Theosis 06 June Issue 2019

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Theosis-Transformation is a monthly online magazine focused on Bible, Psychology and Spirituality.

Nº1 - JUNE 2019

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THEOSIS

T R A N S F O R M A T I O N

Where Your Journey Becomes Deeper

FORGIVENESS:

Your Path to Freedom and Well-being

Online Monthly Magazne onBible, Psychology, and Spirituality

Human Flourishing

and Well-being

in the Bible (Old Testament)

Why Does Forgiveness Matter?

The Personal andCollective Value

of Forgiveness

Deconstructing

and Defining

Forgiveness

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About Theosis

Transformation

Theosis — Transformation is an educational

resource focused on the dialogue

between the Bible (Old and New

Testament), Spirituality, and Psychology.

Its goal is to gather high quality

resources from the Internet in a single

repository within its pages and to

make them available to its readers. In

so doing, Theosis seeks to encourage

an integral form of Christ-Centered

spirituality within the Catholic faith

tradition; promote a holistic approach

toward human beings and creation;

and, foster growth in faith in Jesus the

Christ. Such spirituality, far from being

disconnected from our daily lives,

and through the prompts of the Holy

Spirit that we have received from the

Father and that dwells in us (Romans

8:9) can actually sustain our process

of transformation into the image and

likeness of the Son, Jesus the Christ,

whose life, death and resurrection are

meant to give us fullness of life and reveal

the essence of our journey toward

well-being: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).

As such, Theosis — Transformation endorses only the content of the article/video/podcast to

which it directly links. Any other links or embedded material within such content or external

to the content of the article/video/podcast itself and/or that may lead to other websites, online

platforms, pop-up windows, online ads or banners and/or anything else that is not directly the

content to which Theosis — Transformation directly links are not approved of, recommended,

or endorsed in any way by the magazine.


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There is a nobility in compassion

a beauty in empathy,

a grace in FORGIVENESS

— John Connolly —

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If we really

want to love,

we must learn

how to forgive.

MOTHER THERESA

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

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INTRODUCTION

About Theosis — Transformation.

CHOICE OF THE MONTH

Our Four Featured Articles.

BIBLE

Human Flourishing & Well-being in the Bible. Part 1 - The Old

Testament.

BIBLE

Jesus, Peter & Forgiveness: A Gospel-centered Perspective.

PSYCHOLOGY & SPIRITUALITY

How Forgiving Are You?.

PSYCHOLOGY & SPIRITUALITY

Why Does Forgiveness Matter? The Personal & Collective Value of

Forgiveness.

PSYCHOLOGY & SPIRITUALITY

Which Two of the Following Is Forgiveness?

PSYCHOLOGY & SPIRITUALITY

Explanation for Non-Forgiveness Options.

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36

37

38

40

41

42

44

PSYCHOLOGY & SPIRITUALITY

Deconstructing and Defining Forgiveness.

PSYCHOLOGY & SPIRITUALITY

What Is Forgiveness?

PSYCHOLOGY & SPIRITUALITY

Forgiving: An Art & Process We Can Learn?

PSYCHOLOGY AND SPIRITUALITY

The Invisible Barriers to Forgiveness.

PSYCHOLOGY & SPIRITUALITY

Keys to Unlock Forgiveness

PSYCHOLOGY & SPIRITUALITY

The Key of All the Keys: Let It Go, Let It Be.

PSYCHOLOGY & SPIRITUALITY

Forgiveness: Is It Worth to Forgive?

RESOURCES

Featured Resources of the Month.

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46

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52

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RESOURCES

Resource List of the Month.

EVENTS

Upcoming Events (Retreats, Seminars, Workshops).

CONTACT US

We’d love to hear from you.

GETTING ORGANIZED

Monthly Goals Template.

GETTING ORGANIZED

Monthly Planner.

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Featured Articles

ISSUE N o 1 — JUNE 2019

Issue number 1 of Theosis—Transformation focuses on the topic of Forgiveness.

Human Flourishing & Well-being

in the Old Testament (Part 1)

Biblical Spirituality

What does the Bible have to say about human

flourishing and well-being? In the first of a

three-part article, Fr. Flavio Gillio, m.s. and

Dr. Sally Riconscente explore the way the Old

Testament speaks about human flourishing

and well-being.

Jesus, Peter and Forgiveness:

A Gospel-centered Perspective

Biblical Spirituality

In Matthew 18:21-35 Peter approaches Jesus

with the question: “Lord, how many times

shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins

against me? Up to seven times?” (v. 21). Jesus’

answer offers challenging insights about forgiveness

from a Gospel-centered perspective.

Deconstructing and

Defining Forgiveness

Psychology & Spirituality

When you hear the word “forgiveness,” or

the verb “to forgive,” what comes to your

mind? Find out the essential features of

forgiveness and dismantle some prejudices

that shape the “how” we understand and

live forgiveness.

Forgiving: An Art and Process

We Can Learn?

Psychology & Spirituality

You do not have to succumb to your past hurts

and anger. You can learn to practice forgiveness.

Renowned author and director of the

Stanford University Forgiveness Project, Dr.

Fred Luskin, presents the nine main steps

structuring the healing process of forgiveness.

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Section # 1

Bible

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Human Flourishing & Well-being in the Bible

Part 1 - The Old Testament

Introduction. In our ongoing effort to make the La Salette Retreat and

Conference Center a space where people of every walk of life, belief, and

religious affiliation can integrate a mature spirituality into their own daily

lives and experience life in abundance, we have created the new-born magazine,

Theosis – Transformation. Theosis is the transliteration of a Greek word that

means divinization. This concept is also known as the term, apotheosis, ‘making

divine.’ Theosis implies, therefore, a transformative process whose aim, we

believe, is to let Christ reach adulthood in us. Here at Theosis magazine, we

believe that Jesus the Christ is the exemplar of human flourishing and well-being.

The purpose of this trifold

study is to inquire into how the

Bible and the Early Christian

Tradition speak about human

flourishing and well-being.

The first part of our study

will be focused on the Old

Testament; the second on

the New Testament writings, and

the third on the theological and

spiritual concept of divinization

elaborated on by some of the most

influential Fathers of the Church.

