Kristen M. Soley
The Fifth Beatitude - Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy
Mercy is a virtue “influencing one's will to have compassion for, and, if possible, to alleviate another's misfortune.” 9
Living a life, filled with mercy and love, St. Martin de Porres enjoyed true beatitude. Famous for his love of the poor, he ministered to and comforted the dying and would bury the dead with his own hands. He begged the money for an orphanage to house the orphans of Lima, Peru. He begged and distributed $2,000.00 per week to the needy. With God’s grace, he healed the sick. He even tried to “rescue rats and mice and would transport them to open areas in the country where they would not become spreaders of disease or the hunted prey of me.”2
St. Faustina teaches, there are “three ways of performing an act of mercy: the merciful word, by forgiving and by comforting; secondly, if you can offer no word, then pray - that too is mercy; and thirdly, deeds of mercy. And when the Last Day comes, we shall be judged from this, and on this basis we shall receive the eternal verdict.
Applying this beatitude to the vocation of wife and mother, we can rely on the words of Blessed Mother Teresa, “Help on person at a time and start with the person nearest you.” Typically this is our husband, then our children.
To understand Mercy in our vocation, it is useful to study the corporal (body) and spiritual works of mercy.
The Corporal Works of Mercy
· Feed the hungry – Make good, healthy meals for our families, and pack a well-balanced lunch for them, including our husbands, home-prepared meals are typically more healthy and easier on the budget. Remember at each meal eaten together, always praise and thank God for His generosity and ask Him to bless the food. Make a meal for a sick friend, relative or a new mom.
· Give drink to the thirsty – Our children’s body weight is between forty-five to seventy-five percent water and adults are around seventy-five percent. It is imperative we remain hydrated for good health and proper body function. Ensure we are well hydrated and there is quality water readily available for everybody.
- Another beautiful view on thirst is taking Jesus’ words from the Cross, “I thirst.” Jesus was not asking for a sip of water, He was asking for souls. He thirsted for souls. We too should thirst for souls to come to Christ. With God’s grace, our example of living out our vocation with joy, both at home and in the public eye, can draw souls to Him, through us. The abundant joy that we have in our hearts, Jesus in us, will draw souls to Him. If we are happy when we are out, patiently enduring our little trials, then being our vocation looks appealing and will draw souls to Him. However, if we are disheveled, short, and impatient with our children, then our vocation looks more like a cross. Sometimes, we must put joy on, if we do not feel it authentically. Again, Jesus is peace and joy (beatitude) and allowing His peace and joy to shine through us, will draw souls to Him, satiating His thirst.
· Clothe the naked – Ensure that our families have clothes that are comfortable and fit well, have warm enough clothes in the winter and modest but cool enough clothes in the summer. Make sure they have good shoes for their activities, so as to prevent injury. If you have more than you need, or they have been outgrown, share them with another for hand-me-downs or donate to charity. Donate quality clothes; nothing immodest, with holes or overly worn out. Each of us desires to dress with dignity.
· Visit and ransom the captives – As a family, pray for those who are separated from Christ through sin or suffering from addiction; they are suffering greatly, feeling powerless; this is a form of slavery. Pray for those being held captive for religious belief, as we now are seeing in the Middle East. If we can, visit those in prison, or as a family, adopt an inmate; our families can become his/her pen pal. If this is not reasonable given our season in life, simply pray for them.
· Shelter the homeless – If we have an aging parent, open our homes to them, rather than placing them in a retirement home. The gift we will give our family through this time is invaluable.
- We are called to be hospitable. As Our Blessed Mother told St. Catharine Drexel, “Freely we have been given, freely give.” Open our homes to family and friends. Share Jesus with them through the gifts God has given us and find Jesus in them. This enables us to live out the gospel truth that Blessed Mother Teresa taught, the Gospel in Five fingers, “You did it to Me.” (based on Matthew 25:40)
· Visit the sick – If we have a sick parent or friend, visit them or pick them up and bring them to dinner in our homes; if they cannot get to Mass, offer to give them a ride. Prepare a meal for them or deliver flowers. As a family, pray for their healing.
· Bury the dead – Given the Mass is the most powerful prayer we can pray, it is vital that we attend the funerals of those we know and love. It is also important to have Masses offered for our deceased loved ones. Bringing our families to the graveyard to pray for and visit our loved ones leaves lasting memories and traditions in our little ones. If you are unable to stop by the grave yard, pray for the souls at each grave yard you drive by. Simply pray, “Jesus and Mary, I love you! Save souls!” This is a simple act of love and charity, interceding for souls not yet enjoying eternal beatitude.
The Spiritual Works of Mercy
· Admonish sinners – As a family, work together to grow in virtue by overcoming faults. Lovingly correct our children and spouse when we see a character flaw, and point them toward the virtue that opposes the flaw. Remember to do this in a private and loving 8manner, as much as possible.
· Instruct the ignorant – Teach our family the faith! God created us to know, love and serve Him, that we may be happy with Him in Heaven. Our family needs to know Him in order to love and serve Him. One of the best ways of teaching the faith, is knowing it and living it ourselves. Our children are going to parrot our behavior, best they parrot good behavior.
· Counsel the doubtful – Be a source of encouragement for our families. Remind them that God’s plan is better, even when we don’t understand it. 'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11 NASB)
· Comfort the sorrowful – Visit a friend who has lost a loved one. Work together as a family to make a gift to lighten their heart or deliver a bouquet. After the funeral is over, the reality of life without their loved one will settle in, after everybody has gone home. If possible, drop by on major holidays to deliver a simple treat or card. Be a light for this person through prayer, fellowship, and charity; especially the first year.
· Bear wrongs patiently – Assuming that somebody is well intended, even when this behavior seems contrary; this will enable us to bear wrongs with patience. It is common for each of us to have our actions result in an outcome that was not intended. Remember this in others; for very seldom, if ever does our spouse, family or friend intend to hurt us. By striking back, we create two unhappy people, not just one. As we talked about in the second Beatitude, Blessed are the meek, “Be silent when your speech will make another unhappy. Remember, all men search for happiness, or beatitude.” 2
· Forgive all injuries – To be forgiven, we must forgive, as we are taught by Jesus, in the Our Father, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” We are also taught in scripture the number of time we are to forgive, "…I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:22 NASB) When we do not forgive those who have hurt us, the only person suffering is us. Holding on to these feelings creates a block, preventing the flow of grace that God so desperately wants to shower upon us.
· Pray for the living and the dead - Create a family prayer book, listing all those God has place on our paths needing prayer. Hold them in prayer daily. Each day, pray the rosary as a family, we can offer each decade for a different intention. Pray for our family. On our way to Mass, remember to ask our children for whom they will offer this Mass. When we are doing chores around the house, ask each of the children for whom or for what intention they wish to offer this work.
In both the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, remember to pray, think, and then speak, to be sure our words are loving and guided by the Holy Spirit.
In Summary, mercy is a virtue “influencing one's will to have compassion for, and, if possible, to alleviate another's misfortune.” 9 Let us then, in both our home and our surroundings, with God's grace and compassion, try to alleviate other's misfortune and spread His love, wherever He guides us.
2. Eight Happy People, Reverend John J. Ahern
6. Happy are you Poor, Dubay
7. Volume 6, Direction for Our Times – Anne the Lay Apostle
8. Courageous Virtue, Stacy Mitch (A Bible Study on Moral Excellence For Women)
11. The Twenty-Four Hours of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ – Luisa Piccaretta
12. Michele Szekely - http://www.leblogdelabergerie.com/articles/Catherines.htm