Here is an infographic on the Corporal Works of Mercy to go along with the Spiritual Works of Mercy.
Ever since Pope Francis announced that a Jubilee Year of Mercy would begin in December 2015, voices in the Church have been following the Pope’s call to spread the message of mercy to all people. There are excellent video resources available to inspire and educate us, and many of them are free. Here’s a sampling.
1. Ascension Presents An Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy
This series of four short videos (less than ten minutes each) is available here. Each video features a different popular Catholic speaker. My favorite is this one with Fr. Mike Schmitz, explaining what a jubilee year is and why it’s so important.
2. Catholic Conference 4 Moms Faces of Mercy
This online conference features more than 20 prerecorded presentations on the topic of mercy. Each presentation is about 20 minutes long. The conference will begin February 20, but individuals and parishes can register now. This trailer explains more about the conference.
My husband Manuel P. Santos M.D. and I will talk about Mercy in Marriage. Here’s a sneak peek at our presentation, where we talk about grudges.
3. The Wild Goose by Fr. Dave Pivonka
The mercy of God flows through the work of the Holy Spirit, and so we’re fortunate to have a new series of fourteen videos on the Holy Spirit, whom the Celts analogized to a wild goose because of the Spirit’s vast potential to surprise us. The videos last between twenty and thirty minutes and are available online for free. Only seven out of the fourteen have been completed so far. The first video was filmed against the stunning backdrop of Niagara Falls where we can “literally hear the love of God being poured forth into our hearts through the power of the Holy Spirit.”
4. Allegri’s Miserere Mei Deus
Music inspires me more than anything else, so these recommendations would be incomplete without a music video. I leave you with this astonishingly beautiful performance of Gregorio Allegri’s Miserere Mei Deus (transl.: “Have mercy on me, O God”) by King’s College Choir of Cambridge, England. You can hear the angels start to sing shortly after the one and a half minute mark. Enjoy!
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This post is written in response to a question from one of our readers for a fun retreat for catechists. I willingly took up the opportunity to craft a retreat. I hope it is of use to you.
Since we are currently celebrating the Year of Mercy, it seems appropriate that we form our retreat around the theme of mercy.
Theme: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Luke 6:36
Gather: Serve refreshments appropriate to the time of the retreat; have music playing in the background; if your group is large and people do not know each other’s names, provide name tags.
Welcome: The retreat leader should welcome the group and give an overview of the day.
Opening Prayer: Have a prayer space set up with a covered table, crucifix, Bible, flowers, candle, etc. Use items which are meaningful to your group.
Song: Sweep me Away by Kari Jobe
Psalm 136: Have copies of Psalm 136 available for each participant. Separate the group into two groups and pray the Psalm with each group alternately praying two verses. (Click here for handout)
Reflection: How do I see God’s mercy enduring forever?
Prayer: Lord, you are the Father of all mercy. Throughout history you have shown your people how to love and serve you and each other. You gave us the ultimate sign of your mercy in your Son, Jesus. Help us to know your mercy and then to learn to share it with those you ask us to teach. May your mercy flow in us as we grow closer to you this day. We ask for Mary’s intercession as we pray: Hail Mary…
Ice Breakers: These are helpful and important, especially if your group is large or unfamiliar with each other.
Some possible ideas
1. Human Bingo: Make up Bingo cards with one item in each square, people find one person that has that characteristic in the square. Possible squares: married more than 10 years, is wearing boots, speaks a foreign language, loves to cook, has been anointed, has read the entire Bible, goes to daily Mass, has on a medal or crucifix, carries a rosary in their purse or pocket, is on Facebook, etc. The first one to have a signature in each box wins.
2. We’re all connected: one person stands up in front of the group and starts talking about themselves: I’m from New York, my favorite food is steak, I like to sew, etc… As the person is talking, if another person in the group hears something that is also true of them, they get up, link arms and start talking about themselves until another person hears something that is also true of them, gets up, starts talking and so on until everyone has gotten up. When you explain the game remind people to tell unique things about themselves, not your usual I’m a mom, I teach Confirmation class.
3. That’s Me: (I can’t recall if that really is the name of the game) this works with a small group, no more than 12 or so. Each person writes down something very unique about themselves that people cannot tell by being casual friends or acquaintances. I often write that I forgot how to speak English when I was little. Once everyone has written something, they fold the slip of paper and put it in a basket. Pass around the basket, making sure you don’t have your own paper. Each person reads the slip and tries to guess who wrote it.
Break for bathroom/water
Talk: Retreat Leader or other suitable person
Pick a story from the Gospels that focuses on healing and mercy. For me, I’d have to choose between the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) and the Healing of the Blind Beggar (Luke 18:35-43). Read the Gospel passage chosen and give an explanation of it. After the explanation, it would be appropriate to give a personal testimony of mercy in your own life. Then, either in pairs or small groups, have each participant tell their own story of mercy.
We want to give people the opportunity to see God’s mercy in our everyday lives. When we see mercy in our own lives and reflect on it, it convicts us and hopefully leads us to share it with others.
Group Activity: Mercy is Falling
Play the song Mercy is Falling for the group. Break up into small groups and give each group a large sheet of paper and markers. Instruct the groups to either make a list of or draw what they see when they think of mercy.
When everyone is finished, have them explain to the whole group what they discovered. Post them around the room.