AUTHORS:

Fr. Flavio Gillio, m.s.

AND

Dr. Sally Riconscente

The concept of human

flourishing and well-being is a pananthropological

idea, i.e. one of

those major concerns that is found

in every culture, religious belief, and

civilization. In the Western World,

ever since the two great Greek

philosophers Plato and Aristotle,

human flourishing and well-being

have been two of the major ideas

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studied through the centuries. And

it is easy to understand why: we

have a natural unquenchable thirst

and insatiable hunger for abundant

life. Human flourishing and wellbeing

are two powerful motivating

forces and goals for everything

we hope for, choose, and do, both

individually and corporately,

regardless of our belief, ethnicity,

worldview, culture, and/or education.

So, what does the Old Testament

say about human flourishing and

well-being? The first thing that stands

out is the fact that the Old Testament

doesn’t encompass in a single

definition either human flourishing

or well-being. Rather, it describes

them through intentional and specific

lexicographic choices, favoring three

key-words: shalom, ashrê, and tamîm.

Human flourishing, wellbeing,

and the biblical

shalom. The concept of shalom

is one of the most prominent ideas of

the Old Testament related to human

flourishing and well-being. Indeed,

65% of its occurrences are related to

one of the two concepts or to both of

them, whereas only 25% to a state/

relationship without conflict, and only

10% to the standard form of greeting.

The Hebrew shalom is usually

translated in English as ‘peace.’

Such a rendering can fail to capture

the semantic value and depth of

the Hebrew term. In our every-day

language, ‘peace’ usually connotes

a situation that does not register

conflict or tension, or an inner state

of tranquility and serenity. The

problem is that the same term in

Hebrew bears a deeper and more

involved meaning, conveying the idea

of ‘completeness’ and ‘overall wellbeing.’

I emphasize ‘overall’ because

the Old Testament, when speaking of

human flourishing and well-being,

does not adopt a dichotomist view

that clearly separates the spiritual and

material, but rather, it addresses the

question of our flourishing and wellbeing

through a holistic approach

that includes and values body,

psyche, and spirit. The Old Testament

doesn’t recognize the distinction

of spiritual as opposed to material

which is still very widespread in the

West among Christians (Catholic).

The semantic richness embedded in

the concept of shalom is witnessed by

the Greek Old Testament (Septuagint

or LXX) that needs two words to

translate the Hebrew term into

Greek: teleios and eirênê. The former

means ‘complete,’ ‘undivided,’

‘whole,’ and ‘unblemished.’ It

overlaps with another Hebrew word,

tamim, that we will consider later on.

The second Greek term, eirênê,

like the Hebrew shalom, is generally

rendered in English as ‘peace.’ Like

shalom, eirênê means a lot more than

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simply ‘absence of conflict,’ ‘tranquility,’ or ‘inner serenity.’ In the Greek

version of the Old Testament, human flourishing and well-being are not

identified with or limited to the absence of conflict, personal happiness, inner

serenity, and/or tranquility. Rather, the way both the Hebrew and the Greek

Old Testament make use of shalom/eirênê, allows us to infer that both human

flourishing and well-being sprout forth from God’s saving work. For example,

in the book of the Prophet Isaiah, shalom/eirênê are two distinctive key-words

that describe Adonai’s redemptive action (see Isaiah 9:5-6; 32:15-20; 48:18; 52:7;

60:1-22). In this light, shalom/eirênê blossoms thanks to the coming of a Son-

King (Isaiah 5:6-9) and through the outpouring of the Spirit, whose effects also

reverberate over creation (Isaiah 32:15-20; 48:18; 60:1-22). The climax of this

dynamic is found in the New Testament, with and through Jesus the Christ.

Jesus the Christ discloses to us the possibility of eternal human flourishing

and well-being through His life, death and resurrection. The mystery of the

Incarnation bears the unheard good news that, in Jesus of Nazareth, God makes

himself totally present; as a consequence, in Jesus of Nazareth, the divine life

enters the human realm and takes a human shape. In coherence with this

point, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, quoting St. Athanasius’ work, On

Incarnation, states: “The Word became flesh to make us “partakers of the divine

nature” - “For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became

the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and

thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God.” “For the Son of

God became man so that we might be deified.” “The only-begotten Son of God,

wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he,

made man, might make men gods” (see Catechism of the Catholic Church, § 460).

Human flourishing, well-being and the biblical ashrê. The second term

that the Old Testament relates to human flourishing and well-being is

the Hebrew word ashrê. The term appears mostly in the third section of

the Old Testament (Writings), with 26 occurrences in the Book of Psalms

and 8 in the Book of Proverbs. Besides that, the other 11 occurrences are

scattered among the other sections of the Bible (Pentateuch and Prophets).

Modern English translations of the Hebrew Bible usually render ashrê

with ‘blessed.’ Similar to the translation of the Hebrew shalom with ‘peace,’

such a rendering creates a certain confusion because the Hebrew language

knows another word for ‘blessed,’ i.e. baruk —euloghetos in Greek. Even

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though both ashrê and baruk are

rendered in English as ‘blessed,’ the

two words are not synonyms. Indeed,

the first one, ashrê, emphasizes

the state of flourishing and wellbeing.

This is clearly the case of

Psalm 1, where the ‘ashrê’ person

is described as “[…] a tree planted

beside rivulets of water, which brings

forth its fruit in its season, and its

leaves do not wilt; and whatever

he does prospers” (Psalm 1:3). The

second term, baruk, emphasizes

the fact of being the recipient of

Adonai’s blessings and graces.

Such a distinction is further

strengthened by the remaining

occurrences of ashrê in the Writings.

Both the contexts and the ways the term

is used let us infer that ashrê usually

refers to the state of well-being and

human flourishing that characterizes

those who live wisely by listening to

the Torah. Living wisely and listening

to the Torah: two irreplaceable keys

to human flourishing and wellbeing

(see for example, Psalms 1

and 118, the long acrostic hymn

of praise in honor of the Torah).

appears in the Prophet Isaiah

(Isaiah 30:18; 32:20). Post-biblical

and Rabbinic literature continue

preserving this way of understanding

the term ashrê. According to the

Rabbis, a life marked by human

flourishing and well-being is

a life that is shaped, inspired,

and guided by Adonai’s Torah.

