January 18, 2011
I ran across a CNA/EWTN news article (which can be read in its entirety here), that tells a wonderful story of forgiveness.
Maria Seiquer Gaya was born in 1891 in Murcia, Spain and married a physician named Angel Romero when she was 23 years old. Maria taught catechism to children from the surrounding area, and once a week her husband provided free medical care to the poor.
During the Spanish Civil War, persecution of Catholics was widespread. Dr. Romero entered public life to defend the Church and, as a result, was subjected to violent attacks. Ultimately, he was imprisoned. While in prison, he told his wife, “They think they are sacrificing us, and they don’t realize that what they are doing is glorifying us.” The couple recognized that Angel would quite likely lose his life. Maria promised that, if she survived, she would dedicate herself to God and enter a convent. A few weeks later, her husband was executed.
After the war ended, Maria and Amalia Martin de la Escalera cofounded the Apostolic Sisters of Christ Crucified. The nuns of this order are professed for the purpose of “loving, forgiving, showing compassion for every human misery, offering ourselves to the Father and consecrating with Him our entire lives to God, for the good of the entire Church.”
The sisters taught children, fed the poor, and visited those who were sick and elderly. Some of those Maria visited had executed her husband. One of the women she cared for until her death had denounced him to those who imprisoned and later killed him. She also took care of the son of the man who dragged her husband’s body through the streets. She pleaded with the court not to sentence her husband’s killers to death. Maria wrote, “I have only done what Christ has taught me: Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Each of us has experienced pain as a result of the words and actions of others at some point during our lives, and we recognize, at least intellectually, that we carry a tremendous burden if we do not release the hurt and anger that we may have felt as a result. At times it is difficult to forgive. But Maria has shown us that it is possible.