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Year_of_MercyIn this final column of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, which ends today, the message is to the point. Our call—as individuals—is nothing less than to spread the news of God’s mercy.
 
The Second Vatican Council issued this call to us, the laity, because we “live in the midst of the world and its concerns.”
 
Recall that after Jesus had sent out the Twelve (Luke 9:2), he sent seventy-two others to spread his kingdom throughout the earth to offer all people a share in God’s mercy.
 
In the Church there is a diversity of ministry but a unity of mission, with the laity sharing in the priestly office of Jesus. The council fathers stated flatly that we, the laity, are called by God to exercise our mission by openly bearing witness to Christ and promoting the salvation of humankind.
 
We are challenged to do this with the ardor Jesus himself demonstrated. This means with passion, fervor, zeal, intensity, fire, emotion, enthusiasm, eagerness.
 
It’s a tall order, but one we cannot walk away from now that the Year of Mercy has ended.
 
Our prayer today:
 

Lord, enkindle in us a missionary zeal
so we may boldly proclaim Jesus in our daily lives
and ceaselessly promote the salvation of our brothers and sisters
in every corner of the world.

 
Peter W. Yaremko, a former journalist, is the owner of Executive Media, Inc. and is a specialist in executive communications. He attends St. Peter the Apostle Church in Provincetown, Massachusetts and blogs at peterwyaremko.com/paradise_diaries.

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kindnessThe Jubilee Year of Mercy will end next Sunday.
 
So what to we do now?
 
We put into practice all the insights and graces we have gained during the past 12 months.
 
Saint Paul, in his letter to the early Church at Ephesus, told us how simple—and necessary—this is.
 
“Be kind to one another, compassionate and mutually forgiving,” he wrote, “just as God has forgiven you in Christ” (Ephesians 4:32).
 
But how difficult is this guidance! Because it’s up to us as individuals to swing the pendulum in the direction of love and respect for others.
 
Will you hold the door open for unappreciative people behind, let arrogant drivers cut in front of you, greet strangers with a smile as you go about your day?
 
Saint Theresa of Avila offers this advice: “Our Lord asks only two things of us: love for him and for our neighbor. If we practice these perfectly, we shall be doing his will and so shall be united with him” (Interior Castle: V, 3)
 
Our prayer today:
 

Merciful Lord of us all,
help us wrap our thoughts, words, and actions
within the embrace of your loving kindness,
so that we are pleasing to you this day and always.

 
Peter W. Yaremko, a former journalist, is the owner of Executive Media, Inc. and is a specialist in executive communications. He attends St. Peter the Apostle Church in Provincetown, Massachusetts and blogs at peterwyaremko.com/paradise_diaries.

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King_DavidPsalm 63 was composed more than 3,000 years ago. But it presents us with an idea that’s radical even today: “Your mercy is better than life itself.”
 
Better than life? Such unquestioning trust in the mercy of God is a hard notion to accept in our secular age. But no one less than the future ruler of Israel, David, expressed this thought when he was hiding in the desert from jealous King Saul, who wanted him dead.
 
After many days without enough water or food, David’s body weakened. But he offered his suffering as prayerful yearning for God.
 
The holy men and women of the early Church who fled to desert wilderness to seek God, could see and feel God’s presence and power in a unique way there.
 
Pope St. John Paul II pointed to this psalm to illustrate how essential and profound is our need for God’s mercy.
 
“Without him we lack breath and even life itself,” he told a general audience in 2001. “For this reason the Psalmist puts physical existence itself on the second level, if union with God should be lacking.”
 
Our prayer today:
 

Eternal Father,
we thank you for speaking to us today
as you did to David so long ago,
reminding us that our earthly life
has little meaning without you at its center.

 
Peter W. Yaremko, a former journalist, is the owner of Executive Media, Inc. and is a specialist in executive communications. He attends St. Peter the Apostle Church in Provincetown, Massachusetts and blogs at peterwyaremko.com/paradise_diaries.

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come_follow_meWe’ve all heard the story. Jesus sees a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office and says to him, “Follow me.”
 