When, from the Old Testament, we

turn to the New Testament, we witness

great and clear coherence with the

previous ashrê tradition. The Greek

(both in the Septuagint and in the

Gospels) renders the Hebrew ashrê

with makarios. An exemplary passage

from the New Testament is Matthew

5:3-12, i.e. the Beatitudes. Jesus;

here, while instructing and sharing

His wisdom with the crowd, Jesus

illustrates what God-centered human

The book of Proverbs maintains

the same belief, since both human

flourishing and well-being are

understood to be the fruits of living

wisely, namely listening to the Torah

and revering Adonai. Outside the

Writings, the term ashrê mainly

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flourishing and well-being look like, in continuity with the previous ashrê

tradition witnessed by the Psalms, Proverbs, and the Prophet Isaiah. Besides

this continuity, the New Testament also bears a novelty: accomplished human

flourishing is found in and through Jesus the Christ. Such a statement makes

human flourishing and well-being much more than simply an experiential

satisfaction or a state of personal happiness. Human flourishing and wellbeing

are less the result of a series of temporary favorable circumstances,

and more a lifestyle inspired by Jesus the Christ’s life, death and resurrection.

Human flourishing,

well-being and

the biblical tamim.

The Hebrew word tamîm is the

third relevant term associated

with the concept of human

flourishing and well-being. Its

parallel in Greek is teleios. Among

its different meanings, the Hebrew

word also bears the meaning of

‘righteous’ and ‘perfect’ in the sense

of ‘singleness,’ ‘integrity of heart’ or

‘wholeness of heart’ (see 1 Kings 9:4).

Very interestingly, the Old

Testament often connects tamîm

with the idea of holiness. Such a

connection reverberates through

both concepts and enriches their

meaning. Whereas we are often

inclined to think about holiness

in terms of moral purity, the Old

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Testament, through this connection, regards holiness more as a matter of

‘wholeness of heart,’ or ‘undivided heart;’ more specifically, as a matter of

‘wholehearted devotedness’ to Adonai, or ‘undivided commitment to God’s

work,’ as Peter J. Gentry pointed out in his article, “The Meaning of ‘Holy’

in the Old Testament” (see Peter J. Gentry, “The Meaning of ‘Holy’ in the Old

Testament”, Bibliotheca Sacra 170, 2013). Similarly, another outstanding Old

Testament scholar, Mary Douglas, came to the conclusion that holiness means

‘to be one,’ implying both ‘unity’ and ‘integrity’ [see Mary Douglas, Purity and

Danger: An Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo, London (1966) 55].

Because of this link between holiness / righteousness / godliness and

wholeness / completeness / wholehearted dedication to God, the Old Testament

is not uncomfortable in considering characters such as Abraham, Jacob,

Moses, David, and others, as teleios, even though they cannot be identified

with the embodiment of ‘moral perfection,’ and even less of ‘moral purity!’

Following the understanding of the Old Testament, the New Testament

stresses the relevance of the idea of ‘wholehearted dedication’ and

‘commitment’ in relation to discipleship. Such a perspective gives new light

to a frequently misunderstood passage of the Gospel of Matthew, and that

betrays our pre-conceived understanding of the concept of biblical holiness:

the call to be teleios found in Matthew 5:48 – an intertextual reworking

of Leviticus 19:2 and 20:26, frequently misunderstood as a call to moral

perfection, is actually a call to be wholeheartedly committed and oriented to

God by following the Son in the Spirit. This leads us to say that [God-centered]

wholeness is holiness. Such an understanding is found throughout the entire

New Testament (see, for example, James 1:4.17.25; 2:8.22; 3:2; Hebrew 2:10;

5:9.14; 6:1; 7:28; 9:9; 10:1.14; 12:23; 1 Corinthians 2:6; 14:20; Ephesians 4:13;

Philippians 3:12.15; Colossians 1:28; 4:12). In so doing, both the Old and the

New Testament interconnect human flourishing and well-being with holiness,

and holiness with wholehearted commitment to Adonai. In this way, the Bible

avoids the risk of identifying human flourishing and well-being with moral

perfection, and, rather, points out that human flourishing and well-being are

connected to the idea of ‘whole hearted orientation of one’s own life to God.’

Conclusion. The present inquiry started by asking two basic questions: are

human flourishing and well-being relevant to the biblical mind? If yes,

what does it mean to live well and to flourish from a biblical perspective?

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The discussion that followed allows us

to present a summary and consolidation

of the most relevant points.

1Along with other trends of

thought, ancient, modern and

contemporary, the Bible is very

interested in human flourishing and

well-being. Human flourishing and

well-being are indeed two central

ideas of the biblical world.

2. What is unique is a) the way

the biblical mind portrays both of

them and b) the path that it offers to

experience both human flourishing

and well-being.

3. Despite the variegated

lexicography related to human

flourishing and well-being, the Bible

privileges three terms: shalom, ashrê,

and tamîm. Together, these three

concepts offer a holistic view of

human flourishing and well-being,

without artificially juxtaposing or

separating the spiritual and material.

Human flourishing and well-being

involve our bodies as much as our

psyche and spirit.

4. For the biblical mind there is no

tension or conflict between a godly

way of living, on the one hand, and

human flourishing and well-being, on

the other. There cannot be a godly life

without a flourishing life in all of the

dimensions of our existence. There is

no such alternative as ‘either God or

human flourishing and well-being.’

The God of the Bible revealed in

and through Jesus the Christ doesn’t

compete against these two concepts.

The Bible tells us exactly the opposite:

we don’t have to choose between

God or human flourishing. If human

flourishing and well-being are a real

possibility for us, it is because of

God’s work in history. God is not an

‘excluding’ alternative to our human

flourishing and well-being, and he

doesn’t take anything away from us

that is related to abundant life.

5. From the biblical perspective,

human flourishing and well-being

have to do more with ‘living’ and

‘being’ rather than with ‘having.’

Indeed, both human flourishing and

well-being point to a ‘way of living’ or

a ‘way of being in the world,’ without

being of the world (see John 17:14).

6. Biblical wisdom is meant to

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encourage and unveil how to experience both human flourishing and wellbeing.

