Novena and Lenten Reflection: Week Six
Sixth Week: Forgiving Injuries
When Mary, my sister, married her husband Paul, I was still practicing law. She asked me to be the reader at her wedding and they chose Ephesians 4:1-6 (“I …
urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received,
with all humility and gentleness, with patience,
bearing with one another through love
Unfortunately, I read the reading on the next page from Ephesians 5 (“
Wives be subordinate to your husband
…”). She and her husband looked at each other and laughed. Mary doesn’t do subordination well! But, the reading went on with advice for husbands that applies to the wife as well:
"Husbands, love your wives,
even as Christ loved the Church
and handed himself over for her to sanctify her,
cleansing her by the bath of water with the word,
that he might present to himself the Church in splendor,
without spot or wrinkle or any such thing,
that she might be holy and without blemish.
So also husbands should love their wives as their own bodies.
He who loves his wife loves himself.
For no one hates his own flesh
but rather nourishes and cherishes it,
even as Christ does the Church,
because we are members of his Body.
For this reason, a man shall leave his father and his mother
and be joined to his wife,
and the two shall become one flesh.
This is a great mystery,
but I speak in reference to Christ and the Church.
In any case, each one of you should love his wife as himself,
and the wife should respect her husband."
Christ allowed himself to be subordinated to the Romans and Temple leadership at the time of his passion. Subordination is to give yourself for the life of another. St. Paul stresses the unity present in all creation. When husbands and wives mutually give and love one another in a way that imitates Christ, they help to strengthen the unity in the Church and the community as a whole. All is connected, and this exhortation to spouses to live as Christ is a part of his larger mission “
to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth,”
(Eph. 1:10). St. Paul’s language is the strongest sacramental language about marriage. The sacrament of marriage is made present in your efforts to love each other, forgive faults and work together for the good of your family and the world; that is the saving image of Christ in husband and wife. Mercy and reconciliation is the presence of God in your marriage.
“Everyone says that forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive.” -C.S. Lewis
Have you noticed that you’re making progress through the conversations that you’re having with your partner and then suddenly something changes? One partner brings up a seemingly minor event and then it feels as though the polar vortex is between you? Well, that “minor event” is actually a big deal to one of you and are called “relationship traumas”. These traumas cause us to feel fear and a sense of helplessness and until they are repaired, the edges of our relationship will continue to fray at the edges (Hold Me Tight, 168). Unresolved traumas should not be left by the wayside because you feel a sense of dread in bringing them up. The most important thing when talking about these traumas with your partner is to exercise empathy, compassion, and courage so that the other person does not continue to feel isolated.
Six Steps to Forgiveness:
As difficult as it may be, the hurting partner needs to address his or her pain in an open and simple manner.
The injuring partner needs to acknowledge the hurt that they’ve caused.
Reverse your roles and try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes.
Take responsibility for the hurt that you’ve caused your partner and express a sincere apology.
The injured partner needs to express how and what the other person can do to bring closure to the trauma.
Define the new truth of the trauma by describing how you confronted the issue and began to take steps to heal.
The Sign of the Cross:
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
“As long as we walk on this earth, suffering will always be the touchstone of love. If we were to describe what occurs in the married state, we could say that there are two sides to the coin. On the one hand, there is the joy of knowing that one is loved, the desire and enthusiasm involved in starting a family and taking care of it, the love of husband and wife, the happiness of seeing the children grow up. On the other hand, there are also sorrows and difficulties — the passing of time that consumes the body and threatens the character with the temptation to bitterness, the seemingly monotonous succession of days that are apparently always the same. We would have a poor idea of marriage and of human affection if we were to think that love and joy come to an end when faced with such difficulties. It is precisely then that our true sentiments come to the surface. Then the tenderness of a person’s gift of himself takes root and shows itself in a true and profound affection that is stronger than death.”
- St. Josemaria Escriva
For the Married (together if possible):
Lord Jesus Christ, You permit suffering to be a part of every human life, but You will that our afflictions be fruitful and redemptive. Help us to receive the trials and sufferings of our married life in a truly Christian spirit: as a way of making up for our sins and of bringing down many graces upon ourselves and others. May we, as husband and wife, be present to each other during times of suffering; may we never willingly cause each other to suffer. But grant that we might be strong with the strength of Your love, persevering and growing in our love until death. Amen.
For the Engaged and the those seriously considering this commitment of married love (together if possible):
Lord Jesus Christ, we ask You to prepare us for the self-giving that marriage will ask of us. We know that our married life will be joyful and fulfilling only to the extent that we model our love on Your self-sacrificing love. Especially in times of trial and hardship, may we embrace the difficulties that You permit with a spirit of love and courage. Enlighten our minds and strengthen our hearts to receive all of the sufferings of married life with confidence in Your providence and mercy. Amen.
All close by praying:
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we give our hearts to you.
Offer one Hail Mary together, inviting Our Blessed Lady to pray for you.
In the name of the Father, and the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
on Sunday, March 24, 2019 at 2:00AM