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For Your Marriage

“Marriage And Mercy” Retreat Day Three: Mercy Is Slow To Anger And Quick To Forgive

Quotes for reflection:
“Merciful and gracious is the Lord, slow to anger, abounding in kindness.” (Psalm 103:8)

“Jesus, who knows us well, teaches us a secret: don’t let a day end without asking forgiveness, without peace returning to our home, to our family. It is normal for husband and wife to quarrel…perhaps you were mad, perhaps plates flew, but please remember this: never let the sun go down without making peace! Never, never, never!” – Pope Francis, Address to Engaged Couples (2.14.14)

Breaking open the theme: 
In Pope Francis’ typical expressive style, we can picture vividly the strong emotions that can be present in a marriage during a disagreement: “…perhaps plates flew”! But drawing on the wisdom of the Scriptures (Eph 4:26), the Holy Father urges couples to follow a tried and true rule: forgive each other before the day is over. As the Psalmist says, the Lord shows his mercy by being “slow to anger.” What a beautiful image: imagine if spouses were slow to anger and quick to forgive, instead of the other way around.

Real-life example: 
Janice knew that she had a quick temper. Especially when she was tired, or when her plans were disrupted at the last minute, she just felt so angry. She often took it out on her husband Todd, and she always regretted it afterwards. Todd often felt like he was on eggshells around her, not knowing when the next outburst would come. Sincerely desiring change, Janice spoke with her spiritual director about ways to channel her anger and interact with Todd in a more loving, merciful way. For example, she learned to take a break – step away – when her feelings of anger threatened to overwhelm her. Over time, she made great strides in becoming “slow to anger.”

Put it into practice:

  1. Pray: Read together with your spouse Ephesians 4:25-32, which is packed with advice for daily life.
  2. Reflect: What are your anger “triggers”, the things that make you mad easily? Think about what might be behind them. How could you respond differently in those moments?
  3. Do: Put the words “slow to anger” somewhere in your home as a reminder to be more merciful.

Prayer for married couples: 
Almighty and eternal God,
You blessed the union of husband and wife
So that we might reflect the union of Christ with his Church:
look with kindness on us.
Renew our marriage covenant.
Increase your love in us,
and strengthen our bond of peace
so that, [with our children],
we may always rejoice in the gift of your blessing.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

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