05 March 2012

Blessed Are the Merciful: for They Shall Obtain Mercy

The West has appropriated mercy as mark of a Christian culture and has it perverted into mere humanism. Many modern states are outright anti-Christian and therefore without true mercy. A so called “health-care-system” which provides abortions on demand and contraception as “free services” does not exhibit mercy but cruelty.   

This excerpt from his sermon on mercy by Canon Michael Wiener of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest ought to get your attention. The series of sermons on the Beatitudes continues next week at the Oratory:



Blessed are the merciful:for they shall obtain mercy.
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Federal and state governments, counties, cities and local communities provide countless “social services.” A random search on a website of any public social agency offers a great number of different departments from “Adult Foster care” to “Volunteer Drivers.” Our health care systems are outstanding and available for almost all. Large portions of federal budgets – in Germany and France up to 52%, in the US around 30% - are dedicated to health care and social services. In many countries, especially in the United States, countless private and church-related charities fill the gap the public sector might have left in caring for social needs.

It seems that the care for the sick, the poor, the old and the needy in general is at the heart of our societies.

Will we be called blessed because we are merciful?

Mercy is a virtue, moving the will to be compassionate for those in distress or need.  What motivates us to exercise this virtue is therefore the misery of others.  
Mercy is a fruit of charity, the love of God and our neighbor.

We know love as a mere passion and as a virtue. This distinction can also be made with regard to mercy: One kind of mercy is on the level of our feelings only and would be called passion, and the other, on the level of the higher faculties of the soul, will and intellect, would be called virtue. Since the soul is one and unites both faculties, the lower and the higher ones, both influence each other. Mercy can be cultivated and can develop from a mere passion to being a virtue.

For that mercy to be supernaturally meaningful and meritorious it must be a fruit of the infused virtue of the love of God, of charity.

"Then shall the king say to them that shall be on his right hand: Come, you blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink: I was a stranger, and you took me in: Naked, and you covered me: sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me” (Matthew 25:41).

Active mercy is mercy with Christ or the suffering neighbor to whom we are united in Christ and in whom the suffering Christ becomes visible.

To be a true virtue, mercy also must be rooted in our higher faculties and it must be nourished by divine grace, by the love of God. Active mercy is a supernatural fruit of the supernatural love, called charity. 

Both move us powerfully to the apostolate of merciful assistance since Christ’s suffering shouldn’t be in vain and the souls who are His as their creator and redeemer, shouldn’t be lost and, as the apostle says, “ … if one member suffers anything, all the members suffer with it …” (1 Cor 12, 26).

In being merciful man assists Christ in His work of salvation. 

Works of mercy are including therefore, in a very special and even privileged manner, deeds which help those in spiritual distress.

In Matthew 18:15 Our Lord teaches us about the fraternal correction, and in Matthew 6:14 about forgiveness of offenses: “For if you will forgive men their offences, your heavenly Father will forgive you also your offences.”

In being merciful, man allows his fellow man to come closer to God and to save his soul. 

The Church as the spouse of Christ calls us to do the works of corporal and spiritual mercy. Traditionally we can list seven different works of each kind: To feed the hungry; to give drink to the thirsty; to clothe the naked; to harbor the harbor-less; to visit the sick; to ransom the captive; and to bury the dead is to answer the call to do the works of corporal mercy. To instruct the ignorant; to counsel the doubtful; to admonish sinners; to bear wrongs patiently; to forgive offences willingly; to comfort the afflicted; to pray for the living and the dead is to answer the call to do the spiritual works of mercy.

Not everyone has the competence or authority to instruct the ignorant or to counsel the doubtful. Tact and prudence limit often the scope of what we call “fraternal correction.” However, to pray for the living and the dead, to forgive offences swiftly, and to bear wrongs patiently, are things everyone can do and must do at any time. 

Likewise, not everyone is always and under all circumstances obliged to give alms "to make unto themselves friends of the Mammon of iniquity", depending on the individual circumstances and capacities. But giving alms renders the donor always like unto God Himself (Luke 6:30, 36) and purifies us from sin and its punishment (Eccles. 29).

“The sum total of the Christian religion consists in mercy, as regards external works: but the inward love of charity, whereby we are united to God dominates over both love and mercy for our neighbor”(ST II, II 30, 4).

Are we blessed in being merciful? 

To act mercifully is a matter of individual and personal disposition – states or governments can and must provide the platform for such a cultivation of true virtue. 

Today’s culture with its predominantly humanitarian perspective on relieving man from distress at all price does not show the signs of mercy, nor does it believe to be in need of mercy. The West has appropriated mercy as mark of a Christian culture and has it perverted into mere humanism. Many modern states are outright anti-Christian and therefore without true mercy. A so called “health-care-system” which provides abortions on demand and contraception as “free services” does not exhibit mercy but cruelty.  

Only if we do real works of mercy by respecting God’s Will and receiving His love we will be truly merciful and therefore blessed.

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
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1 comment:

brew said...

Excellent sermon...one of the best in the series so far!