Perhaps the biggest obstacle to forgiving someone is the nagging feeling that this person is not sufficiently sorry for the pain caused and has not made adequate reparation. We tend to see forgiveness first as a gift to the person who is forgiven—rather than as a self-gift to the person doing the forgiving.
St. Elizabeth of Hungary (1207–1231) understood this temptation perfectly. A mother of four and a widow at the age of 20, she resisted her in-laws’ attempts to deprive her and her children of their royal status.
Although she could easily have allowed herself to be consumed by anger and resentment, Elizabeth found a way to live truthfully (defending her rights) and yet in a forgiving way. She refused to be consumed by hatred. In one story, her husband, Louis, encountered the compassionate Elizabeth carrying bread wrapped up in her cloak. When he asked to see what she was carrying, she opened the cloak and roses fell out.
She became a Secular Franciscan. After providing for her children, she spent her last years caring for the sick. Canonized four years after she died, Sts. Elizabeth of Hungary and Louis IX of France are the patrons of the Secular Franciscan Order. Her feast is November 19 on the Franciscan calendar.
May we imitate her readiness to forgive!
Photo: Dmytro Tkachuk/PhotoXpress