Father James Thermos, director of the Spirituality Year at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary, shared some of his favorite mercy-themed spiritual readings.
“Spiritual reading allows us to receive the insights and truths and lives of our brothers and sisters who have a lived relationship with Jesus,” Father Thermos said. “We receive it as a gift so that we, too, might deepen our love for the Lord.”
Encyclical on the Mercy of God (Dives in Misericordia)by Pope St. John Paul II. Available from the Vatican website.
“Mercy is love in response to an offense. We love one another, but when I offend you, when I rupture our relationship unilaterally, to repair it requires your love in return, which is an act of mercy,” Father Thermos said.
“We understand ourselves to be fundamentally in need of God’s mercy. He is always loving us–He is Love–and He is inviting us to join in His life even in the face of our rebelliousness and disobedience.”
“In the encyclical, John Paul II goes on to show us the mercy of God in the Prodigal Son (Lk 15), and then how this is made manifest in the Church.”
The first 48 pages of Soul Mending by John Chryssavgis. Available from Holy Cross Orthodox Press.
This book is by a Greek Orthodox priest. The rest of the book deals with spiritual direction, but Father Thermos recommends the first 48 pages because they are about mercy.
“He helps us understand the healing dimension of the sacrament of Confession. We look at the Good Samaritan. We are the person who is beat up and Jesus puts us on Himself. When we understand that our humanity is fundamentally broken, we rejoice in the offer made by a loving God to heal us. To heal us means to forgive us and bring us into his life,” Father Thermos said.
Choosing Forgiveness: Turning from Guilt, Bitterness and Resentment Towards a Life of Wholeness and Peace by John Loren Sandford, Paula Sandford and Lee Boman. Available from Charisma House.
This book is written by the founders of Elijah House, a Christian ministry dedicated to repentance and forgiveness.
“Choosing Forgiveness is a very insightful and practical book,” Father Thermos said.
“Any reception of God’s mercy is dependent on our forgiveness of one another. That is just such a hard thing to figure out how to do or what it means. We say to pray for each other, but in my opinion, it’s very hard to get our minds and hearts around what that means. They just do a great job of explaining that and understanding how we in our lack of forgiveness, one of the main results of our own lack of forgiveness is the hardening of our own hearts. We think of not forgiving as being in our best interests because then we can hold onto this grudge. But it’s in our best interest is to forgive.”
Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul by St. Maria Faustina Kowalska. Available from .
Pope St. John Paul II canonized St. Faustina, and is responsible for spreading her devotion to Divine Mercy and her inspiration of the Divine Mercy Chaplet.
“It’s not often that we are able to witness the lived relationship of a person, in this case a saint, with the Risen Lord. She very generously records it, and in so doing we get an insight into the beautiful relationship of her being able to receive the mercy of Jesus. Lest mercy just be an abstract notion, this is just so helpful because it’s a concrete witnessing of the life of mercy lived out between St. Faustina and Jesus in his Sacred Heart,” Father Thermos said.