Mercy Moments: Episode Two

Mercy Moments: Our lives are dripping with mercy.  Indeed, our world is drenched in it. 

My entire career has been centered on stories of suffering and injustice.  I taught a Catholic Social Teaching course for seniors, led global immersion retreats for high school students, and supervised numerous service programs and social justice initiatives. Today my role in Family Immigration Services seems like a natural continuation of this work that centers on people who are experiencing injustice.   

And it’s not just my job, I share my life with a man whose roots are in Mexico and who daily misses his family, friends, culture, – HOME. 

So when it comes to people who easily evoke my feelings of compassion and mercy, I often feel ridiculous – even unworthy – of self-compassion.  When I’m sad or stressed or having a bad day, I’m keenly aware that there are bigger problems in the world. 

And then I’m reminded of a conversation I had with a good friend of mine many years ago after I had just been on a plane.  I’m terrified of flying and I always panic-pray on flights.  So I told my friend that I felt guilty for praying so intensely about flying when there are people who are actually suffering all around the world.  (It probably didn’t help that my in-flight book of choice was about the Rawandan genocide.) I told him that I was sure that God didn’t want to hear about my so-called “problems”.   

But my friend didn’t agree and he shared with me that he didn’t see suffering as a competition and that God actually does care about my problems because God loves me and wants to be in relationship with me.  AND at the same time, God is always, always, always on the side of the oppressed. 

So, have we all endured many losses throughout the past two years of a global pandemic?  Yes! 

Is there suffering and fear in our own families? Yes! 

Am I already dreading my upcoming flight at the end of the month?  Of course! 

Does God care about all of this?  Yes! 

AND at the same time, I think about DACA recipients who remain in the U.S. without status, never knowing how court rulings or changing administrations will impact their lives.  They are oppressed and God is on their side.  

Or I think about the Ukrainians, who came to the U.S. as refugees decades ago, and are now struggling as they face the reality of their family members who remain amidst the violence in Ukraine.  They are oppressed, and God is on their side.  

Or I think about the countless Afghan evacuees who escaped without their families and are now desperately seeking to be reunited.  They are oppressed and I know God is on their side too.  

And that’s where I want to be.  I want to be on the side of compassion, kindness, and understanding. 

And our Lenten pilgrimages in search of mercy are just one invitation for all of us to give that compassion, kindness, and understanding to those we serve at Catholic Charities, to the wider community, and, yes, even to ourselves.  

Calling for Mercy: What We Can Do

As people of faith and goodwill, we may sometimes feel helpless when grappling with the accounts of oppression, dire situations, and challenges that many in our world face. What can we do? As we journey together this lent in search of mercy, we can pray, advocate and learn about those “in the margins”. This week, consider learning about those whose situations may be vastly different from your own:

  • To read the stories of DACA recipients and learn more about how you can support a pathway to citizenship for millions of Americans living in the U.S. without status, click HERE
  • To learn more about the challenges Afghan evacuees are facing, click HERE

Almsgiving is a “staple” for many during the Lenten season. We’ve seen and heard the egregious stories in the media surrounding the war in Ukraine. If you feel called, consider giving alms this week to humanitarian efforts:

  • To donate to help families affected in Ukraine, click HERE