Mom taught mercy and compassion

WCR Logo


May 4, 2015

If my dad was drawn like a magnet to the book of Proverbs – pithy bits of wisdom about how to live a better life – Mom's centre of gravity was in the Gospel of Luke. All those stories about accepting Samaritans, seeking the lost and welcoming the prodigal were right up her alley.

Hers was the Jesus who said "Be merciful just as your Father is merciful" (Luke 6.36) more than the Jesus who said, "Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 6.48). If you wanted to be perfect, that was OK with her, but you had to be merciful.

When the Second Vatican Council shook the dust out of the Church, she quietly rejoiced. It wasn't just finally having Mass in English that delighted her; it was especially getting rid of those ember days that turned Advent and Lent into dreary weeks with too much fasting.

Mom may have been born of Irish stock, but she wasn't the sort of Irish who thought faith meant being dour and morbid. She didn't need to be an ascetic to be faithful, and she had a keen eye for hypocritical pieties.

I wouldn't say that our home was overrun with odd and unusual visitors. Not at all. But Mom had a keen sense of when someone would be spending Christmas alone or when they just needed a second place to call home.

She certainly knew how to comfort me when I was experiencing the pain of exclusion or

rejection. And if I have even an ounce of compassion in my own soul, I got it from her.

It's been 10 years now since I've been able to wish her happy Mother's Day, her life ending prematurely due to the cigarette habit she couldn't shake. But if she were still alive, I would certainly be getting on the phone next Sunday to say, "I love you Mom. Have a happy Mother's Day."