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Dare to be merciful

flower-mercy-horizontal-webMercy is on my mind. This focus on mercy came my way because of two requests and a gift.

The requests:

  • A Providence Associate from the Southern Indiana-Kentucky Providence Circle asked me to spend some time with the group talking about the meaning of mercy in the context of our mission “acts of love, mercy and justice in service among God’s people.”
  • Mission Advancement staff members requested I write a blog on mercy given the Pope’s Proclamation of a Jubilee Year of Mercy.

The gift came from Sister Barbara Bluntzer. While a guest at Corbe House, she gave each of us a lovely prayer card of “Pope Francis’ Prayer for the Jubilee Year of Mercy.”

I had a difficult time responding to the requests. I discovered I didn’t have many thoughts about mercy. To tell the truth, I have never really thought about or prayed with the mercy word in “works of love, mercy and justice.”

The blog reflection was due first. I turned to the dictionary, the thesaurus and quotes from Pope Francis that spoke to me. I managed to eke out the blog post.

For the Providence Associates Circle interaction, we together explored thoughts, wonderings, questions about mercy.

As always when Providence women and men meet to pray and dialogue, our conversation was rich and our presence to one another holy. We assisted one another in plumbing the depths of meaning mercy could have or did have for each of us. It also brought each of us to an appreciation of the Pope’s request to celebrate this Jubilee Year.

As you can imagine, the reality of the violence of our times wove itself in and out of our conversation. The San Bernardino killings had just occurred so the topic was “in our face” again. Such is the context of our current lives as global citizens and as members of faith traditions grounded in love.

We cry, “Come into our lives, God-with-Us, in ways that will help us to be your goodness, your mercy in our world. In so many ways your life makes sense given the rocks, hills and mountains of your homeland. You persistently encourage us to build not destroy, to plant in fertile ground and not rocky soil, to have mercy towards the one we see as least deserving or the one who has hurt us deeply and to love, love, love and love more.”

Ordinarily I “suggest” or “recommend” or “invite” you to read, reflect, discuss, pray about a topic or reading.

This time, I dare you.

I dare you to gather a group of friends, or parishioners or co-workers to tease out the meaning of mercy in our time.

I dare you to study the image of the geography of Bethlehem’s environs, the ecosystem that helped to shape Jesus’ world-view, spirituality, feelings and thoughts.

I dare you to think about the encouragement to have “hearts of flesh and not of stone.” Any connection with mercy?

I dare you to name the acts of mercy you have received or performed in the last year.

I dare you because the fruit of the dares offered to me sent me on a wonderful journey — a journey not of my own making. Accepting the invitation/dares has made my reflective time richer and more challenging.

May we dare to hope that our own works of mercy will help “to beat swords into plough shares.”

May we dare to pray again our Litany of Non-Violence — especially these words:

God of love, mercy and justice,
acknowledging my complicity
in those attitudes, actions and words which perpetuate violence, I beg the grace of a non-violent heart.
Find the complete Litany of Non-Violence online here.

(Originally published in the Spring 2016 issue of HOPE magazine.)

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Sister Denise Wilkinson

Sister Denise was the general superior of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods from 2006-2016. She previously served as a high school teacher, college administrator, postulant/novice director and director of advancement and communications for Congregation. Currently, Sister Denise serves as Donor Relations volunteer in Mission Advancement office.

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