My Christmas gift to you: Year of Mercy suggestions

During my mad dash to the end of the semester, I had shoved the Year of Mercy to the back burner. Now, as I pause to relax, I can reflect what I can do during this jubilee year for the Catholic Church.

You’re not sure what the hubbub over the Year of Mercy is all about? Here is a video explanation through Legos. (I enjoyed the Star Wars references.)

Father Tom, our formator, had given us a list of suggestions for the Year of Mercy. Looking at them again, I noticed that many people can benefit from these suggestions. What better way to emulate the Christmas spirit than share these suggestions with you. I have set off my personal reflections on each of them in parentheses. Even if you’re not Catholic, these suggestions, especially Tip #5 can prompt you to reflect on mercy in your life.

Suggestions for the Year of Mercy:

  1. Spiritual reading: Check out Misericordiae Vultus by Pope Francis and Dives in Misericordia by Pope John Paul II. (I have read the former, but I still need to read the later. But Pope Francis’ reflections on mercy are powerful. Better load these onto my Kindle.)
  2. Daily meditation: Pray with Scripture passages highlighted by Pope Francis in Misericordiae Vultus. He indicates specific themes and Scriptures for the Lenten season. (There are many ways to pray with Scripture. My favorite is Lectio Divina. The four-step prayer process (reading, meditation, prayer and contemplation) can appeal to everyone in some way. I always reap spiritual benefits through this process. This webpage offers a thorough explanation of Lectio Divina.)
  3. Daily examen: Have I sought to carry out a spiritual or corporal work of mercy today? Where have I experienced mercy today? (My spiritual growth received a great boost when I adopted a daily examen (a regular review of the day). How do we know whether we’re making progress unless we reflect on our day? If you’re looking for a way to start the examen, check out Dynamic Catholic’s Prayer Process.)
  4. How can I strengthen my experience of the sacrament of Confession? (I can break this out into a separate blog entry. For this entry, I will give one suggestion: Foster a good habit by scheduling confession regularly (weekly, twice a month or once a month). That way, you wouldn’t be putting it off. Plus, a person receives more grace from the sacrament the more they turn to it.)
  5. Spiritual direction and daily prayer: Who in my life do I need to forgive? From whom do I need to ask forgiveness? (This could a lifelong project. If you’re finding it hard to forgive, pray to God for the grace to begin the process of forgiving. Asking for forgiveness can be just as tough. Always be quick to admit your fault and responsibility in the matter. Don’t let it fester.)
  6. Evangelization: How can I express God’s mercy in my words or actions toward others? Who in my life today seems most in need of God’s mercy? (Pope Francis has sought an outward push toward the peripheries, those who have been rejected or unwanted (the poor, children and the elderly).  Sometimes, a smile can make a difference and build the foundation for more acts of mercy. Check out this website for more reflections on mercy.)

Experiment a little and see which one of these will help you reap a spiritual harvest for the Year of Mercy. May God’s mercy and love grow in your heart these next 12 months.

Merry Christmas.

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