But do we really buy it? In the time of Jesus, tax collectors were despised. Not only did they work for the hated Romans, but they also cheated their own people out of even more money than the Romans demanded—which went right into the tax collectors’ own pockets.
 
Such a man dropped everything to take up with an itinerant preacher?
 
Yes.
 
Why is this story believable?
 
St. Bede the Venerable, a seventh-century monk, explains that Jesus saw Matthew not through the lens of Jesus’ merciful understanding of people.
 
Matthew, therefore, essentially shrank under the power of Christ’s eyes of mercy and surrendered to God’s grace.
 
When we look with “eyes of mercy” at those who disappoint us or disagree with us or even humiliate us, can we see buried beneath their “unworthiness” the seeds of a desire for God, the attempts to love—however botched—or the hunger for holiness—perhaps muddied and misdirected, but still there?
 
Our prayer today:
 

Lord,
you showed your great mercy to Matthew by calling him to be your apostle
May we, too, always be as eager as Matthew to answer your call to holiness.

 
Peter W. Yaremko, a former journalist, is the owner of Executive Media, Inc. and is a specialist in executive communications. He attends St. Peter the Apostle Church in Provincetown, Massachusetts and blogs at peterwyaremko.com/paradise_diaries.

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Mercy_LoveLuke was not only an evangelist, but also an excellent journalist.
 
In his account of how Jesus restored life to Jairus’ daughter, Luke included the reaction of the crowd that laughed at Jesus before he performed this miracle: “they ridiculed him.”
 
Despite the crowd’s derision, Jesus brought the twelve-year-old girl back from the dead. Then, instead of going before the now-silenced crowd to take credit and “build his brand,” he instructed the girl’s parents not to tell anyone how he had restored the girl to life.
 
His was an act of pure mercy.
 
When things go bad for us or the world we live in, we sometimes blame God, questioning whether he cares about human suffering. But Christ’s selfless raising of Jairus’ little girl demonstrates that the Lord does care—a great deal more than we can know.
 
His willing compassion to restore life doesn’t depend on whether a person has just died or has been dead for days. In the same way, Jesus can restore our spiritual life no matter how long we have spent ourselves in sin or how badly we have sinned.
 
Because his mercy knows no bounds—and endures forever.
 
Our prayer today:
 

Merciful Jesus,
let us always be mindful of your compassionate love for us,
no matter what.

 
Peter W. Yaremko, a former journalist, is the owner of Executive Media, Inc. and is a specialist in executive communications. He attends St. Peter the Apostle Church in Provincetown, Massachusetts and blogs at peterwyaremko.com/paradise_diaries.

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Love_Forgiveness_MercyIf after almost a year of reading, discussing, meditating, and praying about mercy we are still unconvinced, Pope Francis has laid it out in blunt terms, and his message bears repeating: “If God has forgiven me, why shouldn’t I forgive others? Am I greater than God?”
 
The pope goes on to underscore the fact that “judging and condemning one’s brother who sins is wrong.” Because, he explains, “to condemn the sinner breaks the bond of fraternity with him and ignores the mercy of God, who does not want to give up on any of his children.”
 
During a general audience in last month, Francis focused on a reading from Luke (6:36-38), in which Jesus instructs his disciples to stop judging others and be merciful, as God is.
 
The motto for the Year of Mercy, “Merciful Like the Father,” comes from this admonition.
 
Also, by showing mercy to others, God will return that measure of mercy to us after our deaths. As the pope said, “It is we ourselves who decide how we will be judged.”
 
Our prayer for today:
 

Father,
we pray that we may grow to be a reflection of you,
full of love, compassion and mercy.

 
Peter W. Yaremko, a former journalist, is the owner of Executive Media, Inc. and is a specialist in executive communications. He attends St. Peter the Apostle Church in Provincetown, Massachusetts and blogs at peterwyaremko.com/paradise_diaries.

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yokeWhen we take up our cross, we discover that it is freeing, that the yoke is easy and the burden light, just as Jesus promises.
 
