Speakers: Mercy is a way of life - Catholic Courier

Speakers: Mercy is a way of life

PITTSFORD — Just days before the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy was set to end, two Catholic radio personalities urged the faithful to continue the journey of spiritual renewal begun by Pope Francis.

Father Jacek Mazur, cohost of the radio program “Divine Mercy in My Soul,” said living out mercy is serious business, since it is a true path to salvation.

“If my salvation depends on it (mercy), I better pay attention because I want to make it to heaven,” he said at St. Louis Church Nov. 15. “Heaven is open for absolutely everyone, that’s true. But there are some expectations that God has.”

Father Mazur, pastor of the Buffalo Diocese’s Divine Mercy and St. Mary of the Cataract parishes in Niagara Falls, spoke at St. Louis along with Rick Paolini, his cohost on “Divine Mercy in My Soul,” which airs locally on The Stations of the Cross Radio WHIC 1460-AM.

“Do we reflect God’s mercy in our lives?” Paolini asked the more than 50 area parishioners who attended the talk. “We need to think about that if we are going to be people where mercy is a way of life.”

Their presentation was one of several local activities marking the conclusion of the Year of Mercy. The official close for the Year of Mercy in the Diocese of Rochester took place Nov. 20 when Bishop Salvatore R. Matano celebrated Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral on the feast of Christ the King.

Father Robert Ring, pastor of St. Louis, said Paolini and Father Mazur helped kick off the parish’s observance of the Year of Mercy last December. Their initial talk was so well-received that the planning committee decided to invite them back, he said.

Father Mazur began the Nov. 15 talk by reading from Matthew 25:34-30, which outlines the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

“Mercy is love in action,” he said. “Out of love, you do something for another person, whether this person deserves it or not. You’re willing to help. You’re willing to assist. You’re willing to forgive. You’re willing to go the extra mile. You’re willing to give of yourself, of your talents, of your time, of your treasure. You’re willing to do something so that person may feel loved, and welcomed, and appreciated.”

It is not an option to excuse oneself from showing mercy because one cannot feed thousands of people as St. Mother Theresa, noted Father Mazur.

“Start with one person,” he quoted her as saying. “You’ll be making a difference in somebody’s life.”

Another important element of mercy is forgiveness, both Paolini and Father Mazur noted.

“As a parent, you can really make a tremendous difference in your child’s life if you teach that child how to forgive,” added Father Mazur. “We can all forgive from the heart just as Jesus teaches us. … Many people want to receive forgiveness from God, want to receive the mercy of God, but they’re not willing to forgive from their heart their own brother and sister.”

Being merciful, therefore, is not always comfortable or easy, they said. But contemplating the mystery of mercy leads to a wellspring of joy, serenity and peace, Paolini said.

Paolini spoke of the challenge of showing mercy as he recounted the story of a neighbor whom his children called “the spooky guy.” The man was unkempt and lived alone, he said.

He first began a tenuous friendship with the man after seeing him sitting on a curb as he was driving home.

“I said, ‘Lord, you don’t really want me to stop and help this guy,'” Paolini recalled praying. “He did.”

During the initial encounter, the man told Paolini that he hadn’t eaten in two days and didn’t have the strength to walk home from the store. For the next three decades, the family shopped for him and even took him in for a time, Paolini said.

The man had fallen away from the church even though he had been in a seminary in his native Belgium. Paolini said he prayed for the man every day.

A few years ago, the man became ill and family members took him to the hospital. At one point, the man repeated: “Oh God, have mercy on my soul.” He then allowed a priest to anoint him and died eight days later, Paolini said.

“What I prayed for was … to change him to let the Lord in his heart,” he said. “You may be the person who can save their soul.”

The story touched several members of the audience.

“These people who stretch our patience to our very ends, they teach us so much,” said Lynda Greve, who had served on St. Louis’ planning committee for Year of Mercy events.

The story also offered a tangible example of how to get out of the busyness and separateness of daily life, where people pull into their garages and close their eyes and hearts, said Jean Wierszkski, a parishioner of St. John of Rochester Parish in Fairport.

“We don’t know what’s going on,” she said. “It’s important that we start living out what we say we are (as Christians).”

She said she also appreciated Father Mazur’s enthusiasm about his Catholic faith.

“He loves his faith,” Wierszkski added. “I want everyone to know I’m Catholic (too) not just by words, but how I live.”

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