It does so by reminding us of the only three really relevant keys that are

able to open the doors of abundant life: our relationship with God, with others,

and with creation. It is the quality of these three relationships, taken together,

that prevents or fosters human flourishing and well-being. Therefore, human

flourishing and well-being imply a lot more than simply absence of conflicts/

tensions, inner satisfaction, tranquility, and peace. The biblical mind conceives

human flourishing and well-being as fruits of a proper relationship with God,

neighbor, and creation. Whereas in the Old Testament this is believed to be

possible by listening to and living both the Written and Oral Torah, in the New

Testament, it is Jesus of Nazareth who is the way to human flourishing and

well-being. Torah (oral and written) and Jesus are the explanation, description

and model of what human flourishing and well-being are all about.

7. The God of Israel revealed in and through Jesus of Nazareth is the answer

to the radical question of how to flourish and thrive. Jesus’ life, death and

resurrection represent the climax of God’s redemptive work, aimed at restoring

each of us to full humanity and well-being, by flourishing in and through Jesus

the Christ. In and through him both human flourishing and well-being are

fully revealed.

8. Human flourishing and well-being are at the very core of God’s redemptive

work. And they should also be at the core of the mission of the Church.

Whereas we can discuss the various ‘hows and means’ to fulfill such a mission,

it is clear that both human flourishing and well-being should be included in

today’s mission of every Christian community striving to walk and grow in the

footsteps of the Master from Nazareth.

Having portrayed human flourishing and well-being from the perspective

of the Old Testament, with some hints to the New, in the next issue of Theosis

—Transformation, we will explore in more depth the relationship between

human flourishing, well-being, Jesus the Christ and the New Testament.

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“I tell you:

Not seven times,

but seventy-seven times [...]”

Matthew 18:22

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Jesus, Peter & Forgiveness:

A Gospel-centered Perspective

We are all familiar with the

beginning of the narrative

in Matthew 18:21-35: Peter

approaching Jesus with the question:

“Lord, how many times shall I forgive

my brother or sister who sins against

me? Up to seven times?” (v. 21). It

is not hard to imagine, looking at

the way Peter shapes and frames

his question, what was going on

in his mind. What is a little more

challenging, perhaps, is to imagine

Peter’s feelings and thoughts after

Jesus’ unsettling answer: “I tell you,

not seven times, but seventy-seven

times.” (v. 22). Was Peter frustrated

by Jesus’ words? Discouraged?

Perplexed? Silent? We can only infer

a possible reaction, since the episode

is silent on this detail of the narrative.

It is an eloquent silence because it

emphasizes Jesus’ answer even more

and keeps the attention focused

not so much on Peter but on Jesus.

The article offers original insights

regarding Jesus’ answer to Peter,

digging deeper than the ‘standard’

understanding of Jesus words as an

invitation to forgive without limits.

Making use (deliberately or not) of a

hermeneutical Jewish principle known

as Stringing Pearls, or in Hebrew

‘Gezerah Shevah’ (Comparison of

Equals – Scripture interprets Scripture

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in the sense that a passage of the Bible can expand on another biblical passage

if they share the same word), the author of Echoes of Forgiveness explores

the implied richness of Jesus’ answer by delving into three other biblical

passages that echo each other: Luke 4:16-21; Genesis 4:23-24 and Daniel 9:1-24.

The way the three readings resound allows us to grasp something about the

value of forgiveness from a Gospel-centered perspective. Juxtaposing Jesus’

answer to Peter, with the so-called Nazareth Manifesto (Luke 4:16-21), Jesus

is confessed as the One inaugurating the Jubilee Year, forgiveness is placed

at the core of the biblical

Jubilee Year,

and Jesus’ followers

are called to be

“Jubilee-celebrating people,”

i.e. people who are ready and open to

receive and give the gift of the Jubilee

Year: forgiveness. In this perspective,

forgiveness is not an ‘optional’ item

added to our Christian identity; it

belongs at the very core of our own

identity, be it individual or collective.

This is not all though. By

recalling the episode of Lamech

and his wives, Zillah and

Adah (Genesis 4:23-24), the author

advances the thesis that Jesus’

words about forgiveness subvert

and invert the “principle of revenge”

implied in the words of Cain’s son,

into ‘the principle of forgiveness.’

Such a literary outcome is meant to

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call Jesus’ disciples and their communities to embrace and witness the ‘the

creative and unpredictable injustice of forgiveness’ and reject or refuse

‘the destructive—and all too predictable—justice of mimetic violence.’

By the end of Kevichusa’s article, readers will have a clearer understanding

of the relevance and centrality of forgiveness in Jesus’ spirituality and in

the life of every Christian community. Forgiveness sanctions the death

of death, and celebrates the life of life. Forgiveness covers sin, rebellion,

revenge, and wrongdoing with the clothes of true righteousness. And, as

Jesus’ followers, we are all called to share the power and the benefits of

forgiveness, both at personal and community levels. As Jesus followers

we share the vocation of embodying forgiveness and witnessing both

its power and benefits, both at personal and at political or social levels.

SOURCE: Kevichusa, Aniu. “Echoes of Forgiveness.” RZIM, ND. Read the full

article here.

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“To forgive is

to set a prisoner free

and discover that the prisoner was you.”

Lewis B. Smedes

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Photo by Olga Vyshnevska on Unsplash

Section # 2

Psychology &

Spirituality

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How Forgiving

Are You?

“The only way out of the labyrinth

of suffering, is to forgive...”

— John Green —

Before diving into the

theme of Forgiveness, stop

for a couple of seconds.

Have you ever wondered how

forgiving you are? The quiz provided

by the website Greater Good in Action

(https://ggia.berkeley.edu/) helps you

to better understand how you respond

to those who do you wrong. The quiz,

inspired by forgiveness research

pioneer Michael McCullough, has

twelve questions. At the end, once

you have submitted your answers,

you will be led to a new URL page

displaying your score with a short

comment regarding your typical

response when someone hurts you.

To take the quiz, please, click here.

“When you forgive, you in no way change the past,

but you sure do change the future.”

— Bernard Meltzer —

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Why Does Forgiveness Matter?

