Stories from the Year of Mercy

Stories from the Year of Mercy that tell of mercy as a light in darkness—as a place where we witness dying and rising.

Unlocking Mercy

Last year I was called to the hospital to anoint a woman dying of cancer. The chaplain informed me over the phone while I was still in my office that the patient was also a prisoner. Read more>

Capable of Great Gifts

As a young family on a graduate student budget we have become accustomed to packing our own food for travel. With this in mind, we often try to pack a little bit extra in case we should meet someone in need. Read more>

The Shame of Poverty in Hollywood

“How about we walk through the food shed before you go?” he asked. I began to panic. “But that food is for… poor people." Read more>

Charged with Murder, Clinging to Mercy

When I volunteered with the Catholic ministry at the county jail, I didn’t know what to expect about the men I would interact with. I’ll always remember meeting a man charged with murder, and the way he clung to mercy. Read more>

What 'Inhumane' Looks Like

We were escorted through another gate into the prison itself. Even after months, it is difficult to put into words my initial impressions. I can only describe it as a complete overwhelming of the senses. Read more>

The Way of the Cross Lived Out Before Me

I recalled the faces of the people for whom I’d answered the door that day: the tired mother of many, seeking medicine for one of her children; the wizened old man from the streets with a colorful history, needing a box of food; the new family from Honduras whom we’d welcomed—they hadn’t slept in a bed in weeks. Read more>

A Simple Glass of Water

I have scores of awards and recognitions from six years of providing the utmost in quality hospitality through my first career in the hotel industry. I still practice the skills I honed there, but my experience was recently put to the test by a simple request for a glass of water. Read more>

Craving Love

Ronnie was diagnosed with autism when she was born, and the tag attached to her shoe labeled her as “non-verbal.” She was noted by the rest of her teachers as one of the most difficult to handle in the school because of her constant screaming and self-injurious behavior. I was assigned to mentor Ronnie for the very first day of my summer service placement. Read more>

A New and Different Way

Mercy opened a new and different way at an ordinary intersection; mercy transformed three sandwiches into a kind of communion. Read more>

Matters, in Black and White

But bridging the black-white racial divide is a two-way project. And it needs to be said straightforwardly: As in the early days of the abolitionist movement, white Americans need to take the initiative. Read more>

The Embarrassment of Racism

I am part of this legacy of separation, distance, and ignorance-at-best. I am prejudiced, I am racist, and it is embarrassing. Read more>

Mercy's Unpredictable Path

I wonder if the difference between my children and me is that they have an imagination for failure, an imagination for the world falling apart and having to rework it again. Read more>

Camouflage Christmas

Suffering on Christmas is so often camouflaged. Jesus still runs after the lost, the forsaken—and hope abounds when we finally become aware that God is among us, for real. Christmas is for those who believe that they cannot make it through one more night in pain. Read more>

Surprised by God's Mercy

In November of 1987, I decided I would not be celebrating Christmas. I told my friends and family that I would not be hosting my annual Christmas party, nor would I be putting up any decorations or making my favorite Christmas treats. I was not in the mood for “O Holy Night” and doubted I’d go to midnight Mass, which I had done since I was a child. Read more>

Candles in Dark Places

I turned around and finally noticed that scores of people surrounded me, kneeling and sitting and praying. We were all in it together: The hundred people surrounding me, the father and son who left behind a token of love, and my own family were all in this together. Read more>

Exchanging a Blessing of Mercy

The Notre Dame Folk Choir has a lot in common with Johnny Cash—we visit a prison, just like the Man in Black did. And we've been doing so for some 20 years or so, not just once. Read more>

Mercy on the Streets of Philadelphia

I lost sight of the real need at hand: that of encounter, the very border-crossing, radical, genuine encounter into which Christ and Pope Francis are calling us. I had failed to really encounter the two individuals to whom I had just given food—I didn’t even know either of their names, and neither did they know mine. Read more>

Works of Mercy as Advocacy

Perform a work of mercy with your phone or computer! Use your advocacy to encourage lawmakers and world leaders to prioritize the poorest among us. Read more>

Even the Mercy of the Lord Burns

Sometimes God’s mercy is incredibly severe: it can force us to open ourselves up again despite the pain; it can force us to reach out to others who suffer and work towards healing. Read more>

The Year of Mercy

What is a jubilee year and why are we celebrating one dedicated to mercy? Read more>

The Mystical Embrace of Mercy

Every day since that difficult morning in the doctor’s office, God’s mercy has been visible and tangible, carrying us forward in the affirmation of God’s love. Family, friends, co-workers, doctors, nurses, and strangers have all reached out to bear our weakness and our struggles with us. So many individuals have born us in sorrow, lifting us up to hope in our grief. Read more>

Mercy Defined: 'I Must Do Something'

The life animated by the call to mercy is more difficult, complicated, and clumsy— but it is a better life. Read more>

Making Time for Mercy

I’m a full time case-worker at the largest shelter in town. I took the job as a recent graduate of a professional lay ministry program who wanted to serve God’s vulnerable people and proclaim the good news to the poor. And now, I am tired. Yesterday I accidently worked an 18-hour day. Read more>

The Works of Mercy

A resource for how to perform works of corporal and spiritual mercy. Read more>

Visible and Tangible Love

All who care for loved ones with dementia know how painful it is to watch them slip away by inches, but this is also where I found God’s visible, tangible love. Read more>