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The power of apologies

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Have you ever stopped to wonder in awe at the power of an apology? So many supernatural things have to happen for an apology to be everything it has the potential to be. Apologies are kind of here-now miracles that can happen to everyday people every day. If only we cooperate.

First, there’s the part that seems to happen all too easily. There is an angry outburst, a betrayal of trust, an unkindness, an injury. We wound someone. Sometimes there are angry words on both sides. Sometimes we wound each other. And then, there is retreat.

Time passes. It might be only a few minutes. It might be a long, sleepless night. Sometimes, it’s days that become weeks that become months and years. But in our here-now miracle scenario, only a short time passes. Grace moves in. Your head begins to speak sense to your heart. It tells you that somewhere along the way you inflicted pain — you sinned. And an apology is in order.

This is where the battle is won. Not the battle with the person you hurt; this is where you win the battle with Satan. Our human interpersonal relationships are frequently confused because of our lack of understanding and/or underestimation of the very real demons who are determined to win our souls. And so, the demons step into our human interactions with distinct power and purpose.

Christ defeated the devil on the cross, but Satan still prowls about the world seeking the ruin of souls. A favorite weapon in his battle is deception. He loves to get inside your head and fuel your anger and your self-righteousness. He loves to entice you to ignore the promptings of grace. He loves to confuse you so effectively that you refuse to make the repair attempt.

So, swallow your pride and pray for that glorious grace. Pray that your heart softens to the wisdom of your head. Pray for sincere regret and remorse. The miracle follows.

Repentance is put in motion. An apology is offered. With all your heart, you render a regretful acknowledgment of the offense or failure. Perhaps you offer restitution. You definitely resolve to amend your ways.

And then, against all impulses of the flesh, in an act of mercy, you are forgiven. Here too, supernatural power is exerted over the enemy. To forgive requires surrender to the impulse of tenderness. To forgive requires a refusal to listen to the lies of the one who would continue to stoke the fires of hurt and resentment. The demon is cast out when apology is received with mercy and grace.

“What I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, to keep Satan from gaining the advantage over us; for we are not ignorant of his designs” (2 Cor 2:10-11).

There is reconciliation. There is reunification.

And the devil is defeated. Again.

It’s straight-up miraculous. Apology and forgiveness defy Satan and claim victory for Christ. Mercy is no small thing. It’s big, and grand, and glorious.

Foss, whose website is takeupandread.org, writes from Connecticut. 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2021

@elizabethfoss