Saturday 18th August 2018

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

Blessed Are The Merciful

May 19, 2018 Our Catholic Faith No Comments


In last week’s consideration of the fourth Beatitude: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness [justice], for they shall be satisfied” (Matt. 5:6), we saw that those being referred to are souls who intensely desire that their wills are in accord with God’s will. They want what God wants, and their desires are always satisfied.
In the first volume of his commentary entitled The Gospel of Matthew (TGM), William Barclay observes that for many, the desire for goodness and justice is “wistful and nebulous rather than sharp and intense.” They are content with “a part of righteousness.” In this Beatitude, however, our Lord is describing “the hunger of a man who is starving for food, and the thirst of the man who will die unless he drinks” (TGM, pp. 99-100).
Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ, in The Question and Answer Catholic Catechism, affirms that “God always gives a deep spiritual joy to those who do his will in spite of trial and difficulty” (n. 859). The happiness experienced when we yield to the world’s enticements, to the triple concupiscence of the flesh, the eyes, and the pride of life (cf. 1 John 2:16), is fleeting and transitory and leads to unhappiness and misery. Especially assisted by a particular gift of the Holy Spirit, fortitude, those who wholeheartedly live the fourth Beatitude are given strength to persevere, to stay the course.
Indeed, “Christ promises joy only to those who seek justice and holiness” (ibid., n. 860), an abiding interior joy that cannot be taken away by anyone or anything, even in this present life.
Now, on to the fifth Beatitude: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Matt. 5:7). It teaches a principle that is one of the most dominant themes in the preaching of Jesus throughout the New Testament: the necessity to forgive in order to be forgiven, that we must practice mercy toward others if we are to obtain mercy from God. Jesus was quite clear when He commanded His disciples to “be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36).
We are similarly warned in the Letter of St. James that “judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy” (James 2:13). And in the Our Father, Jesus taught us to pray: “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matt. 6:12), and followed with an explanation: “If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matt. 6:14-15).
Before continuing, let us look at the meaning of the word mercy as used in Sacred Scripture. In the Glossary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), it is defined as “the loving kindness, compassion, or forbearance shown to one who offends.”
Fr. Hardon expands on this in his Modern Catholic Dictionary by defining mercy as “the disposition to be kind and forgiving. Founded on compassion, mercy differs from compassion or the feeling of sympathy in putting this feeling into practice with a readiness to assist. It is therefore the ready willingness to help anyone in need, especially [one who is in] need of pardon or reconciliation” (p. 348).
Derived from the Hebrew hesed (which is difficult to precisely translate into English), mercy has two fundamental meanings in biblical usage, both evident in the definitions given above. The first “is usually expressed by forgiveness for unfaithfulness and sins. The second meaning indicates the attitude toward the need and suffering — not necessarily the sin — of the other and is expressed in what we call we call works of mercy” (Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, Beatitudes: Eight Steps to Happiness, p. 65).
Certainly, both shine forth in the life of Jesus and we, likewise, are called to live out both forms of mercy. In the fifth Beatitude, however, “the primary meaning of mercy…is certainly the first, that of the forgiveness and remission of sins” (ibid., p. 66), as becomes apparent when the connection between the condition and the reward is noted.
“Mercy, love’s response in the face of evil,” affirms Fr. Hardon, “is best shown in forgiving those who have offended us” (Basic Catholic Catechism Course [BCCC], p. 105). A fruit of charity, it is ready to suffer for the good of others and “in this way, forgiveness bears witness to authentic Christian love. Mercy is love shown to the unlovable and to those who have been unjust and ungrateful” (ibid.).
It is in direct opposition to the common practice of the world which seeks vengeance, as evidenced by courtrooms filled with plaintiffs seeking retribution for supposed wrongs committed against them. Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, with his typical candor, rewords the fifth Beatitude as practiced by the masses: “Blessed is the man who thinks first about himself” (The Cross and the Beatitudes [TCB], p. 27).
One of the most illuminating parables demonstrating our firm obligation to forgive others is that of the unjust steward (see Matt. 18:23-35). After the king, moved by pity, forgave the steward a debt of ten thousand talents (an incalculable debt that is impossible for sinful mankind to repay), the ungrateful steward refused to forgive his fellow-steward a debt of only one hundred denarii (a mere trifle compared to the debt he had just been forgiven).
The king’s just response was swift and sure, as it will be on judgment day for those who refuse mercy to others: “In anger his lord delivered him to the jailers, till he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart” (Matt. 18:34-35).
It would be good at this juncture to note a condition attached to the parable, namely, “forgive your brother from your heart.” As expressed by Archbishop Sheen, “a person is merciful when he feels the sorrow and misery of another as if it were his own” (TCB, p. 27).
In others words, a mere external show of sympathy is not sufficient to fulfill Christ’s command to be merciful. “Our participation in the mercy and love of God must be vital,” says Fr. Hardon, “originating in the depths of the heart so that we might have the same mind which was in Christ, Who emptied Himself, obediently accepting death on the Cross (cf. Phil. 2:5). . . . If we do not forgive those who have hurt us [from the heart], our hearts remain closed to Jesus and their hardness renders them impermeable to the merciful love of the Father” (BCCC, p. 105).
On our own, forgiveness from the heart would not be possible. The Catechism, however, explains the solution: “It is there, in fact, ‘in the depths of the heart,’ that everything is bound and loosed. It is not in our power not to feel or to forget an offense; but the heart that offers itself to the Holy Spirit turns injury into compassion and purifies the memory in transforming the hurt into intercession” (CCC, n. 2843).
Accordingly, as has been the case for each of the Beatitudes we have thus far considered, a particular gift of the Holy Spirit comes to the aid of one who is authentically living out the Beatitude of the merciful — and the way is opened for a great showering of graces.

