A collection of thoughts and quotations by C.S Lewis on love, age, Christianity, books, friendship, religion, faith, forgiveness and God.
This is a spinoff.
This is only a spinoff.
In other words, I have no intention of addressing the 144,000 points or so made about forgiveness (legitimate, premature, unprincipled, or dysfunctional, with or without justice and reconciliation) in recent posts and comments. (I strongly recommend reading through them, though, if you haven’t yet—much food for thought).
What I would like to do is allow C. S. Lewis to weigh in on the subject. Forgiveness is right up there with humility as a contender for Most Misunderstood Christian Virtue. And it’s painfully relevant: it comes up all the time in the life of anyone tempted to think of himself, as we probably all do sometimes, as Surrounded By Idiots (ourselves included).
I was introduced to Lewis some umpteen years ago, when my mother sat my sister and me down on the couch and made us acquainted with Narnia. (My parents had so many kids that Narnia on the Couch was a bedtime ritual for a good thirty years, not counting grandchildren.)
I keep going back to Lewis to make sure he’s really as good as I thought he was when I was seven. (He is.) I checked on him after I became Catholic, studied philosophy, got married, became a mother, started homeschooling, and, most recently, started translating Amor y Autoestima, a book with an unusual number of Lewis citations.
He held up well each time. He’s not the Gospel, and he’s not the Magisterium, but as mere mortals go, he’s in a class by himself.
So here he is addressing forgiveness. (All quotes are from the chapter entitled “Forgiveness” in Mere Christianity.)
First question: Do we hafta?
Well, as Lewis puts it,
“Forgive us our sins as we forgive those that sin against us.’ There is no slightest suggestion that we are offered forgiveness on any other terms. It is made perfectly clear that if we do not forgive we shall not be forgiven.
Having eliminated wriggling out of the duty altogether, the next step is clear enough: to nail down just what forgiving your enemy means. Lewis proceeds with a kind of phenomenological via negativa: he examines our experience and ascertains what it doesn’t mean:
He begins with “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
This commandment, like “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” and “do unto others as you would have others do unto you” all seem very phenomenological, now that I think of it: they invite us to look at our own experience and ask questions like:
They’re very personalist questions, too: we’re directed initially to our own experience—never just for sheer introspection’s sake, but precisely in order to turn immediately outwards towards the other and treat him as a being who exists for his own sake—not just insofar as he interferes with me. We’re keeping the subjectivity of the other in full view at all times.
So Lewis begins:
We might try to understand exactly what loving your neighbour as yourself means. I have to love him as I love myself. Well, how exactly do I love myself?
Now that I come to think of it, I have not exactly got a feeling of fondness or affection for myself, and I do not even always enjoy my own society. So apparently “Love your neighbour” does not mean “feel fond of him” or “find him attractive.”
That much established, he goes on:
Do I think well of myself, think myself a nice chap? Well, I am afraid I sometimes do…but thinking myself nice is not why I love myself. So loving my enemies does not apparently mean thinking them nice either. This is an enormous relief. For a good many people imagine that forgiving your enemies means making out that they are really not such bad fellows after all, when it is quite plain that they are.
Forgiveness, then, if it is to be principled and justice-respecting, doesn’t involve fudging the truth. It doesn’t require either a feeling of fondness or a belief in imaginary goodness.
Finally, what about “loving the sinner and hating the sin”—the kind of forgiveness that refuses both to shrug off the evil of the action and to identify the subject wholly with it?
For a long time I used to think this a silly, straw-splitting distinction: how could you hate what a man did and not hate the man? But years later it occurred to me that there was one man to whom I had been doing this all my life--namely myself. However much I might dislike my own cowardice or conceit or greed, I went on loving myself. There had never been the slightest difficulty about it. In fact the very reason why I hated the things was that I loved the man. Just because I loved myself, I was sorry to find that I was the sort of man who did those things.
That last line captures something important. Here is a forgiveness that minimizes neither the objective wrong nor the malice of the wrongdoer. The forgiver wishes the forgiv-ee well, and even has a corresponding affective response, yet doesn't reduce forgiveness to either a mere sentiment or an act of raw willpower.
