Welcome to WINE’s Summer Book Club! We are reading and discussing Blessed Are You: Finding Inspiration From Our Sisters in Faith by Melanie Rigney. We’re so happy you are joining us! We pray this book club will bless you and give you tangible ways to live the Beatitudes in your daily lives. We look forward to hearing from you in the comments section, throughout our time together.
By Allison Gingras
When introducing the corporal and spiritual works of mercy in her book, Blessed Are You, Melanie Rigney writes, “Both types can come free and easy … or hard and challenging” (p. 66). This is sort of like the healthy benefits of exercise. I can stroll around the park with the kids, or I can strap on the boxing gloves and go a round with the punching bag.
As I read about Blessed Mother Teresa, St. Maria Karlowska, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, and others in this chapter about mercy, it brought one important question to mind. How do I approach the responsibility of showing mercy to others in my own life? And not just the “even though you hurt me (again) and this is all your fault but I will still forgive you” kind? But the “words into action” kind of mercy?
The works of mercy encourage us beyond ourselves, like Blessed Mother Teresa beyond ourselves. Though we may not all be called to the streets of India, we are responsible to care for the poorest of the poor—spiritually and physically.
Take for instance praying for the living and the dead. (But we are going to focus on the living for this reflection.) There is an easy way to accomplish this. I can include prayer intentions for others in my daily prayers. One of my favorite ways to include praying for others that definitely falls into the “free and easy” category is to post on Facebook when I am going to Eucharistic Adoration. In my post I include an image of my parish’s chapel along with a simple, “Can I pray for you?” The response this garners humbles and amazes me, as I typically receive 100 or more likes and/or comments, when I do this. Sitting in the chapel before Jesus in the Eucharist, praying for each by name, there is a sense of peace and hope. Though the requests often break my heart, this is still very much an easy act of mercy.
Late last year, after completing a novena to St. Ann for help with a serious financial matter, I felt a spiritual nudge to give back for our blessings by asking in prayer for an idea on how else I could serve the church. In my heart, I was inspired to rejoin the ministry of bringing Holy Communion to the home bound. My pastor was happy to have my help, but it would require me to attend the 8 a.m. Mass and to run an encore presentation in place of my usual live radio show, once a week. Oh, wow, I didn’t see that coming! This fell under the “hard and challenging” category, and it wouldn’t stop being so, even after I made those sacrifices in order to participate in this work of mercy.
First, you have to know I am germaphobic. Just weeks into this new ministry, I arrived at my assigned assisted-living location and was greeted by a large note taped to the door, “ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK. STOMACH BUG EPIDEMIC.”
The situation was made more difficult because in my hand wasn’t regular Communion but Christmas Communion. How could I not bring them Jesus for Christmas? But with just days until I was to host our family Christmas celebration, it felt selfish to walk in and selfish to walk away. As my spiritual director always says, “If you are going to trust God, then you need to trust God!” Sometimes being Christ in the world or bringing Christ to the world (or to just three remarkable new 90-year-old friends) is hard and challenging.
As in my exercise analogy, both activities are beneficial, but the workout that is harder definitely takes more determination and effort from me. And let’s be honest, the harder workout will produce the greater benefit, too. Finally, in case you are wondering, I did go into the building that morning, and I did not get sick. The joy on the face of the first woman I visited and the smell of Lysol wafting heavily in the air quickly told me I made the right choice. The next resident I visited, wisely shared, “Jesus will bless you for your kindness.” Regardless of whether I caught the bug or not, I believed He already had!
To Ponder, Reflect, and Discuss:
- What can I do to gain a better knowledge of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy?
- When I consider the works I presently participate in, do I always follow the “free and easy” route, or am I willing to seek and accept the “hard and challenging”?
- Mother Cabrini said regarding mercifulness, “I will go anywhere and do anything in order to communicate the love of Jesus to those who do not know him or have forgotten him.” What do those words mean to you?
YOUR TURN: Below in the comments box, please share your thoughts, inspirations, and reflections on Chapter 5, and/or your responses to any of these questions.
About the Author:
Allison Gingras is founder of Reconciled To You and host of A Seeking Heart on Breadbox Media weekdays at 10 a.m. ET. Allison blogs, writes and speaks about living an every-day life of faith. She created the “Words With” daily devotional app series, Words with Jesus, and offers presentations on forgiveness, trust, and lessons from the Blessed Mother.
Next week, we’ll cover Chapter 6: Purity. For the complete reading schedule and information about our online book club, visit the Read Between the WINEs Summer Book Club page.