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Discussion Group Leaders and Participants
life-styles; Scriptures; moral theology; forgiveness
- Social Studiesrebuilding
of communities and cultures in Bosnia and Serbia; the roots
through mercy and forgiveness
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for use in programs outside the classroom, such as:
preparation programs and CCD classes; young adult discussion
programs; seasonal discussion groups; RCIA programs.
Parents will also
find this material useful in initiating discussion around the
dinner table, in home study, at family activities or as preparation
for parent/teacher meetings.
Terms in This Months Article
Look for these key
words and terms as you read the article. Definitions or explanations
can be researched from the article itself, or from the resource
materials cited throughout the Links for Learners.
Adoration (of Blessed Sacrament)
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This month's article
describes non-denominational efforts to provide supplies and labor
for rebuilding homes torn apart by recent battles in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Christians and non-Christians alike donate building materials and
give up vacation time to work shoulder to shoulder with Bosnian
families as they put their lives back together.
interethnic civil strife between Bosnians and Croatians, on the
one hand, and Serbians on the other resulted in the destruction
of homes and country sides as well as personal devastation and ethnic
cleansing reminiscent of the Holocaust of World War II. Much has
been written on the fighting in the Balkans. For a printed history,
see Kosovo: A Short History, Noel Malcolm, New York University
Press, New York, 1998.
homes and lives is a daunting task that will take many years. The
efforts of the volunteers in St.
David's Relief Organization exemplify Christian outreach to
those in need. In fact, the Franciscan
Order, with strong roots in nearby Medjugorje,
represented a critical contingent within the relief efforts. Medjugorje,
in southern Bosnia,
is the site where, since 1981, Mary is said to appear daily. Franciscans
in Bosnia contains information on the Franciscan presence in
Bosnians reject suggestions
that they leave their homelands and immigrate to more peaceful areas.
As the article says, "the land and the Church are their lives."
Despite the tragedies that have driven pain deep into their hearts,
the Bosnian people still live in hope. In discussing their situation,
you may want to compare it to situations and events that pushed
other peoples to turn away from their homes and immigrate to other
lands. The Potato
Famine in Ireland, for example, was a turning point for thousands
of Irish, whose hope directed them to leave Ireland for America.
What motivated them to immigrate?
The Healing Only
Forgiveness Can Bring
While the generous
efforts of countless volunteers certainly witness to the generosity
of Jesus himself, there can be no question that they are mostly
the efforts of outsiders who have not experienced the deep emotional
and physical wounds of hatred and war. A deep, abiding peace, a
restoration of community ties, will only occur through forgiveness
among the warring ethnic groups in Bosnia.
But how do you forgive
the person who destroyed your home, assaulted and killed your family
and drove you away from your roots? How do you forgive the Irish
Republican Army when they abduct and murder a mother of 10 because
she cradled a dying British soldier in her arms? How do you forgive
the parent who left you and went off to live a new life?
Robert D. Enright, a professor at the University of Wisconsin,
has devoted the last 10+ years to the study of forgiveness.
His work led him to establish the International
Forgiveness Institute. Colleagues considered him almost
crazy because he gave up years of research and grant work
to take on the subject of forgiveness, a topic no one in psychology
had taken seriously before.
Now, however, Enright
can write that "people who are deeply and unjustly hurt by others
can heal emotionally by forgiving their offender."
In a first of its
kind national conference on forgiveness, held in 1995, psychiatrist
Richard Fitzgibbons stated that as a society our anger is completely
out of control. Road rage, student killings, family feuds, hate
radio, sports fights among players and fans alikeall are symptoms
of a deep-seated anger in our culture.
psychologists are more and more in agreement that forgiving releases
the power that an offender otherwise has over us. We limit ourselves
emotionally, physically, developmentally when we refuse to forgive.
Enright admits that
forgiveness is extremely difficult. It's a process, not a single
step, and can easily take years to accomplish. He outlines five
steps in the healing process: