Tag Archives: forgiveness

Holy Week for Marriage

6 Apr

Praise, temptation to despair, indignant questioning from one who does not understand His mission, rejection, and eventually death . . .

While all of these descriptions certainly apply to Our Lord’s experience during Holy Week, they also apply to the lived experience of every married couple.

St. John Paul II said, “Married couples are a permanent reminder to the Church of what happened on the Cross.” Jesus called Himself the Bridegroom, and His Bride was the Church, so we can imitate Christ in our marriages when we:

  • Accept praise from others with humility and thanksgiving to God.
  • Allow grace to strengthen our hope when we are tempted to despair over financial situations or the choices our children make.
  • Choose to courageously witness to the beauty of marriage even though friends or extended family may not understand our vocation.
  • Forgive generously when we are hurt.
  • Lay down our lives, in ways big and small, for our spouse.

For other ways to joyfully witness your marriage, go to www.JoyfulMarriageProject.com

The foregoing is this week’s installment of the “Marriage Minute,” produced by the Marriage and Family Life Office of the Archdiocese, which attempts to view the Sunday readings through the lens of the Sacrament of Marriage.

 

The Original Fall of Marriage

2 Mar

untitledIn this week’s readings, we hear about the fall of our original parents, Adam and Eve. We sometimes forget that this initial temptation and subsequent sin was not only an attack on the first two humans, it was attack on marriage and God’s beautiful plan of communion between the first husband and wife.

Adam and Eve were called to cultivate the Garden of Eden and protect it, with divine assistance. We can approach our marriages in the same way. Our Sacraments are gifts from God, and we have the calling to cultivate and protect them with divine assistance. How do we do this?

  • Unlike Adam and Eve, ask God for help when trouble arises.
  • Give each other the benefit of the doubt when a misunderstanding arises.
  • Be the first to ask for forgiveness.
  • Be quick to offer forgiveness.

For other practical ways this Lent to cultivate and protect your marriage including ways to pray together, go to www.JoyfulMarriageProject.com.

The foregoing is this week’s installment of the “Marriage Minute,” produced by the Marriage and Family Life Office of the Archdiocese, which attempts to view the Sunday readings through the lens of the Sacrament of Marriage.

A Joyful Penitent

19 Jan

calling of disciplesThis week’s first reading and psalm speak of great rejoicing, of long-suffered sorrow being lifted. They are connected to the Gospel in which Jesus begins His public ministry.

We often view joy as an emotion that comes upon us during favorable circumstances, such as a promotion at work or better yet winning the lottery. But this is not the way Jesus understood it. Joy is something we cultivate.

Jesus’ first message for His first disciples is the first step to cultivating joy in our lives: repentance. If the idea of repentance doesn’t come to mind when you think of joy, you’re not alone. The connection is foreign to many of us, yet this is where the “peace on earth” that was promised us a few weeks ago at Christmas starts.

Pray this week for the grace to see where you may have hurt your spouse (especially look at what you’re not doing, but should be) and then humbly ask forgiveness.

The foregoing is this week’s installment of the “Marriage Minute,” produced by the Marriage and Family Life Office of the Archdiocese, which attempts to view the Sunday readings through the lens of the Sacrament of Marriage.

The Hidden Pharisee in Marriage

20 Oct

vacuum“O God, I thank you that I am not like this tax collector.”

The Pharisee in this Sunday’s Gospel is so arrogant! Yet it is easy to be the same way in our own marriages. We often judge our spouse’s actions against what we would have done in the same situation, imagining that our way is right and theirs is wrong. We can say to ourselves, “If only my spouse were more like me, things would be much smoother.”

For example, “O God, I thank you that I am not like my spouse . . . who thinks a vacuum is an appropriate birthday gift . . . or who cries whenever we fight . . . or who always makes us late.”

We all have our own version of that “prayer.” For trivial matters, we can ask our spouse why he or she behaves a certain way, and in the process learn more about him or her. Even when our spouse is sinning, we can look deeply into our own hearts and say, “O God, be merciful to me, a sinner,” and then grant forgiveness.

The foregoing is this week’s installment of the “Marriage Minute,” produced by the Marriage and Family Life Office of the Archdiocese, which attempts to view the Sunday readings through the lens of the Sacrament of Marriage.

The Prodigal Son . . . or Spouse

9 Sep

reconciliationCan you imagine the betrayal the father in the “Prodigal Son” story must have felt? The son wishes his father dead, takes his money and squanders it.  If you are married or have children, you have probably felt hints of this pain. We have all had times where we felt our spouse or children have squandered our trust and found it difficult to forgive.

In marriage and family life, part of forgiveness means giving up the right to bring the offense up later, using it to justify ourselves or holding it over our spouse’s head to get our way. The Father’s example is to run out to meet the repentant son, lavishing forgiveness and celebrating the return. In marriage and parenting, we do this by focusing on our spouse’s or child’s repentance. It costs us pride, but wins for us the joy of a restored relationship.

The foregoing is this week’s installment of the “Marriage Minute,” produced by the Marriage and Family Life Office of the Archdiocese, which attempts to view the Sunday readings through the lens of the Sacrament of Marriage.

Taming the Monster

9 Jun

aaaOften the worst part about an argument with our spouse is the pain we inflict afterwards. We magnify the original hurt by rehashing it and adding to it, allowing doubt to creep in like a growing monster lurking in the darkness. We can ask, “Are we even still in love?”

Part of this pain can be avoided by realizing that in a fallen world, spouses will hurt one another, but it does not have to result in permanent division. We are reminded in the Catechism, “what therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder” (no. 1614). While God does not want us to sin, He is also not surprised when we do. So, we expect sin, but don’t let it divide us. How do we do this?

Forgiveness is the answer. Jesus says in this Sunday’s Gospel, “But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” Forgiveness humbles us. It makes us more compassionate. In short, it makes our relationship stronger. So while we shouldn’t sin on purpose, we also shouldn’t panic when we do. Instead, we should make reconciliation our most urgent task.

The foregoing is this week’s installment of the “Marriage Minute,” produced by the Marriage and Family Life Office of the Archdiocese, which attempts to view the Sunday readings through the lens of the Sacrament of Marriage.

Unlocking the Gift of Peace

29 Mar

aaaa“Peace be with you.” Jesus offers peace this Divine Mercy Sunday. The peace of Jesus is different from the peace that the world promises. Peace is not simply an absence of war, although that would be nice. The promise of Jesus is a peace that surpasses all understanding: a peace of the soul and a gift the world cannot give.

The pathway to this peace is forgiveness. In the same way that Jesus passed through the locked doors and offered His Apostles peace, He wants to pass through the locked doors of our hearts and broken relationships that are erected through sin and give us the gift of interior peace.

We participate in this peace in two ways in our families. First, we always have the gift of peace that comes through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Second, when we use the words, “I forgive you” and “Please forgive me” with our spouse and children, and teach them to use the same words, we allow Jesus to bring His gift of peace into our family life.

This Easter Season, and especially during this Year of Mercy, let us be generous in seeking God’s forgiveness in Confession, offering forgiveness in our family relationships, and praying that a spirit of forgiveness will be more prevalent throughout the world. When we do this, we participate in the victory of Easter over death and despair.

Ambassadors of Healing

3 Mar

reconciliationHave you ever overreacted to something that other people didn’t think was a big deal ? Is there that one person in your family, circle of friends or department at work who just makes you so mad?!

If so, there may be someone you need to forgive. While this may seem insignificant to your marriage, it’s not. Who usually bears the brunt of your painful relationships with others? If we are honest, it’s usually the person to whom we are closest–our spouse. They, not the person who hurt us, are the ones who get snapped at, shut out, or even blamed for things. Even if we don’t lash out at our spouse in anger when we’re hurt, we aren’t all we could be for him or her.

