Compassion Means Accepting Others
Being patient does not mean letting ourselves be constantly mistreated, tolerating physical aggression, or allowing other people to use us. We encounter problems whenever we think that relationships or people ought to be perfect, or when we put ourselves at the center and expect things to turn out our way. Then everything makes us impatient, everything makes us react aggressively. Unless we cultivate patience, we will always find excuses for responding angrily. We will end up incapable of living together, antisocial, unable to control our impulses, and our families will become battlegrounds. That is why the word of God tells us: “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, with all malice” (Eph 4:31). Patience takes root when I recognize that other people also have a right to live in this world, just as they are. It does not matter if they hold me back, if they unsettle my plans, or annoy me by the way they act or think, or if they are not everything I want them to be. Love always has an aspect of deep compassion that leads to accepting the other person as part of this world, even when he or she acts differently than I would like.
—Pope Francis, Amoris Laetitia, 92
How often do you put yourself at the center and expect things to turn out as you wish? What attitudes could you adopt that would help you be more patient and compassionate?
Holy Spirit, we don’t want to react impatiently and aggressively. When we are tempted in this way, show us the truth: that other people have a right to live in this world just as they are. We repent of those times when we have treated others without mercy and compassion. Forgive us and give us the grace to be as patient as you are with us.
Speaking with Gentleness
To be open to a genuine encounter with others, “a kind look” is essential. This is incompatible with a negative attitude that readily points out other people’s shortcomings while overlooking one’s own. A kind look helps us to see beyond our own limitations, to be patient and to cooperate with others, despite our differences. . . . Those who love are capable of speaking words of comfort, strength, consolation, and encouragement. These were the words that Jesus himself spoke: “Take heart, my son!” (Mt 9:2); “Great is your faith!” (Mt 15:28); “Arise!” (Mk 5:41); “Go in peace” (Lk 7:50); “Be not afraid” (Mt 14:27). These are not words that demean, sadden, anger, or show scorn. In our families, we must learn to imitate Jesus’ own gentleness in our way of speaking to one another.
—Pope Francis, Amoris Laetitia, 100
How do you speak to your spouse and children? Are your attitudes and words gentle and loving? How often do they build up or tear down?
Jesus, help us to view our family through eyes of kindness. Curb our tongue so that we speak words of comfort and encouragement instead of harsh words that demean our loved ones. Transform our hearts to be like yours so that our words strengthen one another and our children rather than tear them down.
These selections are from Prayers for Catholic Couples (The Word Among Us Press, 2017). Available at wau.org/books