How do we forgive and when


To err is human and forgive divine. So aside from that fact that we are not divine… who and how do we forgive? I should probably explain this question comes from an argument I’ve had with myself for a long time about people who want me to believe they are Christian even as they defecate all over my Catholic faith. And not that sweet loving defecation that is mitigated with a touch of sarcasm, it’s downright vitriolic… but i digress.

The crux of the question is this: If not even God will forgive unless forgiveness is sought am I obliged to do so?


Jesus forgave his persecutors from the cross, without being asked, I think your theology is skewed. If Jesus holds no animosity towards those who tortured and killed him, but extends perpetually his love and mercy, we can do the same.


I find that praying for people who have hurt me is a good way to lead me to forgiveness. It’s hard to be angry or allow hurt to take over when you’re asking God to bless them.

On the other hand, no one says that you have to keep putting yourself back in the position of being hurt by people. If they’re saying things that hurt you, avoid them.


We still have to forgive whether the other person repents or not.

I find recalling the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant helps me when I am tempted to be resentful or hold a grudge.

Also, there is some good information on forgiveness at this link. You will need to scroll down halfway through the page to get to the section on forgiveness. Here’s a summary:

Forgiveness is about letting go, not forgetting.
We let go of the past, but more importantly we let go of the hurt. As long as we do not forgive, as long as we do not let go, we allow the offender of our wounds continue to hurt us.

Forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling.
What God expects of us is not an immediate emotional healing, but a decision of will to forgive, a decision of will to trust Him to take care of the offender and to heal us, a decision of will to ask God for, and to commit to, being healed of our wounds.

Forgiveness is not letting the person off the hook.
Forgiving is about you letting go, but it is not letting the offender off the hook. He will still pay for what he did, either before the Law or before God or both.

Forgiveness is agreeing to live with the consequences of another’s sin
Forgiveness is costly. We pay the price of the evil we forgive. We are going to live with those consequences whether we want to or not; our only choice is whether or not we will do so in the slavery of bitterness and unforgiveness or with the freedom of forgiveness.

How do we forgive from our heart?
Do not wait to forgive until we feel like forgiving; we will never get there. Feelings take time to heal mostly after the choice to forgive is made and Satan has lost his place (Eph. 4:26, 27). Freedom is what will be gained, not a feeling.

Source: Seven Steps to Self-Deliverance


Forgiveness is costly. We pay the price of the evil we forgive. We are going to live with those consequences whether we want to or not; our only choice is whether or not we will do so in the slavery of bitterness and unforgiveness or with the freedom of forgiveness.

Oh my, Becky - This is statement hits home. The scripture that comes to mind is from Habakkuk 3:16-19.

  1. I hear, and my body trembles; at the sound, my lips quiver. Decay invades my bones, my legs tremble beneath me. I await the day of distress that will come upon the people who attack us.

God is just, and I have been blessed to occasionally witness how He deals with those who inflict suffering on others. As we know, Jerusalem was destroyed some years after the crucifixion. People don’t walk away unscathed by their evil.

  1. For though the fig tree blossom not nor fruit be on the vines, Though the yield of the olive fail and the terraces produce no nourishment, Though the flocks disappear from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls,

** 18. Yet will I rejoice in the LORD and exult in my saving God.**

This reminds me to bear those “consequences” without bitterness, rejoicing in God in spite of them.

  1. GOD, my Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet swift as those of hinds and enables me to go upon the heights.

He is our shield and strength, most assuredly! And brings good out of evil for our sakes. We just need to ask and then trust Him.


Could we all agree to avoid using the phrase “sweet loving defecation” until such time as it is really necessary (hopefully never)?


The statement from Jesus as he hung on the cross comes to mind:

“Forgive them Father for they know not what they do.”

Our beliefs are the product of our temperments, upbringings and experiences and we tend to act accordingly. To be fair, many Catholics have given many non-Catholics good reason to find us and our faith less than true to the teachings of Jesus. And of course the reverse is true.

I find that asking the question of myself “What has brought this person to these conclusions?” can often allow me to “forgive them for they know not what they do”, just as I must hope that they will forgive me when I act from not knowing what I do.

If we’re so willing to sin even when we DO know, and so in need of God’s mercy, how often must we each sin without even knowing! If I am to ask for mercy for this I have to be willing to extend it also.

Much more easily said than done of course. And it is only the divine grace that allows us to even want to forgive someone, much less accomplish it.


We always forgive, entirely. As much as we forgive, we are forgiven. So we must forgive everything, especially the very worst things, and the things done that bother us most. This does not mean we do not oppose those things from happening, but it does mean we forgive.

The difference in forgiveness between God and man is a matter of authority… So God can demand greater forgiveness of us than He practices, because He is the judge, jury, and executioner. He is the authority. And His justice is tough stuff, as tough as can be. Hell is that, unending horror.

Forgiveness comes from knowing absolutely deeply in our hearts, ‘There but for the grace of God go I.’ If not for God’s intervention, you would be as bad as the person you have trouble forgiving – or worse. Know it don’t force God to teach it to you through falls more the necessary.

Forgiveness does not mean that there won’t be punishment to the person you forgive, everything is punished somehow, in fact you might even have to be the one to mete it out – but you must forgive nevertheless the person.

Forgiveness means detachment, and means loving the neighbor as oneself in other words wishing all the good in the world, salvation and God for this person and all the joy that brings.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean loving the evil the person does, or the evil parts of the person itself. No one loves that, not even God.

Forgiveness… is interior freedom for a person from the anger and anxiety and other debilitating emotions that come from witnessing evil that is not just punished by God but -will- be part of the Last Judgement you can believe that, as will -all- of your evils as well. Revealed. Before all mankind.

So forgive and forget as much as is wise and prudent to and live a free life, trusting in God to take care of it all. Weep for the sins of mankind and do not hold them in your heart with retribution but with mercy. For now is the time of mercy, the future is the time of justice.


I’ve been wrestling with this myself, because I have a friend who recently hurt me bad, and I don’t know if I should ask for an appology before I associate with this person again, or if I should just let it go with no questions asked. I feel that she betrayed my trust. Most of my anger at her is gone, but I don’t know if she’s even aware of how bad she hurt me. Should I talk with her about what she did, and ask for her appology before I resume my friendship with her, or should I just let it go?


I would think that bringing uup sincerely what happened and why it hurt you is worthwhile. If an apology is offered, wonderful. If not, I would let it go and move on, recognizing that perhaps there just isn’t the same concern for the relationship from the other side.

I don’t see asking for an apology to be worthwhile if it isn’t forthcoming once the situation is explained. A true friend will offer one immediately if they know they have hurt you.

Peace be with you!


Here is a passage from the Diary of St. Faustina… which may help you. It has helped me, tremendously.

(1628) “During Holy Mass, I saw Jesus stretched out on the Cross, and He said to me, ‘My pupil, have great love for those who cause you suffering. Do good to those who hate you.’ I answered, ‘O my Master, You see very well that I feel no love for them, and that troubles me.’ Jesus answered, ‘It is not always within your power to control your feelings. You will recognize that you have love if, after having experienced annoyance and contradiction, you do not lose your peace, but pray for those who have made you suffer and wish them well.’”

God bless.

"Gnashing of Teeth"

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit