Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Merciful love...



It is mercy I desire, not sacrifice.
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In his encyclical, Dives in Misericordia, John Paul II goes into great depth to explain that mercy is love - in other words, human beings experience the love of God as mercy in this life.  The encyclical is so dense I do not want to attempt to discuss it here - JPII's writings are sometimes exasperatingly loaded.    It seems to me that the simplest example of this is the doctrine of Therese of Lisieux; the surrender of the soul to merciful love.  The practical application of which seems to me to be her 'little way' of confidence and love, as well as the devotion revealed to St. Faustina, the Devotion to the Divine Mercy.  John Paul II promulgated this devotion throughout his papacy, and established the Second Sunday of Easter as its feast.
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This year as I pray the novena in preparation for the feast, I am more aware than ever of the Risen Christ and the Paschal Mystery, which is why I think I see the devotion as filling that empty spot in the heart as a result of Good Friday and Holy Saturday.  For me it can only be filled, completed by the Risen Christ, revealing his Divine Mercy to all of those he appeared to in this Holy Week following the Resurrection... deep calling unto deep.
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The Paschal Mystery is the culmination of this revealing and effecting of mercy, which is able to justify man, to restore justice in the sense of that salvific order which God willed from the beginning in man and, through man, in the world. The suffering Christ speaks in a special way to man, and not only to the believer. The non-believer also will be able to discover in Him the eloquence of solidarity with the human lot, as also the harmonious fullness of a disinterested dedication to the cause of man, to truth and to love. And yet the divine dimension of the Paschal Mystery goes still deeper. The cross on Calvary, the cross upon which Christ conducts His final dialogue with the Father, emerges from the very heart of the love that man, created in the image and likeness of God, has been given as a gift, according to God's eternal plan. God, as Christ has revealed Him, does not merely remain closely linked with the world as the Creator and the ultimate source of existence. He is also Father: He is linked to man, whom He called to existence in the visible world, by a bond still more intimate than that of creation. It is love which not only creates the good but also grants participation in the very life of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. For he who loves desires to give himself. - Dives
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'Day unto day takes up the story and night unto night makes known the message.'

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It seems to me the breaking of the Lenten fast, the Alleluias of Easter Day, are only the beginning of understanding what takes place even now - 'the Lord has truly been raised and he has appeared to Simon.'  Perhaps it explains why Easter Week is considered as one day.  - Mercy is poured out: 'Day unto day takes up the story and night unto night makes known the message.'
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This year I have been wondering how I can continue to live with such distraction, arguing and discussing to no avail the evils which surround us in the world, in our day to day lives?  I wonder how I can hope for mercy when I snap and pass judgement on others because they disagree with me or the teachings of the Church?  When I pretend to know who is truly Catholic and who is not?  How can I demonstrate mercy when I react with bitterness to others, when I condemn persons because of the erroneous beliefs they hold?  Or even petty disagreements regarding the interpretation of rubrics and discipline?  How do I know that Christ is not calling them exactly where they are in their journey?  What if one act of kindness, of hospitality is what that soul needs to believe that God loves them, that his mercy is there, right now, in the present moment?
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I often think of St. Therese who once wished she could live amongst prostitutes in a brothel so that she could show them the merciful love of God.  Likewise I consider St. Simon Salus, who left the desert to live amongst the outcasts, criminals, and whores, to show, to be merciful love amidst the unlovable.  How could they do that if they spent all of their time condemning the sin and sneering and scoffing at the sinner?
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Once again today I have come to realize how I've betrayed my own brothers by criticism and condemnation - as if I own the truth and they alone deny it.  What a clanging cymbal I have been, a sounding gong, because I have lived without mercy, without love.    

6 comments:

  1. I'm not at all sure how to address the problem you mention here as I too have this same issue as of late. A former priest used to tell me, "Keep fighting the good fight". It's all I can do... I think spiritual direction would do me some good...

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  2. +JMJ+

    You could always go to Settings and change Cymbals Default for Posts to "New Posts Do Not Have Cymbals".

    #UnsolicitedAdvice

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  3. Enbrethiliel - you have the best ideas. You always get my point too. That's why I like you.

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  4. Yeah. The going to live in a brothel thing seems like a good idea. However, in practice, it's all I can do to limit the amount of scandal I cause to the people to whom I am supposed to be showing the merciful love of God :/

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  5. The real way of showing this love that works for me is, as St Therese said, "Do little things with great love." In my case it means not to grumble when I have to make coffee at work for the umteenth time, as people like to drink coffee but not make coffee, and to wipe up the counters by the coffee to keep them looking nice and fresh. Now I'm at the point where I'm just about on auto-pilot..also random acts of kindness..

    i was shopping for Easter basket candy this past week when I saw a woman in the parking lot with the universal sign of car distress--hood up and her on the phone crying..she couldn't get ahold of husband or whoever. I asked if she needed help and she said her car wouldn't start. I gave her a jump--my dad showed me years ago how to jump-start a car-- and told her to go straight home as her battery may not be holding a charge. Her expression of gratitude was all the thanks I needed..she tried to give me money but naw.... happy Easter. Another way of "They'll know we are Christians by our love." Plus I believe that the Holy Spirit made me be in the right place at the right time...and learning how to recognize that.

    Sara

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