Be Merciful

Facts of Life

In a November post titled “Show Mercy Even if They Don’t Deserve It,” Alex Johannigman, at, wrote: “About four months ago, I concluded a life-changing year serving the poorest of the poor as a missionary to the homeless in Denver.”

He proceeded to describe that experience: “There were days when it was really rewarding to show Christ’s love to those who so rarely experienced it. There were days when I got to see real change in someone’s life, whether they got permanent housing, told me they had been sober for a record number of days or finally got accepted into a drug-rehab program they desperately needed to be a part of. But, honestly, most days were really frustrating. Most days, I would come home believing that all of my friends on the street were only getting worse as time went on. Some were slipping back into old, destructive habits. Others failed to follow through with commitments I asked them to make. ... Did my homeless friends do anything to deserve the love I showed them? Probably not. But they did at least as much to deserve my love as I did to deserve God’s. … Whenever we have a hard time showing mercy to someone else because we don’t think they deserve it, it’s important for us to think about how much we don’t deserve the mercy that is extended to us from Christ. Remember that prayer that we pray every week at Mass, the Our Father? Some of the most challenging words in that prayer for me are: “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Whenever someone does something that really bothers me, I’ve been making an effort to think about if I’d want Christ to forgive me of the same thing. The answer, so far at least, has always been Yes, even when they haven’t done anything to deserve my continued love and forgiveness.”

Cistercian Father Thomas Esposito says of discerning one’s college choice, ‘There has to be something that tugs at you and makes you want to investigate it further. And then the personal encounter comes in the form of a visit or a chat with a student or alumnus who communicates with the same enthusiasm or energy about the place. And then that love of a place can be a seed which germinates in your own heart through prayer.’

Choose a College With a Discerning Mind and Heart

Cistercian Father Thomas Esposito, assistant professor of theology at the University of Dallas (UD) and subprior (and former vocations director) of the Cistercian Abbey of Our Lady of Dallas, drew from his experience as both a student and now monastic religious to help those discerning understand the parallels between religious and college discernment.