Friday 22nd June 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.

Catholic bishops are quick to attack Trump but slow to advise their voters

(RNS) — President Trump had no sooner returned home from his historic photo op with Korean dictator Kim Jong Un in Singapore when he faced condemnation from a host of religious leaders, from Southern Baptists to African Methodists to Catholics,…Continue Reading

Bishop: Deny Communion to Border Agents. It’s a ‘Life Issue.’

Is enforcing U.S. immigration law a moral evil that demands excommunication? Or would a new proposal politicize the Eucharist, strengthen organized crime, and hurt even more migrant children? Roman Catholics must face these questions after Bishop Edward Weisburger of Tucson suggested “canonical…Continue Reading

Argentina steps closer to legalising abortion

Catholic Argentina’s lower house has backed a bill legalising abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. After a divisive debate lasting more than 22 hours, 129 members of the Chamber of Deputies voted in favour and 125 against while…Continue Reading

Pope Francis rejects German proposal for inter-communion

Vatican City, Jun 4, 2018 / 06:37 am (CNA/EWTN News).- One month after Vatican and German delegates met in Rome to discuss a proposal put forward by German bishops to allow Protestant spouses in inter-denominational marriages to receive the Eucharist…Continue Reading

St. Paul archdiocese settlement is largest-ever in Catholic bankruptcy case

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has agreed to a $210 million settlement with 450 victims of clergy sexual abuse as part of its plan for bankruptcy reorganization, making it the second-largest U.S. payout…Continue Reading

Church’s teaching on male-only priesthood is ‘infallible’: Vatican doctrine chief

ROME, May 29, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — The head of the Vatican office overseeing Church doctrine has insisted that the Church’s teaching on the male-only priesthood is “infallible,” and has offered a veiled rebuke of a prominent Cardinal who recently claimed the…Continue Reading

The revolt against Humanae Vitae continues to haunt us today

ROME, May 25, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — As in 2017, 2018 is also a year that is rich with important and significant anniversaries which we need to remember, because the roots of the present are found in the past. The best known…Continue Reading

Cardinal: Communion cannot be shared with non-Catholics like beer or cake

BUCKFASTLEIGH, England, May 25, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — Protestants who want to receive Holy Communion should become Catholics, Cardinal Francis Arinze said this week, and added that “it is rather serious” to presume marriage can be dissolved for the purpose of…Continue Reading

Speaker Ryan Proposes a Return to Catholic Social Doctrine at Prayer Breakfast

Washington, D.C. – House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) spoke at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast Thursday about how he believed the answer to many of the political problems society faces today, including “moral relativism” and “tribalism,” can be found in Catholic…Continue Reading

Judge rules ‘transgender’ high-schooler should have been allowed opposite-sex bathroom

NEWPORT NEWS, Virginia, May 24, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A judge has ruled that a Virginia high school should have allowed a gender-confused former student to use the restrooms designated for the opposite sex. Gavin Grimm is a female Gloucester High School…Continue Reading

One of the most ‘liberal abortion regimes’ if vote passes

Ireland will have one of the most liberal abortion regimes in Europe if Friday’s referendum is passed, the No campaign warned during its final press conference on Wednesday. With the broadcasting ban set to come into force on the eve of the…Continue Reading

Pope asks for prayers for Catholics in China

Pope Francis has appealed to all Christians to be spiritually close to Catholics who live in China, and to pray they may live their faith in full communion with the Holy See. Speaking during the General Audience in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope recalled…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 . . .

GOOD NEWS . . .Fr. Phillips Exonerated

We have confirmation that after several weeks the Congregation of the Resurrection has indeed concluded its hearings and investigation of the accusations directed against Father Phillips. An independent Review Board of three public-spirited leaders from the Chicago area, who are not members of St. John Cantius Church, was constituted. Thereafter, the Review Board interviewed the detractors and several witnesses, persons who personally know the accusers, and other individuals who

Cardinal Brandmüller Questions Francis’ Claim Not to Have Received the Dubia Before Publication

Today, on 20 June, Reuters published a new interview with Pope Francis. Although the interview is making headlines because of the Pope’s criticism of President Donald Trump’s immigration policy, it also contains another controversial assertion: the pope surprisingly now claims that he only heard about the Dubia (concerning his document Amoris Laetitia) “from the newspapers” — a claim that Dubia cardinal Walter Brandmüller has now questioned in comments to OnePeterFive. From the text of the interview: The pope also commented on internal criticism of his…Continue Reading

US Cardinal removed after ‘credible’ allegation he abused a minor

NEW YORK, June 20, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A high-profile liberal U.S. cardinal has been removed from public ministry for credible and substantiated allegations of abuse of a minor. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, a former priest of the Archdiocese of New York and cardinal emeritus of Washington D.C., “is no longer to exercise publicly his priestly ministry,” says a news release from New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan. “The review board found the allegations credible and substantiated,” Dolan’s statement said. “The Vatican…Continue Reading