So, not to re-open a can of worms, but--what do you think?
1. In the past six months, my large family of eleven has been bombarded with illness, cancer, a threat of a premature birth of our fifth grandchild, celebrated the .
The ultimate list of the popular, famous and the best quotes about forgiveness. There are about quotes in text and images. Feel free to share it with friends.
“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” – Mahatma Gandhi
“The stupid neither forgive nor forget; the naive forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget.” – Thomas Szasz
“I have learned that sometimes “sorry” is not enough. Sometimes you actually have to change.” – Claire London
“The things two people do to each other they remember. If they stay together, it’s not because they forget; it’s because they forgive.” – Demi Moore
“It takes a strong person to say sorry, and an ever stronger person to forgive.” – Unknown
“Forgiving is not forgetting. It’s letting go of the hurt.” – Kathy
“I don’t forgive people cause I’m weak I forgive them cause I’m strong enough to understand people make mistakes.” – Unknown
“Always forgive your enemies – nothing annoys them so much.” – Pamela Daranjo
“Forgiveness is the fragrance that flowers give when they are crushed.” – Unknown
“Sometimes you only forgive someone because you can’t stand not having them in your life.” – Unknown
“Forgive, not because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace.” – Unknown
“I can forgive, but I cannot forget, is only another way of saying, I will not forgive. Forgiveness ought to be like a cancelled note — torn in two, and burned up, so that it never can be shown against one.” – Henry Ward Beecher
“Forgiving is rediscovering the shining path of peace that at first you thought others took away when they betrayed you.” – Dodinsky
“Once a woman has forgiven her man, she must not reheat his sins for breakfast.” – Marlene Dietrich
“Forgiveness is a funny thing. It warms the heart and cools the sting.” – William Arthur Ward
“Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.” – Paul Boese
“If you can’t forgive and forget, pick one.” – Robert Brault
“It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend.” – William Blake
“Forgiveness is the sweetest revenge.” – Isaac Friedmann
“Forgive all who have offended you, not for them, but for yourself.” – Harriet Nelson
“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” – C.S. Lewis
“Dumbledore says people find it far easier to forgive others for being wrong than being right.” – J.K. Rowling
“The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.” – Steve Maraboli
“I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine.” – Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
“To err is human, to forgive, divine.” – Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism
“Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.” – Corrie ten Boom
“True forgiveness is when you can say, “Thank you for that experience.” – Oprah Winfrey
“Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” – Mark Twain
“People have to forgive. We don’t have to like them, we don’t have to be friends with them, we don’t have to send them hearts in text messages, but we have to forgive them, to overlook, to forget. Because if we don’t we are tying rocks to our feet, too much for our wings to carry!” – C. JoyBell C.
“I think that if God forgives us we must forgive ourselves. Otherwise, it is almost like setting up ourselves as a higher tribunal than Him” – C.S. Lewis
“Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names.” – John F. Kennedy
“Forgiveness has nothing to do with absolving a criminal of his crime. It has everything to do with relieving oneself of the burden of being a victim–letting go of the pain and transforming oneself from victim to survivor.” – C.R. Strahan
“It is important that we forgive ourselves for making mistakes. We need to learn from our errors and move on.” – Steve Maraboli
“Grudges are for those who insist that they are owed something; forgiveness, however, is for those who are substantial enough to move on.” – Criss Jami
“Can I be forgiven for all I’ve done to get here? I want to be. I can. I believe it.” – Veronica Roth
“To be wronged is nothing, unless you continue to remember it.” – Confucius
“When you forgive, you love. And when you love, God’s light shines upon you.” – Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild
“The willingness to forgive is a sign of spiritual and emotional maturity. It is one of the great virtues to which we all should aspire. Imagine a world filled with individuals willing both to apologize and to accept an apology. Is there any problem that could not be solved among people who possessed the humility and largeness of spirit and soul to do either – or both – when needed?” – Gordon B. Hinckley
“Forgiveness is the name of love practiced among people who love poorly. The hard truth is that all people love poorly. We need to forgive and be forgiven every day, every hour increasingly. That is the great work of love among the fellowship of the weak that is the human family.” – Henri J.M. Nouwen
“Be the one who nurtures and builds. Be the one who has an understanding and a forgiving heart one who looks for the best in people. Leave people better than you found them.” – Marvin J. Ashton
“Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.” – Anne Lamott, Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith
“Forgiveness must be immediate, whether or not a person asks for it. Trust must be rebuilt over time. Trust requires a track record.” – Rick Warren
“The practice of forgiveness is our most important contribution to the healing of the world.” – Marianne Williamson
“I have learned, that the person I have to ask for forgiveness from the most is: myself. You must love yourself. You have to forgive yourself, everyday, whenever you remember a shortcoming, a flaw, you have to tell yourself “That’s just fine”. You have to forgive yourself so much, until you don’t even see those things anymore. Because that’s what love is like.” – C. JoyBell C.
