Oblate Program at Belmont Abbey, NC

The truly wretched-The hammer and grace of God

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“Wretched are those who are vindictive and spiteful.”—Pope Frances

Vindictiveness and spitefulness are not something reserved for the few. In my own life I find myself having to deal with these states of being which is a foretaste of hell, I believe. I can always have a ‘good’ and ‘just’ cause for my seeking to get back at others. It can be a very difficult inner struggle to understand that part of the Our Father that asks that we be forgiving as we have forgiven others. The misery and desolation that is experienced when we seek revenge or others, or on just life, in particular, can be something held onto and loved, it can nourish a half-life in us that leads to further isolation and striking out. We all suffer injustice, and I would think most of us have done injustices to others, though we can underplay our role while overplaying the role that others have in our lives. In lent we are asked to take responsibility for ourselves, what we do and how we hurt others and to take responsibility for it, and to ask for forgiveness when we can. When we understand our own weakness and how easy it can be to cause deep suffering in others, we can see that we often use a double standard when we weigh and judge those around us. One way to stop the cycle of anger, blame and further pain, is to truly understand our own need for mercy, healing, and compassion from God as well as from those we hurt. It is the Heart of Christ, living in our own hearts that can give us the grace and healing to reach out and to let go of the heavy burden of being vindictive and spiteful.

God's Hammer

When we create ourselves without grace
we often beget hell,
a place of deep melancholy
such a sweet state for some
(well for me)
that only the hammer and grace of God
can break.

Br. Mark Dohle, OCSO
Holy Spirit Monastery

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