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For Your Marriage

“Marriage and Mercy” Retreat Day Two: Mercy and the Sacraments

Quote for reflection:
“Husbands and wives should take up the burden appointed to them, willingly, in the strength of faith… Let them implore the help of God with unremitting prayer and, most of all, let them draw grace and charity from that unfailing fount which is the Eucharist. If, however, sin still exercises its hold over them, they are not to lose heart. Rather must they, humble and persevering, have recourse to the mercy of God, abundantly bestowed in the Sacrament of Penance.” – Bl. Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae, no. 25

Breaking open the theme:
Bl. Paul VI talks about the “burden” given to husbands and wives of living their marriage faithfully day in and day out. While that might at first sound like a harsh word, not many spouses would disagree that on some days at least, marriage can feel burdensome! The pope goes on to lay out something of an “action plan” for spouses who want to keep their marriage strong: regularly receive the Eucharist, the “unfailing fount” of all grace and strength; and go often to the Sacrament of Penance, where God’s mercy is found in abundance. To hear the words “…and I absolve you from your sins” brings tremendous peace, as well as the strength to overcome sins in the future.

Real-life example:
While John and Marissa didn’t go to confession as much as they would have liked – it always seemed hard to find the time, especially on Saturday afternoons – there was no doubt that they felt a difference whenever they did go. After receiving the sacrament, Marissa noticed that she could be calmer when she felt frustrated with her husband, and John found it easier to say “I’m sorry” to his wife after saying it to God in the confessional. Both resolved to make confession a more regular part of their life as a family.

Put it into practice:

  1. Pray: Memorize the Prayer of Contrition said during the Sacrament of Penance. Even outside of the confessional, it can help spur you on to love of God and growth in virtue.
  2. Reflect: Do you feel closer to God after confession? Closer to your spouse? Why might that be?
  3. Do: Block off on your calendar a regular time for confession for the whole family, like every third Saturday (for example). If you don’t make it sometimes, don’t fret; but do make an effort.

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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