Freedom and Forgiveness: A Fresh Look at the Sacrament of Reconciliation by Father Paul Farren
Two very simple words yet profound in their implications, freedom and forgiveness offer the human race a way forward in dealing with the problems and conundrums of life on Earth. Father Paul Farren in his book, Freedom and Forgiveness takes a hard look at the Sacrament of Reconciliation and looks at from the angle as God the Confessor. He writes, “What does God confess? He confesses his love, his forgiveness, his gratitude, his confidence, his trust, and his belief in us” (1). We often go around seeing God as unyielding judge who can’t wait to tally up our rights and wrongs, but fail to see the pursuing God of love for his creation.
Father Farren brings to the forefront a concept of beliefs surrounding God’s love that is worth mentioning, especially for myself, steeped in Reformational Protestant theology. Farren writes,
“Do many of us really believe that we are terrific? What is mean to be terrific? Does it mean that be perfect and able to do anything? Does it mean to have no weakness? I don’t think so. Are we not terrific when we accept that we are originally good and also that we have original sin? Our beauty comes from the whole truth about ourselves. That whole truth involves all that is good in us and all that is broken in us. We are a mixture of both. However, the power of our brokenness decreases when we realize that we are the beloved of God” (20).
We err on the side of condemnation when we focus on the brokenness and not speak of the children of God that we are, and yet when we fail to mention the brokenness of our hearts and minds we miss part of the truth about ourselves.
Seeking forgiveness is a difficult matter altogether. Farren mentions that forgiveness frees that other person from the paralyzing force of anger and violence, seeing the other person as a wound to be healed and not as an enemy (32). And yet, as Jean Vanier point out, forgiveness is never a one-time deal where we seek reconciliation and go on our merry way. No, forgiveness is a process, sometimes life-long that is always moving from hurt, hate, and rejection towards acceptance, love, and forgiveness.
I cannot say how much this book was a blessing that points myself and others towards God and others in forgiveness. The foundation of forgiveness is God’s love for his children, even in the death and resurrection of his Son. This book will surely challenge you to see forgiveness through the lens of God’s love and move you toward a life of forgiveness.
Thanks to Paraclete Press for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.