Monday 26 July 2021

Mercy The Greatest Gift - Barbara Reed Mason - Meeting the Love of Christ

Mercy The Greatest Gift
Meeting the Love of Christ
Year of Mercy
Barbara Reed Mason
ISBN 9781784690939
eISBN 9781784693305
CTS Booklet SP47

This is the second volume in the Year of Mercy Series that I have read. I believe there are 8 volumes in this series and that 6 of them are available as eBooks. I picked all the eBooks up as soon as I finished the first one. Over the last several years, I have read over 200 volumes from the CTS. I have read books from many series. And many authors. I have read several books that are part of the CTS Devotions and Prayer Series. I have read many in the CTS Biographies and also Saints of the Isles Series, and the Great Saints Series. This is the first book I have read by Barbara and I believe her only title from the CTS. But back to this book. The description of the booklet is:

“Pope Francis's call for a Holy Year of Mercy began with a call to spiritual conversion in each of us. What are the spiritual and tangible aspects of mercy? Many Christians today can be unaware that we can keep the supernatural life within us vigorous by engaging with the spiritual works of mercy. This is not a matter of just being good to others only, but of our own salvation. Saint John Paul II said that the greatest gift of mercy is bringing people to savour Christ’s love.”

The chapters in this volume are:

Instruct the Ignorant
Counsel the Doubtful
Admonish Sinners
Bear Wrongs Patiently
Forgive Offenses Willingly
Comfort the Afflicted
Pray for the Living and the Dead

This booklet, like the other 2 I have read in the series, can easily be read over a large mug of coffee or tea. But it is also a book that could be returned to again and again. The ‘Year of Mercy’ might be well behind us, but its message is still an important one. In our lives and in the impact we can and should have upon the world around us. I highlighted several passages during my first reading of this volume, some of them are:

“Pope Francis has proclaimed an Extraordinary Jubilee beginning on 8th December 2015 (Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary) and ending on 20th November 2016 (Feast of Christ the King). He wants this Jubilee to be a Holy Year of Mercy, one that “begins with a spiritual conversion”. 1 For that reason, spiritual conversion is the aim of this pamphlet, and we will use the seven Spiritual Works of Mercy to help unlock the process of conversion.”

“Human beings are more than bodies with rational souls. We are body, soul and spirit, as Pope Benedict XVI explained: ‘May the God of peace make you perfect and holy; and may you all be kept blameless, spirit, soul and body, for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ’( 1 Th 5: 23). We are, therefore, spirit, soul and body. We are part of this world, tied to the possibilities of our material condition, while at the same time we are open to an infinite horizon, able to converse with God and to welcome him within us.””

“The Spiritual Works of Mercy serve this fundamental reality and underpin the Corporal Works of Mercy. They are: 

Instruct the ignorant 
Counsel the doubtful 
Admonish sinners 
Bear wrongs patiently 
Forgive offences willingly 
Comfort the afflicted 
Pray for the living and the dead.”

“You and I can learn a lot about an historical person by reading and studying his or her life. We might become so knowledgeable that we are able to deliver an articulate lecture about that person. We might even hold that person in great esteem. But none of those things can compare to actually meeting that person and establishing a relationship with him or her. It is the same with God.”

“We can also encounter the Lord in personal and community prayer; therefore, neglecting prayer - both private and communal - prevents this possibility. And of course, we meet the Lord in the sacraments - but again, only if we are open to that encounter and if we are ‘well-disposed’. Jesus is always present in the sacraments, but are we present to him?”

“One often gets the impression that some of the baptised believe not only that they can live their Christian life in their own power, but that they can ‘earn’ their salvation by their good deeds! Of course we must perform good works - we are required to do so - but it is only the grace of God and the gift of the Holy Spirit that gives us new life in him: …”

“Those who experience this new life in the Spirit are able to “instruct the ignorant” because they rely not on their human resources alone, but on the spiritual gifts and graces freely given by God to those who believe. Let us have a look at some of these spiritual gifts.”

“Prayer! Never forget prayer. Never! No one, no one realises when we pray on the bus, on the road: we pray in the silence of our heart. Let us take advantage of these moments to pray, pray that the Spirit give us the gift of counsel.”

“How should we admonish sinners? First of all with a motive of love; and secondly, with an acute awareness of our own sinfulness, which includes gratitude to the Lord for rescuing us and restoring us to himself out of sheer mercy. And thirdly, praying first for the gift of counsel for ourselves!”

“Clearly our vocation to live as children of God and disciples of Jesus is supernatural: it requires grace.”

“What is meant by “the afflicted”: anyone who is any pain, suffering or distress. We are asked to comfort the sorrowful! But remember this is a spiritual work of mercy, not merely temporary relief. By a spiritual work we do not mean offering pious platitudes. God’s comfort is a reality.”

“This is the final Spiritual Work of Mercy, which may seem to be the least practical or ‘hands on’ of all the spiritual works. But it is a work of mercy that can be done by anyone of any age, whether healthy or ill, mobile or immobile, and as Pope Francis said, we can pray always and anywhere. It is probably the most humble of all the works: no one knows you are praying except God, and the answers to the prayers can only be attributed to him.”

This book is an excellent read in what is proving to be a wonderful series. The Year of Mercy may be past, but we can all grow in our knowledge of Mercy and of living it out. This book and the series will help us do just that.

This is an excellent little read, and for another great read in the series. This book was originally published in 2015 and the eBook released in 2017. It is an great little booklet. And I look forward to reading the others in the Year of Mercy Series.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Year of Mercy Books:

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