Misericordia et Misera, Introduction

john-8Was this a surprise to anyone? At the conclusion of the Jubilee of Mercy yesterday, Pope Francis issued an apostolic letter. Follow this link for the full document, Misericordia et Misera.

Like other documents we’ve read here, we’ll take it one section at a time over the next several weeks.



MISERICORDIA ET MISERA is a phrase used by Saint Augustine in recounting the story of Jesus’ meeting with the woman taken in adultery (cf. Jn 8:1-11). It would be difficult to imagine a more beautiful or apt way of expressing the mystery of God’s love when it touches the sinner: “the two of them alone remained: mercy with misery”.[On the Gospel of John, XXXIII, 5] What great mercy and divine justice shine forth in this narrative! Its teaching serves not only to throw light on the conclusion of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, but also to point out the path that we are called to follow in the future.

My hope this year has been that mercy would not get eclipsed by some new concern. Or worse, the next program. It may still be that way in a lot of parishes and dioceses. I suspect we’ll still see evidence of confusion and dismay among our elder sisters and brothers. Resistance to mercy is a sad reality among the religious self-righteous. The purpose of this series is to provide a continuing counter-narrative. And hopefully, as the Holy Father suggests in this brief introduction, to cast some light.


About catholicsensibility

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