The Personal & Collective Value of Forgiveness

“Love is an act of endless forgiveness;

a tender look which becomes a habit.”

— Peter Ustinov —

Challenging by its nature,

forgiveness can become even

more challenging as we all

know how easy it is to become fixated

on our grievances. As Desmond Tutu

and Mpho Tutu write in their article

Why We Forgive, “The traumas we

have witnessed or experienced live

on in our memories. Even years

later they can cause us fresh pain

each time we recall them” and,

most of the time, with all the best

and “logic reasons” of the world!.

But, dwelling on our wounded

memories, when forgiveness

has not yet occurred, nurses the

desire of wanting to ‘get back at’

the wrongdoer. Dwelling on our

past wounded memories without

forgiveness imprisons us in the

invisible cage of our pain, locked out

of the possibility of being healed, of

regaining both freedom and peace,

of being mentally, emotionally, and

spiritually transformed. Even if the

transformation that occurs through

forgiveness concerns the individual,

it has a value and an impact that goes

beyond the mere personal sphere.

Forgiveness has social repercussions.

As Paul reminds us when he writes

about the unity and diversity of

the body of Christ (1Cor 12:12-27),

we are not an island; we are part of

and belong to a delicate network

of interdependence, and one part

affects all the others: 12 Just as a

body, though one, has many parts,

but all its many parts form one body,

so it is with Christ. 13 For we were

all baptized by one Spirit so as to

form one body—whether Jews or

Gentiles, slave or free—and we were

all given the one Spirit to drink. 14

Even so the body is not made up of

one part but of many…. If one part

suffers, every part suffers with it;

if one part is honored, every part

rejoices with it.” (1 Cor 12:12-14.26)

And this is the point that Desmond

“Forgiveness is the key

to action and freedom.”

— Hannah Arendt —

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Tutu and Mpho Tutu try to make: forgiveness doesn’t only mark a point

of healing of healing in our personal journey, because it also brings

healing to our families, communities and our world. In other words,

forgiveness has both an individual and collective value and relevance.

SOURCE: Tutu, Desmond & Tutu, Mpho. “Why We Forgive.” Spirituality &

Health, 17 Feb. 2014. Read the full article here.

“A life lived without forgiveness is a prison.”

— William Arthur Ward —

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Which Two of the Following

Is Forgiveness?

Some of the following ideas have been used to describe forgiveness

in the past. Two of them are accurate definitions of forgiveness.

Some of them are not quite right, and some of them are just plain

wrong. Which are the right ones? What are the others if they are

not forgiveness? Select your two answers at the bottom of the page.

Telling yourself that what happened wasn’t really that bad, and that you ought

to just forget what happened and move on.

Yes

No

I don’t know

Forgetting that anything bad happened, simply pushing the event or relationship

out of your memory.

Yes

No

I don’t know

Starting up your relationship with the person who hurt you again, as if nothing

happened.

Yes

No

I don’t know

Opening yourself to be hurt again.

Yes

No

I don’t know

Accepting an excuse or explanation for what someone did or is doing to you.

Yes

No

I don’t know

Doing whatever you can to smooth over conflict.

Yes

No

I don’t know

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A voluntary release of your right to condemn and get revenge on the person who

hurt you because you have different feelings toward the person.

Yes

No

I don’t know

Tolerating negative things that someone has done or continues to do to you.

Yes

No

I don’t know

Accepting people despite their flaws.

Yes

No

I don’t know

Blaming and confronting the person who hurt you.

Yes

No

I don’t know

Getting someone who hurt you to believe that everything is still okay.

Yes

No

I don’t know

Getting even with the person who hurt you.

Yes

No

I don’t know

Voluntary decision to give up the right to revenge and release a person from any

interpersonal debt incurred by wronging you.

Yes

No

I don’t know

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Having the other person apologize, express regret, or beg forgiveness until the

balance of justice has been restored.

Yes

No

I don’t know

I choose _______ and _______ as the definition(s) of forgiveness. Here’s why: (write

your reasons here below).

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Explanation for

Non-Forgiveness Options

Here are reactions to each incorrect definition of forgiveness. Read the

definition on the previous page. Then read the reactions, on this page

and the next one.

1. This is denial. If you are hurt and you try to deny it to yourself, the denial

almost never works. The hurt keeps resurfacing and you never seem to be

free of it.

2. Forgetting is impossible. A memory has been formed. The memory may

shift with time. It may change. Or the pain you associate with the memory

may even diminish or disappear. But you simply won’t be able to completely

forget. The disturbing part of trying to forget is that the harder you try, the

less you will succeed.

3. Trying to start over might actually smooth out the relationship. But

smoothing out the relationship is not forgiving. In addition, pretending that

the event didn’t matter might communicate to the person who hurt you that it

is okay to hurt you the same way again.

4. Opening yourself to be hurt again is possible if you continue or restart your

interaction with the person who hurt you. That decision is separate from a

decision to forgive or not. You can forgive and restore the relationship (called

reconciliation) or forgive and not restore the relationship. Or you can not

forgive but choose to interact with the person (and risk further hurts) or not

forgive and not choose to interact.

5. You can accept an excuse or explanation (whether a valid excuse or

explanation or an inadequate one) and still not forgive the person for hurting

you.

6. Smoothing over conflict can be done whether or not you forgive.

7. This is emotional forgiveness. It acknowledges that a wrong was done but

chooses not to seek revenge and not to continue to condemn the person who

hurt you. It is the experience of forgiving because you experience different

feelings toward the person.

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8. Tolerating negative things will generally not stop the negative, and it will

generally keep you angry and unforgiving.

9. Accepting someone (with or without acknowledging the flaws) is not

forgiving. We can accept a person and not forgive a hurtful act by the person.

Or we can forgive a hurtful act and still not accept the person.

10. Blaming a person for hurting you certainly acknowledges the person’s

guilt but blame keeps the hurt “on the front burner.” Confronting the person,

which is directly talking with the person about the hurt, might help the

relationship (if the confrontation is done gently in love and other person talks

instead of attaching or defending). Confronting the person might also damage

the relationship. Confronting is not forgiving.