“Always forgive, but never forget, else you will be a prisoner of your own hatred, and doomed to repeat your mistakes forever.” – Wil Zeus
“Love may forgive all infirmities and love still in spite of them: but Love cannot cease to will their removal.” – C.S. Lewis
“Listen. Slide the weight from your shoulders and move forward. You are afraid you might forget, but you never will. You will forgive and remember.” – Barbara Kingsolver
“Forgiveness in no way requires that you trust the one you forgive.” – Wm. Paul Young
“I want to be the kind of person who can do that. Move on and forgive people and be healthy and happy. It seems like an easy thing to do in my head. But it’s not so easy when you try it in real life.” – Susane Colasanti
“What was the point of being able to forgive, when deep down, you both had to admit you’d never forget?” – Jodi Picoult
“We don’t forgive people because they deserve it. We forgive them because they need it—because we need it.” – Bree Despain
“Forgiveness is not about forgetting. It is about letting go of another person’s throat.” – Wm. Paul Young
“Life is grace. Sleep is forgiveness. The night absolves. Darkness wipes the slate clean, not spotless to be sure, but clean enough for another day’s chalking.” – Frederick Buechner
“Forgiveness isn’t my best thing. Easier staying pissed. But I’m tired of being pissed all the time. Tired of feeling hurt by stuff that can never be fixed because it is an indelible part of the past.” – Ellen Hopkins
“A life lived without forgiveness is a prison.” – William Arthur Ward
“Forgiveness is the key that unlocks the door of resentment and the handcuffs of hatred. It is a power that breaks the chains of bitterness and the shackles of selfishness.” – Corrie ten Boom
“Forgiveness means it finally becomes unimportant that you hit back. You’re done. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you want to have lunch with the person. If you keep hitting back, you stay trapped in the nightmare.” – Anne Lamott
“Before we can forgive one another, we have to understand one another.” – Emma Goldman
“Forgiving men is so much easier than forgiving women.” – Margaret Atwood
“Anger makes you smaller, while forgiveness forces you to grow beyond what you are.” – Cherie Carter-Scott
“Dear Lord, please show me everything I need to understand about forgiveness and surrender.” – Elizabeth Gilbert
“Forgiveness means it finally becomes unimportant that you hit back.” – Anne Lamott
“To forgive is wisdom, to forget is genius.” – Joyce Cary
“Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them.” – Bruce Lee
“Never forget the three powerful resources you always have available to you: love, prayer, and forgiveness.” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
“Forgiveness is not always easy. At times, it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one that inflicted it. And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness.” – Marianne Williamson
“It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody.” – Maya Angelou
“Forgiveness is the final form of love.” – Reinhold Niebuhr
“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” – Lewis B. Smedes
“As we know, forgiveness of oneself is the hardest of all the forgivenesses.” – Joan Baez
“And you know, when you’ve experienced grace and you feel like you’ve been forgiven, you’re a lot more forgiving of other people. You’re a lot more gracious to others.” – Rick Warren
“I think we learn the most from imperfect relationships – things like forgiveness and compassion.” – Andrea Thompson
“God will forgive me. It’s his job.” – Heinrich Heine
“It’s said in Hollywood that you should always forgive your enemies – because you never know when you’ll have to work with them.” – Lana Turner
“To understand is to forgive, even oneself.” – Alexander Chase
“I invite everyone to chose forgiveness rather than division, teamwork over personal ambition.” – Jean-Francois Cope
“God’s forgiveness allows us to be honest with ourselves. We recognize our imperfections, admit our failures, and plead to God for clemency.” – Jonathan Sacks
“It is very east to forgive others their mistakes; it takes more grit and gumption to forgive them for having witnessed your own.” – Jessamyn West
