How do you forgive the lower-level "trespasses"?

Hello, like pretty much everybody else on this forum, I am trying to purify myself this Lent. One area I get stuck on (or am unsure how to proceed), is what to do with the more minor irritations we endure from our fellow man. (I’m not talking here about the big stuff like adultery, betrayal, or crime)

For instance, how do you deal with:

The co-worker who makes the random impertinent statement.
That person in your Church who rebuffed you when you held out the hand of friendship.
Or, those kids who rejected your kid in the playground.
The lawn-obsessed neighbor who expects everybody to have a shiny green lawn and makes rude remarks.

You’re probably not living your life raging and fuming over these incidents, but when you see the person again, it stirs up all the aggravation of the original incident all over again. What do you do when these feelings come back? Do you try to avoid situations where you might see them? What if the person comes up to you acting all friendly (but with no remorse or maybe even memory of the original event?) Has anybody found a permanent solution to these angry feelings that keep coming back on an intermittent basis?

Second reading
From a letter to the Corinthians by Saint Clement, pope

Let us fix our attention on the blood of Christ and recognize how precious it is to God his Father, since it was shed for our salvation and brought the grace of repentance to all the world.

If we review the various ages of history, we will see that in every generation the Lord has offered the opportunity of repentance to any who were willing to turn to him. When Noah preached God’s message of repentance, all who listened to him were saved. Jonah told the Ninevites they were going to be destroyed, but when they repented, their prayers gained God’s forgiveness for their sins, and they were saved, even though they were not of God’s people.

Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the ministers of God’s grace have spoken of repentance; indeed, the Master of the whole universe himself spoke of repentance with an oath: As I live, says the Lord, I do not wish the death of the sinner but his repentance. He added this evidence of his goodness: House of Israel, repent of your wickedness. Tell the sons of my people: If their sins should reach from earth to heaven, if they are brighter than scarlet and blacker than sackcloth, you need only turn to me with your whole heart and say, “Father,” and I will listen to you as a holy people.

In other words, God wanted all his beloved ones to have the opportunity to repent and he confirmed this desire by his own almighty will. That is why we should obey his sovereign and glorious will and prayerfully entreat his mercy and kindness. We should be suppliant before him and turn to his compassion, rejecting empty works and quarrelling and jealousy which only lead to death.

Brothers, we should be humble in mind, putting aside all arrogance, pride and foolish anger. Rather, we should act in accordance with the Scriptures, as the Holy Spirit says: The wise man must not glory in his wisdom nor the strong man in his strength nor the rich man in his riches. Rather, let him who glories glory in the Lord by seeking him and doing what is right and just. Recall especially what the Lord Jesus said when he taught gentleness and forbearance. Be merciful, he said, so that you may have mercy shown to you. Forgive, so that you may be forgiven. As you treat others, so you will be treated. As you give, so you will receive. As you judge, so you will be judged. As you are kind to others, so you will be treated kindly. The measure of your giving will be the measure of your receiving. Let these commandments and precepts strengthen us to live in humble obedience to his sacred words. As Scripture asks: Whom shall I look upon with favor except the humble, peaceful man who trembles at my words?

Sharing then in the heritage of so many vast and glorious achievements, let us hasten toward the goal of peace, set before us from the beginning. Let us keep our eyes firmly fixed on the Father and Creator of the whole universe, and hold fast to his splendid and transcendent gifts of peace and all his blessings.

RESPONSORY Is. 55:7; Jl. 2:13; see Ez. 33:11

Let the evil man give up his way of life, and the sinful man his thoughts.
Let him turn back to the Lord, and the Lord will have mercy on him.
– Our God is kind and compassionate, always ready to forgive.

The Lord does not wish the sinner to die, but to turn back to him and live.
– Our God is kind and compassionate, always ready to forgive.


Grant, O Lord,
that we may begin with holy fasting this campaign of Christian service,
so that, as we take up battle against spiritual evils,
we may be armed with weapons of self-restraint.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
– Amen.

Words and Prayers of St. Isaac the Syrian

Let yourself be persecuted, but do not persecute others.
Be crucified, but do not crucify others.
Be slandered, but do not slander others.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep: such is the sign of purity.
Suffer with the sick.
Be afflicted with sinners.
Exult with those who repent.
Be the friend of all, but in your spirit remain alone.
Be a partaker of the sufferings of all, but keep your body distant from all.
Rebuke no one, revile no one, not even those who live very wickedly.
Spread your cloak over those who fall into sin, each and every one, and shield them.
And if you cannot take the fault on yourself and accept punishment in their place,
do not destroy their character.


Follow the example of the saints and also the example of jesus on the cross and pray for them…

Each time you feel anger or upset by that particular person then tell god about it…tell god why you still feel upset and ask god to change that person for the better…after all hes the only one who can change a person and its a healthy way to work through your feelings about people who bug you

Can’t really top hazcompat’s posts. Those are excellent! :slight_smile:

In brief…offer it up.

