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  1. O.M. Hillside

    O.M. Hillside Senior Member

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    Prayer for forgiveness after murdering someone?

    Discussion in 'Research' started by O.M. Hillside, Mar 15, 2018.

    So what might a Christian, who's maybe not uber religious but after just murdering someone and having to keep it a secret is resorting to religion to save their soul do? Is there a specific prayer they would do? A specific ritual (besides confession, don't want to do that)? Something that can be done privately.

    And I promise that I haven't murdered anyone, this is for a script I'm working on.
     
  2. Mckk

    Mckk Member Supporter Contributor

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    As a Christian myself (though not Catholic), you'd really just talk to God like you might talk to a friend - that's how it was explained to us as children, actually. You'd say, "I'm sorry for what I did. Please forgive me." You'd make the prayer emotionally stronger if you were going for something more genuine, of course, maybe get on your knees. You might cry. But all this could be done within your bedroom, honestly. Protestant Christianity does not require there to be any particular rituals or objects or order of service. What is effective is your heartfelt repentance and actively crying out to the Lord, who has promised to be merciful and to readily forgive.

    Your character, however, can create his own ritual. He might want to light a candle, he might want to wash his hands, he might want to dab water on his forehead, draw a cross across himself. He might enter a church and simply kneel in front of the cross or simply sit on the pews and pray in silence. He might stare up at some stained glass windows that remind him of what Jesus has done for him and thus that he can come to the Lord for forgiveness. He might want to go to the victim's grave and place a flower there, as a token of his guilt and his request for forgiveness. He might, on top of asking God, also ask the victim to forgive him (at the grave, that is) or else ask the victim's family for forgiveness. He might accept any and all punishment, including death, should the family or authorities deem it appropriate, knowing he must pay for the crime he has committed - that though God Himself has forgiven him, that does not mean he could get away with no physical consequences. Often someone who is genuinely repentant would not shirk punishment because they would know it is deserved. He might make a resolution to pray everyday, or perhaps pray everyday for the victim's family. He might turn himself in to the police.

    All of these will add weight to whether the reader perceives his repentance as genuine or not. There's no specific "Christian" ritual, but that doesn't have to stop your character creating one that would have meaning for him.
     
  3. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll It's Coffee O'clock everywhere. Contributor

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    Yeah there is no defined prayer for murder forgiveness, but maybe you can cobble something
    together from the texts that discuss it.
    https://www.openbible.info/topics/forgiving_murder

    Though if we follow historical accounts, God only advocated murder during the Crusades.
    So not too sure how he feels about random murders that have not been decreed upon.
    But I think he would definitely give you a second chance if you repent, despite the fact
    that criminal law and justice system would be of the Hammurabic Code of eye for an eye, etc.
     
  4. Andrew Alvarez

    Andrew Alvarez Senior Member

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    An interesting reference could be the Psalm 137. It refers to an historical event - one of the many conquests of Jerusalem by foreign forces, and a reflection on their captivity. Also, it can be seen as a lament about falling from grace and slavery from a sin perspective. Depending on the review and edition you get, you can find it more or less censored, because some wimp, weak-chinned heathen thought it was "too much" for us Catholics to handle. If your read it, maybe you get the why.
    1By the rivers of Babylon,
    There we sat down and wept,
    When we remembered Zion.

    2Upon the willows in the midst of it
    We hung our harps.

    3For there our captors demanded of us songs,
    And our tormentors mirth, saying,
    “Sing us one of the songs of Zion.”

    4How can we sing the LORD’S song
    In a foreign land?

    5If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
    May my right hand forget her skill.

    6May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth
    If I do not remember you,
    If I do not exalt Jerusalem
    Above my chief joy.

    7Remember, O LORD, against the sons of Edom
    The day of Jerusalem,
    Who said, “Raze it, raze it
    To its very foundation.”

    8O daughter of Babylon, you devastated one,
    How blessed will be the one who repays you
    With the recompense with which you have repaid us.

    9How blessed will be the one who seizes and dashes your little ones
    Against the rock.

    To me, it could be perfectly prayed, or a fragment of it, for a man feeling guilty of having fallen on sin, as feeling somehow an slave of his misdeed.
     
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  5. Mckk

    Mckk Member Supporter Contributor

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    This Psalm was censored in the Catholic Bible? How so? Why?
     
  6. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

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    Not quite true. I certainly have heard this psalm and see wikipedia: Since the Middle Ages, this psalm was performed at the Catholic vespers service on Wednesdays, according to the rule of St. Benedict, set in 530 AD.[4][5]
    In the present liturgy of the mass, the psalm is read or sung on the Laetare Sunday, the fourth Sunday of Lent.[6] After the Second Vatican Council, the last three verses of the psalm were removed from liturgical books because of their cruelty perceived to be incompatible with the gospel message.[7]

    The wiki translation is a bit harsher than yours for those last three:
    1. Remember, O Lord, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof.
    2. O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us.
    3. Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.
    Do we really want to be praying to celebrate the dashing of infants against stones at Mass? Remember, forgiveness is a new testament concept, not very strong at all in the old.
     
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  7. Andrew Alvarez

    Andrew Alvarez Senior Member

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    There it is the why was censored.

    I would. If there is cruelty onto having anger for being eradicated from your own land, enslaved, and wanting some of retribution, well, yeah, I think every well born human being should be wanting to express such cruelty by, at least, stating it. Then, if read as whole including the part of :

    "O daughter of Babylon, you devastated one,
    How blessed will be the one who repays you
    With the recompense with which you have repaid us."

    Means only that there´s happiness on doing the Lord´s work, and the psalm cannot be inferred as an open call to dash Babylonian babies against the stones.

    I find this psalm incredibly peaceful uncensored. Shows and obvious human feeling of hopelessness and anger that the censored version is unable and unwilling to deal, making it a weak, useless version of a masterful, incredibly intelligent text. Cruelty is to deny the righteous anger of someone by ripping his words apart, specially if haven´t seen what he saw. That´s heresy of the worst kind... denying humanity to people.

    But hey, it´s cool if can be arguable, despite I´m standing on my previous perspective. And thank you for the historic references! I couldn´t find them so fast, and it´s always good to have clarity of the sources. I´m sure that O.M. Hillside will find what he seeks.
     
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  8. Mckk

    Mckk Member Supporter Contributor

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    It's not censored in the Prostestant Bible at least: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+137&version=NIV

    I would have a problem with the church taking verses out too - if we are to believe this is God's Word, then we must not change parts we find uncomfortable. I also agree that one of the wonders of the Bible is that nobody in the Bible is a saint (ah the pun) - they're all sinners, all of them flawed, yet God used them and did great things through them. The display of their humanity versus what they achieve is exactly what is needed to highlight that it was all God's work, achieved through God's strength to begin with. I would not want a sanitized Bible. I would rather admit "I don't understand" but keep the uncomfortable parts. Also, that anger at being oppressed is exactly the kind of thing that helps the Bible resonate with us, and show us our emotions are all right - it's what we do with them that matters.
     
  9. 8Bit Bob

    8Bit Bob Here ;) Contributor

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    100% agree.
     
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  10. Stevehwonder

    Stevehwonder Member

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    I am definitely the wrong person to answer this sort of question, but I'm very curious what exactly you want to do with the scene.

    A character turning to god to justify/cleanse themselves of a murder is a touch cliche. We see villains do it in the form of "Forgive me, father, for I am about to sin..." before blowing the other person's brains out.

    All this to say, if your character does turn to the divine for redemption, maybe do it in a unique way? You say he's Christian but not uber religious, this makes me wonder why or even how he would conjure up a biblical prayer to save his soul -- I don't think he would ask google or be able to get the feedback from the helpful folks on this forum.

    Obviously you know waaaaay more about the character than I do, but based on what you've told us, a prayer that comes from the character's heart seems much more fitting than scripture.

    I haven't answered your question, but I hope my two cents is helpful in some way.

    Cheers.
     
  11. izzybot

    izzybot (unspecified) Contributor

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    I had a character who was raised Catholic recite the Hail Mary as a means not of vindicating herself, but asking the big guy upstairs to look kindly on the sinners she was offing.

    This is all just about a point removed from your scenario -- Catholic, it was done pre-death, and for different reasons -- and I'll grant you that the Hail Mary is a pretty cliche one to use (for me it was excusable in that the character in question is an admittedly shitty Catholic who wasn't paying that much attention in school ...), but I thought I'd bring it up. Eh.

    Does your character feel guilty about the murderin'? Are they concerned about the state of their soul because they knows murder is a sin? Then asking for generic forgiveness would probably be a cleaner way to go. Christianity, from what I know, isn't big on rituals -- that's more a Catholic thing. Think self-flagellation for the extreme example. Maybe it'd be easier to find something that fits your vibe if you gave him a Catholic background.
     
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  12. matwoolf

    matwoolf Banned Contributor

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    Well, he's not exactly well-balanced is he, your chap, so?

    "My God forgive me for what I have done, but then I suppose You have done some pretty bad stuff yourself...so my murdering is in perspective, brother aheh heh heh...I mean Babel, and Delilah, and Hercules? Nemo the fishy? But Lord, listen me now - properly, come here as I say to you our father who art in Heaven, hallow be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done...on earth as in Heaven..and on..."

    That sort of thing. WIP on that kind of thing...
     
  13. O.M. Hillside

    O.M. Hillside Senior Member

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    Lol not at all the angle I'm going for. This guy is a pretty well-balanced normal person. It was more like a had to be done situation.

