Creighton Lent Reading Group
Updated on Saturday, April 12, 2014 10:28 AM

Mercy in the City Book Cover

Step One:

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Step Two:

Click Here to
send us your sharing.

What graces are you receiving
as you read each chapter of the book?
What are you experiencing
as you try to do the Works of Mercy this Lent?

Step Three:

Bookmark and
return here often
during Lent
to read the sharing.

Join us in reading this new book by a woman who determined to do the Corporal Works of Mercy during Lent. We will post your sharing about the book and your attempts to do the Works of Mercy this Lent.

KerryKerry Weber is a
Mercy Associate and managing editor of America magazine.
She is an alumna of the Mercy Volunteers Corps and the Columbia School of Journalism. She lives in New York City.

We invite you to read this delightful book during Lent and to send us the graces you receive, chapter by chapter. We also encourage anyone to send us your experience of trying to perform the Corporal Works of Mercy this Lent. We will post those reflections on this web site, so that we can all be blessed by our Lenten journey together.

The Corporal Works of Mercy
Mercy in/for Our City

Feed the hungry

Give drink to the thirsty

Clothe the naked

Harbour the harbourless
(aka Shelter the homeless)

Visit the sick

Ransom the captive
(aka Visit the imprisoned)

Bury the dead

May our Lord bless us all this Lent, that we might strive to hear the cry of the poor and act with mercy.

The Latest Sharing:
What graces are you receiving as you read each chapter?
What are you experiencing as you try to do the Works of Mercy?

Read More Sharing Here

In Chapter 25 Kerry states that ”this experience of the Works of Mercy has helped me see that faith is choice”. Upon reflection, I can see this too because choosing to encounter Jesus in the sick, the prisoner or the poor and homeless is an affirmation of my belief in the incarnation, in the redemptive value of suffering and the belief that death will lead to resurrection and eternal life.  My encounter with people at their most vulnerable has made me face my own vulnerability and the fears that come with it.  It has also brought me joy in my faith. And I also agree with her that “it has been so much to process…I’m still discovering what it will mean going forward”.

Kerry's book is such a fresh look at what Jesus' calls us to do. It is fresh because this remarkable woman, who has a very important job as a managing editor of AMERICA magazine, is finding time to be an RCIA sponsor in her parish, and wrestle with these issues of how she is going to relate with the poor and learn from them. These are threatening questions for me. But, the lighthearted and perfectly candid ways Kerry writes about them simply disarms at least some of my resistence and allows me to ask how I use my time and most of all, how I make excuses. Thank you, Kerry.

I was very moved by Kerry's visit to the prison. She encountered these prisoners as people. Last night, driving home, I heard a story on CBC radio about a man who was in prison for 25 years for a murder he was just now shown not to have committed. And, there was a discussion of how the system conspired to supress exhonorating evidence, in order to convict him. I doubt that I will be able to visit a prison and offer comfort to anyone in prison. Driving home, I decided to learn more about the prison reform movement and to explore legislation against the death penalty. I think that is a Work of Mercy I can do.

Kerry’s description of her grandfather’s death brought back memories for me of my mother’s death. She was in and out of hospital and it took a long time for the doctors to discovery what was wrong.  The uncertainty and waiting was agonizing.  She suffered for an entire year before we found out nothing could be done to help her.  I was a mess. At the time I was struggling with my faith and it was difficult to find any comfort there. However, my mother’s faith was strong. She would be so happy in the midst of all of this and I would sing her favorite hymns for her. The day she died I stood by her bedside trying to pray Ps 23.  At her funeral I was heavy with grief until I heard the priest’s homily where he spoke about Jesus’ death and resurrection and that death was the doorway to eternal life with God. Somehow this consoled me and at her burial at the cemetery there was a beautiful rainbow in the sky which made me smile through my tears.  When I had to visit the cemetery on All Souls Day I thought I’d be stricken by grief again but I discovered that ‘she was not here, she was with the Lord’ and I experienced a sense of freedom. After her death, my journey through the grief was also a faith journey for me and to newness of life in Christ and in the Church. So to carry out the work of mercy to bury the dead I’m praying for the souls in purgatory who have no one to pray for them.

