Husband & Wife Articles


The Hardest Five Words

‘Tis the season to be. . .forgiving

By Kimberly Quatela

With the season of Advent upon us, we see signs of the holidays all around us: houses decorated with strings of brightly colored lights, trees strapped to the tops of minivans, stores stocked with gifts, mail-order catalogs offering delivery in time for Christmas, and radio stations debuting their ever-growing playlist of “holiday” music.

We wait in anticipation — of what?

I will be the first to admit that it becomes very easy at this time of year to get wrapped up in worldly concerns. So-called Black Friday. What gifts need to be bought? Who is coming for Christmas dinner? Where are the hooks for the stockings on the mantle? What will the boys wear for Christmas pictures and when will we ever find time to take them? These are not bad considerations, but they are secondary to the event and the Person we celebrate.

As I was reflecting on what to write about in these columns over the next four weeks, this reading from St. Paul came to mind, telling me what should be my focus this season. To prepare for Christ’s birth means ‘tis the season to be forgiving, loving, peaceful, grateful, and praising:

Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one Body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him (1 Colossians 3:12-17).

Over these next few weeks, let us look together at what it means to live out these virtues in our busy lives as we eagerly await Jesus’ arrival into this world as a tiny baby.

Let’s start with forgiveness.

When I was newly engaged, I remember hearing advice from a family friend who was married for 60 years, that there are five words that I need to remember and say often: “I love you” and “I’m sorry.”

No truer words have ever been spoken to me!

As a wife of four years and mother of two young boys, I know how these five words hold us together as a family. It is because of our love for our spouse and our children that we say we are sorry and ask forgiveness. Married love is being a gift of self to your spouse, which often times means putting aside your pretenses, your ego, your selfish desires, and humbly saying, “I’m sorry,” when we fail to do those things.

Lucky for us, we are created in love by God himself who is love. He seeks us to draw closer to him, even though we are sinners. Pope Francis, in his book The Church of Mercy speaks about our loving Father’s desire for us to draw close to him:

He writes: “We all carry our sins with us. But the Lord wants to hear us say to him, ‘Forgive me, help me to walk, change my heart!’ And the Lord can change your heart. God will come to meet you because he is always waiting for you — God is always waiting for you. God embraces you, kisses you, and celebrates. That is how the Lord is, that is how the tenderness of our heavenly Father is.”

What are some small ways that I will seek to be a more forgiving wife and mother during this time of Advent anticipation? How about a short daily examination of conscience at the end of the day? Or receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation before Mass this weekend? Or going out of my way to kiss and hug my rambunctious children when they are naughty, before raising my voice and needing to ask for forgiveness? Or sending a note to a family member who has wronged me in the past? Or doing the hardest thing, which is rolling over in bed, kissing my husband, and saying the five words I was encouraged to say daily.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI says, “Holiness does not consist in never having erred or sinned. Holiness increases the capacity for conversion, for repentance, for willingness to start again and, especially, for reconciliation and forgiveness.”

Let us strive, over these next four weeks, to grow in holiness in our current vocation.

Kimberly Quatela lives in Yonkers, New York, with her husband, Steve, and their two children. She is Family Faith Formation Coordinator for the Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut.