This weekend the Church celebrates Divine Mercy Sunday, the name and feast given the second Sunday of Easter by Saint John Paul II at Saint Faustina’s canonization seventeen years ago. The message of Divine Mercy is powerfully simple: Jesus longs to draw us intimately close to his Sacred Heart and to pour out his forgiveness and grace, if only we accept his invitation. “Know that as often as you come to Me,” Christ said to Faustina, “humbling yourself and asking My forgiveness, I pour out a superabundance of graces on your soul, and your imperfection vanishes before My eyes, and I see only your love and your humility. You lose nothing but gain much.”
As spouses are called to love and sanctify each other with Christ-like love, incorporating a Divine Mercy-oriented spirituality into your relationship, one fixed on the heart of Jesus, can make manifest his love in your sacramental life and in the practicals of discussion and problem-solving. Consider…
Setting regular confession dates.
The clearer the path between your soul and God, the better disposed you are to receive the graces he so desperately desires to bestow and the clearer the path between you and your fiancé or spouse. Because most parishes offer weekly confessions, it can be easy to put off reconciliation until next week, or the next, or the next. Designating one or two Saturdays a month to attend confession and Mass together, followed by a brunch or dinner date, keeps the both of you accountable for meeting Jesus in the sacrament, encourages frequent self-examination, and constantly forces you to your knees, aware of our deep need for the Father’s love and mercy.
Resolving arguments more simply.
This doesn’t necessarily mean hashing out every disagreement to perfection before allowing yourselves to move on; so many relational, family, or virtue-related issues are complex works in progress that aren’t always easily solved. What it does mean is being quick to acknowledge whatever your current struggle is and to meet it with love: listen without interruption, hold hands, use eye contact, and perhaps even offer a smile as you talk. Above all, be generous in forgiveness. A ready “I forgive you,” spoken sincerely and without a grudge, can ease small wounds and sharp words as you work through arguments.
Cultivating a constantly deeper openness to God’s will.
“Every hour is a precious boon,” sings Andrew Peterson. “Every breath is a mercy.” He’s right. It’s been said that Jesus’ message of mercy is closely tied to his providence and to the Father’s will for every person. If, in God’s greatness, perfect mercy is perfect love, then any occurrence in our lives can be viewed as a gift of love, even in suffering, because he wills for us to know him and who he is--in goodness, generosity, and tenderness. Develop a habit of asking Jesus to reveal to you his Father’s will, and of meaning it in a real way. A heart of obedience and service can be much easier to develop in theory than in practice, yet the more often we call upon Jesus to draw us into his heart and show us God’s loving mercy, the easier it becomes to take in and truly live out the words, “thy will be done.”
Entrusting yourselves to Our Lady.
The 1981 attempt on John Paul II’s life took place on the anniversary of Mary’s first appearance at Fatima, a date the Pope knew couldn’t be attributed to mere coincidence. Months later, he would set the bullet that pierced him into the crown of the official statue of Our Lady of Fatima. He called his journey to Portugal “a pilgrimage of thanksgiving ‘to the mercy of God...and the Mother of Christ,’” emphasizing that devotion to Mary points us directly at the heart of her son.
The closeness between Jesus’ Sacred Heart and Mary’s Immaculate Heart is so deep, so profound that it’s a mystery in every sense. The ultimate loving mother, Our Lady desires only to bring us to her son. Developing a devotion to her, through the Rosary or spoken prayer, frequently invoking her intercession, and/or through total consecration to her, infuses our own lives with an earthly taste of her deep love for and union with Christ.
Humility, forgiveness, rest: an encounter with the divine. Mercy abounds in countless, varied experiences of Jesus’ love and, with intention and purpose, can bring his love into your engagement and marriage in a tangible way.