This phrase is part of the official prayer for the Australian Year of Grace, which is currently running at the same time as the Year of Faith. During the last few months the number of situations I have been told about where spouses have separated, or where children have estranged themselves from their families, or where couples are undermining future marital relationships by cohabiting runs to far more than the fingers on both hands. The pain generated by these situations is enormous. Given that the good Lord has been continuously drawing my attention to them, perhaps it is time to think about some focused prayer for the healing of relationships.
At the same time that this has been going on, our study group over at www.ofgraceandfaith.blogspot.com has been learning about the purpose and sheer wonder of the sacraments. All of the sacraments are meant to draw us into deeper unity with God and with each other. Everything we do should work towards this, and the ministry of helping people become reconciled with God and with each other is the ordinary task of every believer. Having recently looked at the Sacrament of Penance, it became obvious that you can’t be more reconciled with God unless you are more reconciled with the people in your life; and vice versa. So if we truly want to grow in God’s Grace, we really do need – with His help – to patch up the relationships in our lives. Grudges, feuds, indifference, misunderstandings, quarrels and bitterness all have to make an exit from our lives.
Practically then, what can we do?
The first essential thing to do is to begin the process of reconciliation by going to the Sacrament of Penance and making a good confession, and to then make a commitment to return to that source of Grace regularly – at least monthly.
The second thing to do, particularly if you are an estranged spouse or a spouse whose marriage is going through rocky times, is to do the Double Great Novena (9 consecutive First Fridays and 9 consecutive First Saturdays together – Holy Communion both days of the month (Mass or Communion Service), Sacrament of Penance as close to those days as possible, on the First Saturday 5 decades of the Rosary together with substantial meditations on the mysteries). The Double Great Novena has a whole stack of magnificent promises attached to them, but the most important ones for our purpose are these: 5. Married couples will stay together, and if one has already left, he or she will return. 6. The members of their families will understand each other and persevere in faith. 15. If parents or other members of a family complete this novena, nobody from that family will be condemned to hell. (To read all 33 Promises, find a copy of ‘The Victorious Queen of the World – The spiritual diary of a contemporary mystic Sr Natalia of Hungary)
The third thing to do, particularly if you are hurting from a loved one locking you out of their lives, is to unite your tears with those of Our Lady. Of the various prayers that we pull out of our private ‘prayer arsenal’, the following prayer is one of the ‘big guns’ for especially difficult situations such as these.
The Rosary of Tears
Crucified Jesus! Kneeling at Your feet, we offer to You the tears of the one who, with deep and compassionate love, accompanied You on Your sorrowful way of the Cross. O Good Saviour, grant that we take to heart the teachings given us by the tears of Your Most Holy Mother, so that we may accomplish Your divine will on earth, and may be made worthy to honour and glorify You in Heaven throughout all eternity.
1st Tears. Those of the farewell between Mary and Jesus on Holy Thursday
2nd Tears. Those Mary shed when she heard that Jesus had been condemned to death and rejected in favour of Barabbas
3rd Tears. Those in her eyes and on her face as she met Jesus carrying His Cross to Calvary.
4th Tears. Those Mary shed as she saw Jesus stripped of His garments and as she saw all the wounds, bruises and scourges on His body.
5th Tears. Those Mary shed as she saw the blows driving the nails into the hands and feet of Jesus
6th Tears. All the tears Mary shed as she saw each twinge and tremor of agony of Jesus on the Cross until His death.
7th Tears. The tears Mary shed as she prepared the body of Jesus for burial.
For each set of tears pray,
Once: O Jesus! Behold the tears of the one who loved You most on earth, and who loves You most ardently in Heaven.
Seven Times: O Jesus! Hear our prayers, for the sake of the tears of Your most holy Mother
At the end, repeat three times…
O Jesus! Behold the tears of the one who loved You most on earth And who loves You most ardently in Heaven.
O Mary, Mother of Love, Mother of Sorrows, and Mother of Mercy! We beg you to unite your petitions with ours so that Your Divine Son, Jesus, to Whom we now turn in the name of Your Motherly tears, answers our prayers, and with the graces we ask for, grants us the kingdom of eternal life. Amen.
The fourth thing we can do is to pray for each other’s painful relationship situations, and to seek the prayers of others. So please send a comment seeking prayers – but do it in code so that no one can be offended. For example, please pray for J, for F, and for A who have all recently married and have essentially wiped their birth families from their minds and hearts. Please pray, too, for M.D., J.B, A.H-C, who are separated from their spouses. For K, J, M, C and M, all in various levels of co-habitation.
Our Lady, Queen of Families, pray for us.