“Beware of the man who does not return your blow: he neither forgives you nor allows you to forgive yourself.” – George Bernard Shaw
“Always forgive your enemies – nothing annoys them so much.” – Oscar Wilde
“One of the secrets of a long and fruitful life is to forgive everybody everything everynight before you go to bed.” – Bernard Baruch
“Forgiveness is a funny thing. It warms the heart and cools the sting.” – William Arthur Ward
“The ineffable joy of forgiving and being forgiven forms an ecstasy that might well arouse the envy of the gods.” – Elbert Hubbard
“It’s not an easy journey, to get to a place where you forgive people. But it is such a powerful place, because it frees you.” – Tyler Perry
“What is forgiven is usually well remembered.” – Louis Dudek
“Anger begets more anger, and forgiveness and love lead to more forgiveness and love.” – Mahavira
“I think it is important that we rebuild an atmosphere of forgiveness and civility in every aspect of our lives.” – T. D. Jakes
“Can you really forgive if you can’t forget?” – Sarah Jessica Parker
“Forgiveness is the key to action and freedom.” – Hannah Arendt
“The practice of forgiveness is our most important contribution to the healing of the world.” – Marianne Williamson
“God forgive you, but I never can.” – Elizabeth I
Awesome Quotes and Sayings About Forgiveness
Quotations & Citations:
To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.
Forgive, not because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace.
I can forgive, but I cannot forget, is only another way of saying, I will not forgive. Forgiveness ought to be like a cancelled note — torn in two, and burned up, so that it never can be shown against one.
~Henry Ward Beecher
The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.
~ Steve Maraboli
Forgiving is rediscovering the shining path of peace that at first you thought others took away when they betrayed you.
Once a woman has forgiven her man, she must not reheat his sins for breakfast.
It’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission.
Any fool knows men and women think differently at times, but the biggest difference is this. Men forget, but never forgive; women forgive, but never forget.
~ Robert Jordan
The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.
To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.
~Lewis B. Smedes
Forgiveness is a funny thing. It warms the heart and cools the sting.
~William Arthur Ward
To err is human, to forgive, divine.
~ Alexander Pope
Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.
If you can’t forgive and forget, pick one.
You can make up a quarrel, but it will always show where it was patched.
~Edgar Watson Howe
It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend.
I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine.
~ Jane Austen
Forgiveness is the sweetest revenge.
One of the keys to happiness is a bad memory.
~ Rita Mae Brown
Forgive all who have offended you, not for them, but for yourself.
He who cannot forgive breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass.
There’s no point in burying a hatchet if you’re going to put up a marker on the site.
True forgiveness is when you can say, “Thank you for that experience.”
~ Oprah Winfrey
Yes, this is what good is: to forgive evil. There is no other good.
Some forgive and forget, more forgive and remember, most forgive and remind.
The man who forgives is far stronger than the man who fights.
Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.
~ Mark Twain
Life is an adventure in forgiveness.
Life becomes easier when you learn to accept an apology you never got.
What we forgive too freely doesn’t stay forgiven.
Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.
~Martin Luther King Jr.
It’s far easier to forgive an enemy after you’ve got even with him.
Forgiving is love’s toughest work, and love’s biggest risk. If you twist it into something it was never meant to be, it can make you a doormat or an insufferable manipulator. Forgiving seems almost unnatural. Our sense of fairness tells us people should pay for the wrong they do. But forgiving is love’s power to break nature’s rule.
