April 2016
Reflections of God's Goodness

Mercy continues to challenge me, bless me and call me to go deeper into living it as best I can throughout each day. Being called to mercy, the kind of mercy God extends to us, requires us to get out of our comfort zones.

Is mercy just a lofty idea? Are you inspired by the words and works of Pope Francis? He challenges us to make mercy visible and tangible in our world. It isn’t hard to see how much the world is in need of an experience of God’s mercy.

We are the world and it seems we have become "a stranger among strangers." Do you see the multitude of sad, unhappy, stressed, distracted faces in the grocery store, in the mall, at schools and yes, even in churches? It seems that people are afraid—afraid to connect, to get involved with one another for fear of what it will cost.

When you add to that the unhappy state of our country with visible meanness in the political arena, and lack of kindness and consideration among family members, or in the marketplace, we need something to change. Perhaps it is WE who need to change.

A long time ago, a shy, introverted friend of mine decided to get out of her comfort zone by smiling at people randomly. She also decided to call people by their name whenever possible. She told me she could not believe what a difference it made in all her interactions, especially with strangers. And it added to her own happiness and sense of well-being as well.

Another person once told me that there really is an "apostolate or ministry of smiling!" In his book, You Did it to Me, Fr. Michael Gaitley shares a little booklet from the 1920’s, by Fr. Bruno Hagspiel, SVD. Although I cannot reproduce it completely here, I must share some of it. It begins:

“Just a little smile on your lips:cheers your heart…keeps you in good humor…preserves peace in your soul…promotes your health…beautifies your face…induces kindly thoughts…inspires kindly deeds.”

Not only do you benefit from practicing this “apostolate of smiling”, but God can use it for His purposes. His grace can infuse your smile with power to change, to lift up, to encourage another. So says that little booklet—

"SMILE…on the lonely faces…on the timid faces…on the sorrowful faces…on the sickly faces…on the fresh, young faces…on the wrinkled, old faces…on the familiar faces of your family and friends…YOUR SMILE…can be the beginning of new life—new hope."

Our Easter Alleluias still ring in our ears and we celebrate and pray…

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who in His great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead
…once you were ‘no people’ but now you are God’s people;
you ‘had not received mercy’ but now you have received mercy.

1Peter 1:3-5;2:10

It is this Risen God that enables us to smile! Share yours today.

Blessings and peace,

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Sister Mary Ann Barnhorn
Director of Development

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