When I look at the lives of the Saints, I see an ocean of personalities, vocations, experiences, and spiritualities. I marvel at the creativity of God and His goodness in giving us such varied souls. There are, however, a few things that all the Saints share in common. It is not limited to this, of course, but I have noticed that all the Saints have a deep love for a devotion toward:
- The Eucharist
- Our Lady
- The poor
While this love and devotion manifested differently in their lives, these were hallmarks in their hearts.
Works of Mercy
The third thread strikes me in particular and calls me to a deep examination of conscience. Am I loving the poor? Am I devoted to them? Who are the poor the Lord has placed in my life?
As I work through this examination, I am so thankful for the guidance I’ve received in a book called Simple Mercies. Its author, Lara Patangan, has lived out the mission of mercy for years and has a wealth of wisdom she now offers readers in this thorough but approachable book.
Making Sense of the Calls
Sometimes we can feel overwhelmed by the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. Where do we focus our energies? Where should we start? What exactly do they mean?
In Simple Mercies, Lara offers us a friendly hand to show us the Gospel call and conviction to serve the poor, in whatever poverty they find themselves. She shares her own personal experience of God’s mercy, the catalyst in the Works of Mercy. She conveys in the Introduction:
For most of my life, mercy felt above me, like something I could never reach. IT was like the incense used during holy days that rose to meet the cherubs at the tops of cathedrals. It was an enigma. I never took the time to contemplate what it meant, how it’s shown, or its source from which salvation hinges. Now I understand that mercy never rose to the spires of churches; it descended from the heavens, reaching down to each of us. Mercy is forgiveness, do-overs, compassion, and kindness. I have been on the giving and receiving ends of these things my entire life, but I didn’t always recognize them as mercy.
Her honesty and candidness help us to understand the point and purpose of the Works of Mercy: receiving mercy from God and letting that reception overflow into our interactions with others.
Even more, she gives us concrete ways we can begin practicing each work of mercy in our own lives. For each work of mercy, she offers ideas for us to live it:
- in our homes
- in our communities
- in our personal relationships with God
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For Group or Personal Study
The reflection questions Lara includes at the end of each chapter make this book perfect for either group or personal study. I would love to read this with a group of women and discuss how we each feel the Lord calling us to live the different works.
Jesus’ Merciful Love
Simple Mercies directs us to the merciful love of Christ that animates and inspires any act of mercy we perform. It is only by Him and through Him that the Works of Mercy transform the world, one act of love at a time.
Want to dive into the Works of Mercy with me? Which work of mercy is on your heart the most right now?BIS Reads // Simple Mercies: How the Works of Mercy Bring Peace and Fulfillment #BISblog // Click To Tweet