Why We Still Need Mercy

adult-1869621_1280

Why Do We Still Need Mercy?

The year of Mercy may be over, but as we enter into 2017, we are in need of mercy now more than ever.

Someone once said to me that they would rather go to Hell than forgive the people who hurt them. To my surprise, a friend of mine who converted from Protestantism said that it’s something a lot of so-called Christians say. It’s hard for me to believe that people who claim to love their neighbor can hold on to a grudge so badly that they are willing to go to Hell for it. Believe me when I say this: Hell is not worth it.

There is a reason why CS Lewis said “The doors to hell are locked from the inside.” Hell is not worth staying angry or being judgmental or believing the lies of opportunistic politicians and fake news. Mercy and forgiveness aren’t just part of being a Christian, they are a part of having a healthy life.

I’m not saying to “forgive and forget.” I’m not saying you should reconcile to the people who hurt you. I’m not saying you should act like nothing happened. I’m asking you to let go. Let go of your anger. Let go of the hatred you feel. This is the greatest act of mercy you can do for the ones you and for yourself. The healing can’t begin until you let it all go.

How does forgiveness tie into mercy?

Whenever some bad news about a shooting or certain political groups comes up, volatile reactions on Twitter often follow afterwards. People blame others or buy into false rhetoric. What nobody seems to realize is that mercy is the real answer. Mercy is given to those you don’t think deserve it because they’re the ones who need it most. Without mercy, we are no better than the people who commit those violent acts and the ones we see as arrogant and overly powerful.

Through mercy and forgiveness, we can find the hope and a renewal of trust we have been lacking this year. We may not be able to trust the ones who’ve hurt us, but we can hope for the best for them and trust that we can be smarter going forward. We can avoid the fate of those who lost someone to death without making amends.

I know that right now, practicing mercy and forgiveness can be an unimaginable thing. But nothing is impossible with God.

What can we do?

I know that right now, everyone’s saying that 2016 has been the worst year in history. Believe me when I say that history has seen worse years. It’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. The year of Mercy may be over, but since we are in the last week of Advent, I think it would be a good time to start practicing mercy and forgiveness. It even says so in the Bible!

If you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

– Matthew 5:23-24

Give someone the gift of mercy and forgiveness this Advent.

Learn How To Love

share-1411235_1280

This post will be part blog and part spoken-word poem. I just want to process everything I’ve been hearing from the news and try to speak about what’s on my mind.

 

People are dying. I wish it could stop.

There is so much anger and hate in this world. Why can’t we learn to love?

Do we even know what love is? We say that love is love, but what is love?

I know that a lot’s been going on in the world. I hate hearing of police officers killing Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. I hate that 11 police officers were shot in Dallas. I know that a LOT of y’all are angry right now and nothing I can say will change that.

I wish in times like this we can choose to love instead of expressing our anger. It’s easy to be angry. It’s easy to demonize every police officer. It’s easy to say that “All Lives Matter” isn’t enough. I see so much anger as a reaction to this. We have a right to be angry. We are justified in our anger. Our anger is an expression of our hunger and thirst for righteousness and justice. But we cannot hold onto our anger and unleash it towards people we can’t even really see. We need to retaliate against violence with all the love we have.

So what is love?

Love isn’t indefinable. It’s not a feeling. It’s a choice. Love is wanting the greatest happiness for everyone, even the ones we hate. It means to speak out when police are killed just as much as when the innocent die at the hands of the police. It means that we acknowledge everyone, even the ones in Turkey and Iraq, as our brother and sister. I don’t care if you’re religious or not. I don’t care what belief system you have. We need to stop seeing those outside of our “circle of belonging” as a them. We are all an “us.”

I refuse to be angry over this. I’m more sad than I am anything else. I’m sad at all who are angry. I’m sad that it seems like this year is getting worse and worse. I’m sad, and yet in spite of it, I am trying to find little bits of happiness, tiny points of light that shine in this darkness. For me, compassion and mercy are that light. Through prayer, I let go of this anger and remember to choose peace instead.

Our universe is not an indifferent one, as strange as it may seem now. We are all part of a greater narrative. As Hamilton has said, we have no control who lives, who dies, who tells our story.

