Just as the Year of Mercy was about to start last December, the Aleteia team put our heads together to offer our readers a list of 56 Ways to Be Merciful During the Jubilee, noting that “practicing mercy in our lives actually does take practice.”
Each week throughout the year, we have invited guest writers and staff members to tackle one of the suggestions, to tell us how they live it and what they’ve learned from the experience.
The responses have been as varied as the list itself. They have provided profound and sometimes humorous reflections on what often appeared to be a rather simple suggestion.
“We need constantly to contemplate the mystery of mercy,” Pope Francis told us on launching the Jubilee. “It is a wellspring of joy, serenity, and peace.”
And, he added, “Our salvation depends on it.”
So while the Jubilee is ending, our need to contemplate mercy remains. We offer this completed series today as a boon to our efforts to keep our eyes on Jesus Christ, who himself is “the face of the Father’s mercy.”
Click on each number to see the reflection for that suggestion. And enjoy!
2) Pare down possessions: share your things with the needy.
3) Call someone who you know is lonely, even if you understand why they’re lonely. Especially if you do.
4) Write a letter of forgiveness to someone. If you cannot send it, sprinkle it with holy water, ask Christ Jesus to have mercy on you both and then burn or bury it.
5) Learn to say this prayer: “Dear Lord, bless [annoying person’s name] and have mercy on me!”
6) Plan a mini pilgrimage to a local shrine; make an effort along the way to live the corporal work of mercy of “welcoming the stranger” as Christ.
7) Do something kind and helpful for someone who you don’t get along with, or who has wronged you.
8) Be mindful of your behavior online. Is that post designed to improve your image … and leave others feeling bad? Are you hammering people in order to serve your anger and humiliate others?
9) Have masses said for the living: friends and family members, even strangers you read/hear about, who are having a hard time.
11) If you didn’t mean to be a pain in the neck to someone, admit you were and ask the person to forgive you.
13) Take time in prayer to contemplate the good qualities of someone who is difficult for you. Do the same for each member of your family.
14) Send a card, flowers, gift or note to someone on the six-month anniversary of his or her loved one’s death. By then, most people have stopped recognizing their grief.
15) Offer to babysit for a busy mom to go out and have a couple of hours to herself.
16) Make a meal (or buy a gift certificate) for a mom who’s just given birth or adopted a child, or for someone who’s just gone through a loss.
17) Hold. Your. Tongue.
18) Offer to run an errand (groceries, dry cleaning pick-up, dog-walking) for a busy parent or homebound person.
20) If you’re sharing a treat, take the smaller portion.
21) Memorize the 14 corporal and spiritual works of mercy and show your children what they mean.
22) Instead of losing patience with someone online (or in person), try to hear that person’s fear. Ask God for what Solomon asked for: “an understanding heart.”
23) Offer to drive an elderly person to Mass.
24) Recall a time you were not given the benefit of the doubt, and extend one to someone else.
25) Put down the phone and really listen to someone else. With eye contact.
26) Have alternative drinks, other than water, for times when those who have been struggling with alcohol come to visit.
27) Take advantage of sales to buy small toothpastes, soaps, shampoos, socks and feminine products/toiletries; donate them to parish outreaches or make gift bags and have them ready to hand out where needed.
28) Create a short end-of-day ritual to ask for (and extend) forgiveness with those you live with.“Do not let the sun set on your anger” (Eph. 4:26).
29) Make a list of your “enemies.” Then, every day, say a prayer for them.
30) Make a point to smile, greet or make conversation with someone who is not in your everyday circle.
31) Give away something of yours (that you really like) to someone you know would enjoy it.
32) Pray a Divine Mercy Chaplet as you are traveling to or from work.
34) Make a gratitude journal for your spouse and jot down little things he or she does that you’re grateful for. Bite your tongue and go write in it (or at least read it) the next time you want to criticize in a moment of frustration.
36) Respond to provocation with the respect you wish a person would show you.
39) Pray a novena for the good of someone you dislike.
40) Dig out your most attractive stationery and handwrite an actual letter to someone as a means of demonstrating his or her importance to you.
41) Offer to read to someone who is feeling ill or is just feeling blue.
43) Lead with a kind comment with friends as well as strangers.
45) Can you play the piano, or any instrument? Can you recite poetry? Give free “concerts” to the forgotten people in nursing homes and assisted-living centers.
46) Visit the graves of your ancestors, or visit a local cemetery and walk around, praying a rosary for all the souls buried there.
47) Go on retreat. It’s a way to be merciful to yourself and the people around you, who know you need to go on retreat. If you cannot do that, at least try to make a day, or evening, of recollection.
48) Admit your jealousy to yourself and your confessor.
49) Offer to pray with someone, even someone you encounter on the street or public transport who looks like they could use it.
50) Keep holy cards, short prayers or blessed medals handy and give them out to people you meet as you are inspired as a blessing to others.
51) Offer hospitality in your home to someone or a group of people you would normally never invite over.
52) With a few other people at your church, plan a party and invite all those from “the highways and byways” to come.
53) If someone you know seems to lack faith, share some of yours — tell him or her how Christ has changed your life.
54) Pay the parking or toll fee for the person behind you.
55) Give the much-maligned Pope Benedict XVI a fair reading sometime. You’ll be surprised.
56) Pray every day for the souls in purgatory. Pray for your dead.