    Well I don't come from a Christian background so I'm just trying to get a feel for what is prescribed and understood within a Christian context for this kind of thing. I might really just have a scene where he grasps a cross and avoid the dramatics altogether. It's just that I need to know where the character is coming from and what might be going through his head if I'm going to do a good job here. And he's not uber religious meaning he doesn't necessarily go to church all the time. And he doesn't wander the streets and hit himself with a wooden plank every couple of seconds. He still prays every once and awhile and idk... drinks wine and eats bread? Or is that more of a catholic thing? I'm thinking this guy is a protestant.

    He's very guilty, although he did it because the alternative would have been a friend of his being hurt very badly(brutally raped). He's struggling because he was essentially thrown in a situation where his soul could find no rest no matter what he did. But he chose to kill this person. He might end up deciding that his soul was just condemned by god himself because there was really no right answer in that situation. He might also come to the conclusion that he was being put through a test by god to see if he can stand the corruption of his soul and come back or something like that.
     
  14. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin A tombstone hand and a graveyard mind Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Hmm, I guess a novena probably wouldn't cut it. That's what my nonna would have told me to do. Pretty sure she never killed anyone, though she wore my papa into a nub after 60 years or so. Does that count?
     
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  15. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Has the Vocabulary of a Well-Educated Sailor. Contributor

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    My grandfather was a Baptist circuit preacher, and my mother was super religious. I am not at all, although it was forced on me until I was 13.

    No rituals at all...When I was a small child I was jealous of my Catholic friends, because they had things like incense and pretty prayers, and our churches weren't even pretty. (They're very plain and ours didn't even have stained glass windows.)

    Really, the most that would likely happen is the guy would probably cry and say "God forgive me" or something. Most people in our church didn't even wear crosses. ETA: Also, no wine. Communion was done with grape juice. Many Christian churches in the US supported Prohibition and never got over it.
     
  16. newshirt

    newshirt Member

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    A few observations from an actual Christian:
    1. A Christian can definitely murder someone, just like anybody else... but...
    2. A Christian cannot keep it a secret for long
    3. A Christian cannot resort to religion to save their soul

    It doesn't work that way.

    It sounds like your character is not a real Christian. He is probably just religious or ritualistic, or a fake. A real Christian has The Holy Spirit nagging him day and night until he confesses. It doesn't take long. (No prayer will work. No ritual will work.) So I would investigate this "Hound of Heaven" and write Him into the character's internal conflict.
     
  17. LastMindToSanity

    LastMindToSanity Contributor Contributor

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    I actually disagree with points 2 and 3.

    2: It depends. Everyone's capable of different things. Just because someone is Christian doesn't mean they automatically can't keep terrible secrets.

    3: As a Christian myself, I can say that that is exactly what my religion is for. The entire Christian faith is about forgiveness, it's the most common theme in the Bible. So them turning to religion to save their soul is probably what they'd do first.

    It sounds like your character is not a real Christian. The only defining trait for a Christian is that they believe only in God and Jesus Christ, nothing more, nothing less.

    It seems we were taught different forms of Christianity, and I'm not here to debate which is valid, I think they both are, but I just wanted to point out that there are Christians of all sorts out there.
     
  18. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer Contest Winner 2023

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    Actually, forgiveness is present all through the Old Testament, which is why the people of Israel (not to mention the people of the Gentile nations) were preserved and did not get the just punishment for their sins. The Lord has always been a forgiving God; He didn't suddenly start being so when the Son of God was made Man.

    Anyway, the OP's question. @Mckk has described the response of a Christian very well. He wouldn't "resort to religion to save his soul"; his soul has already been saved. He would, as stated, turn in confession and repentance to restore the relationship he has broken with his heavenly Father and with the neighbor(s) he has hurt.

    The classic example in the Scriptures is King David, who committed adultery with a woman, then when she got pregnant set up her husband to be killed in battle. He thought he'd gotten away with it until Nathan, the court prophet, confronted him with the deed. Now, a king thinking he could have any woman he liked was standard operating procedure with Ancient Near Eastern rulers, and indeed, has been with powerful men throughout history (we could name a few names in our own time). And having your enemies and even inconvenient followers bumped off used to be a royal prerogative. What was unusual in David's case was that he did not order Nathan's head to be struck off, but that his own heart was stricken with guilt and moved to repentance. His prayer of confession is recorded in Psalm 51, where he throws himself on the mercy of God. Publicly, I might add, because in the heading it is addressed to the choirmaster. I mean, wow, how would you like the admission of your guilt sung openly at official assemblies?

    One significant thing about this psalm is that not only does David beg God for His forgiveness, but he's also prepared to accept the forgiveness when it comes. He's not going to insult God by insinuating that somehow his sin is too big for the all-powerful God to forgive.

