In Reconciliation I now ask the penitents, young and old alike, "Have you ever forgiven yourself?" Have You ever said "I forgive you?" Countless penitents have answered "no." So then I ask them to "say Mary, Jose, Juan, Patrick….(whatever the name may be) I forgive you." Sad to say some fight me on this. They make up excuses like, "Father I do not mean it." "I do not forgive myself." my answer is, "You do NOT have to mean it, just say it. We do not think our way into a new way acting we act our way into a new way of thinking." Self forgiveness is a process and it involves real effort. Let us take, say a person named Mary, when asked to say "Mary, I forgive you" we hit a brick wall. I encouraged her by saying "You do not have to mean it, just say it." Mary through the deepest heartfelt tear-full sobbing manages to whisper, very reluctantly "Mary, I forgive" is worded. In that death to self will, and toxic guilt the beginnings of transformation and transfiguration exploded onto the soul and life of Mary. In her depths, has begun the healing, soothing, comforting, strengthening process, later to be revealed in her daily living. Mary has encountered The Power of Transforming, always creative love of The Holy Spirit. Through her weakness she has become a more authentic contemporary presence of Her Lord and Savior Jesus Who became The Christ God through His crucifixion and death. Mary, like all of us who trudge the rocky, winding road from death to new life, to new freedom experienced the miraculous hidden action of gracious mercy-full love. The same process works for those who have real difficulty with saying "I love you." and "I release shame."