This morning, I rose at 4:25 and immediately checked to see if Pope Francis had opened the Holy Door yet. (Of course he hadn’t; I wasn’t sure what time it was in Rome.) But I was excited to begin the Year of Mercy with the Blessed Mother, today being the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the woman who received and lived such great mercy that “Mother of Mercy” could easily be her most fitting title after “Mother of God.”
Like many other sisters in my community–and many readers here, I’m sure–I’ve been praying with Dives in Misericordia (St. John Paul II’s Encyclical on Mercy, published in 1980), and Misericordiae Vultus for a few weeks now. Last night, I fell asleep to the questions, “How do I want to live this Jubilee Year of Mercy? What will this Year of Mercy mean for me?”
I have to confess that for me, mercy has always been an occasion of deep, heartfelt thanksgiving. But it’s never been a virtue that I’ve thought very much about practicing, except when I’ve struggled to forgive others. Now that I have this opportunity to focus on mercy, both receiving it and extending it, I would like to also give my writing special focus on mercy as well.
In a special way as a communicator of Christ, I can connect with the Spiritual Works of Mercy:
- To instruct the ignorant
- To counsel the doubtful
- To admonish sinners
- To bear wrongs patiently
- To forgive offenses willingly
- To comfort the afflicted
- To pray for the living and the dead
How can I be a communicator of mercy this year, not just in my life but especially through my writing? In addition to various projects we are working on together here at Pauline Books & Media, I came up with a few more ideas:
- Write and highlight stories about mercy in my writing
- Visit more often the online sites where I have previously connected with those who are sincerely seeking to understand the Church’s teaching, and “hang out” there to answer questions about faith and the spiritual life as best I can
- More thoughtfully practice the works of mercy in my life and write about those experiences
- Write more about the way the Church practices mercy, especially the sacraments of mercy
- Open my heart more fully to the needs of the world, especially those for whom mercy is not a way of life…perhaps because they have not received mercy as I have, and be open to where God leads me
- Review movies that explore the theme of mercy (see link to Sr. Rose Pacatte’s article about “The Cinema of Mercy” below); perhaps even put together a series of cinema divina guides for movies that explore the theme of mercy more deeply
- Finish my “blogging a book”!
- To integrate the theme of mercy in the one-day and three-day retreats I am developing
I would love to hear how you hope to live the Year of Mercy, whether in your personal life, your writing life, your ministry, your family, etc. If you share your ideas here, you may inspire me or someone else in their living this grace-filled year!
There are many wonderful resources for the Year of Mercy. (You can launch your celebration of the Year of Mercy by reading what it’s all about here in Sr. Kathryn Hermes’ insightful article.) Here are a few of my favorites:
- The Face of Mercy or Misericordiae Vultus (available as a pamphlet or downloadable free online), the Bull of Indiction announcing the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy and Pope Francis’s motivations for announcing the Jubilee, as well as his hopes for how mercy can transform and heal our world today
- The U.S. Catholic Bishops offer a whole slew of resources for the Year of Mercy, including monthly reflections on The Face of Mercy that are for individuals and group sharing
- The Jubilee Year of Mercy website from the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization
- Sr. Rose Pacatte’s beautiful reflection on “The Cinema of Mercy: the Face of Mercy” with a list of films on the theme of mercy
- Pauline publications on mercy
- www.CatholicMom.com‘s free Checklists for the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy for Busy Moms
- Year of Mercy resources from various Catholic publishers, notably:
- Our Sunday Visitor, with their free app, 365 Days to Mercy
- Catholic Relief Services, with multiple resources and ways to live and encourage others to live, mercy.