Mercy lies at the heart of the Christian faith. Catholics believe in a God of Mercy. He manifested his mercy, first and foremost, in the Incarnation of his Word in the Person of Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for our sins.
When he walked this earth, Jesus lived for others and greeted everyone he met with mercy and compassion. Mercy was the reason he entered this world. Mercy was why he forgave sins. Mercy was why he cured people of their physical ailments. Mercy was why he cast out demons. Mercy was why he suffered and died for us. Mercy for others was what he asked of his Father from the cross. Mercy was what flowed from his pierced side in the form of blood and water. Mercy was why he sent his Spirit to dwell in the hearts of the members of his body, the church. Mercy was the reason for the sending of his Spirit at Pentecost.
The Holy Spirit is the Fountain of Mercy. He is the soul of the church, the sacrament of Christ. He is invoked at the celebration of every sacrament. He is the source of mercy because he is the bond of love shared by the Father and the Son. From that bond everything else flows: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Reconciliation, Orders, Matrimony, Anointing.
These sacraments give honor and glory to the Father. They are actions of Christ. They are the works of the Spirit. Through them we receive his manifold gifts and fruits.
Holy Spirit, Fountain of Mercy, pray for us.
Redemptorist Father Dennis J. Billy is the Krol Chair of Moral Theology at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Wynnewood.
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s Office for the New Evangelization suggests during the Holy Year of Mercy that Catholics begin the practice of invoking the Holy Spirit as soon as you wake up in the morning. Use the “Veni, Sancte Spiritus” or similar prayer to the Holy Spirit. Take note of the special daily mercies that result from this simple act of dependence on the Third Person of the Trinity.