Do you know the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi?

Lord, make me an instrument of they peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon’
where there is doubt, faith
where there is despair, hope
where there is darkness, light, and
where there is sadness, joy

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand
to be loved as to lov
For it is in giving that we receive
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned
and it is in dying that we are restored to eternal life.


I used to struggle with this one a lot. I learned however this:

As long as I am not being used as a door mat, what others do or say is none of my business. This includes offenses towards me. Immediately forgive them. This is tough to do when you first start trying it but if you dedicate yourself to making this a habit, you will stop worrying over this stuff.

If someone is doing you real harm, physical or emotional, it is ok to distance yourself from their actions but still work on forgiving them.

Also, I used to have a big problem with what I perceived as others judging me. Once I decided to stop judging them, I lost all the care in the world if they were judging me. Though I still struggle from time to time, life for me in this regard is much easier for me now.

I hope this helps you.

Thank you so much for all of your replies–there is so much to unpack and meditate on!

I guess what I’m driving at is–do you ever stop FEELING the aggravation? For example, I sent a facebook friend request to a friendly aquaintance in my church. After not replying to it for a week, she friended two people that I’m friends with, then rejected my request. On the cosmic scale of things, not really a big deal. But when I see her in church, I feel kind of funny and a little bit hurt and a little bit mad.

I do say the prayer for her: Lord, bless and keep her, make Your face shine upon her, be gracious to her and look upon her with your kindness and give her Your peace.

Then, I do feel better on the spot. But, is there a realistic way to not feel this hurt and aggravation from the get go? In other words, never feel mad about this again?

If I may try to assess, you are feeling hurt because you want the acquaintance to accept your friendship. To add to the hurt, she selected your other friends, and not you, which triggered a bit of “mad” emotion too.

If I were to apply this same approach of observation to the lawn guy (note: this falls in line with the “understand” section of the prayer of Saint Francis), here might be a way of looking at the situation.

Lawn Guy (grumpily): Your lawn sure looks shabby, ever thought of using a little fertilizer?

Me: Your lawn does look nice. Are you wanting my lawn to look the same? Do you feel a little upset seeing lawns that aren’t as pretty as yours?

Lawn Guy: Yes! Very much so!

Me: And you would like me to put in the time and money toward making mine look better.

Lawn Guy: Bingo!

Me: Answer A: I would like to get to it, but it is not as high on my priority list of my time and effort. I understand what you want, but I am just too buried in other business and expenses. I hope you can understand, but I am not forcing you to accept this request.

Answer B: Here is a plan I can do that will work for both of us…

To me, “understanding” involves seeing the person’s feelings, needs and requests without judging. It’s not easy, and it takes practice. To me, the one way you can resolve the situation with the fellow parishioner is to ask her about the rejection. Perhaps she did the rejection in error? Our faith tells us to give people the benefit of the doubt.

Oh yeah, I forgot to say that I think it is impossible to never get mad “from the get-go”. Our emotions are triggered reactions, they are much, much faster than our thoughts. The best I can do is realize that I am angry, and say “I am angry, and that is okay and understandable, but now I am going to take the steps to forgive.” Understanding plays a huge role in adult forgiveness.

Meditate on the passion of Christ. Father Serpa has a good one he has posted from time to time.

Meditate on Hebrews 12:1Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us 2while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith. For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God.

The resurrected body of Christ bore the wounds in His hands, feet, and side.

Let the hurt and agression be your scourging. These wounds can become a source of great joy.


This might help?


write this to you-as i might need the same inquiry in my life/
my first impressions (allow me to change my mind)…first impressions are the accidental aggrivations every time there is a challenging social situation/ seems the topic is limited to the social…on ash wed. i hope i too find an answer…i will inquire about my myself as passing and am ashes, of sorts, in dynamic time/
static measurements of time with inconveniences challenge me in social situations/
but the span of things-we all have to die…i suspect there is more to my actions of good and helpfulness…with a lower percentage of those social situations…but emotions are like candles burning at both ends…i think what will happen to day…is the sceme of things…that God is so loving in the unconditional way that i soon realize it and this means to cut others some slack, or realizing God’s unconditional love, as proof in Jesus Christ, that i pass it on…catholics argue and bicker on the forum over the suggestion that God loves conditionally compared to God loves unconditionally-i had to choose…i chose ‘God loves unconditionally.’ i tried both beliefs by the way/ in all practical purposes, as your inquiry offers the same idea…prayer is, to me, a practice…less a belief on parchment…(in this case, knowing forgiveness in the divine sense, and using forgiveness in the human sense) .the reason that i am writing in private email, is to avoid criticism by using the word unconditional/ notice in many many forum posts-there is a polarized rule this person has…which seems to limit so many possibilities…of course, as you might agree-the posts often tell of a life of horror…i connect that with a strict church, or strict conscience, or the dysfunction of families-these admissions or stories or reports of that horror-i figure it has to be something lacking/ i think that little sins-of daily frustrations-might increase and snow ball -down hill-when there is not an inquiry into the practical side of things-seems small frustrations , even , then need salvation…well these are my thoughts for the moment…hope you find find many spiritual gifts on ash wed,

