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BLESSED ARE THE MERCIFUL (Mt 5:7) – HOW MERCIFUL DO WE NEED TO BE?

Blessed are the merciful

“You probably would feel quite offended if someone were to describe you as a cruel person. Yet, can you truthfully say that you never have caused unnecessary pain to another? You never have harshly criticised another, humiliated another or made cutting remarks to another? If you can answer, ‘Never’ (or even ‘Seldom’) to all such questions, then you are indeed close to the heart of Christ. ‘Blessed are the merciful,’ He has said, ‘for they shall obtain mercy.’

Vigilance, lest power corrupt in us the spirit of mercy

Few of us are so accomplished in this matter of mercy that we can afford to assume that we are included in our Lord’s blessing. Those of us who are in any position of authority, such as employers, supervisors, officials, teachers and religious superiors, have particular need to be vigilant lest power corrupt in us the spirit of mercy. It is so easy to be caustic towards those who cannot strike back.

Having others ‘at our mercy’

Failure in mercy is not confined, of course, to persons explicitly in positions of authority. There are many ways of having others ‘at our mercy’. We have the upper hand, for example, any time we enter a store or a restaurant. Since the customer is always right, clerks, waiters and managers must bear with our discourtesies in silent helplessness.

Often we inflict the deepest pain upon those we love

Often we inflict the deepest pain upon those who are bound to us by love. A husband snarls at his wife or a wife screams at her husband. Sometimes parents excoriate their children out of all proportion, making a capital offence of what is, at worst, a minor misdemeanor.

Venting our anger on the next best person

More often than not, the reason why we are grumpy or snappish toward another is because we have bottled-up feelings of resentment or frustration which press for ventilation. A teacher who has just been reprimanded by his principal, for example, will land like a charge of dynamite on the first pupil who steps out of line in the least degree. Nine-tenths of our temper explosions really do not belong at all to the hapless person who is rocked by our anger. Our victim simply happens to be the nearest and most defenceless object upon whom we can discharge our emotional pressure.

Reacting savagely to minor annoyances

Sometimes it is nervous fatigue or physical distress (such as a headache) which causes us to react savagely to minor annoyances. Like a sick animal, we growl and bare our teeth at anyone, however innocent, who happens to cross our path.

A gentleman never gives pain

Cardinal Newman has described a gentleman as one who never gives pain. A gentleman bears his own inner hurts and tensions with fortitude and does not visit them upon others. It is an infallible sign of a small mind and a weak character when a person is discourteous toward those over whom he has some advantage.

There are times, of course, when a person in authority must administer an admonition or a rebuke. Yet, even this can be done with gentleness and tact. It is so much better to say, ‘You are doing a fine job, George, but there is one small thing which I feel I should call to your attention,’ than to shout, ‘You stupid fool! See what you’ve done!’…

Our Lord Jesus singled out the virtue of mercifulness for special attention

‘Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.’ It is no wonder that Jesus singled out the virtue of mercifulness for such special attention. This is the one virtue above all others which characterises Himself. His patience, His allowance for human weakness, His compassion, His quickness to forgive – all combine to give us confidence as we pray to Him, ‘Lord, have mercy!’

The people whose lives touch ours have enough suffering already. It is inexcusable if we add to their hurt by our discourtesy, ill-temper and vindictiveness. If we cannot be gentle, patient and forgiving toward one another, then Jesus has a right to ask, ‘What price My crucifixion? Was it, then, all in vain?'”

– Fr Leo J. Trese, One Step Enough

 
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Posted by on August 3, 2015 in Words of Wisdom

 

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“THE EVIL SPIRIT OF PRIDE IS THE CAUSE OF THE GREATEST RUIN IN THE SOUL”

SAYINGS OF ABBOT EVAGRIUS

• The evil spirit of pride is the cause of the greatest ruin in the soul. It suggests to the soul that it should not recognise God as the sole helper, attributing only to one’s own strength every progress in goodness; that it place itself above the other brothers, deeming them to be ignorant, not having sublime thoughts like himself. Pride is always followed by uneasiness and dissatisfaction. The ultimate stage of pride is mental frenzy and the vision of evil spirits.

• When agitation disturbs your soul, the demon presents solitude to you as the only escape, where, far from the occasions of disturbance, you will be free from disturbance. If in us, on the other hand, a lack of restraint is enkindled, the demon fills us with love for community life with others, whispering to us that it is cruel and uncivilised if we remain outside. The temptation is subtle: your instincts longing for physical contact, it suggests that you go in search of it. It always acts in a contrary sense.

• He who is able to fly from exterior pleasures is an impregnable tower to the demon of resentment; it is born of the privation of an actual or awaited pleasure. Remaining attached to an exterior good, the enemy is always at an advantage and he sets his snares to provoke resentment within us, where he knows that our heart is still attached.”
– From “De Vita Contemplativa” (Monthly Magazine for Monasteries), Year VII – Number 9 September 2013.

 

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A SHORT BIOGRAPHY OF ST JOHN NEPOMUCEN – MARTYR OF THE SEAL OF CONFESSION

St John Nepomucen was born in Bohemia, probably between the years 1340 and 1350. He studied in the University of Prague, which had recently been founded by the King of Bohemia, Emperor Charles IV. After ordination as a priest, John occupied various ecclesiastical posts before being appointed as Vicar General to the Archbishop of Prague. In 1378 Emperor Charles IV died and was succeeded by his son Wenceslaus IV. The new King was a vicious young man who gave way unrestrainedly to fits of rage, in which he would perpetrate acts of great cruelty. St John and Wenceslaus IV had many quarrels, St John always being obedient to his religious superior rather than give in to the King’s wishes. On occasions St John was attacked and suffered injuries.

Shamelessly unfaithful himself, Wenceslaus IV was intensely jealous, and harboured suspicions of his wife’s conduct, which was actually irreproachable. Tradition recounts that the King’s great anger and resentment was aroused when St John refused to reveal to the King the substance of his wife’s confessions. For this Wenceslaus IV had St John’s body trussed up and taken secretly at night through the streets of Prague to the St Charles Bridge and then cast off the bridge into the River Moldau (Vltava).

The next day St John’s body was washed ashore and taken and buried in the cathedral of St Vitus, the first martyr of the ‘seal of confession’. The St Charles Bridge in Prague today has a statue of St John and a metal plate marks the spot where he was thrown over the bridge. St John Nepomucen is invoked for help to make a good confession.
– from: “Spiritual Thought from Fr Chris”

 
 

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PRAYER FOR THIS NEW YEAR

Lord Jesus, may this New Year be marked by our profound desire to be reconciled to You in every way. May we remain close to You through our faithfulness to the sacraments. Fill us with an authentic spirit of repentance. Free us from our resentments, our grudges, and our regrets.

May Christ-like forgiveness be the hallmark of our lives. May we witness to our faith by proclaiming the dignity of all human life in our every thought, word, and deed. May our experience of Your mercy make us generous in our acts of justice for the afflicted of the world so that all may live in the freedom of Your Kingdom. Amen.

 
 

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