“We’re not here. Let the dead bury the dead!” When I visited the cemetery on the first  All Souls Day after my mother died, I thought all the feelings of grief and emptiness I felt at her death would return and overwhelm me. Instead I felt like ‘she’s not here, she’s with the Lord’. I experienced a sense of freedom. So I will not be visiting an cemeteries like Kerry did, but I will continue to pray for the souls in purgatory who have no one to pray for them. “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are”. That’s my new motto for doing the Works of Mercy.

Kerry had the experience of carrying the cross on Good Friday’s Stations of the Cross. I attended the Stations of the Cross today. It was lead by the children from a First Communion class. Needlessly to say there was a ‘sweetness’ overload as I listened to their precious voices. I noted how they naturally slowed down the adults because they speak more slowly than we do. After a tough week where I felt the weigh of my own cross (health issues) I needed to slow down. I left the church with an uplifted heart, a lighter step and with my happy face on!

I am finding this book so inspirational, and would have loved it 20 years ago as a single woman, because I would have had the time to enact so much more.  It is so hard with a husband and a 4 ½ year old and being a mom who works outside of the home as a teacher to try to enact her experiences, but I love her story and would love to hear more from her.

“Visit the sick, and don’t stay too long, and then leave, unless they ask you to stay”.  Solid advice from the sisters who spent a lifetime visiting the sick.  I visited the Carmelite home for the aged this week, and though I called ahead to arrange my time for the visit, when I got there, everyone was sleeping (afternoon nap) except for one man who was watching television show. And he was more interested in the show! So I visited the chapel instead. I was amazed at the peace I experienced there.  I felt enveloped by a protective, tender peace that I had never experienced before. I was in God’s presence and in that moment I experienced contentment. As Kerry says when you’re sick you’re more vulnerable than you want to be so when you visit the sick, you do what’s needed and leave. I prayed the rosary for the people who were sick and their loved ones, for all the nurses and other workers, and for all the Carmelite nuns who have prayed  in that chapel since it was constructed over 100 years ago. I also prayed that I may be given the sensitivity of spirit I need so that when I visit next, I don’t stay too long, then I leave, unless of course, they ask me to stay. 

So we are family, Father, the Virgin Mary and all the angels and saints!!! I love how Kerry relates her experience of the men at San Quentin. These men are living their faith so deeply and express it so simply. They're about  compassion,  forgiveness, generosity and putting others before self. These men are in prison, some without the chance of ever getting out, but their spirits are alive and free. Kerry makes the comment that "so much of prison life is about labels and boundaries" but I am not physically locked in a prison, so why does my life  sometimes feel so confined by labels and boundaries? 
Looks like I have a lot to ponder again!

“They’re not murders. They’ve committed murder, maybe several. But they’re still human beings.” This is difficult for most people to see. I’ve never visited anyone in prison. I did ask a go with a Prison Ministry Group but it may not be during Lent.  So today I visited a home for teenager girls who have been ordered to stay there by the courts.  It’s more like a rehabilitation facility with a lot of rules. Whatever they did to end up there I have to remember they are human beings who still have all their life ahead of them and that God promises them a future filled with hope. “You have this human being reaching through a cage, to touch another human being in a bigger cage, within a prison.”  God’s love can transcend prison walls, cages and any other barriers we choose to erect around the human heart.  

In this morning's gospel (Third Sunday of Lent) was the following:  "My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to finish his work".  We are nourished by food and we can also have everlasting life sustaining food.  I see the works of mercy is addressing both needs.  On the surface are the basic human needs and how we meet these needs can lead to eternal life.  Jesus did not let what he saw on the outside, or knew about the motives or past of a person stop him from offering the opportunity for everlasting life.  Love as God loved.  So simple and so complex.

