Mercy Bible Study: Session 1 Reflection

How did you make out with the readings? Interesting, right?! This is going to be a great study!

Mercy Bible Study Session 1 Reflection

Image by ToniaD (2015) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

In Session One, Fr. Mitch focuses on “human mercy” and broke each section down loosely based on three types of mercy: Wicked people whose mercy is really cruelty or merciless, so-called religious people whose mercy is selective (they will not forgive the “great sinners”), and the fact that people do not stay faithful to their commitment to principles, thus showing that God’s mercy is far greater than human mercy.

In writing about the wicked people who do not show mercy, Father points out the interconnection between mercy and forgiveness. You can not have one without the other. He uses scripture, especially Matthew 6:12-15. Father reminds us of Jesus’ words, “Forgive the wrongs done to you by a neighbor and your sins will be forgiven” (Pacwa, 22).

Next, Father Mitch goes on to relate healing with mercy and then finally he writes about how God’s mercy is infinitely more real and superior to human mercy. However, for this reflection, I want to focus on the aspect of forgiveness because it is something we (I) struggle with.

At the end of the chapter, one of the discussion questions is “What is the relationship of forgiveness to mercy? (pg 30)? Of course, when we read the chapter, we learn that the relationship between the two is everything. You can not have forgiveness without mercy and you can not have mercy without forgiveness. (Tweet This)

And yet, forgiveness can be SO HARD. When people hurt us (especially when we think the person hurt us on purpose), the last thing we think about is forgiving them. At least, not I! I grumble, nurse my wounds, and sometimes even wish revenge on the person. And yet, Jesus commands us to forgive, to show mercy. If we wish gain forgiveness we most offer forgiveness.

I guess, for some of us, our pride blinds us to the fact that we are sinners, too. We hurt people, either knowingly or unknowingly. We are in no position to judge or hold back forgiveness from others. Thus, is our mission in this year of mercy.

This chapter has challenged me. It has pushed me to remember my failings and to be more compassionate and merciful to those who most need it. What about you? What are your thoughts about the correlation between forgiveness and mercy? Was there something else in the chapter that struck a chord with you? Do share!

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You can’t have mercy without forgiveness or forgiveness without mercy

Ten Ways to Get The Most Out of Lent

(repost)

As you know this week is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. I *LOVE* Lent. I do. Really! Lots of us cradle Catholics find the fasting and sacrifices of Lent a drudgery. Others ignore Lent altogether. Not me. I see Lent as a mini New Year. A new beginning and another chance to re-charge the batteries in my relationship with the Lord.

10 Ways to Get the Most out of Lent

Here are some ideas for you to spend your time this Lent. (Btw, if you read my “Making Advent Meaningful” post, you’ll notice some of the suggestions are the same. That’s because there are some things – like the Mass and rosary – that are worth being reminded of again. 🙂 )

1. Daily Mass. Since the Eucharist the the “source and summit of our faith”, it stands to reason that daily mass should be on top of our Lenten “to-do” list!

2. Adoration. Next to the mass, adoration is the next best thing – especially if you are unable to make it daily mass for whatever reason. More and more parishes are offering at least monthly or weekly exposition and adoration (and some have perpetual adoration) of the Blessed Sacrament, so try and snag a half hour each week if you can!

3. Stations of the cross. The Stations of the Cross is a beautiful way to remember the passion of the Lord. Again, most parishes have Stations of the Cross once or twice each Friday of Lent. If you can’t make it to church, you can get some beautiful pamphlets for next to nothing and pray they them at home with your family.

4. Forgive. Through Jesus, our sins are forgiven and so that we may receive mercy. One of the best (and hardest!) ways to show gratitude for the Lord’s goodness is to forgive those who have hurt us – especially if the transgression was grievous. Just as hard, if  not even harder, is forgiving ourselves. Or sometimes we hold on to grudges and anger, even when we can’t remember how a particular person has hurt us! If you see yourself in any of these scenarios, maybe you can pray the Lord opens your heart to forgiving someone who has hurt you, or praying that He will help you forgive yourself? Even the prayer that He helps you to WANT to forgive would be a great start…

5. Pray the Liturgy of the Hours. The morning and evening prayers of the Liturgy of the hours are always beautiful, but especially during the Lenten season.  It is the official prayer of the church, and when you pray the Liturgy of the Hours, you are united will all the faithful around the world who are praying it with you!

6. Go to confession. It’s called the Sacrament of Reconciliation now, but whatever you call it, there’s no better way (besides the mass!) to prepare for Easter. There will be (or should be) many Penance services around your diocese, so you should be able to find one that fits in your schedule.

7. Watch the Passion of the Christ. Yes, watching the Passion of the Christ is painful. It’s in your face. It renders us speechless. And it should. What Jesus endured for our sake wasn’t “touchy feely” or a walk in the park. It was ugly, but our sin in even uglier, and sometimes we (I) need something like this movie to remind us (me) just how much Jesus loves us and was willing to endure for us.

8. Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet. Who says you have to wait for the Divine Mercy Sunday Novena to pray the chaplet? It’s a short but perfect prayer for Lent. I also try and read parts, if not most, of Saint Faustina’s diary during Lent, too.