We won’t be remembered for our hashtags, but by how we retaliate and the actions we choose. History has its eyes on us. How do you want to be remembered? Will you be remembered for your anger? Or will you be remembered for how much you loved?

Why Brock Turner Needs Maria Goretti and Alessandro Serenelli

Maria_Goretti

There is a reason why justice and mercy go hand in hand. Like the rest of the internet, I was disgusted over the way-too-lenient sentence that Brock Turner received from the judge. While I am devoted to Divine Mercy and advocate forgiveness, I also know that six months in jail is not actual justice. Brock Turner isn’t sorry.

Which is why, instead of screaming “Rape culture” and “Check your privilege,” I am asking Saint Maria Goretti and Alessandro Serenelli to pray over this situation.

Why Maria Goretti?

For those who don’t know, Maria Goretti, like the victim of the Stanford rape case, was damaged by the guy who sexually assaulted her. In fact, she died as a result of her trying to defend herself from her would-be rapist.

I’m already asking for Maria Goretti’s intercession for the victim of the rape case because she needs all the support she can get. In some ways, the victim will have to suffer a lot more than Maria Goretti did because she has to live with the trauma for the rest of her life.

But why does the perpetrator need the intercession of the victim of attempted rape and murder? And how would the man who killed Maria Goretti help?

I’m asking for Maria Goretti’s intercession because the scales of justice and mercy are thrown out of balance. Alessandro got a proper sentence for the murder he committed. He began his thirty-year jail sentence angry and unrepentant. He blamed Maria Goretti for everything and he was very violent around his inmates. Six years later, Maria appeared to Alessandro in a vision. In this vision, she was in a garden picking 14 lilies and she gave those 14 lilies one by one to Alessandro. Each lily represented a stab that Alessandro inflicted upon her. Through this gesture, Maria showed that she forgave her murderer for what he did and what he wanted to do.

I understand that there is no frickin way that Brock Turner deserves forgiveness.  Improper justice was given to Brock Turner. Binge-drinking and whatever the victim was wearing did not cause this rape to happen. Brock Turner chose to rape her. And sadly, he’s not sorry for that particular action. His father and the judge aren’t sorry, either. The victim will probably never forgive them.

Here’s the thing, though. None of us deserve forgiveness. Forgiveness doesn’t mean to forget what happened, either. Mercy demands justice. The reason I’m asking for Maria Goretti and Alessandro Serenelli’s intercession is because the scales of justice need to regain their balance. I pray that Brock Turner will feel the weight of his actions. I pray that the victim will not be a prisoner of her trauma nor will she be labeled a “slut” for what happened. I pray that people will understand that drinking and going out to a nightclub aren’t to blame here.

People these days feel entitled to have whatever they want. It’s not just a privilege issue because entitlement can be found everywhere. But I’m not here to rage against the fallen state of this country. There are too many people doing that already.

I’m here to ask for justice and mercy to be rendered to everyone involved. I’m asking people to look at each other and see a person and not someone to use for their own means. I’m asking for harsher sentences for rapists and for judges to have a little more wisdom. I’m asking for you to look into what mercy and forgiveness really mean and try and apply that to your life. Most of all, I pray that somehow, someday, all the people involved will learn to forgive each other and to forgive themselves, but to never forget what happened.

If you want to know more about Maria Goretti, read this post I wrote from last November when I venerated her relics. There’s also a video from the Mass that I went to that night. I linked the video to start at the homily:

P.S.: Who wants to bet that Law and Order SVU will totally do a ripped from the headlines episode based on this?

The Problem of Misapplied "Mercy"

True_Original_Painting_Divina_Misericordia_Jesus_Trust_Faustina_Painter_Eugeniusz_Kazimirowski_1934

You know, for a society that claims to be so tolerant and open, we sure have a funny way of showing it!

It seems like I’m seeing reasons why we need mercy, compassion, and forgiveness everywhere. Over the long weekend, the internet exploded over the death of a gorilla. Suddenly, everyone becomes an expert in parenting and handling gorillas.

I don’t deny the fact that there could have been ways to prevent all this from happen, but as things stand right now, I feel a lot better that the child is okay. I feel sad that the gorilla died, but all the chatter I’ve been seeing on Twitter is reminding me of something George Orwell said in: “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.”

