In this lesson we explore mercy as a moral mark.Preview This Lesson
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by Tintoretto (born Jacopo Comin) (1565)
There are two parts to mercy. The first is compassion for a suffering person and the desire to help them feel better. The second part is the willingness to help another without any expectation that the person can, or will, repay the kindness. This second part is the main reason that so many people struggle to embrace the mercy that Christ compels us to.
The crucifix is how we understand the concept of mercy. Christ’s willingness to suffer torment and an ugly death for our salvation is the ultimate mercy, because there is nothing we can do to repay Him.
True mercy has three moral marks: charity, joy, and generosity.
Charity: Charity is one of the three theological virtues, and covers many aspects of how we understand our Faith and our participation in it. In the context of this lesson, charity is understood by its principle act, which is to love. When a person is merciful, their compassion comes from love. The love that inspires mercy differs depending on who is receiving the mercy. Romantic and/or friendly love inspires spouses. Familial love inspires mercy within families. Friendly, or companionate, love is the affection one feels for friends. Finally there is the kind of love that inspires compassion for strangers, simply because of our shared human nature.
Our love for God and His Truths can also be a factor that works side-by-side with the other forms of love. When our love for God is the primary reason for our compassion and mercy, this love is considered perfect.
Joy: Joy, in its spiritual nature, is a more permanent form of happiness. Joy looks very much like happiness in good times: we are joyful when loved ones are happily married, when friends near and far are doing well, and when our lives don’t present too many difficulties. It is when times are less than good that joy is distinguished from happiness. The truly joyful person always rejoices in God’s love and goodwill toward us, even our worldly life is troubled. Joy sees the goodness that waits beyond this life, and offers a sense of peace while we are still here in this life.
Generosity: Generosity is the willingness to give to others what you can of your time, your talent, and your treasure without hesitation. As with mercy, the generous person acts regardless of whether the recipient of their kindness can, or will, give repayment.
Spotlight on the Saints: Saint Theodore Guerin
From Catholic.org, on Saint Theodore Guerin:
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7th Grade: Morality: Lesson 8: The Beatitudes and the Marks of a Moral Life, Part 3 is part of the following course(s):