There can be no true love expressed by anyone of us unless and until our heart is reconciled with God, our neighbor and ourself. The commandments are, first, that we love God with our whole being and, secondly, that we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. True love and reconciliation go hand in hand. It all comes down to this: in order to fulfill the law of love, we must be reconciled first with God, secondly, with our neighbor, and thirdly, with ourselves.
It should be noted, however, that the order need not always and necessarily be as stated. Reconciliation with self may in instances be necessary before one can be reconciled with neighbor, and reconciliation with neighbor may come as a preparation to be reconciled with God. Grace works at times mysteriously through any given individual, so that ultimately reconciliation in whatever order, ends up so that every single person who desires it, may ultimately live in total reconciliation. Reconciliation becomes necessary when one realizes that he/she has caused hurt to some person. This can be the Person of God, the person of neighbor, or the person of self. There is no need to seek reconciliation with non-persons. Likewise, there is no need to see reconciliation until and unless we realize that we have caused hurt. It is spiritually helpful and praiseworthy when one is not conscious of hurting anyone, yet would find it in one’s heart to say, "IF I had hurt anyone without my knowledge, I am sorry and would wish to be reconciled."
Reconciliation is not possible unless there is a sincere regret within one’s heart that he/she had caused hurt. It is an act of charity to be able to go to someone and say, " You may not realize it, but you have hurt me." This helps both parties, the one who unknowingly has hurt, and the one hurt. If one has been hurt and keeps it hidden and/or suppressed, it does not contribute to one’s peace of soul. If one, not realizing that he or she has caused hurt, finds out, the opportunity to ask for forgiveness is then given and peace can be brought between two people. It is a helpful practice to examine one’s conscience daily in order to become aware of having offended someone. The conscience is God-given so that acting upon it one can better maintain within oneself a state of peace.
In my next installment, I will continue to delve into how reconciliation with self is just as important in the healing process with others.
To review Father Valenta's previous columns in this series, go to Archives beginning with the August 18, 1997 issue of A CALL TO PEACE: volume 8, no. 16.