Friday 10th April 2015: Divine Forgiveness, Compassion and Mercy.

Happy Easter and blessings be abundant in your homes and families this joyous season. As we approach the great Feast of Divine Mercy Sunday, instituted by the great Pope St. John Paul II – the pope of the family – I think it’s worth pondering on what mercy, compassion and forgiveness look and feel like in a family, between spouses, between parents and children and between siblings etc.

The old saying ‘blood is thicker than water’, which is often a commonplace ordinary way of describing how families find ways of eventually overcoming old hurts and wrongs between each other, is I suppose a tiny sign of just how powerful sacramental the ties of love and affection are that permeate every family’s unique identity in the Father. It is also a useful motif for reminding Christian families and households in particular how, by continually expressing forgiveness and healing within themselves day in day out, some times hour by hour, and one is exasperated as a parent with disobedient children, it has to be mercy on tap minute by minute! The continuing cycle of hurting, offending – often unintentionally – followed by sorrowing, forgiving, embracing and holding is proof that the family, “with marriage at its heart” as Cardinal Nichols once put it, is a sacrament.

And what’s a sacrament at the end of the day but the outward sign of inward grace. So when at times, and it can feel its very often, we don’t sense the actual and sanctifying grace of God’s presence in our daily family life and toil and sweat and sacrifice, think again. The reality of the Triune presence in our marriages and families is perhaps less obvious precisely because in sacramental terms, it is more inward – hidden – than we at first realise but that we can tap, pierce open that reality if we allow ourselves to become consciously aware of it.

I use the word ‘pierce’ deliberately for when the soldier pierced the side of Christ with the lance, out came “blood and water” – get it? The blood to redeem us and the water to cleanse us of all our sins to bring us the eternal life of our heavenly home is under different species so to speak, present in the ‘blood is thicker than water’ reality of our ties of love and affection in our own home. This is such a vast mystery to fathom and so clearly linked to how we as families deepen our love for each other by immersing ourselves in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass week by week – and daily wherever possible – that it’s no wonder the solemn Feast of Corpus Christi -the Body and Blood of the Lord- had to be instituted so as to give us additional time and motive to understand the Real Presence of the risen and glorified Christ throughout Easter.
One practical thing we can do is at least accompany our children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews and any godchildren if possible to visit Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and if at all possible take advantage of any opportunities to attend Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction. In other words, to just BE in His Presence and drink in that blood and water from His side so that the blood and water coursing through our veins as family members is redolent with His Most Precious Blood enabling us to always forgive one another ‘not seven times, but seventy times seven.’

– Edmund Adamus
Director, Office of Marriage and Family Life – Diocese of Westminster


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