How to Forgive from the Heart

Summarized and compiled by Fr. Rick Jaworski, CC and based on Fr. Francis Frankovich, CC’s book How to Forgive From the Heart.

To forgive, in a few words, is to be conscious of an offense and/or irritation, while surrendering it to Jesus Christ on His cross and then receiving through faith His victory for both the offended person, and for the offender(s).

Thus there are seven steps to follow in order to help one forgive from the heart. Praying all seven steps and taking time alone with the Lord is especially valuable when the offense or irritation is more profound or serious.

1. Ask

Ask for the presence of the Holy Spirit:

Father God, fill me with your Holy Spirit so I can forgive others. I receive your Holy Spirit by imagining His arrival as if He were a light that fills a dark room. Thank you, Heavenly Father, for empowering me with His presence to be my guide and support.

(Spend a short time being conscious of receiving the Holy Spirit)

2. Become Conscious

Become conscious of the reality of God’s love towards you and towards the others who have offended or irritated you:

Father God, you are wonderful. You sent your Son, Jesus Christ, to show us your mercy. I praise you for your love. You manifested this love by sending us your Son as man, in order to have Him live as one of us, in order to teach us to die to our sins, and to rise to a new life through your Holy Spirit. Help me to be conscious of your love. Then take an image to gaze upon, such as a crucifix, and then repeat a phrase of God’s love for us as found in the Sacred Scriptures, such as John 15:13: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Take time to receive this and then thank the Lord for this love.

I thank you Lord for your loving presence which helps me forgive the offenses and/or irritations of [name the persons or situations]. I thank you because you want to save every one of us from sin and all evil effects of sin.

3. Receive the Reality

Receive the reality of God’s mercy for You:

Father God, help me to see my sins, and to remember your mercy towards me.

[Take a moment to remember your past sins and the many times He has forgiven you so as to thank Him. If there is a sin for which you have not yet been forgiven, seek His forgiving love at this time, especially for having held onto the offense or irritation of another or any way you too have sinned in a similar way as the offender(s). We need to be honest before the Lord with the sins we have committed. Take advantage of this moment to pray.]

Jesus, please forgive me and wash me with your Precious Blood which you shed to save me from all sin and from the tendency to repeat these evils.

[Take enough time so as to have an interior conviction of this grace of His forgiveness towards you. Imagine yourself filled with the purifying light of His mercy. Sense yourself in this presence and allow the Lord to touch your heart with His forgiveness, His mercy.]

4. Forgive and Bless

Forgive and bless in the name of Jesus:

It is best to express God’s mercy for one person or situation at a time unless several people are involved in the same offense.

Father God, surround this person (or situation) with the light of your presence and love. And Father, I thank you for your infinite mercy for him/her/them.

[Then visualize the person(s) surrounded with the light of Christ and say out loud if possible:]

With the power of the Holy Spirit and in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ crucified, I forgive you for ___[take time to mention the offense or fault while being conscious of any feelings that may have been present at the time of the offense or irritation]. And I give thanks that you are now forgiven through Jesus. Amen. And in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ crucified, I bless you with [mention what you think this person or situation needs in order to be better]. And I give thanks because you are now being blessed. Amen.

5. Receive the Forgiveness

Receive the forgiveness by visualizing Jesus touching you with his healing love:

Ask the Holy Spirit to give you an image of the offender without the presence of the defect due to the forgiveness and blessing that you have just proclaimed over him/her with faith in the saving presence of Jesus. Spend time visualizing this forgiven and blessed person. Then pray:

Holy God, this is [name the person or the situation] just the way I imagine him/her after having been forgiven and blessed by Jesus. Now, send Your Holy Spirit through me and make [name the person] your new creation, full of your joy and your peace.

Heavenly Father, also heal the wounds within me caused by this offense and/or irritation. I thank you because I know, through my faith, that you are healing me and are realizing a victory in me through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord.

[Take all the time you need so as to be conscious of this happening through the power of the Holy Spirit while thanking Him for this healing of the emotional reaction.]

6. Receive the Victory

Receive the victory by expressing thanks:

Keep thanking the Father until you notice, or at least have a conviction, of the change occurring in you and the other person. (If a new offense or irritation happens, repeat the entire prayer.)

7. Express Love

Express love toward the person or situation:

Father God, show me now what you want me to do, so as to express your love in different ways toward the one who has offended and/or irritated me, through some service and/or words, including words of correction, if so needed, but with a loving attitude coming from my having forgiven him/her from the heart in your name.

As I do this I am convinced that you, Lord, are working within this person to bring about your victory for him/her. Thank you. Amen.