Break for lunch, allow time for fellowship, going outside weather permitting; come back together and open with a song.
Song: Lord I need You by Matt Maher
Lectio Divina: Luke 6:27-36
Here is an explanation of Lectio Divina from the Religion Teacher. I’ve also included an explanation in the handout. I recommend doing this in small groups, no more than five or six people.
Closing Prayer: Before praying, have each participant write their name on a small slip of paper, fold it and put it in a basket.
Pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.
After the prayer, have each person take a name from the basket to pray for that person.
Closing: Thank everyone for coming, if a priest or deacon is present have him offer a blessing to the group.
If possible, do the closing prayer in a chapel or in front of the Blessed Sacrament. This outline is for a retreat without a priest; if you have a priest I’d add opportunities for confession and Mass depending on time constraints.
Copyright 2015, Deanna Bartalini
On my walk to the metro the other day, past houses illuminated with brightly colored lights (which were put up too early) and festive cheer, I found myself feeling irritated, lonely, and discouraged.
But this is Advent. I’m supposed to be happy. I work for the Church, so why am I not more excited?
The answer hit me like a snowball to the face.
One of the reasons why my heart has been restless is because I have been so critical of the “happy holidays” culture, separating myself from those who are not more traditional. In an attempt to celebrate Advent “successfully” (whatever that looks like), I put myself above anyone who does not observe this pentential season the “right” way.
I have fallen yet again into the, “I’m not one of those people mentality.”
How many times have we all said this, especially during Advent? Do any of these situations sound familiar?
- Criticizing retailers for putting out merchandise too early
- Gossiping about the neighbors who decorate the day after Thanksgiving
- Rolling our eyes at black friday shoppers
- If we did shop, our shopping was completely justified…we’re not one of those rediculous 3am shoppers…
- Glaring at the barrista who hands us a red coffee cup and wishes us happy holidays
- Plugging our ears in protest of Christmas music played before the Octave
Is this having the effect we really want? Is this really the Christian response? Are we so liturgically rigid that we deny returning charity to others of good will?
These “others” are trying to spread joy in that same secular world which told Mary and Joseph that there was no room for them. Do we not give them room in our hearts? Are we too busy complaining that it isn’t the right time to sing “Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee” that we forget to recognize and adore the presence of Christ whose love is incarnate in the smiling person before us?
In all of this holiday mania let us be lights of joy and let us receive others as lights of joy. Christ came in the most unexpected place on that first Christmas day, and we have the opportunity to meet him in those very people we are so quick to judge, those who “take Christ out of Christmas.”
No one can really take Christ out of Christmas. Our challenge is to recognize Christ in those place where he is needed most, and bring his love and light into the darkness. As Christians we cannot just ignore the darkness and those who are thirsting within it for a savior.
It was His Heart that beat under the heart of Our Lady waiting to be born for the salvation of the world. It was His Heart that cured the sick, forgave the sinner, and fed the hungry. It was His Heart that beat on the Cross for us and still beats for us in Heaven. It is His Heart that beats within our own Hearts. The question is, are we willing to bring that love into the world?
Christ sees us all men and women as his children, he does not evaluate us as “happy holidays” people or “Merry Christmas” people.
If we find ourselves frustrated by the culture, by the fact that our ministry makes it difficult to pray, or if this season brings with it personal challenges and struggles, let us be consoled by the truth that Christ comes into the world each time at Mass and is always present in our hearts and in the hearts of others.
Whether or not we do Christmas or Advent “right,” no matter when we put out our Christmas lights and decorations, he still comes, for he is always faithful.
My husband Manny and I are excited to join several stellar speakers for a February 2016 online event called Faces of Mercy, produced by CatholicConference4Moms. Over 4,000 Catholic women registered for last year’s event. Manny and I will be speaking on Mercy in Marriage and the power of forgiveness to make your marriage strong, long-lasting, and joyful. Other presentations cover a wide range of topics such as teaching children how to forgive, overcoming evil through showing mercy, lessons on Divine Mercy from St. Faustina, and the role of mercy in combating pornography addiction.
This year’s amazing line-up of presenters includes:
- Jennifer Fulwiler, Sirius XM radio show host & author of the best-selling conversion memoir Something Other Than God;
- Simcha Fisher, speaker at the World Meeting of Families and author of The Sinner’s Guide to Natural Family Planning;
- Kimberly Hahn, Bible-study author and wife of theology professor Scott Hahn;
- Mike Aquilina, author or editor of more than 40 books and host of several television series on EWTN; and
Conference organizer Tami Kiser has brought to life an extraordinary way of entering into the meaning of Christ’s mercy during this Year of Mercy, starting on December 8, 2015, that Pope Francis has declared for the Church. Pre-recorded talks from the Faces of Mercy conference will be available to registrants on demand. Parishes can schedule a viewing at their convenience, and individuals can download and listen whenever they want throughout all of Lent. Plus, on February 20, 2016, Jennifer Fulwiler will be speaking live at 10:30 a.m. EST, and moms can gather virtually at 3 p.m. for live stream praying of the Divine Mercy chaplet.
A special option available this year is for parishes to host the talks as a Lenten retreat. This is a great way to rejuvenate faith and trust in God during the cold winter months before we celebrate Christ’s resurrection! The CatholicConference4Moms website has all the information for parish participation here.
Copyright 2015 Karee Santos.