Becoming a Vessel of Mercy

Personal story, and then the invitation I am going to continuously extend for the next two weeks, and then some.

I am one of those people who has a love/hate relationship with “Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace,” the hymn that US Catholic parishes are contractually obligated to sing at least three times a year if they want to keep their pet-blessing license.

(That’s a joke. Also, my cat needs his blessing renewed.)

Not a joke: Sometimes the song annoys me, sometimes the song inspires me, but being a peacemaker is not something that falls naturally within my wheelhouse. Longtime readers and meat-life friends can attest, the thing I am very, very good at is identifying problems and complaining about them.

So, end of November, I was at Mass on a Sunday evening. No person living inside my soul could testify that I arrived at that Mass disposed to attentiveness and holiness. During the introductory rites, however, the priest announced the Mass intention. It was for the repose of the soul of a priest I had met perhaps twice in my life, but whom I “knew” very well because he had been a brief but tremendous influence on one of my children as chaplain at that child’s school.

Friends, during that Mass, I felt that this holy (and extremely outspoken) priest was praying the Mass with me — coaching me through it, getting my head back in the game. And after communion, I felt to called to answer a single, private question from the Lord: Would I be willing to be His vessel of mercy?

It’s not a trick question, and it’s no stunning revelation for me alone. All of us are asked that question. When you receive Holy Communion, you are receiving into your body Mercy itself. You can let it work through you or you can fight it, but the plain fact is that your calling is to be a physical temple of the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit is a Spirit of Mercy.

I’ve been blogging since 2006. When I began, St. Blogs was the land of opiniated Catholic hotheads like myself who cheerfully banded together for debate and online camaraderie. Over the past five-and-some years, though, the online tone has changed. Public Catholics, both media professionals and amateur social-media conversationalists, have grown increasingly bitter towards one another.

I think that this week’s shocking events at the Capitol show just how much we have imbibed the spirit of the age.

That is not our Christian calling.

We are called to speak plainly and clearly, even on difficult topics, but we aren’t called to take pride in just how nasty we can be.

If you no longer want to be part of the our national psychotic break, consider becoming part of the “Good Discourse” movement. How you can do that:

(1) Consider joining us for the “Good Discourse” online retreat in two weeks, as well as inviting others you know to do so.

(2) Host the conversation at your own place. Please feel free to post links to your blog posts, podcasts, or personally-hosted discussion group over at this blog’s discussion group, so that others can find you.

(3) Keep the discussion going! I’m delighted to report that several of my colleagues at The Catholic Conspiracy have volunteered to host a post-conference private support group for Catholics who wish to change their online debate-behavior. I am hoping that many other such partners in this work of mercy quietly step forward to do the same.

The growing violence in our nation needs to stop. In whatever way you feel called, please become one of the people who answers “Yes” when the Lord asks you to become His vessel of Mercy.


File:Suzdal asv2019-01 img25 Rizopolozhensky Monastery.jpg
Photo of Rizopolozhensky Monastery, courtesy of Wikimedia, Free Art License. This image is far more charming and cheerful than the state my soul, but as Images of the Day go, hard to resist.