Lord, Have Mercy on My Lent

The Name of God Is Mercy is a beautiful (and very short!) book. Published just about a month ago, this book shares an interview between Pope Francis and Andrea Tornielli, getting at some of the reasons behind our extraordinary jubilee year. I love that the appendix contains the entire text of Misericordiae VultusPope Francis' declaration of the Year of Mercy. If you're the least bit vague on what mercy is and how we can get busy being merciful, grab hold of this book right away. The next 40 days of Lent beg us to reflect on the richness of God's mercy; The Name of God Is Mercy helps us do just that.

One of the last interview questions in the book asks the Pope how to help children celebrate the Year of mercy. Specifically, Tornielli asks,

How can mercy be taught to children?

Pope Francis, ever the practical man, gives three concrete suggestions:

  1. Read them stories of the Gospel
  2. Talk with them
  3. Above all, help them experience mercy

So simple! Let's read stories about Jesus to our children, and then talk about what we read. If there's no Bible handy, no problem! We can stop in to a nearby church for the next liturgy. Jesus is the Word made flesh, so every moment spent with the Gospels is a moment spent in Jesus' embrace. What a very good place for us to bring our children.

The Pope's third item, helping children experience mercy, is slightly more complicated. How can we give children an experience of mercy? Pope Francis responds:

By helping them understand that in life we sometimes make mistakes and fall but that the important thing is to always get back up. The family is the hospital closest to us: when someone is sick, they are cared for there, where possible. The family is the first school for children, it is the unwavering reference point for the young, it is the best home for the elderly. It is the first school of mercy, because it is there that we have been loved and learned to love, have been forgiven and learned to forgive.
— The Name of God Is Mercy, page 88

Our homes are the first schools of mercy for our children. That's why this Lent, in the Year of Mercy, promises such fullness. Let's enter this Lent like it's the only Lent we'll ever have with our families. Let's "give something up," yes, but let's talk about WHY: because everything we have comes from God, who continues to keep us breathing every second of the day.

God is perfect! Perfection lacks nothing. God doesn't need us--God wants us, with a deep thirst. St. Augustine describes prayer as "the meeting of two great thirsts." Let's allow ourselves to experience thirst this Lent: our own thirst for God, and God's deep, tender, merciful thirst for us.

There are lots of amazing Lenten resources for families out there. The free printable I'm sharing here helps us reflect on what we are "doing" for Lent in the context of what God does for us every moment of every day.

I'm so glad to know we are praying for each other.