A Different Kind of Life

On the Feast of Pope Saint John Paul II in this Year of Mercy, we Catholics are in special need of hearing John Paul's words from that early, magnificent encyclical of his, "Dives in misericordia [Rich in Mercy]."

There is so little mercy in the world, and, scandalously, sometimes there's even less within Catholic precincts. Nothing but mercy can save each person, marriage, home, nation. The war in the human heart is destroying each of us, all of us. May the dewfall of divine mercy settle upon us all.

Outside of mercy, there is only death. If there is to be social progress, or a new evangelization, or even basic human community, there must be mercy. The Christian must hang upon the cross of mercy, or the night will destroy everything true, good, and beautiful in this world.

"The Church must consider it one of her principal duties--at every stage of history and especially in our modern age--to proclaim and to introduce into life the mystery of mercy, supremely revealed in Jesus Christ. Not only for the Church herself as the community of believers but also in a certain sense for all humanity, this mystery is the source of a life different from the life which can be built by man, who is exposed to the oppressive forces of the threefold concupiscence active within him. It is precisely in the name of this mystery that Christ teaches us to forgive always. How often we repeat the words of the prayer which He Himself taught us, asking 'forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us,' which means those who are guilty of something in our regard! It is indeed difficult to express the profound value of the attitude which these words describe and inculcate. How many things these words say to every individual about others and also about himself! The consciousness of being trespassers against each other goes hand in hand with the call to fraternal solidarity, which St. Paul expressed in his concise exportation to 'forbear one another in love.' What a lesson of humility is to be found here with regard to man, with regard both to one's neighbor and to oneself! What a school of good will for daily living, in the various conditions of our existence! If we were to ignore this lesson, what would remain of any 'humanist' program of life and education?"