Series prepares hearts, minds for Holy Year of Mercy

(From left to right): Sebastian Harries, Abbot Edmund Power, Elyse Brazel and Jackie Wiedemer. Harries, an Anglican student, and Brazel, a Russell Berrie Fellow, are residents at The Lay Centre. Wiedemer is a friend of The Lay Centre and participant in the VPI sessions.

(From left to right): Sebastian Harries, Abbot Edmund Power, Elyse Brazel and Jackie Wiedemer. Harries, an Anglican student, and Brazel, a Russell Berrie Fellow, are residents at The Lay Centre. Wiedemer is a friend of The Lay Centre and participant in the Mercy Matters sessions.

“Mercy Matters,” this autumn’s faith formation series at The Lay Centre, is helping to prepare laypeople in Rome for the Holy Year of Mercy, set to begin 8 December.

The six-week program responds to the call of Pope Francis to prepare hearts and minds to receive God’s mercy and to share it with others.

The next two sessions of “Mercy Matters,” to be held 12 and 19 November, will explore the theme, “Aspects of Mercy in the New Testament.”

Sr Patricia McDonald, a member of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus and academic program director at the Pontifical Beda College in Rome, will offer the sessions.

The Scripture-based series was designed to emphasize that the Bible is full of stories of the mercy and love of God for his people.

Abbot Edmund Power led the two most recent sessions on the theme, “New Testament Parables of Mercy.”

The Benedictine served as the abbot of the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls, from 2005 to 2015.

Sebastian Harries, who attended Abbot Power’s session on 5 November, said the Benedictine priest offered “spiritually enriching and thought-provoking insight into three parables from Luke’s Gospel,” namely the parables of  the lost sheep, the lost coin and the prodigal son.

“Abbot Edmund suggested that mercy can be seen as a movement in our lives, from losing to finding, from pain to joy,” said Harries, an Anglican Christian and a member of this year’s resident community at The Lay Centre.

“Mercy can be understood as a process of repeated conversion that takes place throughout our spiritual lives in which we find God’s love and we find out who we really are,” Harries explained.

Participants were encouraged to explore these biblical texts through a form of prayer with Scripture, called Lectio Divina, in order to “find a deeper meaning to the Gospel text and to hear how God is speaking to us,” said Harries.

“Understanding parables can be very challenging, but Abbot Edmund unpacked their many layers of meaning in detail,” said Harries. “He helped us to engage with them by seeing them as meditations on paradox, which ultimately reveal God’s love and hope for us in our lives today.”

The first two sessions of “Mercy Matters” focused on Old Testament stories of God’s mercy and were given by Carmelite Father Craig Morrison.

The faith formation sessions run from 9:30 a.m. to noon, and include Mass. All are invited. For more information or registration, contact info@laycentre.org.

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