Misericordiae Vultus 10: The Foundation of the Church’s Life

head of ChristThe very credibility of Christianity is at stake. It is a credibility not based on a more logical set of truths than someone else, or on a lineage of leadership. It is about the imitation of Christ.

10. Mercy is the very foundation of the Church’s life. All of her pastoral activity should be caught up in the tenderness she makes present to believers; nothing in her preaching and in her witness to the world can be lacking in mercy. The Church’s very credibility is seen in how she shows merciful and compassionate love. The Church “has an endless desire to show mercy.”[Evangelii Gaudium 24]

Is our memory faulty? Or have we not been well-catechized?

Perhaps we have long since forgotten how to show and live the way of mercy. The temptation, on the one hand, to focus exclusively on justice made us forget that this is only the first, albeit necessary and indispensable step. But the Church needs to go beyond and strive for a higher and more important goal. On the other hand, sad to say, we must admit that the practice of mercy is waning in the wider culture. It some cases the word seems to have dropped out of use. However, without a witness to mercy, life becomes fruitless and sterile, as if sequestered in a barren desert. The time has come for the Church to take up the joyful call to mercy once more. It is time to return to the basics and to bear the weaknesses and struggles of our brothers and sisters. Mercy is the force that reawakens us to new life and instils in us the courage to look to the future with hope.

I have not seen much of this argument lately. It is true that much of modern society lacks mercy. Many actions within the Church, though with a claim to be grounded in Truth, actually resemble some aspects of secular society, especially our more brutal practices that involve bureaucracy.

The highlighted text is © copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana. You can find the document in its entirety on the Vatican website here.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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