A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Our Merciful God

Bridget Taumoepeau

Sometimes, when you go to another place, you listen to the Mass with different ears – the familiarity is gone. The voice of a different priest and the slight variations in liturgy make you take more notice. That happened for me recently and it suddenly struck me about how often in the Mass we ask for mercy, or are reminded of God’s mercy for us.

The penitential rite at the start of Mass is a good place to begin – we make an act of confession or a penitential act, which may be expressed as the beautiful Kyrie eleison prayer. It includes absolution, imploring God to have mercy on us. Even the Gloria which follows has phrases that remind us that, as well as praising God, we are asking for his mercy.

The prayers after the Creed are offered to God, asking him, that in his mercy, he will hear and answer our petitions. In the Agnus Dei we ask the Lamb of God to have mercy on us and grant us peace. Just before communion in the beautiful prayer admitting our unworthiness, although it does not use the actual word, we are in fact trusting in God’s mercy that our souls will be healed.

And the final blessing often refers to our almighty and merciful God.

Pope Francis draws our attention to how merciful our God is, in his writings, and in the dedication of a year to mercy. We were encouraged to undertake works of mercy; study the scriptures; throw ourselves on the mercy of God in confession; make a pilgrimage, however small; and, generally, to immerse ourselves in the merciful beauty of our God.

However, the attention to mercy does not have to stop once the Year of Mercy is over – every day we can hear or read the beauty of the liturgy threaded through, as it is, with the promise of forgiveness and care from our merciful God.

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