Counsel And Mercy

Counsel, according to St. Thomas Aquinas, is the gift of the Holy Spirit that corresponds to the fifth Beatitude. Following the thought of St. Augustine, the Angelic Doctor writes, “The beatitude of mercy specially corresponds to the gift of counsel, not as eliciting but as directing mercy” (Summa Theologiae II-II, Q. 52, art. 4).
Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, OP, in his spiritual classic entitled The Three Ages of the Interior Life, posits two principal reasons why counsel corresponds to the Beatitude of the merciful: 1) Mercy is necessary for us to truly know how to give fitting and useful counsel to those in need of it; and 2) whereas prudence hesitates in difficult circumstances in choosing between the rigor of justice and the compassion of mercy, the gift of counsel generally inclines us toward mercy.
Why? Mercy may encourage the sinner and will perhaps result in his re-entry into the order of justice (cf. p. 88).
Moreover, the depth of mercy of which we are speaking is expansive toward all of mankind. “It concerns the tribulations [and forgiveness] not only of those we love, but even of those who hate us,” declares Archbishop Luis M. Martinez, “not only of people who delight us with their charms, but also of those who repel us” (The Sanctifier, p. 321).
The pinnacle of mercy is shown by Our Lord Jesus Christ, who, when looking down upon those who crucified Him on the cross, uttered as one of His seven last words: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
“When we avail ourselves of God’s grace, responding with mercy to the people who offend us,” explains Fr. Hardon, “they become for us instruments of our sanctification” (BCCC, p. 105).
The reward we are promised for living the Beatitude of the merciful is nothing less than obtaining the mercy of God at the time of death — that we will be forgiven our sins and granted entrance into the heavenly banquet and enjoy eternal beatitude.

+ + +

(Don Fier serves on the board of directors for The Catholic Servant, a Minneapolis-based monthly publication. He and his wife are the parents of seven children. Fier is a 2009 graduate of Ave Maria University’s Institute for Pastoral Theology. He is a Consecrated Marian Catechist.)

Share Button

2017 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Cardinal says clock ticking for all in Catholic hierarchy over abuse issue

The chair of the Vatican’s Commission for the Protection of Minors has warned that “the clock is ticking” for the Catholic hierarchy when it comes to dealing with clerical child sex abuse. “Catholics have lost patience with us, and civil…Continue Reading

Priests: Why we’re urging Cardinals to challenge Pope Francis on death penalty

ROME, August 15, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — Over 75 clergy, lay scholars and prominent intellectuals today took the unprecedented step of issuing an open appeal to the Cardinals of the Catholic Church, to urge Pope Francis to “withdraw” his new teaching on…Continue Reading

Rector Placed On Leave Amid Allegations Of Sexual Misconduct Against Boston Catholic Seminary

Following allegations of a culture of sexual misconduct and alcohol abuse at a Boston-based Catholic seminary owned by the Archdiocese of Boston, the head priest is being placed on sabbatical. Rector James P. Moroney has been placed on immediate leave pending…Continue Reading

Pennsylvania clergy sex abuse report still not released

A last-minute round of legal manoeuvring to keep some names from appearing in a grand jury report detailing a months-long investigation of clergy sex abuse claims in Pennsylvania may have kept the document from being made public on Wednesday –…Continue Reading

Vatican archbishop: Critics of Pope Francis are not faithful to Tradition

VATICAN CITY, August 7, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — Those who criticize the teaching of Pope Francis on the basis of former magisterial documents are not faithful to the tradition of the Catholic Church, a high-ranking Vatican official has said. In an interview with Vatican…Continue Reading


