A flourishing life programme
Fr Mario Attard OFM Cap
We are living in an age where everyone is trying to live a fulfilling life. Even in our daily dealings with each other the craveto actualize ourselves crops up both verbally and nonverbally.
It is good that we are trying our best to live in such a way. Life passes rapidly. The psalmist overtly admitted it: “Man is like a breath, his days are like a passing shadow” (Psalm 144:4). Life vanishes quickly.
The more I meet with suffering people the more I realize that mercy is the measure of our true humanity. We cannot live our human life without being merciful. If we resort to “fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like” (Gal 5:19-21) we destroy ourselves. The reason is plainly obvious. Since we come from God who is himself “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal 5:22-23) we can only find our real selves by being transformed by these life-giving attributes of God. Furthermore these attributes are paraphrazed by one word: mercy! That is why Jesus keeps reminding us inthe Gospel of Luke, the Gospel of God’s mercy: “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36).
Our Father is forgiving us continually when we sin against him, by rejecting these fruits of the Holy Spirit. Hence, if our Father is so good with us, even if we do not deserve his love, who are we not to forgive those who hurt us? Not once, twice or thrice, but, as Jesus tells us, “seventy times seven” (Matt 18:22), meaning forgiving completely as long as that person who have hurt us lives and as long as we live.
In this Jubilee Year of Mercy the following prayer, written by Saint Faustina Kowalska, can serve as our daily evening examination of conscience:
O Most Holy Trinity! As many times as I breathe, as many times as my heart beats, as many times as my blood pulsates through my body, so many thousand times do I want to glorify Your mercy.
I want to be completely transformed into Your mercy and to be Your living reflection, O Lord. May the greatest of all divine attributes, that of Your unfathomable mercy, pass through my heart and soul to my neighbor.
Help me, O Lord, that my eyes may be merciful, so that I may never suspect or judge from appearances, but look for what is beautiful in my neighbors’ souls and come to their rescue.
Help me, that my ears may be merciful, so that I may give heed to my neighbors’ needs and not be indifferent to their pains and moanings.
Help me, O Lord, that my tongue may be merciful, so that I should never speak negatively of my neighbor, but have a word of comfort and forgiveness for all.
Help me, O Lord, that my hands may be merciful and filled with good deeds, so that I may do only good to my neighbors and take upon myself the more difficult and toilsome tasks.
Help me, that my feet may be merciful, so that I may hurry to assist my neighbor, overcoming my own fatigue and weariness. My true rest is in the service of my neighbor.
Help me, O Lord, that my heart may be merciful so that I myself may feel all the sufferings of my neighbor. I will refuse my heart to no one. I will be sincere even with those who, I know, will abuse my kindness. And I will lock myself up in the most merciful Heart of Jesus. I will bear my own suffering in silence. May Your mercy, O Lord, rest upon me.
You Yourself command me to exercise the three degrees of mercy. The first: the act of mercy, of whatever kind. The second:the word of mercy — if I cannot carry out a work of mercy, I will assist by my words. The third: prayer — if I cannot show mercy by deeds or words, I can always do so by prayer. My prayer reaches out even there where I cannot reach out physically.
O my Jesus, transform me into Yourself, for You can do all things (Diary, 163).
What a flourshing life programme indeed!