I don’t think lofty spiritual principles can be applied in our human existence. Rude people need to be told they’re overstepping their boundaries. “Your lawn may top your list of priorities but it doesn’t mine, and I don’t appreciate your derogatory comments about my property”. Diplomacy doesn’t work and is not the way of Christ. “I appreciate your concern, but…”, why say I appreciate his concern when it infuriates me to hear his comments? Lots of people are dumb, lots of people would walk all over you without so much as a second thought, welcome to being sensitive and easily hurt in a world where many lack very, very basic common decency. You’d be surprised if I came up with some of the rude/mean/thoughtless things I’ve been told in my life. It’s unfortunate that our eternal destiny is decided after we’ve had to deal with some of the jokers that the Lord put on our path.

Overcoming daily lower level annoyances is an important part of our everyday spirituality. I find it as a practical way of helping oneself toward holiness. After all, our lives are built with little things. Little incidents fill the majority of our day in and day out routines. We need to gracefully deal with little things, then we may live gracefully with bigger issues.

I have experienced a situation with a parishioner who used to be very friendly with me and for unknown reason all of a sudden treated me as if I didn’t exist. I could not think of how I might possibly offended this person. After daily Mass this person would avoid eye contact with me. My smile was ignored. When I tried to approach to talk, this person would quickly walk away. The person remained friendly to others and showed obvious coldness to me. The body language sent was no mistake. That made me unhappy.

I brought up my unhappy feeling in Confession. Father said to pray for the person everyday for two weeks. So I did. The unhappy feeling was lessened but still there. So one day when the person walked by me again with no eye contact, I called the person’s name and took initiative to chat. We talked briefly. I appeared I had never noticed anything different. Since then there was no more weird body languages, and neither have I any unhappy feeling. Thank God for all His help :slight_smile:

DaisymaeD asks the Eternal question :
"One area I get stuck on … is what to do with the more minor irritations we endure from our fellow man…
For instance, how do you deal with:
That person in your Church who rebuffed you when you held out the hand of friendship.
Or, those kids who rejected your kid in the playground.
The lawn-obsessed neighbor who expects everybody to have a shiny green lawn and makes rude remarks.

It is Tough to handle these situations in a Saintly way, so I will answer how I would (in a Perfect world) LIKE to deal with these issues.

That person in your Church who rebuffed you when you held out the hand of friendship.
Pull back you hand, and slap that Jerk on the cheek, and tell him to turn his other cheek towards you (just like Jesus taught us to do).

Or, those kids who rejected your kid in the playground.
Pepper Spray them all.
Next time, your kid will get some RESPECT (spare the Rod, spoil the child).

The lawn-obsessed neighbor who expects everybody to have a shiny green lawn and makes rude remarks.
A 25-pound bag of Salt, spread evenly across his shiny lawn (You are the Salt of the Earth).

We are taught that we don’t return evil for evil. When someone is thoughtless and inconsiderate that is evil. The problem is that we immediately want them to feel some kind of discomfort for doing this to us, or another way to put it, evil for evil. Oh, it may seem that this is an exageration, but subconsciously or underneath, we want revenge and our pound of flesh for their crudeness and rudeness. This is what our feelings are dictating to us and the way we are made to feel is beyond our control to stop.

So what happens? We either give evil for evil in some form, or hold a grudge, or judge them to be evil, or become miserable because there doesn’t seem to be any good answer.

But here is what Jesus said, that we should heap coals of kindness on their head . Then the question comes, “to them?”, why to them? Because giving kindness for evil is the law of charity. In other words, don’t act human but divine as Christ would have you do. This is what our spirituality is, that of printing the image of Jesus on ourselves so that we may be other Christs.

If we give evil for evil, then we are no better than pegans. We must love them even in any evil they inflict. This type of suffering is of the greatest merit, for in this we love God above ourselves. For we are not giving love for receiving love, but giving love after receiving evil. That in the Father’s eyes is the greatest kind of love, the kind his only beloved Son showed. This behavior shows that we are truly sons of God.

The best way to start is to find excuses for their behaviour whether they deserve them or not. Always think the best and always refrain from judging them badly. And on each occasion say your thanks to God that he gave you a great opportunity to become more like his beloved Son Jesus. It is to your spiritual advantage. Don’t we often say, “Lord, draw me closer to you”. And when he presents the occasion to do this, how often we run away from these graces.

Nobody is perfect and we often fail, but we need to try and say each time, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

May God bless and keep you. May God’s face shine on you. May God be kind to you and give you peace.

:thumbsup: Love your witty humour. :smiley:

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