In this Year of Mercy I have been praying about how God wants me, personally, to be more merciful. I have had insights about this, but also had a revelation I did not expect.
Like many Catholic women, I spend much of my time caring for others: my mom, my husband, my children, my church community and my students. It is a role I cherish and one in which I find it fairly easy to be merciful. God has given most women tender hearts. They are strong, but break easily. Our hearts can endure sadness and pain with courage; the same hearts make us cry at the plight of orphaned children in the world.
I have discovered that person I have the most trouble being merciful to is…me. I realized that a call to mercy also means a call to show ourselves the same mercy we show to others. The spiritual works of mercy as listed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church are:
To counsel the doubtful
To instruct the ignorant
To admonish sinners
To comfort the afflicted
To forgive offenses
To bear wrongs patiently
To pray for the living and the dead
If you question whether you too are guilty of forgetting mercy in your own life, ask yourself the following questions to uncover the answer.
Do I take time to read Scripture that will bring me hope when I am in a place of doubt? Do I seek friends, pastors, or others that will provide me with answers on issues of faith when I need them?
Do I look up information in the Catechism of the Catholic Church to increase my own knowledge of faith? Do I allow myself to go on religious retreats, days of prayer or Catholic Conferences?
Am I afraid to make a strong examination of conscience? Or, conversely, do I become scrupulous when looking at my own sinfulness without recognizing (and making allowances for) my own fallen human nature?
Do I care for myself when I am tired, hungry, sick or overwhelmed? (These are also corporal works of mercy.) Do I push myself beyond the expectations I would ever set for others? Do I feel guilty when I take a needed break?
Do I show myself mercy and forgiveness when I mess up or do I let those sins beat me up as they replay again and again in my head?
Am I patient with myself when trying to overcome a bad habit, cultivate a virtue or learn a new lesson?
Do I remember (within my long list of intentions for those I love) to pray to Our Lord for the things and graces I need? Do I truly believe I am worthy of His love and the gifts He wants to bless me with?
God desires mercy for you. Let this new year begin an embrace of that mercy in your life.
Copyright 2016 Mary Lou Rosien