9. Pray the the Scriptures. Next to participating in the Sacraments, there is no better way to deepen our relationship with the Lord than Scripture.  Spending as little as five minutes a day with His Word can transform your life. (New to reading the Bible? Read this guide on how to pray the Scriptures.)

10. Fast. All through Lent we will be hearing about fasting. It’s good for the soul. It opens our eyes to the needs of others. it cleanses us of our base passions. But, fasting isn’t just giving up food, or even television (both of which are excellent). This year, why don’t we fast from anger, sloth or any of the other “capital sins” and try to feast on its opposing virtue? (I know my diet has been terribly deprived of patience lately! 😉 )

Now, don’t feel pressured to do all of these activities. Remember, the focus is to deepen our relationship with Christ not add on more to-dos! Start out small. Pick one to three activities and focus on those. Lent is not a competition or race to see how much you can do. It is about focusing on a few things and doing them well so that you can focus on growing deeper in your relationship with the Lord, not exhaust yourself.

So tell us, what are your suggestions for making Lent special for you this year?

P.S. For a printable version of this list go here to subscribe. Subscribers, go to your private page to download the list.

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Mercy Bible Study Introduction Reflection

Mercy Bible Study Intro Reflection

Image by ToniaD (2015) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

For this month’s bible study we were to read the introduction pages 13-18. This short chapter is loaded with thought-provoking nuggets. It starts out, of course, by laying out the purpose and sequence of the book. Then Fr Pacwa shows the connection between Saint John Paul II’s  forced labor experience in World War II and his experience of mercy – and why it is relevant. Then it goes on to explain why the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the devotion to His Divine Mercy are intertwined and dearly needed.

For those who are not familiar with either devotion, there are two inserts, once that gives a blurb about the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and a larger blurb about the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I love how Fr. Pacwa reminds us of the amazing promises offered to those who participate in the devotion of the Sacred Heart.

My favorite quote from this section comes toward the end of the introduction:

“A rediscovery of God’s role in history, the importance and benefit of authentic religion, and the need for merciful forgiveness of our rejection of God and his laws will be a tremendous boon for modern people to learn, to extend mercy to fellow human beings equally made in the image and likeness of God.”

This passage struck me because sometimes we have to look into the past before we can go forward. Fr. Pacwa reminds us that we need to step back, regroup, and remember where we came from so that we can go forward as ambassadors of Christ for our fellow people.

Would you agree? What are your thoughts on this chapter or on the above quote?

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You Always Have a Choice

You Always Have a ChoiceI have a confession to make: I can be pretty impatient at times. I pride myself (therein lies the real problem!) as being very efficient, which can be a definite plus  until I take it too far. That’s why I call myself a recovering perfectionist. {wry smile} It’s very easy for me to get caught up in making everything “just so” that I sometimes forget the purpose behind what I am doing. This often leads me to becoming impatient when I have to wait for someone/something or if things don’t go the way I expect.

This impatience very often comes front and center in my relationship with my son. Every evening during night prayer, I have Andrew ask God for forgiveness for anything he may need forgiveness for during the day. Then we ask forgiveness of each other for anything we may have done or said that may have hurt the other person.

So, many times I have to apologize to Andrew for having been impatient with him during the day, especially when I over-react to his normal boyish behavior. One time during our nightly ritual he says to me, “You know, Peter Parker says you always have a choice (a reference to a line in the 3rd Spiderman movie), so you have choice to be nice or a choice not be patient.” (!)

Of course, I took the opportunity to remind him that he, too, always has a choice. He has a choice to be obedient, and do his chores and homeschooling cheerfully, etc.  We then proceeded to have an interesting (and cute!) conversation about what making choices are all about and how the choices we make can shape our lives.

Afterward, our conversation really got me thinking, and I still think about the conversation from time to time. We, as individuals, really do always have a choice – and not just about choosing to be patient or not being patient. We have  choices to make all throughout the day and, often,  NOT choosing is a choice. And I don’t know about you, but I frequently go through the day on autopilot and not always being conscious of the choices I am are making. That is why I have to make a point of being more intentional and focused.

Because each day I have the opportunity to consciously:

  • choose to live for and depend on God
  • choose to take time to pray and delve into The Word of God
  • choose to make my home a haven for my family
  • choose to reach out to a friend or family in need or just to make them smile
  • choose to live in integrity and love
  • choose to take a stand for what I believe in
  • choose to carry out my responsibilities cheerfully (and, yes, choose to be patient!)

Or, I can stay on autopilot:

  • choose to rely on my own self
  • choose to live in selfishness
  • choose to not respond in love toward others
  • choose to shirk my responsibilities
  • choose to not make a choice!

It’s up to me. I can take the steps to change by being more aware of my choices and actions AND when I get impatient to step back, assess the situation, and change my response. It won’t be easy but with God’s grace it is doable!

What about you? Do you struggle with living on autopilot or making conscious choices each day? Or am I alone in this?! 🙂 How do you counteract the autopilot tendency or impatience? Let’s pray for each other so that we all consciously choose what is most important: God and others (especially our families).

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