Isn’t this what Jesus meant when, on the night of his passion, he offered his great Priestly Prayer to our heavenly Father: “so they may share my joy completely”?
(John 17:13)
 
Pope Francis must have had this prayer in mind when he wrote his book, The Joy of Discipleship.
 
Jesus is all mercy, all love, Francis writes. In Jesus’ eyes, each of us is the little lost lamb, the mislaid coin, the child who squanders an inheritance on illusions of happiness.
 
The Pope writes that God does not forget us, never abandons us. He is a patient father, always waiting for us. He respects our freedom, but he remains faithful forever. When we come back to him, he welcomes us like children into his house, for he never ceases to wait for us with love. And his heart rejoices over every child who trusts in his divine mercy and returns to him and asks his forgiveness.
 
Our prayer today:
 

Jesus,
I pray for the courage and faith
to take up my cross daily
and taste its freeing sweetness for myself.

 
Peter W. Yaremko, a former journalist, is the owner of Executive Media, Inc. and is a specialist in executive communications. He attends St. Peter the Apostle Church in Provincetown, Massachusetts and blogs at peterwyaremko.com/paradise_diaries.

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artisan_potterSome 25,000 people attended Pope Francis’s general audience in St. Peter’s Square a few days after the canonization of Saint Teresa of Kolkata.
 
Before delivering his final blessing, the pope called on young people to follow her example and be “artisans of mercy.”
 
Why did he use the example of an artisan to illustrate his call for us to do God’s missionary work through “an authentic evangelic path?”
 
An artisan is a worker in a trade that demands special skills, especially work that involves producing useful things by hand.
 
Both Jesus and his earthly father, Joseph, labored as skilled carpenters. Using handheld tools, they shaped wood for new uses and, therefore, could be called artisans.
 
Men and women today create false images of God, the pope said. They often think of him as a “psychological refuge” that provides comfort during difficult times. Or they reduce Jesus to just another teacher of ethics.
 
These erroneous perceptions “cancel out his missionary impulse that is capable of transforming the world and history.”
 
Christians, Francis said, believe in the God of Jesus Christ, who wants us “to grow in the living experience of his mystery of love.”
 
Our prayer today:
 

Lord Jesus,
grant us the gift of great faith
so that we can become signs and instruments of your mercy.

 
Peter W. Yaremko, a former journalist, is the owner of Executive Media, Inc. and is a specialist in executive communications. He attends St. Peter the Apostle Church in Provincetown, Massachusetts and blogs at peterwyaremko.com/paradise_diaries.

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sleeping_on_streetWho is the Lazarus among us?
 
Our newest saint, Mother Teresa, recognized him in alleys and gutters:
 
“The outcasts, those who are rejected, the unloved, prisoners, alcoholics, the dying, those who are alone and abandoned, the marginalized, the untouchables and lepers, those in doubt and confusion, those who have not been touched by the light of Christ, those starving for the word and peace of God, sad and afflicted souls.”
 
Like Lazarus in the parable, the poor thirst for water. But the new Lazarus, St. Teresa reminds us, also thirsts “for peace, truth and justice. The poor are naked and need clothing, but also need human dignity and compassion for those who sin. The poor have no shelter and need shelters made of bricks, but also need a joyful heart, compassionate and full of love. They are sick and need medical attention, but also a helping hand and welcoming smile.”
 
In other words, the Lazarus among us needs not only God’s mercy, but ours as well.
 
The psalmist knew this in his darkest hour when he sang, “Your mercy is better than life itself.” (Psalm 62)
 
And St. Augustine, too, confessed, “On your exceedingly great mercy, and on that alone, rests all my hope.”
 
Our prayer today:
 

Jesus,
help us always be wholehearted in showing mercy to the needy among us,
just as you shower us with the full measure of your love.

 
Peter W. Yaremko, a former journalist, is the owner of Executive Media, Inc. and is a specialist in executive communications. He attends St. Peter the Apostle Church in Provincetown, Massachusetts and blogs at peterwyaremko.com/paradise_diaries.

