Mercy is needed

Having completed our review of the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy here in the editorial column, we now face the current situation of crisis — a situation which demands that we live out the Works of Mercy if we are to come to a peaceful, just solution to this multifaceted chaos.

We read on page two of this Anchor St. Catherine of Siena’s quote, “If you are who you should be, it will set the whole world on fire.” She did not mean with a fire burning down the world, killing people, but with the fire of love, coming from the Holy Spirit, liberating people from the slavery of sin, that slavery which is causing so much death and hatred in our own country and throughout the world.

Deb Jezak, quoted on page three, gives a message of hope as she prepares to go to World Youth Day in Poland: “I can only imagine there’s going to be a positive, rippling effect from all of this [WYD] because this is really centered in mercy.” Her hopeful attitude is not Pollyanish, if we remember how Our Lady of Fatima was able to bring down the Berlin Wall. Mary begged us to pray and sacrifice and eventually the Warsaw Pact countries were freed from communism. We need to have that same trust in God (and commitment on the part of ourselves to do our part, first with prayer and sacrifices, then with concrete actions guided by that prayer) that the cultural conflicts in our country and our world will not go on forever. 

Jim Campbell on page five shares with us his hope for the future, rooted in Pope Francis’ application of the parable of the Good Samaritan to our times. “His words offer us wisdom to confirm that our way forward must continue to emphasize charity and compassion and eschew anger and bitterness,” Jim wrote.

On page seven Father Landry shares with us his joy about the new feast of St. Mary Magdalene, a woman who had received Christ’s mercy and then lived out the Works of  Mercy. Father Landry quoted the new preface for the saint’s Mass, which lists Magdalene’s merciful service to Christ: “Mary Magdalene beheld Him on the cross as He was dying, sought Him in the tomb as He was lying, and was the first who adored Him as He Rose from the dead. He honored her with the task of the apostolate before the Apostles, so that the Good News of new life would reach until the ends of the earth.”

Even in the midst of such terrible news that we hear every day, we are reminded that Christ’s Good News is much more important and is the context in which we should face these tragedies — knowing that Christ is present and He wishes us to help make that presence known through our prayer and action.

Dwight Duncan on page nine depicts a woman who did what she could to live out that Divine command, while Rose Mary Saraiva on the next page reminds us, “In all the tragedies that so blatantly play out in the media, small glimpses of God’s care and love are very evident.”

Bishop Kevin Farrell of Dallas released a statement after the murder of five police officers in his city: “We have been swept up in the escalating cycle of violence that has now touched us intimately as it has others throughout our country and the world. All lives matter: black, white, Muslim, Christian, Hindu. We are all children of God and all human life is precious. We cannot lose respect for each other and we call upon all of our civic leaders to speak to one another and work together to come to a sensible resolution to this escalating violence.  Let us implore God our Heavenly Father to touch the minds and hearts of all people to work together for peace and understanding.”

Bishop Robert Muench of Baton Rouge has had to release a series of statements — first after the suspicious death of Alton Sterling at the hands of the Baton Rouge police, then after the Dallas massacre, then after the killing of three Baton Rouge policemen this Sunday. In his first statement (issued July 7), the bishop said, “This week in our community, as in our nation, and as in our world, we find ourselves facing the many emotions that accompany acts of violence. To all these, Our Lord invites us to renew our trust in His promise of fidelity, to increase our prayer, and to renew our commitment to peace and mercy toward one another. In the parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk 10:25-37), Jesus’ powerful story encourages us, among other things, to remember we are all companions on the journey, called to support each other along the way, and be ambassadors of hope and mercy. May fear not lead us into despair. May anger not move us to inflict pain upon others.  Rather, moved by the grace of Christ’s suffering for us, may we in turn impart that grace to one another.”

After the Dallas shootings, the Diocese of Baton Rouge issued a call to prayer and fasting: “As we mourn the deaths of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Philando Castille in Falcon Heights, and the five Dallas police officers: Brent Thompson, Patrick Zamarripa, Michael J. Smith, Michael Krol, and Lorne Ahrens, we search as a diocese to respond in a way that will unite us and bring us together to work for converted hearts and spirits, let’s do what we can do now. Our immediate response is a sincere request that all adult persons in our diocese pray and fast this week so that we may gain wisdom and courage to become personally and communally involved in building bridges across everything that divides us to become better brothers and sisters to each other.”

Then, after the murder of the police in their own city, the Louisiana Diocese announced, “In response to the recent violence in Baton Rouge and especially the slaying and wounding of six police officers and sheriff deputies this past Sunday, July 17, Bishop Muench is inviting all Catholics of our diocese (and non-Catholics as well) to spend some time in Adoration [on Sunday, July 24] before the exposed Blessed Sacrament and to offer our prayer in reparation for sin, for the healing of wounded bodies and Spirits, and for the repose of the souls of those who have died by injustice and violence. In Sunday’s Gospel, we heard the story of Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus, listening to Him. When her sister Martha complained to Him about Martha’s ‘inactivity,’ Jesus said to her, Mary has chosen the better part, and it shall not be taken from her. Christian contemplation precedes Christian service. We must sit at the Master’s feet if we are to know how we are to serve Him. Please plan to spend some time in the Lord’s presence as we ask Him to lay His healing hand upon our community and our country.” Let us heed this invitation. 

© 2019 The Anchor and Anchor Publishing    †    Fall River, Massachusetts