Monica's journey to forgiveness
Date: July 17, 2011
Category: Spiritual Life
She hated her father!
During the 70’s, in Germany. Monica was 17 when she lost her mother whom she loved very much. She was left behind with three siblings and her father who was a non-practicing protestant and an architect near Bonn. Monica detested her father. He had very little interaction with his children, so she found him cold, rigid, and insensitive. Since she was unable to connect with him on a heart level, she moved out at 17, using her studies as an excuse.
At the age of 20, she had a deep experience of God in her bedroom, and she conceived a great love for Jesus. Through some Protestant brothers, she understood that loving and forgiving her father are part of God’s commandments, you will honor you father and mother, so she made several attempts to do so. Eventually she offered to spend a vacation alone with him in the beautiful Swiss mountains. In the heart of this magnificent scenery, she discovered the truth about her father’s heart and started to love him. She also understood that his suffering was caused by a very difficult childhood. She forced herself to focus on the positive points of their relationship, rather than straining with the contentious ones. She also became aware of her own faults, the ones she had in common with her father; and she began asking him for forgiveness. She prayed and slowly discovered within her father a child capable of being in awe.
Then a providential event took place. She was with her father and his friends (who had, like him, run away from East Germany just before the closing of the Berlin wall) when her father became a different person. In a different context he was vulnerable, open, obviously his true self. Monica discovered everything he had suffered because of his exile and how he was forced to harden his heart in order to survive. She understood also how children can too quickly reject their parents and make them become as hard as marble. Monica’s heart opened to this “unknown” father and at last a dialogue started between them.
When she was 26, she was working as a nurse in a home for the elderly. She worked the night shift and often found herself alone in the service. Every two weeks, she visited her father. She worried about his loneliness.
At 77, her father enjoyed good health and there was no inkling of any medical condition. One day he went to the hospital for a minor overnight procedure. That same night, Monica was working the night shift when suddenly a strong feeling seized her. In her heart, she knew that she must go immediately to be near her father. At sunrise she got into the car and drove two hours non-stop at full speed in the rain and fog. She was going through an inner struggle, ‘I’m crazy, I could go see my father later, why should I go there now?’
However her intuition was too strong. She sensed that this encounter with her father would be important, and she began to pray. When she arrived in Bonn, instead of going to the hospital, she felt an urge to go first to her father’s house, without knowing why. The house was empty. Monica walked toward the armoire, opened a drawer and found a document unknown to her. She took it and quickly went to the hospital where she found her father in excellent condition. They opened the document together and found the diary that he had written when he was young.
They came upon a story of a hike that he had made with his friends when he was 17, during the War of 1940-1945. On that day, at the top of the mountain, her father and his friends had marveled at creation, as if they had seen the glory of God. The story was extremely moving. Monica and her father started to cry. For Monica, the moment was as if a corner of heaven was opened. The visit lasted 3 hours. The father-daughter relationship deepened and there was a true exchange of hearts.
Monica asked him if he would give his life to the Lord. Her father accepted and there they prayed together for the very first time! Since her father did not know how to pray, he asked her to say the prayers and he would repeat them after her. Monica began a spontaneous prayer, simple, as the Holy Spirit inspired her. A great union of hearts developed during that prayer too.
Taking advantage of the occasion, Monica told her father how much she loved him and she thanked him. It was a little like a declaration of love, sober but sincere. She asked his forgiveness for all the hurt that her attitude toward him might have caused. Then his roommate returned and her father walked his daughter to the door. From a distance he waved to her good-bye and Monica noticed a light surrounding him. Monica was full of joy and returned to work. Three days later she received a call from her brother saying that their father had just died very peacefully, alone.
Monica is now catholic. Her journey to forgiveness is encouraging! At times we feel unable to forgive a person who has hurt us. But doesn’t God offer each one of us a path of mercy and peace? We find it only kneeling down, in a heartfelt prayer. This reconciliation between Monica and her father is beautiful, but more beautiful still is the way Monica listened to the Holy Spirit and let Him guide her, without taking into account her feeling of repulsion towards her father. We depend too much on our feelings; we speak too much about them; we judge too much; we ‘ruminate’ and we constantly comment on evil; we feed upon sad stories. But happy are those who listen to the whisper of God in their hearts and who let the beautiful flower of forgiveness bloom, sprouting even in the middle of sordid garbage. Our garbage will pass but the flower and its fruits will remain. They come from God.
Mother Theresa On God's Mercy and Forgiveness