MOSAIC Spring 2016 - Page 15

MERCIFUL LIKE THE FATHER Parishes as “Space for Mercy” Mercy depends upon hospitality, a state of constant openness to receive the generous, unbelievable goodness of God, and the readiness and willingness to allow others to enjoy that goodness with us. Mercy is space to receive. There is space in the heart of God for everyone in the world. When we are at our best, we rest peacefully with all others in our common home, the merciful heart of God. “Receiving well” means living the story of the Visitation. We put ourselves in the place of Zechariah and Elizabeth, joyfully accepting the surprises that God offers us—new beginnings and new missions just when we thought we had everything figured out. Elizabeth and Zechariah welcomed two unexpected guests, Jesus and Mary. In some way, every parish, every day, is Ein Karim, the home of Zechariah and Elizabeth. Our structures and our thinking may have aged, but we remain young when we see all events and people as gifts and opportunities. We are space, empty and ready to receive. How might this attitude of acceptance be lived out? Consider these questions: • Is there a spirit of welcome in the way people are received on our campus and into our buildings? • What is the attitude of the “front line” staff who greet people at the office, or Ministers of Hospitality who greet people at the doorways before worship service? • Do all parishioners think of themselves as Ministers of Hospitality? • As a priest or pastoral minister, do I carry myself in such a way that people feel free to interrupt me and enter my space? • Do we have an eye for spotting visitors or strangers? • Is our website inviting to visitors? • Do we see all weddings and funerals as occasions for evangelization? Mercy-in-Motion In the rhythm of every day and week, at the heart of all that happens in a parish is the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, our daily immersion into the timeless mercy of God. We make that mercy “concrete” and immediate in the liturgy. At Holy Name, we, as a staff and in our commissions, decided to emphasize the times within the liturgy when mercy is mentioned, always singing the Penitential Act, often using the Kýrie; giving emphasis to the Agnus Dei, and stressing the word “mercy” or “reconciliation” whenever it appears in the Eucharistic Prayer. In the homily and Prayers of the Faithful, we have been attentive to God’s mercy and our need to let it flow upon us, through us, and among us. Our petitions end with “Remembering your mercy, we pray . . .” Reaching out to potential new members of the parish, welcoming back the uncatechized or disenfranchised, and responding to those with needs are moments of grace for us as ministers. Sacred times of the year call for special celebrations of mercy. At Holy Name, our communal penance services last year were organized around some aspect of mercy. The Examination of Conscience for this Lent is on how the five senses can be windows for God’s mercy and means for sharing that gift with others. (A Lenten reflection aid to prepare for the Sacrament of Penance is available through the Holy Name website, hnchurch.org.) Our parish and school theme for 2015-16 is “Missionaries of Mercy,” emphasizing that mercy must be put “in motion” through attitudes and actions of service. Our parish council and commissions meditated on the Good Samaritan story, pledging to remember: At every moment, we are the ones needing mercy as well as the ones capable of extending mercy. Mercy Space/Mercy Time Converge Fr. Henri Nouwen, the popular writer on spirituality, used to say that mercy is lifting up the other so that we are “eyeball to eyeball.” Mercy restores dignity that may have been lost along the way. A merciful parish is one where pastor, staff, and all memAbove our two main church entrances at Holy Name Parish bers of the parish readily and willingly acknowledge failures and are signs that proclaim “Encountering Mercy.” Our Evangelilimitations yet are confident that we are beloved and capable of zation Commission chose to use a gerund—the word “encounbeing ministers of t ][YHY\H\ˈY\[ ]\\['x%X]\HY\H\HZ]وH[][ۜ\\B\Y\H]8&\Y\K\H\[Z[H]]X[]KY\H\ٙ\Y[X\Y \[Y[۝وH\X\[“Y\HY\Y\[^\Y[\[ܛو\]\[XK]Y\\HX Y]ˈ]\H\\\[\Y[\][ۘ[['H]HX\Y\HX[Z[Y\[H\ܚY[[]\H[XH[]X]K[[\\\œ[HX]Y\]X[K]Z[HY\Y[\Z[[و NLKHܛ\[X\HXX[YHوYKHۙH\X]K]X\[]Hܝ^\وH\\\YX[\\Z[[HH[\H\][˜\[HYH[]ܙX]YY Z[[]]H›]YH[Y\H[و\ˈH[HB[H\YHYHܝ^\œZ[Y\[[Yو[Y\H^B][\Y[Z\[[\%[]\[][ٝ[^H܈^\[[[\\\[Z]][XH]Y[H܈Z\]\Bܝ^\˸'B\8'ܙ ]HY\H\ۈ\[Y\˸'BH]HX\Y]Z[HY\Y[\8&\XH\Y\K8&\[YH\Y\K\YX[Z[[]]H]\[]ۈHܛ\8&\Y\HHYH[Z]وXBܝ^\܈^[\K][\]\H]\YܝXK[[YK\\\\\H[YY[Z]Y8%\\HKHZ[[][[۝[Y[ \\[Y[X\%]8&\Y\H܈]\H[YH[XBۘH[H]H8'\]Y 8'H]\][H[\ܝ[]Hܛݙ\Y\\[Z]ˈ[Y[\XH][[HHHXH\HۙH[\]\[HY]Y[YH[ݙHX] HZ[[[و[H[\\܋ [\\܈وH[YH\\[\Z[[KZXY[[ZKX\[\\[\[\]H[YHܘH[و\ ]\[JB[\HY[X\وHXܙYX\XZ܈[Z[\H\و\Y\˂ۙH[\\[\ۈ]HY\[Z[K\˙YBL‚