Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Saint Josephine Bakhita on Forgiving and Forgetting

I am just learning about St. Bakhita, a former slave whose feast day is today.  She was canonized in 2000 by Pope John Paul II.  Fr. Mark's post that I excerpted below served as my introduction to her.    I am happy that she has come to my attention now to encourage me in my determination to forgive and forget.  According to this Wikipedia article, while a slave, St. Bakhita suffered cruelties regularly.  But her most terrifying memories were from the time she had a 114 designs carved into her body and then filled with salt to ensure scarring.  This was done by a woman while Bakhita's mistress watched with a whip in her hand.
Here is the aforementioned excerpt from Fr. Mark's post, "A Saint for Those Who are Prisoners of the Past", with thanks to Mary-Eileen Russell for bringing it to my attention.  Do follow the link and read the whole thing if you have time.

No Trace of Bitterness

Mother Josephine Bakhita served her Master for almost fifty years. The Collect speaks of her following Jesus the Crucified Lord with unremitting love. In charity, it says, she persevered in a ready mercy. This is the miracle of Saint Bakhita. There was no trace of bitterness in her. The cruel degradations and unspeakable moral outrages suffered as a slave, though never forgotten, had no hold on her. She to whom men had refused mercy persevered to the end in a ready mercy for others. She was not a prisoner of her past. We who are so often prisoners of the past, unable to let go, unable to forgive, unable to move beyond old hurts, do well today to seek her intercession.
Set Free by Love

Looking to the future does not mean forgetting the past; it means transfiguring it. It means re-reading it with eyes of mercy in the light of faith. We need not remain slaves of our own histories, chained to the evil things, the hurtful things, the unjust things that happened ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, or seventy-five years ago. There is another way: the way of those set free by love.

1 comment:

Fotofule said...

Wow. What a dramatic and convincing example of the power of forgiveness. Freedom from hate. Freedom to love.