MOSAIC Spring 2016 - Page 33

LIVING IN THE LIGHT Spirituality for the Lay Person Disciples of Mercy Dr. Patricia Cooney Hathaway I n his inauguration of a Year of Mercy, Pope Francis invites us to strike out with him on a yearlong spiritual journey to be disciples of mercy; that is, to extend the loving-kindness, compassion, and forgiveness that God has shown us to those we meet in our daily lives. As a guide to helping us usher in what he calls “a revolution of tenderness,” Pope Francis suggests we reflect upon saints of our tradition who, through their words and actions, model what a disciple of mercy looks like. Let’s take a look at a few. FRANCIS OF ASSISI Francis, who lived in the twelfth century, was the son of a textile merchant whose wealth enabled Francis to enjoy the good life. His biographer, Thomas Celano, describes Francis as “striving to outdo the rest in the pomp of vainglory, in song and soft flowing garments for he was very rich.” After his conversion, Francis happened upon a leper. Initially repulsed, Francis struggled to show this man mercy and compassion. He gave him money but then offered him a kiss of peace. Upon reflection, Francis realized that this was his first victory over his natural inclinations. Through this leper, he learned that God could change one’s attitudes. CATHERINE OF SIENA Catherine, one of four women Doctors of the Church, was a lay woman who lived in the fourteenth century. She wrote The Dialogue, which records her privileged conversations with God. One of the passages I will never forget is when God tells Catherine, “The one sin I cannot forgive is when someone does not believe in my mercy.” God tells Catherine how pleased he was when Peter repented for disowning Jesus and how sad he was when Judas despaired, not believing God could forgive him. There is a lesson here for all of us. People have told me that they don’t believe God can forgive them for something they have done. I quote them the words of Catherine, reminding them that God’s mercy is available for everyone, always. nine days, it can be prayed at any time. Pope John Paul II described Sister Faustina as the great apostle of God’s mercy in our time. ST. JOHN XXIII There is one more saint of our time who must be mentioned, for he changed the world’s perception of our Church through initiating Vatican Council II. Pope John XXIII brought about a fresh perception of the Church through his own personality, which exuded warmth, loving-kindness, and compassion to everyone he met. Most important, in his inaugural address to the bishops from around the world, he stated that this SR. MARIA FAUSTINA KOWALSKA council would not be one of condemnation How could I write about saints who teach us about God’s mercy without mentioning but one that makes use of the medicine of St. Faustina? Though the divine mercy mes- mercy rather than that of severity. Hopefully each of us sage that she received will draw upon mercy from Jesus is not new to “Hopefully, each of us rather than severity in us, it is clear that Jesus wanted her to remind all will draw upon mercy our judgment of others. Pope Francis has of us to believe in, and rather than severity.” taken Pope John XXIII’s take courage from, his message of merc H™[\Y\K\X\KXXܙY\\&HY\YHX\HXZ[]H[\YXHو\\XK\[[H\YYHY\YB\\\YHܙX][ݙ[Y[][H\[\YX][[\و\HZ[H[[^\][\\]X[X[[[H]\و[\ۈ]\[X]\8']][ۈق[\\'HHZ[\\\وY\K[K\\Y\\]\[HX]HHݙ[H\[ۈY^H[[[ۈ][HY\H[^K[HB]XXHۙ^H]]^H\ٙ\܈و\X\]\[ٝ[X]Y\[BX[]H[\[X]X[H]XܙYX\ \˙YBB