As I’m sure all the MissionCorps who have lived with me can attest, I love liturgical seasons and feast days, and I like to live them out beyond church – with food, decorations, prayers, and traditions. Naturally, I am excited about the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy. It’s kind of a big deal. And on top of that, I am blessed to be spending this Year of Mercy at Maggie’s Place, a place of great mercy lived out concretely and visibly.
In Misericordiae Vultus, the document with which Pope Francis established the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis called us to reflect on the corporal works of mercy: to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, heal the sick, visit the imprisoned, and bury the dead. Additionally, he called us to reflect on the spiritual works of mercy: to counsel the doubtful, instruct the ignorant, admonish sinners, comfort the afflicted, forgive offenses, bear patiently those who do us ill, and pray for the living and the dead.
These are, so to speak, our marching orders for how to live mercifully. They are also an amazingly perfect description of what we strive to do at Maggie’s Place. Maggie’s Place operates homes of hospitality for pregnant and parenting women in need, which means we provide shelter, food, drink, clothing and welcome strangers every day! Thankfully, we have less opportunity for healing the sick, visiting the imprisoned and burying the dead, but certainly sickness, death and imprisonment are a real part of the lives of the women we live with and serve, and we are there for them in those times as well. And no less than the physical, we have an opportunity to show mercy in the spiritual, mental and emotional realms: educating, advocating, cheerleading, holding accountable, weeping, being patient, and praying.
Their needs give us the opportunity to love and be merciful, and no less, our neediness gives the moms and our fellow staff the chance to show us mercy. Certainly there have been countless times in the past year and a half when I have offended, needed comfort, admonishment, forgiveness, patience and prayers. I have been welcomed, fed and taken care of by this wonderful community. At Maggie’s Place, we are all called to give and receive mercy. And while serving at Maggie’s Place is the greatest challenge I have ever had, it certainly makes living mercy easier because it’s my daily work. It is a privilege to be a MissionCorps and to have the opportunity to live mercy so concretely every day, especially during the Year of Mercy.
By Lily Key, a MissionCorps member