11. Getting someone who hurt you to believe everything is okay when you feel

hurt is not forgiving; it is deception. The deception might be done for good

motives (such as to spare feelings or prevent being fired by a boss). Or the

deception might have more complex or even evil motives (such as setting the

person up so you can hurt him or her).

12. Getting even is revenge, not forgiveness.

13. This is decisional forgiveness. It involves your pledge that your behavior will

not be aimed at revenge, but that you will try to behave as if the transgression

never happened.

14. While having the person apologize, express regret, or beg forgiveness

might make you willing to put the offense behind you and might allow you

to feel at peace, it is more like getting justice than like forgiving. If the other

person humbles himself or herself enough to satisfy your sense of justice,

often the other person will feel resentful and feel that you might have asked

for too much.

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Deconstructing and

Defining Forgiveness

When you hear the word “forgiveness,” or the verb “to forgive,”

what comes to your mind? In the article, Forgive Me, Forgive Me

Not. 8 Things that Forgiveness is and 8 Things it is not, Neil Faber,

adjunct Professor of Psychology at Arizona State University, outlines the

essential features of forgiveness and dismantles some prejudices that shape

the “how” we understand and live forgiveness. Indeed, depending on our

perspective on forgiveness, there will be a big difference in the way we offer,

receive, and perceive forgiveness. Finally, the author also presents some of

the benefits (spiritual, psychological, and physical) flowing from forgiveness.

Before moving forward, consider the following points and ponder

whether you can recognize yourself in one, some, or all of them.

If he/she asks for forgiveness, I think I could forgive him/her.

Forget about forgiveness: I do not want to be weak!

I don’t know why I should forgive him/her. In fact, I didn’t do anything wrong.

I do not want to forgive: he/she does not deserve my forgiveness.

Well, I guess I should forgive, because, after all, the offense and the pain caused

by it are not so big.

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Even if I forgive him/her, our relationship would never be like it was before.

I would love to be able to forgive, but the problem is that I’m not able to forget.

If you recognized yourself in one, some, or all of the above statements, you

probably misunderstand what forgiveness is all about.

The author defines forgiveness

as a challenging and slow

process of healing, the first

step of which implies recognizing

the pain and wounds received.

Through this acknowledgement we

activate a journey toward freedom.

Feelings of vengeance, resentment,

or of anger fade away, leaving room

for peace, rather than mere justice,

proximity with others, and renewed

connections. Through forgiveness we

experience both stress reduction and

improvement in our quality of life.

By its very nature, forgiveness is one

of the significant and real challenges

we all face at some point in our lives.

Often, though, we make it more difficult

than it is due to our misconceptions

about forgiveness. It is very easy to

misunderstand, and, consequently,

to misapply and misuse forgiveness.

Among the common stereotypes

and false assumptions regarding

forgiveness, the author mentions

the fact that we often think that we

need to receive an apology before

we forgive. In thinking this way,

we forget that forgiveness is not

dependent on this expectation (it

could never happen), and it doesn’t

require an acknowledgment of the

wrong done by the wrongdoer. An

apology doesn’t need to be asked

for. Forgiveness is unconditional

because it is not restrained by any

specific conditions related to the

wrongdoer (his/her repentance,

request of forgiveness, awareness,

etc.). Forgiveness is totally gratuitous.

A second common misunderstanding

presumes that forgiveness is a onetime

action: that once it is done, it

is done. Now, we have to keep in

mind that one of the reasons why

forgiveness is challenging is exactly

because rather than being an action, it

is a process: a process of healing whose

length depends on many variables.

A third misleading stereotype is

thinking that forgiving is synonymous

with forgetting. If we forget, we don’t

have anything to forgive. Forgetting

should never be a requirement

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for forgiveness to happen.

A fourth stereotype, connected with

the previous point, is that forgiveness

does not imply repressing our painful

memories or denying, diminishing

or ignoring the gravity of the wrong

received; likewise, forgiveness does

not mean condoning or tolerating

injustice and wrong behavior.

Forgiveness is not a feeling. We

do not have to wait for the feeling

to forgive to well up in us. This

might never happen! And while we

wait for this to happen, we remain

chained by bitterness and anger.

Finally, forgiveness does not have

to be identified with reconciliation.

Forgiveness might lead to

reconciliation, but it does not imply

it. We can offer forgiveness without

reconciliation.

As far as the beneficial effects

of forgiveness are concerned, the

author outlines three: first, as much

as receiving God’s forgiveness

sets us free, so too does extending

forgiveness set us free from the

chains of resentment, anger, and

revenge. It brings peace leading to joy.

Secondly, forgiveness creates

proximity between the one who did

wrong and the one who received it.

To borrow the language of the parable

of the Good Samaritan (see Luke

10:25-37), forgiveness transforms us

from resentful wounded people to

wounded “neighbours,” or wounded

brothers or sisters. Normally and

naturally, the harm we have received

becomes a kind of invisible lens

through which we look at the person

who harmed us. We look at the person

as “the one who harmed me,” as “the

one who wounded me,” as “the one

who did me wrong.” The pain we

have experienced makes us shortsighted:

with seemingly plausible

and sensible reasons, our pain and

wounds distort our way of relating

to the wrongdoer. The process of

forgiveness transforms this point

of view. And prayer becomes very

handy and relevant.

Praying for the well-being of the one

who did wrong (more challenging

than what you might think) leads us to

perceive him/her less from the vantage

point of the pain we have experienced,

and more from God’s perspective,

that is a forgiving one. In doing so,

prayer creates proximity, connection,

and it helps to heal and strengthen

relationships that have been harmed.

Finally, forgiveness can impact our

health. Forgiveness brings physical

and psychological benefits to the

person who forgives: both medicine

and psychology have proven that

forgiveness lowers stress levels,

implements well-being, and even

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Forgiving people are less prone to suffer heart disease, high blood pressure,

and other chronic and stress-related illnesses than unforgiving people.

SOURCE: Farber, Neil. “Forgive Me, Forgive Me Not. 8 Things that Forgiveness

is and 8 Things it is not.” Psychology Today, 29 Oct. 2015. Read the full article

here.

"Forgiveness is not

an occasional act,

it is a constant

attitude."

MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.

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What Is

Forgiveness?

