Mercy & Meals MUST Go Hand in Hand
The Sunday after Easter Sunday is called “Divine Mercy Sunday.” The celebration surrounds the mystical and miraculous experiences of Blessed Faustina, a Polish Nun in the 1930s. Jesus Himself gave her a message: seek mercy and be merciful! Unfortunately, in today’s world, being merciful is sometimes confused as being weak. Yet, it’s the exact opposite. It takes a strong and confident person to admit he has done wrong and needs forgiveness. Isn’t that what we teach our children? It takes supernatural strength to say what Jesus said at his most important pulpit – the Cross: “Forgive them Father, they know not what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) In fact, Jesus’ Last Supper reminds us that mercy and meals go hand in hand: “Take and eat and drink…This is My Body and This is My Blood… I shed this for the forgiveness of sins… Do this to remember me.” (Mt 26:28)
People ask me all the time, either through Mass, on the website or at conferences, about problems in their families. Their experiences, from the minor to the major issues, affirm an important reality: no family is perfect. Please don’t think the Grace Before Meals Mission is to make families “perfect.” That would be Mission Impossible! Our important Mission: to help families – normal families – be more faithful, not perfect.
Faithfulness and perfection are two different things. Perfection means that we never make mistakes. Reality reminds us that we will always make mistakes. But, faithfulness (not perfection) gives us the strength to say very important words to keep our families intact. “I am sorry.” “I forgive you.”
Have you ever had dinner with someone with whom you were extremely angry? It’s a very unpleasant experience, isn’t it? In fact, most people avoid sharing meals together when they are angry. Go to your room! Sound familiar? Families must therefore asks themselves if they are eating together less because they're busy, or if they are actually avoiding each other over something that needs to be healed - forgiven. Mercy and meals go hand in hand!
Can you see why asking for forgiveness from our sins is required before having the Sacred Meal - Holy Communion? Whether we’re normal parishioners, priests or politicians, saying I’m sorry helps us to celebrate the meal with sincerity instead of fear, with willingness and joy rather than a feeling of obligation. Asking for Mercy before Communion strengthens an attitude that the Eucharist is a GIFT and not a Right.
Mercy is not about being weak, but about being strong – strong enough to deal with the problems in our families with patience and love. Mercy means that we’re strong enough to keep our family together around the kitchen table!
The Fattened Calf!
Remember the Prodigal Son story, and how the Father welcomed his long lost son back home with a huge party? This celebration of mercy required only the best – the fattened calf! We won’t have the chance to feast on a fattened calf, but here’s a simple idea to stuff and fatten up any ordinary meal!
Stuffed Anything! This stuffing can work with chicken, pork, beef, or veal.
There is a prayer that a penitent prays before receiving Absolution from Confession. It’s a traditional prayer that the church encourages people to memorize and to pray every night before going to bed. It’s a prayer that sums up the need for forgiveness and reminds us to share it with others:
O my God, I’m heartily sorry for my sins. In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good, I’ve sinned against you who I should love above all things. I firmly intend, with your help, to sin no more and to avoid whatever leads me to sin. Amen.
If we can pray and live these words, we are guaranteed a “Mercy Meal” that we don’t want to miss. It’s the banquet of Heaven. Just ask the Prodigal Son about how sweet mercy can be!