Topics

Father Anthony Ho

The many faces of mercy

Voices May 8, 2019

Boys play foosball at a Don Bosco youth centre in Istanbul. St. John Bosco exemplified mercy by opening shelters for needy boys where he fed them and provided for their spiritual and material needs, writes Father Ho.  (CNS photo/Elie Gardner) 

Christ said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy” (Mt 5:7). He also said, “Be merciful, as your Father is merciful” (Lk 6:36).

Spiritual writers point out that the two beatitudes of “hunger and thirst for justice” and “mercy” are related to the active life and the illuminative way. In the active life, justice and mercy should be united, and we cannot reach perfection without going to the help of the afflicted.

The illuminative way involves the practising and fostering of virtues. We thirst and desire for holiness and we put that desire into practice by doing works of mercy to others.

St. John Bosco (1815-1888) inspired many to do works of mercy. In the 19th century, there were many social problems in Turin, Italy, one of which was the spiritual and material poverty of young people.

Don Bosco began his works for young people in December 1841 by giving religious instruction to young people. He carefully prepared the boys for confession and Communion. He gathered young people on Sunday for religious and fun activities.

In 1847, Don Bosco opened a shelter for needy boys. He prepared food for them and attended to their spiritual and material needs.

Subsequently he opened boarding schools, giving food and shelter to poor boys, teaching them life skills, providing lessons. He ensured young people received thorough catechetical instruction and had a good moral and spiritual life. Don Bosco poured himself out tirelessly in doing works of mercy in words, deeds, and prayers.

St. Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938) is an apostle of Divine Mercy. Our Lord said to her, “I am giving you three ways of exercising mercy toward your neighbour: the first, by deed; the second, by word; the third, by prayer. In these three degrees is contained the fullness of mercy, and it is an unquestionable proof of love for me. By this means a soul glorifies and pays reverence to my mercy” (Diary, 742).

Our Lord told Faustina to write about the value of spiritual works of mercy: “But write this for the many souls who are often worried because they do not have the material means with which to carry out an act of mercy. Yet spiritual mercy, which requires neither permission nor storehouses, is much more meritorious and is within the grasp of every soul. If a soul does not exercise mercy somehow or other, it will not obtain my mercy on the day of judgment. Oh, if only souls knew how to gather eternal treasure for themselves, they would not be judged, for they would forestall my judgment with their mercy” (Diary, 1317).

Praying the Divine Mercy chaplet for others, especially for the dying, is a wonderful spiritual work of mercy. Also, recommending the Divine Mercy devotion to others can contribute greatly to their spiritual wellbeing.

Our Lord said to St. Faustina, “When they say this chaplet in the presence of the dying, I will stand between my Father and the dying person, not as a just Judge but as a merciful Saviour” (Diary, 1541).

We should pray earnestly for the conversion of sinners. Our Lord said, “The prayer most pleasing to me is prayer for the conversion for sinners. Know, my daughter, that this prayer is always heard and answered” (Diary, 1397).

Regarding recommending the devotion to others, Our Lord said, “Priests will recommend it to sinners as their last hope of salvation. Even if there were a sinner most hardened, if he were to recite this chaplet only once, he would receive grace from my infinite mercy … I desire to grant unimaginable graces to those souls who trust in my mercy” (Diary, 687).

Our Lord also promised: “Souls who spread the honour of my mercy … at the hour of death I will not be a Judge for them, but the Merciful Saviour” (Diary, 1075). 


                                          基督召喚我們行慈悲

基督說:「憐憫的人是有福的,因為他們要受憐憫。(瑪竇福音5:7)」祂又說:「你們應當慈悲,就像你們的父那樣慈悲。(路加福音6:36)」

靈修作者指出,「饑渴慕義」及「慈悲」兩端真福,與我們行善的生活和神修旅程的「明路」息息相關。在行善的生活當中,公義和慈悲是互聯的,而我們要幫助受苦者才能瑧達至境。「明路」着重修德行。我們要渴求聖善,並把這個渴求,以慈悲的善功來實踐出來。

聖若望.鮑思高(1815-1888)感染很多人行善功。十九世紀,意大利都靈有很多社會問題,其中是年青人身心的貧困。1841年12月,鮑思高神父開始關顧年青人的工作:給他們教授要理,幫助他們善備領受告解及聖體聖事,每星期日聚集他們參加宗教敬禮和遊戲活動。

1847年,鮑思高神父開設庇護所,向有需要的年青人,提供膳食和住宿,當然也照顧他們身心的貧乏。他後來又開辦寄宿學校,給貧童食宿,教授他們學識和謀生的一技之長。藉要理的講解,向他們灌輸良好道德及靈修生活。鮑思高神父以言、行、祈禱,努力不邂地活出憐憫的心。

聖傅天娜(1905-1938)被譽為「神聖慈悲宗徒」。傅天娜日記(#742)記載:吾主對我說:「我現在給妳三個慈悲地對待鄰人的方法:第一是具體行動;第二是透過語言;第三是藉著祈 禱。這三種方法,都在不同的程度上,完全概括了慈悲的全部意義。因了這些慈悲的行為,才能 毫無疑問地證明妳對我的愛。透過了這三種行為,一個靈魂才能光榮和恭敬我的慈悲。」

另則的傅天娜日記(#1317)記載:吾主告訴我靈性上慈悲的價值:「有許多靈魂經常憂慮不安,因為她們沒有充足富裕的物資,來實踐慈悲的善行;不過,妳要為她們寫下來:精神方面的慈悲行為,既不必請示批准,也不必擁有寶庫,那功德更大呢!這是每一個靈魂都能做的。假如一個靈魂不想辦法去實踐慈悲,在審判日,她必得不到我的慈悲。啊,我多麼希望,所有的靈魂都知道,怎樣去為自己集聚永生的寶藏,她們便不會受到審判,因為她們預先用慈悲善行製止了我的公義審判。」

為其他人、特別是臨終者虔唸「慈悲串經」,是了不起的一種靈性慈悲善功。吾主強調:「當人們在垂死者身邊虔誦這串經時,我將站在我天父及臨終者之間,但並非當公義的審判官,而是他的慈悲救主。(傅天娜日記 #1541)」

我們應該懇切地為罪人的皈化而祈禱。傅天娜日記(#1397)寫著:「為罪人悔改皈依的祈禱,,令我最高興。我的女兒,要知道,我必定俯聽這種祈禱,而且有求必應。」

有關推崇「神聖慈悲」敬禮,吾主說:「(#687)神父應該把這慈悲串經推薦給罪人,作為他們得救的最後一線希望。甚至最心硬的罪人,如果他只念這串經一遍,也會從我無限的慈悲中獲得聖寵。我意願普世都知道我無限的慈悲。我渴望把那不可思議的恩寵,賜予那些信賴我慈悲的靈魂。」向他人推崇「神聖慈悲」敬禮,又會對靈魂有莫大的裨益。吾主答應,說:「(#1075)凡是宣揚敬禮我慈悲的靈魂,在他們的一生中,我會像溫柔的慈母愛護她的嬰兒般,護祐著他們;在他們臨終時,我將是他們慈悲的救主,而不是審判官。」