On Saturday 15th June, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran and other guests from the Vatican visited the Sikh community in Birmingham. The trip was part of a larger visit to the UK to encourage different traditions to work together for the common good. (#togetherforpeace)
The meeting discussed the common belief in grace and the Catholic teaching that faith, hope and love are 3 supernatural virtues, that only exist through God and His presence. Other discussions revolved around prayer, service, compassion, forgiveness, trust, listening, empowerment of youth, the divine empowerment of women, intra-faith and conservation of values & heritage.
The discussion was enlightening on a multitude of levels, however the concept that struck me the most was that of forgiving yourself.
In all our lives we make mistakes, it’s part of being human. If we understand that free will is tiny in comparison to God’s larger plan, then the majority of our actions are outside our control. This may suggest that they aren’t mistakes in the long run, but either way it is common to lose sight of the bigger picture and burden ourselves with the past. Forgiving ourselves gives us freedom to move past this and grow. It takes away the pressure of perfection, and provides room for self improvement.
In most faiths we ask God to forgive us and feel ashamed of our past mistakes, but this dialogue highlighted Sikh scripture that states God stands beside you when you forgive – surely this counts when we forgive ourselves too.
If our guilt and shame is self-inflicted, then only we can free ourselves from it, and when we do God will be beside us, ready to lift us up. The moment God helps lift you up, you also gain the strength, through God, to lift those around you up with you.
So forgive yourself, then forgive others and free yourself from the past. Only when we do that can we move forward more self-assured and with a greater understanding of life. Then engaging in dialogue and action, we can start to look forward and make a difference.
It was a pleasure to meet his Eminence and I hope interfaith dialogue at this level continues, as it allows common ideas to be shared and understood, so that everyone takes something away to then put back into their own communities. For more information on his trip visit: