And Forgive Us Our Trespasses

Photograph by
Kathy Fornal

I was raised Roman Catholic.

For that reason I was Christened, made my First Communion and was Confirmed.

Before I was born, that powerful, “stands the test of time,” doctrine was ingrained in my DNA; passed down to me in the very fibre of my being by ancestors, whom I would never know.

Like all good little Catholic children, I went to church, said my prayers, went to confession and believed that if I was “a good girl,” God would be pleased and he’d keep me safe from all that was bad and evil.

There was heaven and there was hell and I knew exactly where I wanted to go. Up.

That is until…

I was about 12-13, when I started thinking for myself and asking questions… “If God made both black and white people, why does it seem like he likes white people more? “ “If God is so all powerful, can he create a rock that even he can’t pick up?” “If God loves us all, equally, why are there millions of starving children in India, who want my supper?”

Neither my parents, nor my CCD (Confraternity of Christian Doctrine) teachers appreciated these questions… nor did they have any answers!

By the time I was Confirmed (14) I had pretty much checked out and was just going through the motions. By 16-17, it had been mutually agreed (between me and God) that he didn’t need me, and I didn’t need him.

However, because these principles were so firmly implanted in my psyche, there were many circumstances throughout my life, where I found myself praying to a God (who I wasn’t even sure existed) about one thing or another; but it’s better to be safe than sorry, right?

I am not a religious person, but I am spiritual. I believe in something. I believe in something that is bigger, better and wiser than me… something that encompasses all that is good in the Universe and something that perpetuates unconditional love to ALL beings regardless of… well, regardless of anything! No ifs, ands or buts; if you exist this entity LOVES you unconditionally. You don’t have to jump through hoops. You don’t have to say three Hail Mary’s and four Our Father’s. You don’t have to stand on head and spit wooden nickels.

You don’t even have to pray, but… well, that can’t hurt.

For the past several years (Yeah, yeah, okay… since I’ve been sick, so what?!) I’ve said the following prayer each night, before I fall asleep;

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my Soul to keep,
If I should die before I ‘wake,
I pray the Lord my Soul to take.

I love that one; it’s simple, it’s clear and for some reason, it gives me comfort.

I say it and I pass out.

It makes me feel like I’ve covered all the bases and if I do check out, in the middle of the night, me and the “Something” upstairs, have an understanding… he’ll take care of me and lead me onto my next path, or wherever.

Unfortunately, it’s my recital of The Lord’s Prayer that disturbs the hell out of me… and causes conflict, that frankly, I don’t freakin need before trying to go to sleep!

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy Name, 
thy kingdom come, 
thy will be done, 
on earth as it is in heaven. 

Give us this day our daily bread. 
And forgive us our trespasses, 
as we forgive those
who trespass against us. 

And lead us not into temptation, 
but deliver us from evil. 

Yup, it’s cool too. It’s simple, straightforward… and I’m okay with it, right up until I get to part where it says;

And forgive us our trespasses, 
as we forgive those
who trespass against us. 

Man, what kind of a double-dealing trick is this?

I get to that line and I freeze. I have this internal struggle. Can I forgive everyone who has trespassed against me?

Why couldn’t it just stop at, “And forgive us our trespasses,” right?

Nooooo, some wiseass thought it would be clever to add this little Catch 22, clause, “…as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that everyday, at least once a day, someone trespasses against me. It’s usually a stupid little thing, like the teenager who didn’t get up and give me his seat on the bus, when he could CLEARLY see I am old and I’m exhausted. Or the idiot who’s looking at his/her cell, while walking down the street and walks right into me. The sadistic bus driver who closes the bus doors, in my face, just as I get to the bus stop. There must be hundreds of these little transgressions made against me, every day!!!! Not to mention the historical BIG ones inflicted by ex-husbands, friends and lovers, etc.

And now, because of this “clause,” I have to forgive all of these nincompoops, before I can be forgiven of all my little insignificant infringements! (See what I did there? I wanted to say, “these assholes,” but I figured that would be trespass, so I avoided it.)

It was really a brilliant tactic, if not totally exasperating to the end user. I can just see this person sitting there writing The Lords Prayer; s/he gets to this part and thinks;

“Okay, now they should have to ask to be forgiven for their wrongdoings… Oh, but wait! How about this… in order to be “forgiven,” for their own trespasses, they have to forgive all of the people who wilfully infringed upon them! Yes, that’s it, that’s perfect!” …and s/he pats himself/herself on the back, saying, “Good one!”

It’s a small price to pay, I guess… it’s like tit for tat, or six of one half a dozen of the other. All I have to do is heartfeltly forgive, and I am automatically forgiven.

A small price to pay, really.

…but I gotta tell ya, on some days… when I am feeling particularly prickly and I’m trespassed against, I’d gladly swim the River Acheron before forgiving one of these assholes.

Oh, damn… I’ve trespassed again.

Our Father…

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8 Comments

  1. Our progress in ‘the faith’ runs on similar lines. St. Peter must have several ledgers of my unforgiven trespasses. Seeing the night time prayer brings back memories.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I find myself at times cussing and as soon as the WORD leaves my mouth I say…I’m sorry Lord! It helps, but I still feel guilty. Thank you for the smile!

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  3. Must be the age of enlightenment because my road through the Catholic faith has been similar. However, I did it with 13 years of Catholic school and I still shudder at a few of those memories..talk about “forgive us our trespasses”. Don’t you find as we get older, (closer to the end, rather than the beginning), we find our way back to whomever or whatever makes us feel comfortable and at peace. Your words always make me think and that’s a good thing. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading Marge… and thank you for THINKING! I love that my words can prompt someone ponder something!
      And perhaps you are right, although I can’t say I am back to my childhood Catholic beliefs or practices! …the doctrine is ingrained in my DNA. I now am able to choose which bits are relevant to me, and which bits are not. xx

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  4. I still go to Mass. I figured at 16 that if normal people didn’t go the extremists would take over. A lot of what the Church says I ignore (I’m not going to stop loving my partner Joseph no way) but I still like the prayers and the statues and the candles and taking my 93 year old mum to Mass in the car. I can’t stop. I won’t stop. Remember Melissa, I want that requiem Latin Mass and my Venetian funeral barge to San Michele. What do they say? If religion is the opiate of the people the C of E is paracetamol and Catholicism is speed…just when you think you’re ok it hits you. As I also say, the Christian Brothers never did me any harm and as Joseph says “you keep telling yourself that”. Must catch up soon xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Edward, I love that you go to Mass… with your Mom! I have no use for the “religion” anymore but cant shake some of the old beliefs and habits i.e. making the sign of the cross, with Holy Water, when I enter a church, lighting a candle for my dead relatives, and genuflecting… saying my prayers. xxxx

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