Can there be too much mercy?

| Alyssa Bormes | December 17, 2015 | 0 Comments

bormes_headshotEditor’s Note: “Everyday mercies” is a new column series for the Year of Mercy.

There are times when it is all just too much. We are too busy, too overwhelmed, tired, lonely or a host of too many other things. But are there ever times when mercy is too much?

As the Year of Mercy opens, it makes me look back on my life. Only now do I understand the intention with which my parents took me to be baptized. Later, they led me to confession, Communion and confirmation. Once out of their home, however, I left the Church for 17 years.

Then, there was the collision with mercy. The sacraments were no longer my idea of sentimentality; instead they became the way home to the Church — a definite and clear road map. The indelible mark left from baptism and confirmation drew me back to confession and the Eucharist. I was overwhelmed with mercy. Darkness yielded to brilliance.

Instrument of mercy

The tears and prayers of my mother were, at least in part, a reason I came home to the Church. What an amazing mercy this was. Even in the midst of my rejecting the faith she had imparted to me, she still had an undying love for me.

Mercy is a gratuitous act of love bestowed on one who is undeserving. My parents were merciful to lead me to the sacraments, as was God in allowing me to return to them. Yet, there may still come a day when the mercy is too much, which, for me, became a prelude to the Year of Mercy.

April 21, 2015, began a one-month journey that changed everything. It was to be the last month of my mother’s life — but none of us were aware of it. Along with my stepfather and stepsister, we traveled to Rome on pilgrimage. It was there that mother went to Mass for what would be the last time.

Upon returning home, my sister and I cared for our ailing mother until it was discovered that she had a broken back and congestive heart failure. Her final days were spent in the hospital.

During her last weeks, I was able to bring her the Eucharist, have her anointed and then call a priest to be with her at her death. Of course all of this was a mercy, but how was it too much?

My mother had led me to the sacraments, and in her last days, after my having rejected him as a young adult, God allowed me to be the instrument that brought his sacraments to her. The enormity of it is humbling; I will never merit this gratuitous gift of love. His mercy has become a balm for my broken heart, and in a wild, extravagant, breathtaking way, it has been the perfect prelude to the Jubilee Year of Mercy.

And, beautifully, it is too much.

Bormes, a member of Holy Family in St. Louis Park, is the author of the book “The Catechism of Hockey.”

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Category: Everyday Mercies