ARISE group member takes reconciliation to heart
The ideals of forgiveness and reconciliation became a reality for a Texas woman participating in ARISE Together in Christ.
According to Renée Underwood, who leads a group from Christ the King Cathedral Parish in Lubbock, a member shared the experience during a session this spring.
Renée’s group meets weekly between seasons of ARISE, using PRAYERTIME, another resource from RENEW International. The group began meeting when the diocese began the ARISE process in the fall of 2013.
It was during a PRAYERTIME session, Renée said, that one group member observed “that all through Season 4 (of ARISE) we had spent much time discussing reconciliation, forgiveness, returning to the sacrament, and approaching those whom we had hurt or who had hurt us.
“All throughout the season, she was discerning the many suggestions each week in the ‘Invitation to Act’ ’’—a step in all RENEW faith-sharing resources.
“She said that on Palm Sunday it all sunk in,” Renée continued. "She sat down and prayerfully wrote letter after letter to people she had not been able to forgive and to those from whom she needed to ask forgiveness."
The woman herself, who prefers that her name not be published, explained: “I wrote either to people whom I had been mean to, and asked them to forgive me, or to people who had done something to me and told them, ‘I forgive you. It’s in the past. It’s over.’’
“Members of the group asked if she had actually mailed them,’’ Renée recalled, “and she said, ‘Yes. Writing them was the hard part; putting them into the mail was a breeze.’ ’’
Renée said that the woman also went to the parish penitential service on Wednesday of Holy Week and shared the experience with the confessor.
“She said he was so loving and kind and let her know that she had already done her penance, and he prayed that she would be renewed to continue to forgive others as God forgives her. She said she left confession feeling lighter than air.
“Of course, she and all of us were in tears as she shared this beautiful story.’’
The woman who shared that story said that she didn’t expect to get responses but she did get two—one in a letter and one in person.
In both cases, she said, the other person did not recall the perceived injury.
“It didn’t affect them in a negative way,’’ she said, “but it was something I had hung on to, and it affected me negatively.’’
Renée said the woman was a “cradle Catholic,” a homemaker who had sent her children to Catholic schools and was very involved in the parish but had not experienced any continuing religious education.
Still, Renée said, “she’s the resident exegete, and she didn’t even realize she was doing that. She has studied the context of the readings before we meet and discuss them, and she brings that background to our meetings.’’
The woman who reached out in reconciliation recalled, “I started with the ARISE group when it began. We enjoyed our discussion in our group so much that we continue to meet all through the year.’’
Renée, who is director of stewardship and development in the Diocese of Lubbock, said the group consists of nine women— five widowed and three married —ranging in age from 58 to 95.
“Over the past ten years,’’ said the woman, “I’ve had two very close friends who had cancer and knew they were dying. In preparing to die for months, they went way back forgiving people for things. I thought, ‘If they need cancer to do that, surely I can do it just to get it off my mind.’
“In the discussions we had in the ARISE groups for many weeks in a row, we talked about forgiveness, and that was the impetus.
“I’m very grateful for the ARISE program. I would not have tackled this without it.’’