May 18

The Earth Caring for Us!

The universe unfolds in God, who fills it completely.  Hence, there is a mystical meaning to be found in a leaf, in a mountain trail, in a dew drop, in a poor person’s face.”

Pope Francis, Laudato Si’

Mercy Minute   We recently celebrated Earth Day but every day is a good day to take action to care for and protect the earth.  Still, we might also consider the ways in which the earth cares for and protects us!  The earth, after all, is our home and it sustains us in life.   The earth is an agent of mercy.

In his encyclical On Care for Our Common Home, Pope Francis reminds us that God cares for us through creation.  “Soil, water, mountains: everything is, as it were, a caress of God.”  He tells us that “God has written a precious book, ‘whose letters are the multitude of created things present in the universe.’”  Francis then quotes the bishops of Japan saying:  “To sense each creature singing the hymn of its existence is to live joyfully in God’s love and hope.”  Indeed, we are the recipients of God’s mercy through creation!

Please take some time today to get outdoors to experience the caress of God in the gentle breeze or the warmth of the sun on your face.  Read the book of creation by observing the greening of the trees or the antics of your squirrel neighbors.  Listen to the hymn of creation sung by the birds in the trees or the spring peepers in the ponds.  Many of us suffer from “nature deficit disorder.”  Earth Day is an opportunity to seek healing from our sister earth.


Apr 21


“The time has come for the Church to take up the joyful call to mercy once more. It is time to return to the basics and to bear the weaknesses and struggles of our brothers and sisters.”

Pope Francis, Misericordiae Vultus

Mercy Minute

As we all know, Georgian Court is a “Catholic university in the Mercy tradition.”  As an institution, we rightly spend a great deal of time exploring the rich meaning of mercy for our community.  However, we sometimes seem to spend less time investigating our Catholic character – an endeavor that can deepen our understanding of mercy.

The word “catholic”, of course, means “universal.”  It is a reference to the Church’s universality, its inclusiveness and its openness to truth wherever it may be found.  “Catholicity”, therefore,

“…means having a ‘sense of the whole’ or consciousness of belonging to the whole.  Catholicity, like consciousness itself, is not a static, fixed ideal.  Rather, it is an expression of human awareness in relation to the surrounding world; a thread connecting the human person and the cosmos.  Catholicity undergirds the question: Are we aware of belonging to a whole greater than our own immediate vision?”   Sr. Ilia Delio, OSF

From this explanation, it becomes clear that mercy is something that flows from our catholicity.  The word “mercy,” comes from the Latin miserecordia, which means “a heart sensitive to the misery of others.”  In other words, mercy flows out of an awareness of another’s suffering and need.  It is a recognition of our connectedness to the distress of the broader human community and indeed, the whole of creation.  Our catholic character is more than a denominational label.  It is a challenge to be more universal in our outlook, to see beyond ourselves.  It pushes us to acts of mercy which are more open, inclusive and lavish.

Apr 21

Mercy and Islam

“Among the privileged names that Islam attributes to the Creator are “Merciful and Kind.”

Pope Francis, Misericordiae Vultus

Mercy Minute

Interfaith relationships have been on my mind lately – particularly relationships with the Muslim community.  This is in part due to the Comparative Theology class I am currently taking here at GCU.  Recent terrorist attacks have also brought the topic to the fore.  In addition, echoes of Donald Trump’s assertion that “Muslims hate us” continue to disturb my peace.

The truth is that in this Jubilee Year of Mercy, Christians and Muslims have a great deal to dialogue about.  As Pope Francis points out, mercy is an important aspect of both traditions.

Eboo Patel is an American Muslim who co-founded the Interfaith Youth Core.  When speaking about mercy, he often recalls a visit with his Grandmother in India.  One day he woke to find a strange woman in their home.  It was clear that she was not part of the extended family and that she would be staying for a while.  It turned out that the woman was a victim of abuse and that she was just one of many woman his grandmother had sheltered over the years.  “She told me story after story of these women” Eboo says. When his grandmother was done, he asked “Why?”  “Because I am Muslim,” she said. “This is what it means to be merciful. This is what Muslims do.”

My research has led me to a dawning recognition of how important mercy is to Islam.  Islam’s scriptures, for example, stress mercy as God’s primary attribute.  The formula “In the name of God, the All-Merciful, the Mercy-Giving,” appears 114 times in the Qur’an.  The Prophet Mohammad is also known as the “Prophet of Mercy” and the Qur’an says of him:  “We did not send you but as a special mercy to all the worlds.”  Islam also enjoins followers to be merciful to themselves, others and the worlds so that God’s mercy may be received.

Mercy is what Muslims do in much the same way that it is what Christians do.  Whether one is a Grandmother in India, a nun in 17th century Ireland or a student in Lakewood, New Jersey, mercy both heals and unites us.

Mar 23

Easter Mercy

For his mercy endures forever.” This is the refrain that repeats after each verse in Psalm 136 as it narrates the history of God’s revelation. By virtue of mercy, all the events of the Old Testament are replete with profound salvific import.”

Pope Francis, Misericordiae Vultus

Mercy Minute

Easter and Mercy

In the midst of Holy Week, we enter into a commemoration of the central mysteries of the Christian faith – the salvific death and resurrection of Jesus.  These mysteries reveal the depths of God’s mercy – a mercy that runs through all of history.

Jesus would have had a profound sense of this history of mercy.  As an observant Jew, for example, he would have sung Psalm 136 many times.  This Psalm traces salvation history from the creation of the world, to the liberation of Israel from slavery in Egypt, to Israel’s settlement in the promised land.  Each and every verse is echoed by the words:  “For his [God’s] mercy endures forever.”

“Within the very same context of mercy, Jesus entered upon his passion and death, conscious of the great mystery of love that he would consummate on the Cross. Knowing that Jesus himself prayed this psalm makes it even more important for us as Christians, challenging us to take up the refrain in our daily lives by praying these words of praise: “for his mercy endures forever” (Pope Francis).

In the days ahead, in the midst of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter, may each of us recall God’s mercy and sing with joy at the knowledge that it will never end.  Have a happy and blessed Easter!


Feb 25


“Jesus affirms that mercy is not only an action of the Father, it becomes a criterion for ascertaining who his true children are.”  Pope Francis, Misericordiae Vultus

Mercy Minute

Pope Francis’ Latin motto is “Miserando atque Eligendo.” Francis has admitted that this doesn’t translate well into Italian or Spanish. The same might be said for its English translation: “by having mercy.” To capture the sense he desired, the Pope coined a new word in Spanish – “misericordiando” – in English, “Mercy-ing.” In this way we are challenged by the idea that mercy is not just an object, but an action.

This idea isn’t really news to the Sisters of Mercy. Catherine’s life was all about action on behalf of the poor, the sick and the dying. That dynamic continues today within the order and all of its partners in ministry. The Mercy charism powerfully motivates us to action in service and advocacy for justice.

Make Mercy real    Illustrating this is the new social media campaign, “#MakeMercyReal.” This campaign encourages people and groups to share pictures and stories of how they live mercy. In this Jubilee Year of Mercy, we are creating a photo album of people mercy-ing in our communities and across the globe.

As you may know, GCU will be sending a crew of volunteers to North Carolina for spring break. We will be partnering with Habitat for Humanity to build a decent, affordable home for a low-income family of seven. Our group will be posting photos of our mercy-ing to the #MakeMercyReal campaign – as well as to GCU Campus Ministry’s new Instagram account.

How will you be mercy-ing this break? What actions will you take during this Jubilee Year of Mercy? Please join the #MakeMercyReal campaign and show others the power of mercy to heal our world!

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