I am going through my closets also quite systematically. I am still asking if this is enough.  I have so much that maybe this is actually the easy option.  There are at least 6 other corporal works of mercy I need to get around to.  But Kerry creates a different view from me as she reminds us of Paul's encouragement to the Collosians to "put on garments of love". I ask myself, do I really cloth my self with love which touches and embraces others?  I feel I fall short in this.  I do clothe myself as the "successful executive" during the week or the "quite hip 60's+" on weekends.  These are my clothes and probably my stance.  So as well as clearing my closet, each week as I dress ... That shirt, that tie I choose, my pair of jeans at weekends ... I will say a prayer to invest them (me) with the garment of true love that I hope I can bring to others. 

Thank you for this opportunity to stretch myself with this on line community. Love the fun, upbeat style of the book.

"Sometimes hope comes in the million of faces you are yet to meet." I love this statement. I think of the start of each new school year how I'm so excited to meet my new students. I've asked to go with a Prison Ministry group to visit the prison. This is the only way I can get in other than if you know someone there. And I've been thinking about burying the dead. Well, this I cannot do literally but I can comfort those who grieve and pray and offer a Mass for the souls of my family members and souls in purgatory who have noone to pray for them. Also I can pray for those who die and are not given a burial befitting the dignity of the human person - like aborted babies or people killed in wars around the world. So after having not such a good a yesterday, my hope has been restored. 

Thank you Kerry, your writing is so personal and truthful. I find your ability to admit questions about you and your feelings about your relationship with the church and God are much like mine. I wonder if I am what God wants me to be, and do all that I can. The answer of course is no. But the truth is each time I try to be who God wants me to be I get a little closer, and learn a lot more about why the mercy we show others is a gift to us from God. We get a glimps of how vast His Mercy is. I have been very hard on myself for not being better at "doing lent", but you have shown me that we all question if we are doing the right things and when we pull the covers up and miss doing what we feel we should, God is not disapointed. When we keep coming back trying to do the right thing, we get closer to being what we are ment to be. I am truly learning and enjoying from your journey thrugh lent. this is my 65th lent and it is the best so far.

I re-read Chapter 16 several times to try to truly understand what was being said. To understand what is meant by a particular work of mercy is crucial to  understanding how to live it out in different situations. Also in trying to do the works of mercy  I also need to reflect on how do I need mercy also. Am I thirsty and for what type of water? How am I homeless and what type of shelter do I need? This has profoundly broadened my understanding what the  works of mercy means.  I need to ponder this in my heart for I sense there is so much more.

I appreciate Kerry's honesty about her feelings for the Stations of the Cross. It's been always hard for me to attend, but once I do go I can somehow get into it. I like her suggestion of seeing yourself as an extention of the scene presented. I haven't attended this devotion yet this Lent, but I'll try to do so this Friday.

I enjoy the book and look forward to being challenged by the next chapter but the great grace so far has been the sharing. I am constantly being reminded how one good thing leads to another - one peson writes a book - another publishes it - a third accepts it for their website - a fourth reads it - acts on it -  shares with (how many?) and the ripples spread ... all with such humility and JOY. How Pope Francis would love it!

Did you ever notice how we humans tend to make things complicated?  What should come natural like caring for each other becomes a process rather than an act.  We get caught up in the details and worry about others will think.  But in the end, the one thing that I have learned on this journey through Mercy in the City, is this simple quote: “DO WHAT YOU CAN, WITH WHAT YOU HAVE, WHERE YOU ARE.”  May we all continue to be mindful of each other and to never stop caring no matter what life brings us.   Thank you so much for this experience ! 

This is the second week of Lent and trying to do these works of mercy is becoming more & more challenging.  Yesterday I offered a homeless man something to eat and he cussed me out. He also cussed Jesus and His Mother Mary. I just walked away. I felt I had to do reparation. But there are others whose needs I could serve, so praise the Lord!!!  Also in Chapter 14 I could not relate to Kerry's sleeping in a shelter with homeless men. I understood it was an act of solidarity with the homeless but she's single and it works for her. What would work for me?I'm thinking I'll donate money to a 'neediest fund' which assists families who have lost their homes due to fire, inability to pay rent, etc


Read More Sharing Here

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