Many years ago I learnt a way of forgiving which works. As soon as someone upsets me I start to ask God to bless them, and I keep it up for as long as it takes. If the hurt is deep I ask God to bless them every time I think of them.

This is what Jesus told us to do in Luke chapter 6 – “love your enemies, bless those who curse you”. In Romans chapter 12 St. Paul went even further when he wrote – “bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse”. Provided we have the will to do it, this is a wonderful way to forgive.

It always works for me. I may on occasions have to go back again and again, asking God to bless the person, but when I am prepared to do that, it works for me and my peace is restored.

I have no doubt that this can work on the community level as well. There is a great need for forgiveness between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland, between unionist and nationalist, loyalist and republican. What we need is a body of people, hopefully as many as possible, who catch the vision and go about asking God to bless people in the other section of the community: Protestants asking God to bless Catholics, and Catholics asking God to bless Protestants.

I believe that when we do this, when we forgive by asking God to bless the one who has hurt us, the power of God is released into the situation. If we could encourage a considerable body of people in Northern Ireland to start asking God to bless people in the other section of the community I believe that it would make a contribution towards changing the atmosphere in this province.