So what do we do? In this Sunday’s second reading, St. Paul tells us that anyone who is in Christ is a new creation. That means that Jesus can not only patch up our wounded hearts, but He can make them new. He can lift the burden of hurt and help us forgive, not because the offending person deserves it, but because our spouse does. As spouses, we can become for each other “ambassadors for Christ,” encouraging one another to be reconciled for the sake of our marriages. Let us allow the grace of Lent to set us free to become the husband or wife we desire to be.

The foregoing is this week’s installment of the “Marriage Minute,” produced by the Marriage and Family Life Office of the Archdiocese, which attempts to view the Sunday readings through the lens of the Sacrament of Marriage.

Multiplying Mercy

14 Aug

Sermon on the MountThis summer I’ve pounded my head on the table more than once as I’ve tried to help my antsy, highly distractible fourth-grade son learn his times tables. He especially struggles with the 7s. And despite his athletic prowess, the fact that all he has to do is count touchdowns (7-14-21-28-etc.) doesn’t seem to help much.

Just my luck, in today’s Gospel Our Lord turns mercy into a math problem. How often are we to forgive our neighbor? Seven times? Try seventy-seven times (that would be 7 X 11). In other versions of this text, presumably for more advanced math students, Jesus tells us to forgive 7 X 70 times (that would be 490 times).

Is Our Lord really trying to quantify our forgiveness, such that at some point we can comfortably say in good conscience that we’re off the hook, that we don’t have to forgive anymore? Absolutely not. He wants us to understand that we should expect mercy in the measure that we’re willing to give it. “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

Just as we’re in constant need of mercy, it stands to reason that we’re in constant need of extending mercy.

I expect mercy every time I go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation to confess pretty much the same sins that I already told Our Lord through the priest that I was “firmly resolved” to not commit anymore. How can I then turn around and be miserly to others, and not cut them a similar break? That’s the question posed to each of us in today’s Gospel.

It’s not about math, and it’s not about being a doormat or naive. We don’t have to let others take unjust advantage of us. But we can and must forgive even if we think our spouse, child, friend, classmate, or colleague is not sufficiently “sorry” or committed to change his or her behavior. It’s on them to take our mercy and run with it.

Simply put, our job is to reflect God’s boundless mercy to all whom we meet.

Virtue on the Mount

10 May

In contemplating Our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount (Mt. 5-7), one section that has really struck me is the part known as the “Six Antitheses”–the series of six statements by Our Lord that begin “You have heard it said . . .” followed by “I say to you . . .” These curious statements are found in Matthew 5:21-48.

There are many ways of looking at this passage. What really strikes me is that Jesus, in coming to fulfill the law and not abolish it (Mt. 5:17), is having us move from mere adherence to negative moral rules and precepts (“thou shall not . . .”) to the cultivation of the opposite virtues. Jesus’ words do not contradict what the people have been taught all their lives, but rather gives the motive and–through the gift of the Holy Spirit–the power to strive for a holiness and righteousness that exceeds the mere observance of the law (cf. Mt. 5:20).

So, let me summarize the “Six Antitheses” from the viewpoint of virtue development:

(1) You have heard it said that you shall not kill. Our Lord tells us to foster the virtue of meekness.

(2) You have heard it said that you shall not commit adultery. Our Lord tells us to foster sexual purity and the virtue of chastity.

(3) You have heard it said that you shouldn’t divorce and remarry. Our Lord tells us to foster marital fidelity.

(4) You have heard it said that you shouldn’t take a false oath. Our Lord tells us to foster the virtue of honesty.

(5) You have heard it said: “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” Our Lord tells us to foster the virtues of forgiveness and generosity.

(6) You have heard it said: “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” Our Lord tells us to foster the virtues of charity and solidarity with all, especially with those who are most difficult for us to love.

In other words, we are called to be perfect, as Our Heavenly Father is perfect (cf. Mt. 5:48). We’re not there yet, and we’ll never get there on our own, but with God all things are possible. He not only shows us the way to happiness in the Sermon on the Mount, but also gives us His very life in the sacraments so we can get there.