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I was going through my childhood memories and found a very old video of mine singing the song "Make me a channel of your peace.", Which refreshed a lot of memories. Unfortunately, After school I never was exposed to such catholic prayers.

There happens to be a line in that prayer:

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned

I find this difficult to understand. Could anyone help me with that? I am not able to understand the meaning of it.

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  • It is in the act of the pardoning that we etc.
    – Lambie
    Jan 10, 2022 at 22:55
  • Take a year or two of philosophy.
    – Hot Licks
    Feb 9, 2022 at 23:40
  • It's more a matter of theology than philosophy, I think.
    – Stuart F
    Jun 10, 2022 at 20:26

2 Answers 2

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The statement comes from the Peace Prayer of St Francis, as Anton wrote.

1} O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
2} to be consoled as to console,
3} to be understood as to understand,
4} to be loved as to love.
5} For it is in giving that we receive,
6} it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
7} and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

The first line is telling us NOT to seek something, but rather something else, and lines 2-4 spell this out. Don't seek to be consoled, but be someone who consoles, etc. Don't make it all about yourself and your needs, but forget yourself to be helpful to someone else. Then you will progress in your spiritual journey.

The "For" in line five introduces why we should seek to be those who love in lines 2-4, and spells it out in lines 5-7. Meaning, you should do the things in lines 2-4, and you'll get the benefits spelled out in lines 5-7.

This brings us to the context of line 6, the subject of your question.

The idea is that many find it difficult to pardon others when they are consumed by their own guilt. But when they do start showing mercy others (line 2), then they get an understanding of Divine forgiveness extended to themselves, and experience that mercy. In pardoning others, they become open to the Divine mercy that had lain unrecognized because they were too blinded by their pain to see it.

This is a prayer by a holy man; so it's a lesson that isn't limited to mere human-to-human experience, but a lesson derived from experiencing a Divine in-working through the process of human-to-human experience. Through our human relations we get a glimpse of the Divine's relation to us.

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It helps to see the sentence in context. It is taken from the Peace Prayer of St Francis:

Loyola Press

1} O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
2} to be consoled as to console,
3} to be understood as to understand,
4} to be loved as to love.
5} For it is in giving that we receive,
6} it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
7} and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

It may reasonably be argued that lines 1,2,3,4,5 contain opposite actions that in truth complement each other for mutual benefit. To take only two examples, it is to mutual benefit that one who loves is loved in return, that one who is consoled may also console the consoler in a mood of mutual comfort and sympathy.

Line 6 continues the structure of the first five lines but its argument is not so convincing. It is not obvious that a pardoner merits being pardoned - the mutual benefit is not clear. But by this time in the rhythm of the prayer, the hearer's mind is less critical than at the start because of the way line 6 echoes previous structures.

Thus, the first 6 lines set the scene and condition the mind of the hearer for the vault of thought in line 7 to a much more abstract and speculative matter that does not really parallel the emotions of the first six lines.

Although the structure of each line remains the same throughout the prayer, the actual argument of line 7 is in fact a non sequitur, only made plausible because its structure is the same as the incantations of lines 1 to 6.

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    It's presumably related to the Lord's Prayer: "And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors."
    – Stuart F
    Feb 10, 2022 at 0:14

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