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Cultivating Compassion: Developing a Habit of Mercy and Recognizing its Interruptions

Cultivating Compassion: Developing a Habit of Mercy and Recognizing its Interruptions, by Dr. Janet K. Ruffing, RSM

Catherine McAuley, founder of the Sisters of Mercy, confidently wrote about the reciprocal relationship in the lives of her sisters between contemplation and action, between our centeredness in God and the spiritual and corporal works of mercy as constituting “the very business of our lives” (Neuman, 390). She was convinced that God empowers the pdarticular grace of developing a habit of mercy so that we learn to embody God’s compassion in our world and that we become holy in this process. Centered in God, whose face we concretely encounter in Jesus (Misericordia Vultus) we quickly learn that God makes our works of mercy fruitful not only for those we serve, those with whom we stand in solidarity, and those from whom we learn mercy, but for ourselves as well. I believe this dynamic simply describes how we learn to be Christians. God, who is “rich in mercy,” draws us ever closer to God’s own heart, making our hearts one with God’s. Plunged into the world’s suffering, we rely on God’s abundant and continual flow of mercy to us and through us which then pours itself out upon those who suffer.

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Printed in Human Development Magazine, a publication of guesthouse.org. Reprinted with permission.