The following is a collection of sayings from Professor Olavo de Carvalho about forgiveness.

“To forgive is always a demonstration of great strength. Forgiveness belongs to kings and judges, not to wet blankets. But there is such a thing as false forgiveness, and it’s nothing but pretentiousness and sentimentality. A man will say ‘I forgive you,’ and then, secretly, will continue to plot against the person who did him wrong.”

“If you forgive the woman who cheats on you while in reality you never want to see her face again, nor desire her happiness or to see her shine once more, of course you didn’t forgive anything; you just called ‘forgiveness’ what in reality was your own little revenge.”

“God forgives us and therefore accepts us as friends anew, as those He has called to Heaven to be with Him forever and ever. In the Our Father, our Lord Jesus Christ taught us how to pray: ‘Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.’ If our idea of forgiveness is limited to merely excluding the forgiven person from our lives, God will treat us in like manner. The only true forgiveness is forgiveness as divine love would have it, and nothing else. To ‘forgive,’ and then to never want to speak to the person again is nothing but revenge, a hissy fit acted out by people who have not the slightest notion of the extent to which God has forgiven them—to fathomless depths and beyond.”

“When someone asks you for forgiveness—suppose they are sincere—they are putting you in the position of a judge, a priest, or a magistrate, and so are conferring upon you so high an honor that to grant them the pardon they seek could almost be viewed as an act of gratitude on your part. When, on the contrary, you grant unsolicited pardon—or worse, undesired pardon—you are placing yourself in this superior position, and with an attitude worthy of supreme ridicule, you toss your crumbs to the dogs. Therefore, if someone offends you and does not ask for forgiveness, by all means forgive them in your heart and ask God to forgive them, but keep silent and don’t come out swinging your magnanimity for all to see. And if, on the contrary, the person says to you, ‘forgive me,’ don’t turn a deaf ear—hurry over and offer them much more than forgiveness; offer them your friendship. The majority of people who call themselves Christian have not the faintest notion of these things.” 

“Many couples dream of having a truly ‘Christian marriage,’ and some make it a point to base their conjugal life on the Church’s moral teaching. But often they forget the most essential commandment of all: to forgive. To forgive everything. To forgive always. To forgive again, and again, and again, and again. To forgive with all your heart and to double your love for the one who says, ‘forgive me,’ to fill them with consolation and a renewed hope. To forgive with humility, without puffing yourself up, without humiliating the one who’s already been humiliated. To forgive with joy, knowing that in doing so, you’re not giving anything; you’re receiving. If you don’t forgive the person you love, whom will you forgive? The trees and the rocks? And if you don’t practice forgiveness today, now, how can you hope to be forgiven one day? I’ve been married for thirty-three years and I can guarantee you: forgiveness works. There is no ‘marriage problem,’ no matter how complicated it may be, that can stand against it. Sexual desire eventually dies down, but when that day comes, what remains between forgiving and forgiven lovers is a sweetness and a tenderness so deep and indescribable that truly it can be considered a foretaste of paradise.”

“God can forgive adulterers, liars, thieves and even murderers, but He will not forgive the one who refuses to forgive. I could be wrong, but I have a hunch that there are fewer unfaithful spouses in hell than there are virtuous ones who refused to forgive them.”

“Jesus taught us to pray: ‘Forgive us our trespasses, AS WE forgive those who trespass against us,’ and just to make Himself even clearer, He added: ‘with what measure you measure, it shall be measured to you.’ The conclusion is OBVIOUS: either you learn to forgive, or the strictness with which you observe every single other rule of Christian morality will proportionally increase the severity with which you will be judged and very likely condemned. Our ONLY way out of this valley of tears is to forgive always, everything, and from the bottom of our hearts. And to be honest with you, I’ve only met three or four Christians in my life who truly understood this.”

“Only the one who has developed the habit of forgiving is able, when he or she sins, to experience a contrition that is sweet, humble and hopeful, without bitterness, and as I understand it, as pleasing to God as is the return of the prodigal son.”

“If you paid close attention to the ending of the movie The Garden of Afflictions, you’ll have no difficulty understanding what I’m about to explain. If I place so much emphasis on forgiveness, it’s not only because I consider it to be the heart and summit of Christian revelation. It’s also because, in my personal meditations on the subject—viewing it not from a religious nor theological perspective but from a metaphysical one—I’ve since adopted as the formal thesis of my philosophy the conviction that forgiveness is one of the fundamental keys to understanding the entire structure of reality itself. In the movie, just as I did in many classes, I explained that there is no intermediary between being and non-being, which means that anything that has come or ever will come into existence even for an infinitesimal fraction of a second can never return to non-existence, because the whole structure of being ‘knows’ it and there will never be a point in time at which it can be said: ‘such a thing never existed.’ If we attempt to conceive of the passage of time as the entire structure of all possibilities, we will understand what eternity is, as Boethius understood it: it is the actual and simultaneous possession of all moments of existence. This means that anything that happens in time belongs to the structure of eternity forever. It is the absolute irrevocability of any event. Nothing returns to nothingness, ever, because nothing ever came from nothing to begin with. Now, if we consider all possible events in the universe, from the movement of the tiniest possible subatomic particles to the cataclysmic collisions of immense galaxies, and including all supernatural and spiritual bodies that could possibly exist, there is in fact only ONE thing that, even though it occurs in time, can be banished forever from eternity. That thing is our sins. Sacramental forgiveness cancels sin out from the registry of existence. Divine pardon is not only a cancellation of punishment; it is the annihilation of the thing itself, a complete and definitive UN-HAPPENING, a non-event. Just as the world’s creation happened ex nihilo, forgiveness sends what can’t regress into nothingness into precisely that, nothingness. Forgiveness is a work of divine generosity, and in this sense, it transcends the entire structure of universal possibilities. Whoever has the chance to participate in this miracle, in any way, shape or form, ought to do so to the utmost degree possible, for nothing else will ever give that person—to the extent humans are able to do anything—a more luminous understanding of the mystery of existence.”

“Some persons are so pure in their own eyes that they can’t fathom the idea that divine forgiveness eliminates sin from the realm of eternal reality. They think thus because they always want there to be a little something left over. They are very far from understanding that in itself, this contradicts the very notion of eternal beatitude.” 

“Here’s an obvious truth, but one that petty souls can’t hear without cringing: Jesus DID NOT come to lecture us. He came to forgive sinners.”

“The fierce intransigence with which we must defend the values and principles that are greater than we are is proportional to the swiftness with which we must hurry to forgive any personal offense we receive, without discussing terms, conditions and details.”

“The idea of a God who forgives or condemns just as He fancies is Islamic, nor Christian. God has bound Himself to uphold Sacramental pardon until the end of time, and nothing will make Him change His mind. He is certainly able to extend forgiveness to those who do not receive Sacramental absolution, but He will not take it away from those who have received it. 

“It is also a grave error to imagine God forgives only those who deserve it. NO ONE deserves it. God forgives the one who asks.”

“It is a monstrous error to think God forgives only whom He wants to forgive. He wants to forgive EVERYONE. It’s just that some do not ask; some do not want it.”

Translation by Jules Lapprand

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