DETROIT ( – A pro-life Hollywood actress is slamming the U.S. bishops for their failure to prevent priest sex abuse. Actress Patricia Heaton is openly pro-life and a Catholic revert. On Twitter on Aug. 2, she responded to Cdl. Daniel DiNardo’s…Continue Reading

Conservatives skeptical of Twitter’s latest shadow-banning denial

July 27, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Twitter has released an official response to the latest round of shadow-banning allegations, but the statement has failed to impress conservative, Christian, and pro-life voices affected by the practice. On Thursday, LifeSiteNews covered a Vice News report accusing the social…Continue Reading

Pope Francis’ top ‘reform’ cardinal slams seminarians for exposing homosexuality inside seminary

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras, July 26, 2018, (LifeSiteNews) – One of the Vatican’s most influential cardinals, already suspected of looking the other way while gay relationships were conducted in his personal residence, has now admonished fifty seminarians for speaking out against their seminary’s…Continue Reading

Veteran Catholic Journalist: All Bishops Involved in Sex Abuse Scandal Must Resign

Christopher Manion, a veteran journalist and political analyst, makes the striking call that all U.S. bishops should resign who knew about the ongoing abuse crisis within the U.S. hierarchy for years and yet did not intervene. He also now reveals…Continue Reading

Catholic Relief Services is a major funder of contraception lobbyists

NOTE: The following information was provided to Catholic Relief Services in person in April, 2018.  After three months of discussion on the matter, the Lepanto Institute was told that while Lepanto is convinced that CRS should withdraw from InterAction, CRS…Continue Reading

Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter Elects New Superior General

LINCOLN, Neb. — The general chapter of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, a society of apostolic life that celebrates the extraordinary form of the Roman rite, Monday elected Father Andrzej Komorowski as its next superior general. The July 9…Continue Reading

Catholic-heavy Supreme Court moves right as the church moves left

(RNS) — With his nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace the retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, President Trump has succeeded in doing for the judicial branch what he has often failed or neglected to do in his administration: acting efficiently…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.

  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Discriminating Mercy: Defending Christ And His Church With True Love


  By DON FIER (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., graciously took time out of his busy schedule to grant The Wanderer a wide-ranging interview during a recent visit to the Shrine. Included among the topics…Continue Reading

Developing Lives Of Peace After The Heart Of Mary

By RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke delivered the address below at the 32nd Annual Church Teaches Forum, “The Message of Fatima: Peace for the World,” Galt House, Louisville, Ky., July 22, 2017. The address is reprinted here with the kind permission of Cardinal Burke. All rights reserved. This is part one of the…Continue Reading


Today . . .

Cardinal Burke: U.S. Catholic Church in ‘possibly the worst crisis that it’s ever experienced’

August 16, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The Catholic Church in the U.S. is undergoing “possibly the worst crisis that it’s ever experienced” right now, Cardinal Burke said tonight of the ongoing sex abuse scandals and the laity’s distrust for bishops who play a part in it. “That has to be recognized and it has to be dealt with in a thorough manner which is faithful to the Church’s moral law and to the Church herself and…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke Addresses the Clergy Scandal


Thomas McKenna: Your Eminence, a new wave of clergy sexual abuse has surfaced and is indicating a widespread practice of homosexuality among clergy in dioceses and seminaries across the country. What would you say is the root cause of this corruption?   Cardinal Raymond Burke: It was clear after the studies following the 2002 sexual abuse crisis that most of the acts of abuse were in fact homosexual acts committed with adolescent young men. There…Continue Reading

Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley will not attend the World Meeting of Families

Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, OFM Cap, Archbishop of Boston and Chair of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Children, unfortunately will not be able to participate in the World Meeting of Families to be held in Dublin, Ireland from August 21-26. Though previously scheduled to moderate a panel presentation and discussion at the World Meeting of Families, important matters pertaining to the pastoral care of St. John’s Seminary in the Archdiocese of Boston and…Continue Reading

Cardinal Wuerl named in Pennsylvania grand jury report, responds to criticism

Washington D.C., Aug 14, 2018 / 02:30 pm (CNA).- Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, D.C., and the former Bishop of Pittsburgh, has been named more than 200 times in a Pennsylvania grand jury report, released Aug. 14, after an 18-month investigation into historic allegations of sexual abuse in six Pennsylvania Catholic dioceses. The cardinal released a statement in response to the report, underscoring the gravity of the sexual abuse for the Church and the…Continue Reading

Vatican advisor: Pope ‘breaks Catholic traditions whenever he wants’

Fr Thomas Rosica said the Church is now ‘ruled by an individual rather than by… its own dictates of tradition plus Scripture’ Under Pope Francis, the Church is now “openly ruled by an individual rather than by the authority of Scripture alone or even its own dictates of tradition plus Scripture,” a Vatican advisor has said. Fr Thomas Rosica wrote that Pope Francis “breaks Catholic traditions whenever he wants” because he is


Who Determines “Universal Values”?

