granted: The Sacrament Of Penance:
The Sacrament of Penance: how it works
‘Why should I tell my sins to the Priest? Why can’t I go directly to God?’
The Sacrament distinguished from other forms of prayer
The ‘Sacramental Grace’
‘Consecration of weakness’
Illustration and authorities
The two main and specific effects of the Sacrament of Penance; and a consequence
Subsidiary, concomitant and non-specific effects
Asking for help
Apostolic effectiveness
Spiritual direction
Increase of grace
Indulgence – a seventh effect
Frequency of Confession
Canon Law:
The Popes:
How frequent is ‘frequent’?
So in practice?

Forgiveness Of Others:

Practicalities Of The Sacrament:
A way of going to Confession
Before Confession:
With the Priest:
After Confession:
Examination of Conscience
Difficulties about Confession
What can we do to make our Confessions ‘better’?

Penance – meanings
How it works
Reasons against doing penance – Theological
Psychological reasons against
Who is to do Penance?
How is Penance to be done?
And finally

Roots of sin
Moral cowardice
Culpable blindness
Not trusting God


Father Edwards states in the first chapter:

God’s forgiveness

When we seek forgiveness we come to God for judgement. And God does judge us, and he pronounces his verdict. This word will stand for all eternity, and he will never judge the past again. And his verdict is ‘not guilty’.

What forgiveness means
Acquittal by God affects something. Forgiveness means that God, who sees things as they really are, looking at a man’s life and seeing in each day, repeatedly, year after year, the moments of selfishness, blindness, insensitivity, so that in his eyes our lives would seem things of horror, sees now that his Son has intervened repeatedly and at great cost to cover, as it were, every evil moment with his Precious Blood. Where there was serious sin, there Christ has planted his Cross.

Forgiveness of sin therefore means that now, instead of God seeing a man’s life as an insult and a horror in his sight, he can only see, all that there is to see, a thing of beauty. Our whole life a complete success story in God’s sight. Nothing in our lives remains that is not beautiful for God to see. Complete freedom from all guilt and all blame. The credit for this is Christ’s, of course, not ours: it is he who intervened at such unimaginable cost, day after day of our guilt. But a thing is as God sees it. When God can only see our lives as things of beauty, that is how they truly are.

One further joy to consider: the worse the fault was, the greater the generosity of Christ’s work, the more beauty now for God to see. In short, the worse it was, the better it is.”

Some of the other sections I highlighted while reading the book are:

“If we believe in God, both ‘Contrition’, the ‘perfect’, unselfish sorrow, and ‘Attrition’, the imperfect, more self-centred sorrow, will lead us to turn to God and ask him for mercy. And men always have so turned to God, or to whatever gods they could imagine, throughout the ages. They have prayed alone, they have prayed with others, they have offered sacrifice. But surely, once God became man, they could find a less difficult way of access and a more effective prayer?”

“When we blame ourselves, before God, we are implicitly asking him for help. To blame oneself out loud, before a witness, and to have him pray too, with Christ present and active in the heart of a Sacrament, is about the most powerful prayer of petition one could think of. The Sacrament of Penance is the most wonderful ‘Prayer Group’ there is.”

“Spiritual direction
We don’t want or expect spiritual direction every time we go to Confession, if we go frequently. But we may sometimes, and it is a privileged time for it. ‘Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of you.’ The priest is there; the penitent is there; Christ is between them and operating at his most powerful and his most loving. The priest, hopefully, is praying; the penitent is presumably in about the most open and psychologically receptive state possible. Words now could really strike home and effect God’s work. At least sometimes, if we know the priest, we are wise to do more than list our sins: we could penetrate to motive, circumstances, and ask for help.”

“‘By divine law all the faithful are required to do penance.’
‘The precept of penitence must be satisfied in a more perfect way by Priests, who are more closely linked to Christ through sacred character, as well as by those who, in order to follow more closely the abnegation of the Lord and to find an easier and more efficacious path to the perfection of charity, practise the evangelical counsels’ (quotations from Paenitemini).”

The sections on frequent confession are excellent. And much of the advice and teaching in the book is as well. It is well written. Easy to read, understand and practice. This is a wonderful volume. It is another excellent offering from the Catholic Truth Society. I hope the quotes and outline of the chapters and sections above inspire you to give this little volume a try.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2022 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Books by Father John Edwards SJ:
Christian Love: Sexuality, Marriage, and the Single Life
Ways of Knowing: God's Existence and His Will

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