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New booklet reflects on the meaning of mercy

By Cian Molloy - 27 November, 2017


A new booklet, Merciful like the Father, published by the Irish Theological Committee, was launched last week in Maynooth by Archbishop Michael Neary of Tuam.

A collection of reflections on the theme of God’s mercy, the booklet gets its title from a talk given by Pope Francis during the Year of Mercy when he said ‘”Merciful like the Father” is not just a slogan for effect, but a life commitment’.

Speaking at the launch in St Patrick’s College, Archbishop Neary said, “Although the Year of Mercy may have closed, the Irish Theological Committee considers that it is important that all of us ought to reflect on mercy and not lose sight of the richness of Pope Francis’ approach, and the challenging realities of that central message.  In a retreat to priests Pope Francis emphasised that ‘mercy’ is a verb rather than a noun.”

The Theological Committee is an advisory body of the Irish Bishops’ Conference under the direction of the Council for Doctrine.  Three years ago, to coincide with the 50th International Eucharistic Congress, which was held in Dublin in 2012, the committee published O Sacred Banquet, which looked at ways of revitalising the celebration of the Sunday Eucharist. The aim of this new booklet, edited by Dr Mary McCaughey, is to help readers understand more fully the many aspects of God’s mercy.

“In Part One, we have reflections on the scriptural background and on the writings of Saint Thomas,” said Dr Neary.  “Part Two, dealing with mercy and the Church, challenges us to transform our lives through an encounter with the merciful face of the Father through Jesus Christ, especially through the sacraments.  In this we are challenged to become Missionaries of Mercy and Ambassadors of Reconciliation, encouraging and enabling the prodigal to return to a merciful Father.  In Part Three, we are introduced to mercy and the Christian calling.  Here mercy is contemplated as fundamental to our Christian calling and providing a sense of direction for us, a kind of compass to help chart the way in a complicated and complex world where compassion is frequently seen as an impediment to progress.”

Archbishop Neary is chairman of the Theological Committee and said, “It is our hope that this book reflects our conviction about the centrality of mercy in scripture, theology and Church life, and will make a worthwhile contribution to all who wish to deepen their understanding of mercy from a Christian view point.”

He concluded his speech in Latin: “Tolle et Lege – Take and Read.”

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