Forgiveness is a matter of accepting life as it comes to us especially

when things go differently from what we have been hoping for and

our expectations are frustrated and hurt. Acceptance, for Fred Luskin,

is not developing a fatalistic attitude toward life. It is, rather, the result of

a choice that evolves through a process of progressive acceptance. This

process is activated by grieving, but without clinging to the negative part

of the experience, i.e. that of having been hurt. Healthy grief implies three

stages: it requires us to acknowledge the harm received, to experience those

feelings that normally accompany the negative experience, and to share the

harm and the negative experience with a trusted confidant. Through this

tri-fold process acceptance can sprout and hopefully lead us to forgiveness.

SOURCE: Luskin, Fred. “What is Forgiveness?” Greater Good Magazine, 19 Aug.

2010. Read the full article here.

“Sometimes forgiveness

is the hardest thing to give,

but the most cherished thing

to receive.”

— Maya Banks —

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Pain, disappointment, and

disillusionment are part of our

everyday experience. And yet, it

is not written in stone that they have to

define us and direct our lives because

we have a choice. We can choose to

succumb to our negative experiences,

or choose the opposite path, i.e.

we can choose to not let past hurts

determine how we feel in the present.

Indeed, for renowned author and

director of the Stanford University

Forgiveness Project, Dr. Fred

Luskin, forgiveness is the result of a

deliberate and intentional choice to

enter and start a process of healing

articulated in nine progressive stages

(see the link to the second article) that

provide us with the necessary skills

to become more forgiving people.

Forgiving:

An Art & Process We Can Learn?

Forgiveness, for Dr. Luskin,

is something we can learn to

practice. Starting from the smallest

grievances we can learn the skills

to limit the negative effects that

pain and anger can have on us, and

intentionally choose forgiveness

over resentment and bitterness.

SOURCES: Luskin, Fred. “The Choice

to Forgive.” Greater Good Magazine,

1 Sept. 2004. Read the full article

here; Luskin, Fred. “Nine Steps to

Forgiveness.” Greater Good Magazine,

1, Sept. 2004. Read the full article

here.

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The Invisible Barriers to

Forgiveness

Most of us, if not all, find forgiveness challenging to live and practice. We

naturally perceive barriers and invisible walls that, even if we want

to, seem to refrain us from being able to forgive. Such inability, in most

cases, doesn’t have anything to do with a lack of moral or religious values. It is

not even because of our misconceptions regarding forgiveness, i.e., for example,

thinking that forgiving means excusing, overlooking, forgetting, condoning or

diminishing the harm received; or, that we need to be asked for forgiveness by

the wrongdoer, or that forgiveness is a sign of weakness, and so forth. We simply

experience the challenge of forgiving because forgiveness is challenging!

The article deals with some of the barriers preventing us from giving

forgiveness. But it takes a very interesting route. Rather than following the

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results of previous studies on the psychological impediments to forgiveness,

according to which barriers to forgiving were identified in a lack of compassion

and kindness, the research of Ian Williamson and Marti Gonzales focused

on the fears and concerns of the victims when considering the ‘forgivenessoption.’

One such concern is ‘unreadiness;’ another is identified with ‘selfprotection,’

and the third one with ‘face concerns.’ Can all of them, or just

one or two of them, explain why you might find forgiveness challenging?

To find out, read the article, “How to Overcome Barriers to Forgiveness.”

SOURCES: Graham, Linda. “How to Overcome Barriers to Forgiveness.” Greater

Good Magazine, 13 May 2014. Read the full article here.

“Never forget

the three powerful resources

you always have available to you:

love,

prayer,

forgiveness.”

— H. Jackson Brown Jr. —

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Keys to Unlock

Forgiveness

When we decide not to forgive,

we also decide to let our past

wounds and hurts define us

and to influence our choices

“here” and “now”.

Forgiveness, on the contrary, acts exactly in the opposite direction. It gives

us back our life by making us free - free to reach the highest point. In the

Gospel of Luke one episode speaks for itself in this regard: Jesus on the

cross (Luke 23:24).

Freedom is not the only benefit of forgiving. Forgiveness bears other fruits

too. Nancy Radford, author of the article Forgiveness: The Key to a Happier

Future, mentions among them: the cleansing of our mind and heart to give

up thoughts such as “I will make him/her pay,” “I’ll just wait to see him/her

unhappy or in trouble,” and to let go of our grudges.

Nancy Radford’s article, besides mentioning briefly some of the benefits

of forgiveness, lists some specific steps or keys that can help us in becoming

more forgiving people.

SOURCES: Radford, Nancy. “Forgiveness: The Keys into a Happier Future.”

Positive Psychology Program, 22 Nov. 2018. Updated on May 23, 2019. Read

the full article here.

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The Key of All the Keys:

Let It Go, Let It Be.

We all know this truth: forgiveness is a

vital decision to make because

it requires the ability of letting go. We do not have too many choices: letting

go is the “conditio sine qua non” for forgiveness to happen. If we want to

forgive, we need to learn to let go. But why and how? With this question in

mind, Nancy Radford’s article unfolds six basic points, three for the “why” and

other three related to the “how.”

From her perspective, the “why” discloses three different answers: letting

go saves us from more unnecessary pain, i.e. the pain of seeing our wounds

go unrecognized and unnoticed by the wrongdoer; it prevents us from

developing a “victim complex;” and it protects us from the danger of selfpity.

Finally, in the last section of the article, Nancy Radford deals with the

“how.” She outlines a basic threefold process structured around the following

essential stages: acknowledgement of our pain, recognition of our needs, and

resolution to take action.

SOURCE: Radford, Nancy. “Letting Go of Resentment: How and Why.” Nancy

Radford Mediation and Coaching, 6 Mar. 2018. Read the full article here.

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Forgiveness:

Is It Worth Forgiving?

In our current cultural context, forgiveness is a counter-cultural

phenomenon; because of that, it can be easily mistaken for an act

of madness, an unreasonable choice that does not bring any kind of

advantage. The article written by Everett L. Worthington challenges this

assumption: considering how challenging forgiveness is, do you think it is

really worth it to forgive? What do we get back in exchange for letting go

of our pain and wounds? Why should we forgive, rather than give back the

wrong received?

