Tuesday, March 25, 2014

"Go and learn the meaning of mercy" ... Because some people online don't get it.

Our Lord tells us, "It is mercy I desire, not sacrifice."

Lately many people online seem to have a problem understanding the concept of mercy.  I'm always surprised by that.  Even some priests.  One in particular, when he was newly ordained, understood mercy very well.  Like many others online, he now seems to think mercy is misunderstood, abused or taken for granted, even a sort of 'cheap grace'.  That's sad.

The present-day mentality, more perhaps than that of people in the past, seems opposed to a God of mercy, and in fact tends to exclude from life and to remove from the human heart the very idea of mercy. The word and the concept of "mercy" seem to cause uneasiness in man ... Bl. John Paul II

I think it would be good to go back and read what Blessed John Paul II wrote about mercy, and to study the Devotion to the Divine Mercy more closely - and even more importantly, to 'practice' mercy in our lives, and to pray the chaplet - as a means to learn the meaning of mercy, as well as obtain mercy for ourselves and others.

I've always understood Christian mercy as "divine love moved by (human) misery" which is the meaning of the word, misericordia.  God, who is rich in mercy, rushes to meet his prodigal son even before the son is able to confess and express his sorrow for his sin.  God's mercy seeks us and meets us even when we are caught in the brambles of sin.  The shepherd stoops down to grasp the lost sheep.  The Gospel is alive with mercy.  That is the "Good News"!

Today examples of mercy are needed - in real life.

For priests, perhaps the confessor St. Leopold Mandić is one such example.

Like an early desert father - he took upon himself the penances others thought he should be giving his penitents.  Isn't that kind?  Isn't that generous?  Isn't that love?  Isn't that mercy?  Carrying one an others burdens.  Being moved with pity by the weakness of our brothers.  St. Leopold made himself available for confession - like a watchman, he waited at the gates to reconcile those who passed by.

A couple of quotes from St. Leopold...

"Some say that I am too good. But if you come and kneel before me, isn't this a sufficient proof that you want to have God's pardon? God's mercy is beyond all expectation."
"Be at peace; place everything on my shoulders. I will take care of it." He once explained, "I give my penitents only small penances because I do the rest myself."
"A priest must die from apostolic hard work; there is no other death worthy of a priest."

Leopold suffered from esophagus cancer, which would ultimately lead to his death at age 76. On July 30, 1942, while preparing for the liturgy, he collapsed on the floor. He was then brought to his cell, where he was given the last rites. Friars that had gathered at his bed began singing the Salve Regina and saw that Leopold died as they sang "O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary." - Source

Padre Leopoldo wrote on a picture of the Blessed Virgin in 1927: "I. Fr. Leopoldo Mandie Zarevic. believe that the Blessed Virgin as Co-Redemptress of the human race is the moral cause of all grace - everything we receive comes from her fullness. "On one occasion he solemnly wrote: "The August Mother of God is in truth Co-Redemptress of the human race and source of all Grace. In fact, on the one hand we have in her the most perfect obedience to God's laws and, after her Son, the most perfect innocence: He, impeccable by His nature, she, impeccable by Grace. On the other hand we see her as Our Lady of Sorrows, as He was the Man of Sorrows. If, therefore, by eternal decree of God, the Immaculate Virgin was the moral victim of sorrow as her Son was the physical victim, and if God's avenging Justice found no shadow of fault in them, it follows: inevitably that they were paying the price of the sins of others, that is of mankind."

Showing mercy is a kindness.  Sometimes we can suffer something for other sinners unrepentant, unconverted, unconfessed - those far away.   We can pray and make sacrifices for sinners who have no one to pray for them.

It seems to me it is not enough to define mercy - we need to have mercy, to show mercy, to practice mercy.  Without counting, without measure, giving our shirt and our coat as well, going not one mile, but two, three, seven times seventy out of our way.

Before His own townspeople, in Nazareth, Christ refers to the words of the prophet Isaiah: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord." - Dives in Misericordia


  1. I have never seen such cruelty and viciousness as I have in the last year from Catholics on the internet. I feel like I am witnessing a rebirth of Jansenism.

    1. I think you are right - never thought of it that way.

      I can't believe the slanderous attacks against the Holy Father. I've activated comment moderation.

    2. Ah, Terry, you touch my heart with this one. As you well know, i believe that we cannot understand anything in the church today if we don't understand mercy "Blessed are the merciful, for they will obtain mercy." Our Lord told St. Faustina that she was to spread the message of Divine Mercy to prepare the world for the great and terrible day of His Second Coming, when He will be coming as Just Judge, and He said there will be no mercy then. I think too many people think that day of judgment is now.

      I see the words and actions of Pope Francis as drenched in mercy. I believe the reason people do not understand him is because they do not understand mercy.

  2. I wasn't really old enough to remember all the stuff hurled at John Paul II by some folks, and on the Internet not so much at Benedict, but what amazes me is the -- not criticism, but vitriolic, bitter hatred. Some Anglophone Catholics speak of him as *at best* a bumbling old fool who needs to get with the program and doesn't take the threats against the Church seriously enough.

    And it's not just the hatred for the Holy Father, but how people believe that if they have the truth, they can wield it as a sword to cut down their "enemies."

  3. +JMJ+

    This isn't a comment on what's happening on the Internet (which I've been managing to avoid, yay me), but on the idea of learning mercy. I began the Divine Mercy devotion ten years ago and have considered St. Faustina to be a special friend of mine for just as long, but I think I only started to learn what mercy means this year--or to be even more specific, this month. So for about a decade, I had thought of mercy as something you can give to someone whom you have no essential connection to--like giving alms to a stranger whose sufferings touched your heart but whom you might never have to think about again. Only very recently did I get a sense of mercy as work which can only happen in a body, like the circulation of blood.

    We are not isolated from each other, working out our salvation as individuals in vacuums; but we are so closely united that someone who has received more graces than another and is more disposed to prayer and to virtue can take a weaker member's burden as if it had always been his own. I am currently learning to do this in prayer, but it can be trickier to do it in the world and on the Internet. For instance, if someone's burden is ignorance and he has a mouthpiece in the media, what are we to do? How do we keep the mercy flowing now that we know amputation is out of the question?

    1. Now that is a very good insight. Thanks.

    2. Enbrethiliel, your comment about salvation in a vacuum reminded me of something I read in Sherry Weddell's book Forming Intentional Disciples , where she wrote along the lines of - we are not saved merely as individuals, but as members of the Body of Christ. We are in this together, and your insight with regards to mercy is so apropos. The hand cannot say to the foot, I do not need you. So with our gifts and charisms, we lead others to Christ, and we allow others to lead us (ie: be humble, be docile, let the head be the head, etc) with their gifts as well.

      And sometimes, people extricate themselves by their actions and choices, so we must extend mercy to them even at the expense of our own lives and reputations. "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

      All the while, begging God to show mercy to us, for many times, we don't know what we do either.

      It isn't so simple, being Christian. It's just simply right.

  4. ADTP - I'm not publishing your comments any longer. I don't read 'open letters' to the Pope. The blogger you link to informed me he has left the Church. Not sure if he is back, but the last I heard from him in February he left the fold. If he is back, praise God! There is no stability in the blogosphere, Catholic bloggers - even priests who write open letters - are not the Magisterium - nor are they even close to obtaining a curial position, much less a bishopric.

  5. We certainly all hope for mercy from our heavenly Father, but sometimes mercy entails tough love. I think that is what leads people sometimes to step over the line. I've started praying regularly for those with whom I vehemently disagree. (I won't name any names here, but I've had some on my blog.) And I do believe that scandals need to be exposed even when the scandals come from clerics. Otherwise, there is no mercy for those who are being led into sin. But it's a tough call and the manner we use to expose the scandal matters. May God give us all the cardinal virtues of faith, hope, and charity -- especially charity.

  6. Whenever I can, I love to SMILE at people, anywhere and everywhere. You never know who's walking-around with a very "heavy" heart and one little smile has the power to lift their spirits and feel a little joy inside!!... I read somewhere, long time, "why not practice the ""apostolate of the smile""?? Which started me thinking and smiling. BTW, that is such a sweet, little saint you posted about, st. Leonard Mandic; he reminds me of st. Padre Pio, only ever a bit more suffering. God bless and "smile" !!...


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