Dear reader, if you have ever been victim to a heinous crime such as theft, adultery, slander or another deliberate cruelty perhaps you have struggled in your heart to forgive such an act. The injury feels fresh, our enemy who would harm us almost seems to gloat in their evil. But what factors play into our inability to forgive, when the Saints suffered so much and forgave so readily?
In my opinion, one of the chief roots of the problem is that we are convinced that we ourselves would never commit an evil act like that. Who would steal from a friend or commit adultery with another person's spouse? It is what gives us confidence when we say with passion that the most heinously wicked (like pedophiles) should be shot or hanged. Perhaps our indignation only really gets going when we see liturgical abuse, and our feelings of piety and righteous zeal become inflamed as we condemn the other and proclaim that we would never perform such and such an irreverent act in the house of God?
So I place before you the following considerations for either dealing with forgiving others now or to remember the next time you are grievously offended.
Remember always human weaknesses, passions and our disordered appetites. Many people (probably most) do not think that they will commit the sins that they later wind up committing. If you have ever had the misfortune to commit a mortal sin then you are capable of turning your back completely on God; if you have not, then consider the Saints of the Church who at some point lost grace through sin (like King David). You should have pity on fellow men who fall as many times they fall from weakness and not malice. We must identify the real enemy and apply our hatred there. Sin oftentimes is instigated from the suggestion of the author of lies, the serpent, the devil. Do not hesitate to increase your hatred against him.
The next thing to consider is that only the grace of God preserves us from falling into sin, whether they be big or small. Grace that inclines a person to do a good act or resist a temptation is called preventive grace, when he is performing a good act it is called concomitant grace and when he has completed it subsequent grace. It is true that our free will must choose to cooperate with His grace, but without His grace we could never choose good, because we would neither feel inclined nor be able to resist evil. We are all capable of falling into the most grievous and outrageous sins.
Finally, and most importantly, realize that those who have greatly injured us - barring they repent - will burn in Hell for all eternity. No matter how much you dislike them or how greatly they had hurt you, could you imagine them being shoved into an oven set to 800 degrees, followed by the burning of flesh, terrible screams and complete pain? Perhaps you are very mad or greatly hurt? How many minutes would you extract your vengeance on them in it? One minute, one hour, one day? I say it would take a matter of minutes, perhaps seconds, of suffering before even an angry heart would be filled with pity. This is a very poor comparison to the very fires of Hell that burn the damned day and night. (To learn more about what Hell is like, check out The Torments of Hell on audiobook, free)
In order for our enemies to be forgiven by God they will have to feel remorse (including for their offenses against you), confess their sin (or be baptized if they have not yet been) and resolve - with the help of God's grace - to never commit those sins again.
Repentance from those coming from sin can be quite bitter, and real sorrow is like a sword through the heart; that is the medicine God will demand if they are to be forgiven. Without this, they will surly go to Hell.
When we considerable the most holy and terrible vengeance of God, it not only become easy to forgive but also to pray for our enemies, lest they perish in the eternal fires of Hell.