So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15). Guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for by professing it some have missed the mark as regards faith (1 Tim. 6:21-22).

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Without... .

Without truth, there is no mercy.
Without joy, there is no hope.
Without love, there is no justice.
Without justice, there is no peace.

As we enter into the experience of Divine Mercy Sunday, perhaps we can mediate on which ways we can best express mercy when we encounter someone who is lost or isolated, angry or afraid, harbouring a grudge or feeling unworthy.
The confessional is not a torture chamber, but the place in which the Lord's mercy motivates us to do better.—Pope Francis.
We can choose to frame our visits with a friend or stranger around consideration of his or her person. The dignity of one's partner in dialogue should be the first thought at meeting and the last thought at parting company. What Blessed John Henry Newman spoke concerning the goal of the preacher is equally true of anyone engaged in conversation:
The preacher's object is the spiritual good of his hearers. "Finis praedicanti sit", says St Francis de Sales; "ut vitam (justitiae) habeant homines, et abundantius habeant".—Blessed John Henry Newman.
We should first shape conversation around an exchange of hearts. A heart that knows suffering can recognize suffering in another person. Yes, there is a time when a discussion of the behaviour which causes suffering will likely enter into the picture. If we are to lead others home to the Church and Jesus Christ, we must first use a vocabulary of engagement to draw attention to the joy of living a life with Christ in one's heart. Earn trust, then expand the conversation to include a call to embrace change. Love is both gentle and firm. Start with the gentle; progress to the firm.

We... .
  1. listen. Just listen.
  2. pray silently for the person by asking Jesus to embrace them and by asking Jesus to help you be a channel of His mercy.
  3. focus first on the person with whom we are speaking.
  4. understand who they are before we consider what they have done. Offer reassurance that God understands every human fear or hurt.
  5. let them tell us the things they have done which have kept or is keeping them from peace. Why are you holding on to ... ?
  6. propose an alternative to misery: offer hope in Jesus Christ.
  7. propose an alternative to isolation: offer community in the Church.
  8. do not try to solve a problem; offer to pray for the person. "Would you mind if I pray for you?"
  9. identify goodness in their lives. Draw attention to that goodness and offer it as a sign of hope.
  10. remind someone to live in the present. "Perhaps it's time to let go of whatever is keeping you from peace."
  11. offer consolation to the suffering. Reassure people that their suffering is known to God and that, when we embrace Him in prayer, especially in the Mass, He gives us His strength to help us enter more deeply into the suffering in order to understand it and overcome it. God shares our suffering. We encounter that most deeply when we pray the Mass.
Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.—Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.
By practicing mercy, we educate the heart. We become the thing which we practice.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.—St. Matthew 5:7.
Love exerts a gentle and persistent pressure of truth on the soul to change.

Without Jesus informing our mission, the exercise of mercy is merely a feel good moment to absolve ourselves from guilt over inaction. Or worse, a merciful act concocted with out reference to charity, i.e., sacrificial love, can be manipulative and demeaning to both offerer and recipient. Without Jesus, without His grace to sustain us and inform mission, mercy is a job not a vocation, a burden not a blessing.

Validating Mercy

Litmus test #1: The sign of true mercy is that you have gotten to know someone, a person, not mere satisfaction for having done something to or for someone. The sure sign of mercy is a new and deeper communion with someone.

Litmus test #2: By offering a spiritual or corporal work of mercy, you are not looking for something in return.

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