Litany of Forgiveness

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This prayer litany of forgiveness comes from Moving On: Embracing the Future in the Saint Mary's Press Horizon's Program. Instructions for using this prayer experience are given, as well as handouts containing Scripture passages and the prayer. This can be an excellent retreat or classroom prayer experience.

Before the session, cut out each of the eight prayers and accompanying Scripture passages. Place each slip of paper in a separate small envelope and seal it.

There are times at school, at home, at work, or in a group when my anger has gotten the best of me, when I have hurt or been hurt by another. During these times what am I to do, Lord? I look to you, O God, for guidance.

Sometimes I get caught up in my own hatred and fear of other people whom I do not know, and I begin to judge them out of that fear and ignorance. I look to you, O God, for guidance.

There have been times when I feel that I have simply gone too far, when I think that there is no way anyone can forgive me for what I have done. I look to you, O God, for guidance.

There was a time when I turned my back on a friend. I didn't mean to hurt this person as much as I did, but the damage is now done. What can I do, now that the hurt has grown so deep? I look to you, O God, for guidance.

When I look back over the past years, I remember a time when I came under the judgment of a lot of people for falling short of my values. I knew I was not living up to the person you created me to be, and I knew that my actions hurt other people as well. I look to you, O God, for guidance.

Before I move on with my life, I need to reconcile with my family, especially my parents. There were times when I built walls instead of bridges between us, gave in to anger instead of healing, and sought to hurt instead of help. I look to you, O God, for guidance.

There is this one person, Lord, who constantly gets on my case, who has always been a thorn in my side. We cannot get along, and yet we are frequently around each other. What am I to do about this situation? I look to you, O God, for guidance.

Finally, Lord, there is my friend. The one that I still have not forgiven. The one who hurt me, who acts as if everything is fine. But deep down it isn't, at least not with me. I look to you, O God, for guidance.

"So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift." (Matthew 5:23–24, NRSV)

"Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor's eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?" (Matthew 7:1–3, NRSV)

"Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little." Then he said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." . . . "Your faith has saved you; go in peace." (Luke 7:47–50, NRSV)

After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, "Certainly you are also one of them, for your accent betrays you." Then [Peter] began to curse, and he swore an oath, "I do not know the man!" At that moment the cock crowed. Then Peter remembered what Jesus had said: "Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times." And he went out and wept bitterly. (Matthew 26:73–75, NRSV)

Jesus straightened up and said to her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" She said, "No one, sir." And Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again." (John 8:10–11, NRSV)

"So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. Then the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' But the father said to his slaves, 'Quickly, bring out a robe--the best one--and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!' And they began to celebrate." (Luke 15:20–24, NRSV)

Then Peter came and said to him, "Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?" Jesus said to him, "Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times." (Matthew 18:21–22, NRSV)

"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends." (John 15:12–13, NRSV)


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Published December 15, 1999.