A Witness to Mercy

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I find it embarrassing to tell you how many unmerciful Catholics I have had the displeasure of encountering online or in person. And, nuts. Stone-cold, freakin’ nuts. God loves crazy people, too. He does, we are told.

When considering the spectrum between the sexually depraved and the bitter Puritan, you can begin to see why and how the initial Noah-Ark solution is appealing. They ARE the minority, but still, it always takes my breath away. I should stop being scandalized, but each time, I am caught short.

I pray for myself, first off, and then all. “The measure with which you measure shall be measured unto you!” -Mt 7:2, makes me tremble. It does. “Lord, depart from me, for I am a sinful man!” -Lk 5:8.

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-by Leticia Adams, a self-professed “hot mess convert” to Catholicism, and the future patron saint of “people who can’t stop cussing!”

“Mercy is central to my life. Without it, I would not be here. I have had mercy showered on me from the first time that I stepped foot in St. William Catholic Parish’s RCIA program (Rite of Christian Imitation for Adults). The first time that the RCIA director, Noe Rocha, looked at me and said the words “God loves you more than you think He does”, I felt it. I felt the Love of God to the core of who I am. At that moment, I had no clue who I even was, but I somehow knew that God did and that He was giving me a path to finding out for myself who it is that He created me to be. I really had no clue what the path was going to be like or what I was going to have to go through, but I knew that if a man like Noe, who had been a heroin addict, could stand in front of me and speak about Jesus like a friend, then I had a chance. It was a chance that I had to take.

The one thing that has always gotten in the way of me and God is my anger. When I sit down with people and tell them my life story from the time that I was 3 years old and my grandfather died to the day that I found myself in a drunk tank after being arrested for a DWI, they get why I lived most of my life angry. In God’s mercy, He has put me in the offices of Noe, priests, therapists and doctors who for whatever reason have been kind to me, who have loved me and most importantly just had mercy on me. That is what has slowly, very slowly, started to melt that anger away. People who don’t know, who assume to know and who think it is their job to let me know all the ways that I’m Catholicing wrong, don’t help me at all. (Ed. there’s a wrong way? Other than what’s in the Bible?) Except to help me know that I do know who I am now and that’s a gift.

Mercy is different than pity. In my old life, plenty of people knew about everything or just a few things that I had been through and there was plenty of pity but rarely was there mercy. The difference being that with mercy there isn’t that face. I don’t know how to really explain The Face, but anyone who has ever been abused knows what it is. It’s the “oh honey” face. The face that says you are a victim and broken and soft and doomed. It comes with a silent “Thank God that didn’t happen to me” that is felt rather than said. Mercy is when people say “I’m so sorry for what happened to you, let me sit with you in that pain and hold your hand so that when you’re done crying I can help you stand up and move forward.” There is a hope to Mercy that isn’t found in pity. Mercy stays even when the anger shows up. For people who have been traumatized, anger is sometimes the only way to survive and to keep living. Anger is what helps us defend ourselves from people who want to hurt us. Anger is what helps us keep people at arms length so that they don’t get close enough to see the pain. Anger is what helps us read people and know exactly what they are all about in minutes. The anger becomes a gift. A tool that helps us live without succumbing to the pain. The only cure for the anger is to have people offer us mercy.

I sat in so many priests’ offices and confessionals so pissed off about all kinds of things. I have cussed while confessing my anger towards a certain person with hot angry tears running down my face. I have dared people to walk out of my life in the name of Jesus, I have waited to be excommunicated. My life has been a series of rejections since the day that I was born and my father was nowhere to be found. The only time in my life that I ever found acceptance was in September of 2009 when a little old Mexican man looked me in the eye and told me that God had a plan for my life and asked me how I was going to respond to it. That is when I came face to face with Mercy.

Mercy. It is the only reason that I sit here. Not doctrine, not someone telling me how many things I was doing wrong and how to do them right. Not learning the rubrics of the Mass. Not any of that. Pure and simple Mercy. I have fallen in love with Christ and every single day I fall deeper and deeper in love with Him. It is the Mercy of God that allows someone who did the things that I did to be able to fall in love with Him. I only pray that I can be a witness of that and help other people encounter it the way the Noe helped me.”

Love, & Amen, Amen.
Matthew

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