In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil. Whosoever is not just, is not of God, nor he that loveth not his brother. For this is the declaration, which you have heard from the beginning, that you should love one another. Not as Cain, who was of the wicked one, and killed his brother. And wherefore did he kill him? Because his own works were wicked: and his brother’s just. Wonder not, brethren, if the world hate you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not, abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer. And you know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in himself. In this we have known the charity of God, because he hath laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.—1 John 3:10-16.

I put this under the “Life Update” section partly because I need to populate this pull-down part of my menu more, but also partly because I struggle much with anger at those who are harming our Catholic Church and our once-beautiful and free United States of America.

The first reason we should forgive our enemies is for love of God, for He has commanded this.  The second reason is because in every Our Father we ask God to forgive us in the same manner as we forgive others (so we should expect the level of mercy given to us at the end of our lives by God as we currently doll out to others.)  The third reason is to free ourselves of the bonds to those who have harmed us.  The fourth reason is begin the liberation of those who have harmed us.  (I say “begin” because they can’t free themselves until they repent if it’s actually a real and grave offense.)  The fifth reason is we will often look back and see we have “forgiven” simple misunderstandings insofar as we all offend friends and family and strangers in mistakes containing no malice.

Before I look at a sixth reason, remember the traditional Magisterium of the Catholic Church allows armed self-defense, defense of the innocent with proportionate force, just war (including some of the Crusades), armed civil-disobedience against tyrannical rulers and even the death penalty.  Notice that these violent exceptions to the status quo non-violence of Christianity do not gel with the vengeance displayed in such movies as Boondock Saints (top left) or The Equalizer (top right.)  In such movies, men take the law into their own hands in killing wicked people.  I get why conservatives are attracted to such movies with how much evil we see in Church and State, but it is not the Catholic way.

The second paragraph of this article explains the five main reasons why we should forgive instead of seek vengeance.  But a sixth (admittedly far behind the first five) is this mysterious line from the Holy Spirit speaking through St. James:  You know, my dearest brethren. And let every man be swift to hear, but slow to speak, and slow to anger. For the anger of man worketh not the justice of God.—James 1:19-20 (DRB.)

What does it mean that the anger of man doesn’t accomplish the “justice of God”? One reason is that our ideas of justice are often mistaken.  But I suspect another reason is simply that hell will be worse for our enemies than anything we can inflict on them if they don’t repent.  Of course, we should genuinely pray for their conversion, that Jesus Christ may have true mercy upon all those who have greatly harmed us or our families (or our Church.)  But if evil-doers do not heed the Holy Spirit’s constant gifts of actual graces to enter (via baptism) or return (via confession) to sanctifying grace, then we know God’s justice in the afterlife will outdo anything man could concoct in his limited sense of justice.

I’m not saying meditating on our enemies in hell is the main reason we refrain from violence, or that such a meditation will help us forgive others.  It’s not a good meditation at all.  But in our weakest times, we can remind ourselves that those attempting to destroy our families and countries and the Catholic Church at the highest levels will face something much worse than human anger when they move from the mercy of God to a justice of God at death:  An eternal hell.  And this is probably why St. James wrote we are to be “slow to anger” since “the anger of man worketh not the justice of God.”  In other words, no one will get away with anything.