From the hermitage
By sister alies therese
I was particularly reminded of mercy when Pope Francis was in Iraq. He has been heavily quoted, but this touched my heart, so I offer it again:
“From this place, where faith was born, from the land of our Father Abraham, let us affirm that God is merciful, and that the greatest blasphemy is to profane God’s Name by hating our brothers and sister … Peace begins with the decision not to have enemies!” (Pope Francis, Ur, 6Mar21)
In fact, I suspect that everything we have had, have now, are, or want to be is tied up in this web of God’s mercy. If like the Pharisee we try to wriggle out of the web and think only of ourselves, rather than like the tax-collector who knows his blessing is in God alone … well, how will we reach the mercy seat?
A few years ago, I wrote this little meditation:
“Where do you want to meet, greet, and spend all of eternity? ‘Come ye Disconsolate,’ where? At the mercy seat, the very throne of God. How shall we arrive there? We shall be carried on the shoulders of the Good Shepherd, in the arms of friends who love us, or by catching onto the coattails of that ‘holy’ friend who, as s/he ascends toward heaven, carries us along, to Jesus. The question God will ask each of us as we stand before this mercy seat is, where are all the others? Who did you bring with you? Who did you enable to receive mercy that they might never again live an ungrateful or useless life? Why are you here by yourself, and where are your wounds … what did you do with what came your way? You know the scars that still hurt a bit? The terrible wounds of childhood or the loss of a child. Maybe the scars are from addictions or physical abuse? Regrets or what you did to others? Sin. The mercy seat is for those who were changed by God’s mercy to the extent that nothing means more to them than being a wounded servant like Jesus. If you wish to sit at the mercy seat with Jesus and His friends, experience the fulfillment of joy and love for eternity, become a mercy-maker and bring lots of others along with you.” (The Mercy Seat, pg. 43, Contemplative Drawing and the Gifts of Mercy, 2016)
This year has been tough. Lots of negatives and lots of opportunities maybe for the first time to learn real service, real mercy? Who did we see who really needed us? And what did we do?
St. Sister Faustina tells this: “Jesus came to the main entrance (of the convent) today, under the guise of a poor young man who was emaciated, barefoot and bareheaded, with his clothes in tatters. He was frozen as the day was cold and rainy. I went to the kitchen, searched about, found nothing but some soup I reheated and crumbled in some bread. He ate it and told me He was the Lord of heaven and earth. When I saw Him as He was, He vanished from my sight … in my meditation I heard these words in my soul: ‘My daughter, the blessings of the poor who bless Me as they leave your gate have reached my ears. And your compassion, within the bounds of obedience, has pleased Me. … I have tasted the fruits of your mercy.’” (St. Faustina’s Diary, #1312, 2005).
Until we literally bump into the mercy of God everything done to us or that we have done to others remains festering deep within. When we are brave enough to accept God’s mercy and grace to give it over, we change our focus, and our life is shiny and new. Then we can become true friends, real lovers, people of the Way. Then we can recognize Jesus in the poor, Jesus in the rich, Jesus in everyone! Wound together in the soft web of God’s mercy we will be gently held, by hands wounded for us, and full of joy.
‘Hold a true friend with both your hands.’ (Nigerian Proverb)
St. Augustine tells us what sitting at the mercy seat is going to be like. I want to be there, with you and all the people God has in mind, and that is everyone who wants to come! Nothing completes our life, not another person, thing, or duty. Nothing is enough until filled with mercy.
“When I am completely united to You, there will be no more sorrows or trials; entirely full of You, my life will be complete.” (Augustine, Confessions)
(sister alies is a canonically vowed hermit with days formed around prayer and writing.)