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Rector talks reconciliation

| Thursday, February 20, 2014

Margaret Morgan, rector of Howard Hall, gave a talk titled “Reconciliation: Why Should I Seek It?” Wednesday night at Legends as part of Campus Ministry’s Theology on Tap series. The lecture focused on what reconciliation means, the differences between reconciliation and forgiveness and why reconciliation is important in every day life.

“A life without reconciliation is self-isolation, moving farther and farther away [from other people],” Morgan said. “Changing our lives due to annoyance or hurt, cutting ourselves off from people.”

Morgan said this reluctance to open up to others is natural for everyone.

“As humans we can relate to that. We do this all the time,” Morgan said. “If I have learned anything as a rector or as a teacher, it is that we are a conflict-averse people. … We are a honest communication avoiding people.

“We love to talk about ideas, movies, sports, “The Bachelor,” “The Bachelorette,” but we don’t like to say how we feel to one another. Specifically, we don’t like to say how we feel to one another when that person is sitting in front of us.”

The importance of reconciliation is preventing this distancing of ourselves in a relationship with God, Morgan said.

“A fundamental belief in the Christian faith is that God created me to be in relationship with God. … When I mess up in my relationship with God, I have a choice,” Morgan said. “I can ask for forgiveness or I can start to pack up my things and be okay with moving a little further away from God.”

Morgan said people often question the sacrament of reconciliation because they don’t realize the bearing it has on one’s relationship with God.

“Oftentimes I hear the question, particular about reconciliation and the sacrament of confession,” Morgan said. “People say, ‘Why do I have to go to confession? Why does it have to be a sacrament?’. … It is not just saying you are forgiven, but that there is a relationship that is restored in this moment and that happens in this moment of reconciliation.”

Forgiveness, however, is not the same as reconciliation, Morgan said.

“We often forget that and put those two things together,” Morgan said. “[Forgiveness] is often an intimate and private journey. It doesn’t require working or sitting with another person. The journey to forgiveness is its own story and one that is required before you can reconcile, but it is still its own story.”

In order to reconcile with others, we must first look past the person’s mistake, Morgan said.

“We have to surround ourselves with the memories of that relationship,” she said. “We have to remember who this person is, we have to remember who we are and the context of this person. … We have to remember that people are people and often there is more to them than a simple mistake.”

Morgan said the sacrament of reconciliation is ultimately important to repair our relationship with God after having made a mistake.

“God has reconciled himself to us and now we must reconcile ourselves to God,” Morgan said. “We need the physical signs to do that. We need the help of a community. We need to feel the emotions that go along with working up the courage to say we’re sorry, of admitting to ourselves ⎯ as well to Christ ⎯ what we’ve done wrong and the most important thing we need in the sacrament, is to hear someone say to us, ‘You are forgiven.’”

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About Kayla Mullen

Kayla is a senior political science major and the Managing Editor of The Observer. She hails from Philadelphia, PA and was previously a resident of Howard Hall.

Contact Kayla