Trump Admin Withdraws U.S. From UN Human Rights Council That Pushed Global Right to Abortion

The Trump Administration announced today that the United States is withdrawing from the UN Human Rights Council. That’s good news for pro-life advocates as the so-called human rights organization pushed for a global right to kill unborn children in abortions. According to news reports: The Trump administration withdrew the U.S. from the United Nations Human Rights Council, with U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley calling the 47-member council “a protector of human rights abusers, an

Conway: ‘As a mother, as a Catholic,’ no one likes migrant family separation policy

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said Sunday “nobody likes” the Trump administration’s policy of separating families who cross the border illegally, but indicated President Trump will not act unilaterally to change it. “As a mother, as a Catholic, as somebody who’s got a conscience … I will tell you that nobody likes this policy,” Conway said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “Congress passed the law that it is a


Holy Bashfulness Vs. Shame By ALICE von HILDEBRAND

My dear young friend, Years ago, Cardinal O’Boyle was discussing some sexual matters with a group of men; all of a sudden the cardinal noticed that a young girl had joined the group, and interrupting his talk, he said to her: “Please excuse me.” But he was immediately rudely rebuked by one of the men…Continue Reading

On The Role Of Beauty In The Spiritual Life

By JAMES MONTI In recent years, thanks largely to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, the role of beauty in the sacred liturgy — and the appalling chasm created by its absence — has been a topic of frequent discussion among those concerned with a restoration of the sacred in divine worship — the beauty of the…Continue Reading

Civil Court… Rules Fulton Sheen’s Remains Can Go To Peoria

NEW YORK (CNA/EWTN News) — The Superior Court of New York ruled June 8 in favor of Joan Sheen Cunningham, who had petitioned to move the body of her uncle, Venerable Fulton Sheen, to the Cathedral of St. Mary in Peoria. The body of the late archbishop is currently in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New…Continue Reading

Lindsey Graham’s Unjustifiable Call for War

By TERENCE P. JEFFREY (Editor’s Note: Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor in chief of Creators Syndicate distributed this column.) + + + Question: Has North Korea reinvaded South Korea since it signed an armistice 65 years ago suspending the Korean War? Answer: No. Question: Why? Answer: It has been deterred. Question: Would it…Continue Reading

Love And Cruelty In Ireland

By DONALD DeMARCO On the night of August 21, 1879, Mary, the Mother of God, appeared to a group of ordinary people in the village of Knock, County Mayo. She was flanked by St. Joseph on her right and St. John the Evangelist on her left. She said nothing and was described as being deep…Continue Reading


Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

None Dare Call It Treason

By DEACON JAMES TONER (Editor’s Note: Deacon James H. Toner, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of Leadership and Ethics at the U.S. Air War College, and author of Morals Under the Gun and other books. He has also taught at Notre Dame, Norwich, Auburn, the U.S. Air Force Academy, and Holy Apostles College & Seminary. He serves in the Diocese of…Continue Reading

The Glorious St. John The Baptist

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Solemnity Of The Nativity Of St. John The Baptist (YR B) Readings Isaiah 49:1-6 Acts 13:22-26 Luke 1:57-66, 80 Today we celebrate the birth of a man who is important to us in a variety of ways. St. John the Baptist is, according to our Lord’s own words, the greatest man born of woman. For this…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Will Marriages Outside A Church Keep Couples In The Church?

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK The Church makes exceptions to its own rules; this is well known. There are God’s rules, such as the Commandments, exceptions to which cannot be granted by man. And then there are the regulations promulgated by the Church, using the authority given her by the Lord, in order to better facilitate the pastoral work of…Continue Reading

The Sacraments Instituted By Christ . . . Understanding Confession More Deeply

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 33 When Jesus gave the apostles the power to bind and unbind things here on Earth (Matt. 18:18), He gave them authority over His flock. Hence, from the very first century, Popes and bishops passed laws to be observed by the people. Consequently, considering the seriousness of sin, and the risk many take for…Continue Reading

Man’s Desire For Happiness

By DON FIER Significant to note from last week’s consideration of the eighth Beatitude: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:10), is that the reward promised is identical to that of the first Beatitude: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3).…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Joseph Cafasso

By CAROLE BRESLIN Truman Capote wrote: “Love is a chain of love as nature is a chain of life.” More important, grace is a chain of grace with one grace leading to another. And holiness a chain of holiness as God pours His love through one person to another, as the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mediatrix of all graces, pours…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Joseph The Hymnographer

By CAROLE BRESLIN In the late sixth and early seventh century, the glories of Gregorian chant began to develop in Rome. Then, in the thirteenth century, St. Thomas Aquinas wrote beautiful hymns to celebrate Corpus Christi and to honor the Real Presence. In the Eastern Church, around Constantinople, they also sang hymns, but it was not until the late ninth…Continue Reading