    At the same time (and this is something @Mckk brought up so cogently), David suffered the consequences for his sin, and he being the king, the whole nation of Israel suffered with him. And time and again after that, he admitted that the Lord's judgment was just.

    But @O.M. Hillside, it almost sounds like your character might spend some time trying to argue that he was right to kill whoever it was, because he did it in defense of his friend. But over time, if he really is a Christian, he won't be able to lie to himself and to God about that any more. (You can make some good drama out of that.) He'll have to admit he took into his own hands what belonged to God alone.

    But this has me wondering. What sort of slaying is this? Does he clout her attacker over the head while the creep is trying to rape her and oops! the creep dies? That would be a clear case of justifiable homicide. He would still struggle with it and seek to be forgiven, but it wouldn't be the same as murder in cold blood. On the other hand, does he know the creep plans to rape his friend, and instead of turning him over to the authorities does he preemptively and with malice aforethought waylay the creep and bash his head in? Yeah, that would be murder in the first degree.

    Either way, he'd have to confess his sin. It wouldn't be "resorting to religion"; it would be an integral part of who he is. And doing it privately, just between him and God, isn't going to work. Murder will out.

    And oh, just FYI, "eating bread and drinking wine" is the Lord's Supper, also known as Holy Communion. While his guilt is upon him, if he is a true Christian, he will hold himself back from partaking of it. Whether this is something his pastor notices and asks about depends on how big a congregation he belongs to and how frequently they celebrate the Meal. Or if he doesn't attend church that regularly, he might stop going altogether, during the time when he's trying to keep his sin a secret. But if he thinks some private ritual is going to absolve him, he's deluding himself.

    But I don't know. Maybe you want him to be deluding himself.

    I respect your desire to get this right. But I feel like you're working blind. There are so many possibilities I can see you leaving on the table, simply because you don't know they're there.
     
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  19. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    Some Christians might feel that way. Others might feel the opposite:

    When Jesus heard it, He said unto them, “They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Mark 2:17)

    Then Jesus told them, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. (Mark 2:27)​
     
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  20. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer Contest Winner 2023

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    Perhaps... If he was ready to repent, coming to the Lord's Table could signify he was ready to come clean with God and the community. Yeah. A lot would depend on what the sacrament meant to him.

    And come to think of it, there have been defiant open sinners who demanded the sacrament as a way of forcing the minister to give sanction to their crimes. But that's not what you were referring to. :)
     
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  21. Andrew Alvarez

    Andrew Alvarez Senior Member

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    It is quite interesting to relate these facts with "The Parable of the Great Banquet", in New Testament, Matthew 22:1-14 :

    22 Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: 2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.

    4 “Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’

    5 “But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. 6 The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. 7 The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.

    8 “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. 9 So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

    11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless.

    13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

    14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

    There´s not only an exhortation to assist at the kingdom of heavens (salvation, grace, etc.), but also to arrive in proper "attire".

    (edited due wrong quote reference)
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2018
  22. Christina58

    Christina58 Member

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    You can have the MC setup a mini alter, Candles lit on the fireplace hearth with a cross or an image of God/Jesus and a tiny bible. It sets the scene to ask for forgiveness.

    Just a thought....
     
  23. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Has the Vocabulary of a Well-Educated Sailor. Contributor

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    Honestly, that whole discussion of who is a "real" Christian or a "true" Christian is exactly what made me renounce and reject Christianity. There are all kinds of beliefs out there. There is no one way.
     
  24. LastMindToSanity

    LastMindToSanity Contributor Contributor

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    @O.M. Hillside

    Oh carp. I just read what Shenanigator just posted, and it totally looks like I'm saying your character isn't a real Christian. The bolded part was meant to be what newshirt said, which I was responding to. That's my bad, I was trying to say that your character can totally be Christian and following their religion no matter the differences from how others practice their religion. Far be it from me to say that someone isn't a real Christian, especially since I believe that there are only two requirements to being a Christian, those being the belief in only God and Jesus Christ. So, yeah, as long as your character meets those criteria, they're a Christian in my book.
     
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  25. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer Contest Winner 2023

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    For the sake of the OP's plot, and having thought about it some more, Christians, being complicated humans like everyone else, can mix other stuff in with their Christianity. It's not at all uncommon for Christians who don't understand that Jesus Christ paid for all their sins (even murder) to bargain with God. In times past a Catholic might say, "God, if You'll forgive me and keep my crime secret, I'll make a pilgrimage to Rome. Or pay for a new chapel in the parish church." A contemporary Protestant might ask for the same thing and promise, "I'll build a soup kitchen. I'll devote every Saturday to helping the poor." The OP could have a good time having his character bargain with God. It happens all the time.

    The point, for the literary discussion, is that @O.M. Hillside has a lot of interesting options for what's going on in the murderer's soul. He simply has to know enough about the possibilities to know what would be true to life and not a caricature.
     
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