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WYD_Krakow_Cardinal_OMalley“Sometimes we think we are doing God a favor when we do a work of mercy. But actually we find mercy and salvation for ourselves.”
 
That’s what Cardinal Sean O’Malley, archbishop of Boston, told the 2016 World Youth Day audience in Krakow, Poland, in July.
 
“Only by making a gift of ourselves will we find fulfillment, happiness, and salvation,” he said.
 
Isn’t this the very difference between serving God and serving mammon, the biblical name given to the greedy pursuit of gain?
 
In an interview for the opening of this Jubilee Year of Mercy, Pope Francis described the duplicitous spirit of mammon that grips today’s world:
 
“We’re used to bad news, to cruelty and ever-greater atrocities that offend the name and the life of God. The world must discover that God is a Father, that there’s mercy, that cruelty isn’t the way.
 
What the world needs, the pope added, is a “revolution of tenderness.”
 
Perhaps this is what Jesus was telling us when he was nearly thrown off a cliff after his first preaching in a Nazareth synagogue. That threat did not stop him from talking about mercy throughout his ministry.
 
The Year of Mercy is a chance to reboot, to start over again, Cardinal O’Malley said. “We need to find a new route to take us where we need to go.”
 
Our prayer today:
 

Lord Jesus,
show us the way of mercy
and grant us the courage and perseverance to follow it.

 
Peter W. Yaremko, a former journalist, is the owner of Executive Media, Inc. and is a specialist in executive communications. He attends St. Peter the Apostle Church in Provincetown, Massachusetts and blogs at peterwyaremko.com/paradise_diaries.

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ground_zeroThe Holy Cross is a sign of God’s mercy. God in his mercy allowed his Son to die in order to heal the rift caused by original sin.
 
The significance of the Cross can be found not so much in “suffering” as in “obedience”—Christ’s willing and passionate surrender to his Father.
 
This is the truth we must make our own—that we live for
God alone.
 
It sounds so simple, but sacrifice and surrender is never easy. St. Peter Damian, eleventh-century hermit, bishop, and Doctor of the Church, once preached these words: “There is no burden heavier than our ego. What tyrant is crueler, what master more pitiless for man than his own will?”
 
St. Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, described Jesus as our inspiration and model in following the will of the Father: ‘He humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him.” (Ph 2:8-9)
 
It is through the wounds of Jesus that we can recognize and acknowledge the great mystery of his love and mercy. As St. Bernard said, “Where have your love, your mercy, your compassion shone more luminously than in your wounds, sweet, gentle Lord of mercy.”
 
Our prayer today:
 

Merciful Jesus,
for our sake you died in agony on the cross.
Help us never forget
that your mercy comes alive within us.

 
Peter W. Yaremko, a former journalist, is the owner of Executive Media, Inc. and is a specialist in executive communications. He attends St. Peter the Apostle Church in Provincetown, Massachusetts and blogs at peterwyaremko.com/paradise_diaries.

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teresa_of_calcuttaOn September 4, Pope Francis will canonize Mother Teresa, whose life sent the world a single, urgent message: that love and caring are the most important things in life.
 
Perhaps we can best understand why Mother Teresa is worthy of veneration and imitation by reflecting on some of her own words:
 
“The biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted, uncared for, and deserted by everybody. The greatest evil is the lack of love and charity, the terrible indifference toward one’s neighbor who lives at the roadside, assaulted by exploitation, corruption, poverty, and disease.
 
“Those who are a burden to society, who have lost all hope and faith in life, who have forgotten how to smile and no longer know what it means to receive a little human warmth, a gesture of love and friendship—they turn to us to receive a little bit of comfort. If we turn our backs on them, we turn our backs on Christ.
 
“Our love and our joy in serving must be in proportion to the degree to which our task is repugnant.”
 
Our prayer today:
 

Mother Teresa, Saint of Mercy,
pray for us
that we may truly see the image of God
in the most deprived and disfigured
of our brothers and sisters.

 
Peter W. Yaremko, a former journalist, is the owner of Executive Media, Inc. and is a specialist in executive communications. He attends St. Peter the Apostle Church in Provincetown, Massachusetts and blogs at peterwyaremko.com/paradise_diaries.

