The Catholic Letter

Tips and Tricks to Living a Christian Life

Strength in Forgiveness

The next time you find yourself in a position to order a movie that you won’t find at the video store, look up an old movie titled The Scarlet and the Black starring Gregory Peck. It concerns the Nazi occupation of Rome during WWII. I’d love to tell you about the ending of the movie, as it very much connects to this article. But I won’t because…well it would be like hearing the ending of Sixth Sense just before seeing it.

So instead of talking about the ending, I’ll invite you to see it and discover the practical use of forgiveness in real life (yes, it’s all based on a true story). And instead of talking about the story itself, I’ll talk about Hitler’s army, and their total disregard for mercy…and why it was their undoing.

Watching any old War movie, you’ll hear a lot of references to the brutal disciplinary actions in the Nazi war machine. A soldier or officer who failed in their duties were executed, or better yet, sent to the Russian Front. In all probability, Germany lost some of its most capable military personnel with its intolerance.

At the same time, a lenient country allowed leaders to learn from mistakes and turned out some of the greatest men in history. I believe even Bradley (an American general during WWII) himself had made mistakes.

This all takes a real shape and form when we apply it to religion. After all, how many followers would Christ have if He gave us the boot when we sinned? I don’t think we would have but one saint. What would we do without such admirable doctors of the faith like St Augustine?

This idea of building an army for God by forgiving the soldiers plays a role in our own lives. It is, after all, our duty to bring each other closer to Christ. We are obligated to live a life of example. How could we possibly manage this if we shun our brothers and sisters when they sin? How could we hope to keep friends if we abandon them when they hurt us or those we love?

The next time you feel a friend has committed the unpardonable, remember that excluding them from your love doesn’t only cut them off, it cuts you off.