*sarcasm mode* Oh brave new world that has such people in it. *end sarcasm mode*

It’s hard for me to understand what people are saying sometimes. It’s hard for me to understand people in general. And yet, for the most part I want to give the benefit of the doubt. There are very few exceptions to the rule (*coughDRUMPFcough*), but I can’t help but feel like Alice stuck in a nonsensical wonderland.

Have we forgotten that all people are created equal? Equality doesn’t mean sameness. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of the happiness don’t give us free license to do whatever we want at the expense of everyone else. We all have the capacity to lose a child in the mall or at the zoo. We have to allow parents to make mistakes and not judge them for slipping up because, guess what, we all make mistakes. Why do we always say that “Only God can judge” when it comes to the LGBT+ movement and everything that comes with it but not allow that same tolerance to parents when they take time to go out on dates or when they make a mistake?

This lack of mercy also applies to those who are conservative as well. I wish that people could be more open-minded about the situation with all the Middle East refugees. I want both Christian and Muslim refugee families to be in a safe place. My heart broke more over the death of the 400 refugees who drowned in April rather than the death of one gorilla because humans, as far as I’m concerned, are created a little lower than the angels and higher than the animals.

I’m not saying that I’m above all this. When I saw the internet exploding over the various newspieces in the zietgeist, I wanted to weep for humanity. I assumed that the situation was preventable.

That’s the thing about assuming, though. As the saying goes: Assuming makes an ass out of you and me!

Why do we misapply mercy and not understand what it really means to be merciful, forgiving, and compassionate towards others?

It’s because we don’t really know what we can control.

Simcha Fischer said this brilliantly in another response to the current zeitgeist:

You never will be completely in control, and if you don’t make yourself accept this fact, then you are perfectly primed to snatch control anyway by unmaking another human being. And when you do it, you will not be stronger. You will not be in charge. You will just become fodder for that insatiable mouth who first told you that damnable lie — the lie that you can be in control.

This is why I’m not an existentialist. Existentialism is selling that lie that we are in control of what our lives mean because the universe is indifferent to us. The fact of the matter is, there is something higher than us, offering us a second chance at a constant basis. This mercy is given to everyone. Even Donald Drumpf. It’s not something we are entitled to. It’s a gift given from unconditional love and it’s not something that any of us deserve.

When we are given a second chance, we are called to pay it forward by being merciful, compassionate, and forgiving towards someone else. It doesn’t mean forgetting what happened in the past. It doesn’t mean allowing dangerous things or people back into your life. It can be something as simple as giving a mother the benefit of the doubt and hoping that the child and his family will get out of all the media speculation soon. It can be something as big as allowing a refugee into your home, even if it just means advocating for their asylum in our country.

People always talk about tolerance as a form of compassion, forgiveness, and mercy. They keep using that word, but I don’t think it means what they think it means. I wish people could understand what compassion, forgiveness, and mercy really mean and what these things demand from us.

For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

Jesus, Divine Mercy, I trust in You.

Tobit's Divine Praises: Tobit Bible Study Day 12

tobits divine praises

From Heart of Mary Women’s Fellowship

It’s not surprising that thankfulness for God’s mercy is said first because gratitude and mercy go hand in hand. We can’t be grateful without something to be grateful for and someone to thank. All gratitude and mercy begins and ends with God. It’s very much like a prayer said at the beginning of Adoration:

“O Sacrament most holy!

O Sacrament divine!

All praise and all thanksgiving

be every moment Thine.”

Read the rest here!

His Mercy Is a Ground of Trust

My latest contribution to the Heart of Mary Women’s Fellowship is up!

An excerpt:

f there’s one word that summarizes St. Faustina, it’s “trust.” Keep in mind that private revelations are mostly a “take it or leave it” case and that not many saints receive visions. Many of Faustina’s sisters doubted her visions or belittled her as not being worthy of having them.

Many skeptics would probably see her visions as hallucinations or delusions of grandeur. Faustina had to trust that these visions were really and truly coming from God Himself. Thankfully, she had a good support system. But as today’s verse stated

“The righteous will see and they will fear; but they will laugh at him.” (Psalm 52:8)

 

Read the rest here!