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crouching_adamSo many events in life teach us not to trust. So often our trust has been betrayed in the political realm, in business dealings, and in personal relationships. So it’s no wonder that we might find it difficult to trust in God’s mercy.
 
But think about this: Humanity’s first sin was based on willful disobedience toward God and lack of trust in
his mercy.
 
When Adam and Eve heard God calling to them in Eden, they hid in fear. They knew they had done wrong, but they didn’t trust him.
 
The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains: “Man, tempted by the devil, let his trust in his creator die in his heart and, abusing his freedom, disobeyed God’s command.” (CCC, 2nd ed. 397)
 
Fr. Michael E. Gaitley, MIC, wrote about it this way: “Truly, sin begins with a lack of trust. Sure, pride was there, too. But the starting point, the origin of sin, is lack of trust in God. And this applies not only to the first sin but to all subsequent sin” (The Second Greatest Story Ever Told, Marian Press, p. 18).
 
Our prayer today:
 

Father,
you call to us today as you did our first parents in the Garden.
Strengthen our trust in your divine mercy,
so that we may never hide from you.

 
Peter W. Yaremko, a former journalist, is the owner of Executive Media, Inc. and is a specialist in executive communications. He attends St. Peter the Apostle Church in Provincetown, Massachusetts and blogs at peterwyaremko.com/paradise_diaries.

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Boldly_GoIn case you haven’t noticed, we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Star Trek franchise: Innumerable television episodes over the decades, several movies featuring the original TV cast, three more movies in recent years with a new cast, and the latest movie in
cinemas now.
 
All the tales revolve around the central, now-famous theme: “to boldly go where no man has gone before.”
 
Why bring all this up? Because the Jubilee Year of Mercy is our opportunity to boldly go forth to “rediscover the deepness of the mercy of the Father,” as Pope Francis
put it.
 
When Francis pushed open the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica to launch the Jubilee Year on December 8, 2015, he followed a rite of pilgrimage dating back centuries. An estimated 10 million faithful are expected to follow his lead and pass through the door during this Year of Mercy.
 
Most heartening, perhaps, is that God welcomes all who pass through the door. He “goes out to meet everyone personally,” Francis said, reminding us of the parable of the father who saw his prodigal son from far off, ran out to meet him, and showered the young man with mercy even before being asked.
 
Our prayer today:
 

Help us move out of our comfort zone during this Holy Year,
Heavenly Father,
and boldly seek your welcoming mercy.

 
Peter W. Yaremko, a former journalist, is the owner of Executive Media, Inc. and is a specialist in executive communications. He attends St. Peter the Apostle Church in Provincetown, Massachusetts and blogs at peterwyaremko.com/paradise_diaries.

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earth_on_fireMany people blame religion for bringing strife into the world. They point to the Crusades and the Inquisition as examples.
 
But religion itself is not to blame. The blame falls on those who call themselves Christians, for instance, but fail to live according to Christ’s commandments of love and mercy.
 
This is what G. K. Chesterton meant when he said, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried.”
 
Christianity should be thought of as not so much a religion as a spiritual pathway towards union with God. In fact, “The Way” was a name adopted by the earliest Christians.
 
Paul, before his conversion on the road to Damascus, was obsessed with finding “any men or women who belonged to the Way,” so he could haul them away in chains (Acts 9:2).
 
Hear what Catherine of Siena urges: “Be who God meant you to be, and you will set the world on fire.” Her words echo Christ’s, as recorded in Luke 12:49: “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!”
 
Want to help Jesus set the earth ablaze? Simply be who God meant you to be—a Christian who lives by the Gospel every day.
 
Our prayer today:
 

Jesus, Lord of love and mercy,
strengthen us as we follow the path you have set for us.

 
Peter W. Yaremko, a former journalist, is the owner of Executive Media, Inc. and is a specialist in executive communications. He attends St. Peter the Apostle Church in Provincetown, Massachusetts and blogs at peterwyaremko.com/paradise_diaries.

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