: kind or forgiving treatment of someone who could be treated harshly
: kindness or help to people who are in very bad or desperate situation
: compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender
: compassionate treatment of those in distress
: a blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion
Mercy (n.): late 12c., “God forgiveness of his creatures’ offenses,” from Old French mercit, merci (9c.) “reward, gift; kindness, grace, pity,” from Latin mercedum. In Church Latin (6c.) applied to the heavenly reward for those who show kindness to the helpless.
“Money has to serve, not to rule.”
Pope Francis (Jorge Mario Bergoglio, b. 1936, age 78, elected the 266th pope of the Roman Catholic Church in 2013. He chose his papal name in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi, and is first Jesuit pope and non-European pope from the Americas. Before beginning his seminary studies, Pope Francis took courses in chemical engineering. Pope Francis is fluent in Spanish, Italian, and German.)
“The Mercy of Allah is an Ocean, our sins are a lump of clay clenched between the beak of a pigeon. The pigeon is perched on the branch of a tree at the edge of that ocean. It only has to open it's beak”
Leila Aboulela (B. 1964, age 51, Arabic Sudanese writer who writes in English. Her latest novel, “The Kindess of Enemies” is inspired by he life of Imam Shamil, who united the tribes of the Caucasus to fight against Russian Imperial expansion.)
“There is no austerity equal to a balanced mind, and there is no happiness equal to contentment; there is no disease like covetousness and no virtue like mercy.”
Chanakya (371 BC – 283 BC, Indian teacher, philosopher, economist, jurist, and royal advisor. He is traditionally identified as Kautilya or Vishnu Gupta, who authored the ancient Indian political treatise, the Arthashastra.)
“I believe in the equality of man; and I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavoring to make our fellow-creatures happy.”
Thomas Paine (1737-1809, Founding Father of the United States, English American writer, journalist, and inventor, whose writings influenced the American Revolution, and helped pave the way for the Declaration of Independence)
“I had many friends to help me to fall; but as to rising again, I was so much left to myself, that I wonder now was I not always on the ground. I praise God for His mercy; for it was He only Who stretched out His hand to me. May He be blessed for ever! Amen.”
Saint Teresa of Avila (1515-1582, also called Saint Teresa of Jesus, baptized as Teresa Sanchez de Cepeda y Ahumada, was a prominent Spanish mystic, Roman Catholic saint, Carmelite nun, author during the Counter Reformation, and theologian of contemplative life through mental prayer. She was a reformer of the Carmelite Order and is considered to be a founder of the Discalced Carmelites along with John of the Cross.)
“Night is a time of rigor, but also of mercy. There are truths which one can see only when it’s dark.”
Isaac Bashevis Singer (1902-1991, Polish-born Jewish American Nobel Prize-winning novelist and writer of the novel, “The Family Moskat” and the short story, “Gimpel The Food”)
“The willingness to forgive is a sign of spiritual and emotional maturity. It is one of the great virtues to which we all should aspire. Imagine a world filled with individuals willing both to apologize and to accept an apology. Is there any problem that could not be solved among people who possessed the humility and largeness of spirit and soul to do either -- or both -- when needed?”
Gordon B. Hinckley (1910-2008, religious leader and author who served as the 15th president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1995 until his death)
“When God is our Holy Father, sovereignty, holiness, omniscience, and immutability do not terrify us; they leave us full of awe and gratitude. Sovereignty is only tyrannical if it is unbounded by goodness; holiness is only terrifying if it is untempered by grace; omniscience is only taunting if it is unaccompanied by mercy; and immutability is only torturous if there is no guarantee of goodwill.”
Ravi Zacharias (Frederick Antony Ravi Kumar Zacharias, b. 69, Indian-born Canadian-American Christian apologist, and a defender of traditional evangelicalism)
I was thinking a lot about the word, Mercy, in light of Pope Francis’s visit to the U.S., in which he spoke of the Holy Year of Mercy and the Catholic Church’s “mission to be a witness of mercy.”
So, this week I was deeply moved, as a very spiritual Protestant, to watched 95% of the Pope Francis’s visits last week. I especially anticipated his visit to a Philadelphia prison.
I love authentic storytelling, independent movies, and documentary films, and some of the best storytelling pertains to prisons.
One night last week, I stayed up very late to watch a movie starring Kirsten Stewart called, “Camp X-ray.” It’s about a young woman who enlists in the U.S. Army and is assigned to Guantanamo Bay, where she meets a prisoner who changes her life. In short, she provides mercy for him and in return he does the same for her. It’s a moving story about the transformational power of forgiveness and mercy, and our ability to use our hearts to pierce through the thick walls that separate us.
Two of my favorite documentary films on compassion within prison walls are: “The Dhamma Brothers” and “Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall.”
“The Dhamma Brothers” is a film that witnesses great mercy as a few Alabama State prison inmates are instructed in 100 hours of intense meditation techniques in hopes of that these prisoners can confront and relieve their own inner trauma and suffering as they rehabilitate or before they die. The yogi-teachers planted important mercy seeds that may have the potential to spread throughout the prison system and also into our world.
“Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall” is about the hospice care for Jack Hall, a prison inmate and reformed white segregationist who is nursed by fellow inmates, who happened to be black men, as he passes from this life to the next. The inmates pray, comfort, massage, and care for Jack Hall with a great deal of tenderness, kindness, compassion, and empathy. Those men also considered it an absolute privilege to care for Jack Hall and others like him.
Don Miguel Ruiz writes about the power of forgiveness in his book entitled, The Voice of Knowledge – A Toltec Wisdom Book, “Just imagine that you choose to forgive whoever hurt you in your life because you no longer want to carry all of that emotional poison in your heart. And just by forgiving everybody, even yourself, you heal your mind, you heal your heart, and you no longer have emotional pain.”
I believe Pope Francis has offered all of us an unifying prayer and blessing of compassion to forgive and heal ourselves and each other, even those who we perceive as unredeemable.
Pope Francis’s sermon at that Philadelphia prison was a humble, heart-felt, compassionate prayer of empathy and mercy. He preached that Jesus did not care about our past. The pope said in order to transform we must allow Jesus to wash our feet, and that included his feet as well.
It was a very powerful visit, one of many, where the pope offered mercy and looked upon each person with love in that room.
I found myself thinking about those Earth angels who offered me mercy and also helped by facilitating transformation and healing in my life. I am so deeply grateful for those spiritual teachers and healers. They showed me that I am worthy of love, and taught me to ask The Divine for help, especially when I needed it the most.
That’s why it’s vitally important for me to be of service whenever and however I can, and to pay it forward.
My friends, may your life be filled with Grace, Mercy, and Peace, always!
Much Love, Tonya