~Lewis B. Smedes
To truly forgive is to allow the other person to forget.
Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names.
~John F. Kennedy
There is no revenge so complete as forgiveness.
Without forgiveness life is governed by… an endless cycle of resentment and retaliation.
One thing you will probably remember well is any time you forgive and forget.
~Franklin P. Jones
Forgive. It doesn’t erase their crime but why should you do the time. Let go of resentment.
Never does the human soul appear so strong as when it forgoes revenge, and dares forgive an injury.
Always forgive your enemies — nothing annoys them so much.
I think that if God forgives us we must forgive ourselves. Otherwise, it is almost like setting up ourselves as a higher tribunal than Him.
To be wronged is nothing, unless you continue to remember it.
When you forgive, you love. And when you love, God’s light shines upon you.
"To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has In this quote, C.S. Lewis says that the key is keeping in mind the.
This process of surrender this movement full speed astern is what Christians call repentance. Now repentance is no fun at all. It is something much harder than merely eating humble pie. It means unlearning all the self-conceit and self-will that we have been training ourselves into for thousands of years. It means killing part of yourself, undergoing a kind of death. In fact, it needs a good man to repent. And here comes the catch. Only a bad person needs to repent: only a good person can repent perfectly. The worse you are the more you need it and the less you can do it. The only person who could do it perfectly would be a perfect person and he would not need it.
[quote from Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis. The book was adapted from a series of BBC radio talks made between 1941 and 1944, while Lewis was at Oxford during World War II. Considered a classic of Christian apologetics, the transcripts of the broadcasts originally appeared in print as three separate pamphlets: The Case for Christianity (1942), Christian Behaviour (1942), and Beyond Personality (1944). It was originally published as a single book in 1943 by Macmilan Publisher in New York, and in 1944 by Collins in London.]
Forgiving versus Excusing. I find that when I think I am asking God to forgive me I am often in reality (unless I watch myself very carefully) asking him to do something quite different. I am asking him not to forgive me but to excuse me. But there is all the difference in the world between forgiving and excusing. Forgiveness says "Yes, you have done this thing, but I accept your apology; I will never hold it against you and everything between us two will be exactly as it was before." But excusing says "I see that you couldn't help it or didn't mean it; you weren't really to blame." If one was not really to blame then there is nothing to forgive. In that sense forgiveness and excusing are almost opposites....
When it comes to the question of our forgiving other people, it is partly the same and partly different. It is the same because, here also, forgiving does not mean excusing. Many people seem to think it does. They think that if you ask them to forgive someone who has cheated or bullied them you are trying to make out that that there was really no cheating or no bullying. But if that were so, there would be nothing to forgive. They keep on replying, "But I tell you the man broke a most solemn promise." Exactly: that is precisely what you have to forgive. (This doesn't mean that you must necessarily believe his next promise. It does mean that you must make every effort to kill every taste of resentment in your own heart every wish to humiliate or hurt him or to pay him out.) The difference between this situation and the one in which you are asking God's forgiveness is this. In our own case we accept excuses too easily; in other people's we do not accept them easily enough.
[quote from The Weight of Glory, by C.S. Lewis. Lewis delivered this sermon at Oxford University Church of St. Mary the Virgin, on June 8, 1941. It was originally published in 1942 by G. Bles in London and by Macmilan Co., New York.]
Heaven and Hell. God will look to every soul like its first love because he is its first love. Your place in heaven will seem to be made for you and you alone, because you were made for it made for it stitch by stitch as a glove is made for a hand.
It is from this point of view that we can understand hell in its aspect of privation. All your life an unattainable ecstasy has hovered just beyond the grasp of your consciousness. The day is coming when you will wake to find, beyond all hope, that you have attained it, or else, that it was within your reach and you have lost it forever.
[quote from The Problem of Pain, by C.S. Lewis. This book was originally published in 1940 by the Centenary Press, London, and by Macmilan Co., New York.]
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