The Eucharist: The Sacrament of Mercy

The Eucharist: The Sacrament of Mercy

On December 8th, the Church will begin the Year of Mercy.  In the Pope’s letter to the Church, Misericordiae Vultus, he reminds us that Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s Mercy and through Jesus Christ Mercy is living and visible in Jesus.  Today we continue the weekly series on Mercy by looking at the Eucharist as a Sacrament of Mercy.  This week’s article is made possible with the assistance of Matthew Hawkins, a Seminarian for the Diocese of Orlando in his second year of Theology at St Vincent de Paul Seminary.


How can they meet us face to face till we have faces?” ― 
C.S. LewisTill We Have Faces

We must remember that mercy is not about pity.  It is also not only about forgiveness, but as we learn last week forgiveness plays an important part in mercy.  Instead mercy is a restoration of one’s dignity.  As CS Lewis points out in the above quote, we must regain our “face”, our identity, before we can truly have our dignity.  In Luke 15:11-32, we find the Parable of the Prodigal Son, as St John Paul II explains, shows us the importance of our identity that is rooted in God.  In that parable we see a father who has lost his identity, his dignity, as father and the son has lost his identity, his dignity, as son.  It is only after mercy, shown by the father, are the familial bonds restored and therefore both regain their identity and their dignity.

In the same way for us to truly know mercy we must know what our identity, our ‘face’, is based off of.  From Genesis we find out that we are made in the image and likeness of God.  That our identity is based off of the overflowing love that is present in the Trinity.  To assist in knowing our identity Jesus became physically present and revealing himself in our world through the Incarnation, which we will celebrate shortly on Christmas.  We also know that he continues to make his presence known in the Eucharist.  We also know that due original sin we may mistakenly place the source of our identity in something worldly, like our jobs, our cars, or our hobbies.

Knowing these facts we must ensure that we come before Jesus often in order to regain our true sense of identity.  It is in his real presence in the Eucharist that we can most clearly see his face and regain our face for ourselves.  Through this interaction Jesus in the Eucharist becomes the “Face of Mercy,” that Pope Francis speaks about in Misericordiae Vultus.Öèôðîâàÿ ðåïðîäóêöèÿ íàõîäèòñÿ â èíòåðíåò-ìóçåå Gallerix.ru  Like the Prodigal Son, we must begin our journey of mercy by burying our faces in the cloak of the Father so that we may be lifted up to see him face-to-face.  Through our submission, through our adoration of our Lord in the Eucharist, we gain union with him and are able to fully receive his love.

So what ways can we submit to Jesus in the Eucharist during this Year of Mercy?  We can begin by ensuring that we seek Mercy himself by attending Mass every Sunday. If possible we should strive to attend a weekday daily Mass.  In addition throughout the Year of Mercy there are opportunities to sit in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament every First Friday.  On those First Friday after the morning Mass, Priests will expose the Blessed Sacrament for adoration. During this period we can look on the Face of Mercy, giving us time to reflect how who we are looking at.  That we truly look upon the Jesus, the Face of Mercy, when we look at the Eucharist.  We must use that time to submit fully to Jesus so that in seeing him physically present in the Eucharist we may see his face and gain an awareness of who we truly are.

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Filling our spiritual vessels with God’s Mercy

Filling our spiritual vessels with God’s Mercy

On December 8th, the Church will begin the Year of Mercy.  The Year of Mercy was called by Pope Francis in April so that the Church, and its members, may refocus themselves on the Mercy that is given by God.  In the Pope’s letter to the Church, Misericordiae Vultus, he reminds us that Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s Mercy and through Jesus Christ Mercy is living and visible in Jesus.  Pope Francis reminds us that we are called to show mercy in this world because mercy was first shown to us.  So throughout this Year of Mercy I will present a series of articles on practical ways that we can practically apply the requests of Pope Francis found in Misericordiae Vultus and the Corporal & Spiritual Works of Mercy in our own communities.

God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

(Philippians 4:19, RSV-CE)

Fr Ferdi Santos, one of my professors at the Seminary, loved to regularly tell us, “nemo dat quod non habet, you cannot give away what you don’t have!”  Many times he would say that previous to a test in attempts to get us to study harder, but he also reminded us that it applied to our spirituality and our evangelization.  If we as Catholics have not taken advantage of the channels of mercy that God provides us then how are we supposed to bring that mercy out into the world.  The times I have found it hardest to minister to the teens and to the young adults is when I have distanced myself from those channels of Mercy.  I felt empty and therefore could not give anything back to those that I minister to.  I am sure many of you have felt the same way.

So what are those Channels of Mercy that we should be taking part in?  The first is the Sacrament of Mercy or the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  In the Sacrament of Reconciliation God’s Mercy is clearly shown to us in a dramatic way.  No matter how big our sins are, no matter how long it has been since you entered into the confessional, God’s Mercy, founded in love, is greater than our sins.  It is in the Sacrament of Reconciliation that we are brought fully back into God’s grace. It is then that we become worthy to receive the Eucharist, the true presence of Mercy. Many of the teens have groaned in what can only be described as physical pain when I have told them that our night will consist of going to the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Yet as the night draws on many of the teens remark to me that they had so much joy and happiness after stepping outside of the confessional and wondered why they didn’t want to go in the first place. Their souls have been filled with the grace of mercy and love.

This coming year there will be many chances to take part in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Of course every week before the Priests are available to provide absolution by appointment or before a Mass. Also, parishes will have Advent Penance Services in which, as a community, the parish will come together to examine its consciences, pray for forgiveness, and receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Many other opportunities for the sacrament will be scheduled throughout the year and we should make it a new monthly habit that we take part in. Allowing his Mercy to overfill us and allowing it to overflow in our daily lives.

To begin our Year of Mercy lets us go to Lord and ask for his Mercy.  Let us start the Year of Mercy with a resolve to not allow our sins to hold us back from the Mercy that God wants to grant us in Reconciliation.  Let us experience his Mercy so that we may be filled with the grace of love and mercy.

Refugees and the Bible

Refugees and the Bible

I wonder what the Bible has to say about accepting foreigners into your land…

So lets turn to Deuteronomy and see what God says:

“Circumcise, then, the foreskin of your heart, and do not be stubborn any longer. For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe, who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. You shall also love thestranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

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Not an OT type of guy lets see what Jesus says in Matthew:

“Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see thee … And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’ “1605_francken_sieben_werke_der_barmherzigkeit_anagoria

If people made homeless, hungry, and thirsty by war doesn’t fit this category then I don’t know who does.