In Africa, I was asked to listen to a European missionary sister who had been kidnapped and brutalized by a renegade tribe for several weeks. Then she was inexplicably “let go” just before they were to kill her.
Hospitalized for several months, she found that her African community would not receive her back since they considered rape her own fault. She very simply and humbly came to me at a conference and asked us to pray that SHE might be able to forgive that rejection.
Even though it went against their cultural norms, the community two days later welcomed her back and she fully forgave both her brutal captors and the hesitation of her own community.
“The burden of unforgiveness would destroy me; it is better to forgive so that I can give life to those I serve."
She knew who she was; her dignity, at that moment, was profoundly expressed by her genuine peace and joy. Such faith, such strength, such great heartedness can only come from the source of Life—the Holy Spirit. It is there for all of us.
(Excerpt from “Charisms for every person,” Pentecost Today, Summer 2014; © 2014, available on the National Service Committee website, www.nsc-chariscenter.org, used with permission.)
Sr. Ann Shields, SGL, is an internationally noted conference and retreat speaker and author of numerous books on Catholic spirituality, including Deeper Conversion, To Be Like Jesus and in 2013, More of the Holy Spirit. She currently hosts the popular daily radio program “Food for the Journey.”