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN Is it any of Canada’s business whether Saudi women have the right to drive? Well, Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland just made it her business. Repeatedly denouncing Riyadh’s arrest of women’s rights advocate Samar Badawi, Freeland has driven the two countries close to a break in diplomatic relations. “Reprehensible” said Riyadh of…Continue Reading

Refuting An Eastern Orthodox Priest’s Erroneous Comments

By JAMES LIKOUDIS An article by an Eastern Orthodox priest, Fr. David Hoestetler, published in an ecumenical magazine, The Sword (which recently ceased publishing), noted correctly with regard to Protestant misconceptions that it is indeed “scriptural and biblical to venerate Mary.” Unfortunately, the article was marred by various inaccuracies and errors. For example, he stated…Continue Reading

KCs Pledge Support For Persecuted Christians

By COURTNEY GROGAN BALTIMORE (CNA) — Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight Carl Anderson pledged the fraternal organization’s continued efforts to aid and rebuild persecuted Christian communities in the Middle East, during his August 7 address at the 2018 Knights of Columbus convention in Baltimore. Anderson also unveiled a new pilgrim icon, Our Lady Help of…Continue Reading

A Book Review… Finding A Map For Matters Of Life And Death

By DONALD DEMARCO Matters of Life & Death: A Catholic Guide to the Moral Questions of Our Time, by Gerard M. Verschuuren (Angelico Press, Brooklyn, NY, 2018, 201 pp.). Available in paperback at for $16.95. The state of perplexity and the need for guidance has long been characteristic of human beings. Rabbi Moses Maimonides…Continue Reading

Book Review… A Classic Critique Of Postconciliar Modernism

By JAMES MONTI Dietrich von Hildebrand, The Charitable Anathema, new 2017 foreword by Raymond Cardinal Burke. $22.95; Roman Catholic Books, P.O. Box 1209, Ridgefield, CT 06877; In his address at the July 21, 2018 “Humanae Vitae at 50” conference brilliantly organized by Fr. Sean Connolly at Immaculate Conception Church in Tuckahoe, N.Y., which I…Continue Reading


Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Levels Of Conscience

By DON FIER In last week’s opening exposition on the role of conscience in the Christian moral life, it was stated straightaway that “conscience” is a term that is often misunderstood and misapplied in contemporary times. Frequently equated with one’s personal opinion or position, this entreaty to subjectivism is ready justification for nearly every conceivable immoral and aberrant behavior that…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: To a recent question about whether the ordination of a secret Communist would be invalid because he did not have the right intention, we said yes, citing canon 1029 of the Code of Canon Law, which says that those seeking the priesthood must “have an integral faith, are motivated by a right intention, possess the required knowledge, and…Continue Reading

Amid Church Scandals… Fix Your Hearts On Christ

By FR. JOHN DE CELLES (Editor’s Note: LifeSiteNews on August 6 featured the following homily by Fr. John De Celles of St. Raymond of Penafort Church, Springfield, Va., the Diocese of Arlington. (Father reminded his flock: “We follow Jesus Christ, ‘the God of Jacob,’ and we follow the Holy Catholic Church which He founded.” (In May 2005, Fr. De Celles…Continue Reading

The Eucharist Is Jesus Himself

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Twentieth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR B) Readings: Prov. 9:1-6 Eph. 5:15-20 John 6:51-58 In the Gospel reading today our Lord makes several statements that we either have to believe are true or we have to run as far and as quickly from Him as we can. People who want to call themselves Christian while ignoring…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Teaching Failures At Root Of Sexual Immorality

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK “For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and men should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. “But you have turned aside from the way; you have caused many to stumble by your instruction; you have corrupted the covenant of Levi, says the Lord of…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Clare Of Montefalco

By CAROLE BRESLIN In central Italy about one hundred miles north of Rome, lies the peaceful town looking down on the Clitunno River named Montefalco. It attracts tourists with its wildlife, wineries, and vineyards, and stunning churches. One of the most beautiful churches with its vaulted, painted ceilings, marble pillars, and inspiring altars is the Basilica of St. Clare of…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Lawrence

By CAROLE BRESLIN Valencia, claim its inhabitants, is the premier city in all of Spain. Located along Spain’s eastern Mediterranean coastline, it boasts stunning beaches, ancient history, and magnificent churches. Perhaps the most famous is the Valencian Cathedral, the Basilica of Our Lady of the Assumption, which holds a chalice which has been defended as the relic of the true…Continue Reading