jubilee_of_mercy_logoThe church’s much-heralded Year of Mercy ends Sunday, and that got us thinking. How did we experience God’s mercy and love, and how were we merciful and loving to others?

The Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, announced by Pope Francis early last year, has been a celebration of God’s love and mercy, and an invitation for each of us to offer the same to others.

“Many times in the course of visiting patients at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Belleville, Ill., I feel God’s mercy in our exchanges,” said Sister Rose Anthony Mathews. “The feeling of powerlessness and vulnerability enables God to take over and to “mercy” one. Just this past Tuesday, one of my former students shared her experience of catching West Nile virus. It was breathtaking as she allowed God to ‘mercy’ her.”

For Sister Anne Irose, a long-time missionary, the year made her more deeply aware of the great mystery of God’s mercy, which she experiences daily.

She realized that the commonly spoken words “Lord have mercy” do not fully express the abundance of God’s unconditional mercy.

But the Greek “Kyrie eleison” that proclaims God’s mercy, rather than asks for what we already have, comes a lot closer.

“As I pray with the happenings of our world,” she said, “I also sing: ‘Kyrie eleison,’ knowing that with mercy, there is always hope.”

We’ve also shown mercy to others, by

  • Welcoming and hosting families from Chicago who visited loved ones at a prison not far from our motherhouse in Ruma, Ill.
  • Baking cookies for inmates on retreat at that prison
  • Supporting Hispanic families by preparing them for the sacraments, offering food and other basics, helping them connect with the larger community
  • Tutoring at-risk public school students
  • Visiting elders and leading them in prayer at assisted living and nursing homes
  • Caring for shut-ins
  • Proving pastoral care and companionship to our Sisters in skilled care
  • Holding a monthly collection for the poor and sharing with local service agencies
  • Praying daily for the needs of our Church and world.

Sister Barbara Jean Franklin said the Sisters would have done these merciful acts even without a Year of Mercy. “The ‘dear neighbor’ is always knocking at the doors of their hearts and they never fail to respond,” she said.

The Year of Mercy made Sister Mary Shaw more willing to be present to the poor she meets on the street. She discovered they were grateful just to be recognized.

“I was changed to become more attentive to them and see them as Christ, not in a Pollyannaish way but as a brother or sister in Christ,” she said.

When the Year of Mercy began last December, Sister Mary Kevin Rooney found a list of 50 ways to practice mercy, including this favorite.

“I use it every time I am upset about someone, their actions, or lack of actions. It has brought me great peace, and a different perspective,” she said. “I say: ‘God bless __ and have mercy on me!’ It’s a winner on both counts!”

How have you shown and been shown mercy this year? Comment below and celebrate another year!