Ministers of mercy
The theme of forgiveness has been weaving its way through the church in recent months. Just three days into his papacy, Pope Francis preached about the merciful love of Christ, saying, “Jesus’ attitude is striking: we do not hear the words of scorn, we do not hear words of condemnation, but only words of love, of mercy, which are an invitation to conversation.” He went on in a later interview to remind the faithful to witness to Christ’s saving grace, urging, “Ministers of the church must be ministers of mercy above all.”
Like Pope Francis, the Marquette community placed forgiveness at the at the heart of our reflection by choosing it as the theme of this year’s Mission Week. Guided by lectures, discussions and communal prayer, the university takes time to reflect on questions like: What does forgiveness really entail? How can we reconcile deep hurt? In what areas of life do we accept — or not accept — God’s mercy?
During Tuesday’s keynote address, best-selling author and Rwandan genocide survivor Immaculée Ilibagiza shared her journey toward forgiveness in the midst of unthinkable tragedy. Threatened by imminent violence, Ilibagiza found solace in prayer during her 91 days in hiding. The line “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us” from the Our Father resonated with her. Ilibagiza remembers pleading with God, “If you know how to forgive, help me out. I don’t understand it. Help me to forgive.”
Ilibagiza’s address was one of many thought-provoking events offered this week. On Friday, Campus Ministry Assistant Director Timothy Johnston will explore the religious ritual of sacramental reconciliation. His talk, “Celebrating God’s Mercy,” will take place at noon in the Chapel of the Holy Family.
From 1:00-4:00 p.m., Catholic members of the Marquette community are invited to receive the sacrament of reconciliation in the Faber Center, Schroeder Hall chapel or the Chapel of the Holy Family individually. Nearby rooms in either location will also be open for community members of other faith traditions to engage in individual spiritual conversations about forgiveness.
Reflections on #MissionWeek so far.