The author’s thesis, supported through references to some of the most

exhaustive studies in this matter, is that forgiveness actually brings a fourfold

benefit: physical, psychological, social and spiritual. Indeed, findings

from current research on forgiveness established that forgiveness can

change our own physiology, including lowering blood pressure, heart rate,

sweat activity, as well as lower tension and improve both cardiovascular and

immune systems.

Forgiving people also show a lower degree of stress, a higher degree of selfesteem

and satisfaction, less risk of psychological distress caused by feelings

such as nervousness, restlessness, and sadness, and happier relationships.

It has also been found that forgiveness contributes to reducing levels of

anxiety, anger and grief.

As far as the social aspect is concerned, forgiveness seems to foster the wellbeing

of those relationships that demand a strong degree of commitment; it

restores more benevolent and cooperative goals to relationships.

Finally, forgiving people are more prone to consider things from the other

person’s perspective and less prone in dwelling on how fair or unfair a

transgression was, or how just or unjust a solution might be.

If you still wonder, if and how worthwhile forgiveness might be for our

pursuit of well-being, read Everett L. Worthington’s article to find out more

details about the benefits that forgiveness has in store for you. Isn’t it worth

it to cultivate forgiving attitudes?

SOURCES: Worthington, Everett. “The New Science of Forgiveness.” Greater

Good Magazine, 1, Sept. 2004. Read the full article here.

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Section #3

Useful

Resources

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Resources:

Featured Resources of the Month

To watch the video “Dr. Fred Luskin Talks

About The Power of Forgiveness”, click on

the picture.

To watch the video “Forgive For Good”,

featuring Dr. Fred Luskin, click on the picture.

To visit the website Greater Good in

Action, click on the picture.

To preview the book “The Art of Forgiving.

When You Need to Forgive and Don’t Know

How”, click on the image.

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Resources:

Resource List of the Month

In each edition of the magazine, THEOSIS - Transformation

will offer its readers multimedia resources for their continued exploration and reflection.

Such resources will be related to the theme of that particular edition.

Web Books Videos

Greater Good in Action.

University of California - Berkeley

Website Homepage

The Forgiveness Project

Archbishop Desmond Tutu & Dame

Anita Roddick, Founding Patrons

Website Homepage

Ignatian Spirituality.com

A service of Loyola Press

Website Homepage

Allen R. Hunt

Everybody Needs to Forgive

Somebody

Preview the book here

Lewis Smedes

Forgive and Forget: Healing the

Hurts We Don’t Deserve

Preview the book here

Lewis Smedes

The Art of Forgiving: When You

Need to Forgive and Don’t Know

How

Preview the book here

Forgive For Good

Dr. Fred Luskin

Watch the video here

How and Why to Forgive

Dr. Fred Luskin

Watch the video here

Joseph Forgives

(Genesis 42-45)

Kids’ video

Watch the video here

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Upcoming Events — Days of Prayer, Retreats, Workshops,

June - July 2019

For more info about the upcoming events, contact La Salette Retreat & Conference Center

by writing to office@lasaletteretreatcenter.com or by calling 508.222.8530 or by visiting our

website @ www.lasaletteretreatcenter.com

We’d love to hear from you! Thank you.

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Under the Wings of God

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WEEKEND WOMEN’S RETREAT

FRIDAY, JUNE 7 - SUNDAY, JUNE 9, 2019

PRESENTERS:

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For more info and registration click here

Thomas Merton:

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DAY OF REFLECTION

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19

JUNE

From Mourning

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DAY OF REFLECTION

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 19, 2019

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8-DAY PREACHED AND GUIDED RETREAT

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Yearnings of the Heart:

Enhancing Well-being

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Fr. FLAVIO GILLIO, m.s. & Dr. SALLY RICONSCENTE

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Clothed in

Compassion... Donning

Garments of Mercy

WORKSHOP

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2019

PRESENTERS:

Fr. FLAVIO GILLIO, m.s. & Dr. SALLY RICONSCENTE

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45$

PER PERSON. LUNCH &

MASS INCLUDED.

45$

PER PERSON. LUNCH &

MASS INCLUDED.

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Get in Touch. We’d Love to Hear from You.

Do you have an inspiring and

edifying story about forgiveness

that could bring hope and encouragement

to other readers?

Do you have questions about

some of the topics covered in

this issue of Theosis—Transformation?

Theosis—Transformation would

love to hear from you.

To get in touch simply write to:

COMING UP NEXT JULY

Don’t miss our July issue of

Theosis — Transformation,

that will focus on:

COMPASSION:

A PASSION WITH A HEART

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Theosis—Transformation

Monthly Online Magazine on

Bible,

Psychology,

Spirituality.

LOCATION

Attleboro, MA 02703, U.S.

EMAIL

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THESOSI—TRANSFORMATION

A Monthly Online Magazine on Bible, Psychology and Spirituality.

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NATIONAL SHRINE OF

OUR LADY OF LASALETTE

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LA SALETTE RETREAT &

CONFERENCE CENTER

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LA SALETTE EXPERIENCE

100 acres of silence and peace. Friendly staff to welcome you. The right

place for retreats, days of recollection, conferences and other events. For

you, your group, or team. The compound includes the National Shrine of

our Lady of La Salette and La Salette Retreat and Conference Center. For

more info about our facilities, how to rent them, and more info about the

top-quality programs offered by our friendly staff

CALL

508.222.5410 (Shrine Reception)

508. 222.8530 (La Salette Retreat Center Reception)

OR WRITE TO

office@lasaletteretreatcenter.com (Retreat & Conference Center)

lasaletteshrinesecretary@gmail.com (Shrine)

Theosis - Transformation - Issue n o 1 | June 2019 | 51


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Monthly Goals

Goal

Due Date

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Monthly Planner

(Format can change from issue to issue depending on the topic)

Goals

To-do list

Theosis - Transformation - Issue n o 1 | June 2019 | 53


THEOSIS - TRANSFORMATION

Monthly Online Magazine on Bible, Psychology & Spirituality

947 Park Street, Attleboro, MA, 02703

Phone: 508.222.85.30

Email: office@lasaletteretreatcenter.com

www.lasaletteretreatcenter.com

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