To Love is to Forgive, By Father Robert DeGrandis, S.S.J. Hungarian-born Vilma Banky reigned as the top film star of the 1920’s, playing opposite Rudolph Valentino and Ronald Coleman until the advent of talkies ended her career. Falling ill in her 80’s, she became embittered that none of her friends visited her, and she decreed that no notice be made of her death. "Only now has a spokesman revealed the actress died in a Los Angeles nursing home on March 18, 1991, and was about 90 years of age. Word of Banky’s death began appearing in publications last fall. Yet it went largely unnoticed until this week, when her attorney confirmed the death.

"Banky was ill at home for five years and for another five years at the St. John of God Convalescent Hospital, attorney Robert Vossler said Thursday, ‘During all that time, not a single soul came to visit her. She was so upset that she wanted no notice and no service when she died,’ he said." (AP--Los Angeles)

Have you had any experiences that are reminiscent of this story? One of my colleagues told me about a high school principal from New York in his early 50’s. This principal related he had fallen on difficult times after a long, successful career. My colleague asked the principal what he considered to be his greatest disappointment in life. Without hesitation, the principal said, "My friends." He then shared details about the difficulty he had been in at school and how he had known his friends for many years and thought they would support him under any circumstances. However, when he did something in his school that he knew in his heart was right, even though it was very unpopular, his friends deserted him for a long time. The principal said he had a hard time forgiving them, and wasn’t really sure if he had ever totally forgiven them.

While reading a wonderful book, I Am Your Jesus of Mercy, I was struck by our Lord’s words about forgiveness. Because these are the direct words of Jesus, they are powerful as they relate forgiveness to our lives. We really need to pay attention to Jesus’ message that we are being given. Lives would change for the better if people would take these instructions to heart. Let us listen to Him:

"My child, there are so many of my people who have so much difficulty forgiving their brothers (brothers is meant by our Lord here as both male and female gender). There are many that are so filled with anger that they cannot forgive! To forgive, my people must have the desire and the willingness. Those who do not forgive their brothers cannot forgive themselves.

"If you, my people, cannot forgive yourselves, how can I forgive you? If you cannot forgive your brothers, how can you say you love your Lord God with all your heart? It is not possible for evil to exist with good. I am good! If you love me with all your heart and allow me to love you, there would be no doubt in your mind to forgive and reconcile with your brothers. You would love your brothers with all your heart.

"Tell me, child, if my people will not forgive their brothers and themselves, is that not passing judgement? When you do not forgive yourself, you are judging yourself! When you forgive your brothers, you are judging them according to your standards. I tell you, you cannot love me and hate your brothers! You cannot judge others without first judging me!

"If it is necessary for you to commence the reconciliation process with your brothers…then do so. Take the first step! Seek courage and strength from me, but do not delay. Each moment you delay, you deny yourself my grace of freedom and peace.

"I tell you, if you wish to be glorified in me, you must reconcile and forgive. My people do not take lightly my words on forgiveness and reconciliation. I tell you, it is better for you to forgive and reconcile with your brothers than to burn in the flames of Gehenna!

"Step down from your thrones, my people. Do you actually think you can have everlasting life without forgiveness?

"Allow me to destroy your pride so that you can live in freedom and happiness by forgiving. Stop thinking you are far better than your fellow brothers or it is belittling to forgive! There is no one of more importance in my eyes. If you cannot forgive without expectations, you cannot have a pure heart! You remain with a heart that is stained!

"I wish for you, my people, to have a happy, joy-filled heart. It is your choice! It is you who must have the desire and willingness to forgive and do so! I cannot forgive you unless you allow me. You must forgive yourself and your brothers before I am able to forgive you!"

In summary, the Lord says the obstacles to forgiveness are anger; not having the desire and willingness to forgive; not loving Jesus with all our heart; and ego and pride. To remove the obstacles, we must seek courage and strength from the Lord. Above all, we must allow Jesus to totally destroy our pride. ‘Pride goes before disaster...’ (Proverbs 16:18, NAB). Jesus said He has confused the proud in their innermost thoughts. Was it not pride that caused the fall of the once most brilliant angel of light, Lucifer? Surely we don’t want to fall to Lucifer’s level and into the flames of Gehenna.

Father Robert DeGrandis is a member of the Society of St. Joseph, serving the world wide charismatic Catholic community. This article was condensed from "To Love is to Forgive" 1997 Robert DeGrandis, S.S.J., which is available from H.O.M Books, (508) 454-7408. Used with permission of the author.

Read other articles of spiritual enlightenment in the September 1998 edition of The San Francisco Charismatics or return to the Main Menu by clicking on the blue.