Day 7: Compassion
O Mother of Perpetual Help, in the midst of all your glory, we ask you not to forget the sorrows of this world.
Cast a look of pity upon all who struggle against life’s difficulties, and who cease not to feel all its bitterness. Have pity on all who have been separated from those they love. Have pity on the lonely and friendless. Pardon the weakness of our faith. Have pity on those whom we love.
O Holy Mother, show a mother’s compassion toward the sorrowful and those who tremble under life’s afflictions. Give them hope and peace. Amen.
It feels right that we end this week-long retreat by reflecting on the virtue of compassion. Compassion is central to the gospel accounts of Jesus’s ministry.
There are many stories of Christ’s tenderness and affection for those he encountered—particularly the poor, the sick and those society had abandoned.
Jesus called his heavenly father “Abba,” and He continually challenged the limits of compassion of religious leaders of His day.
You are called to be just and loving, but this is not an easy task. Your life, if it is at all like most, is full of brokenness. You likely wonder at times if you have anything worth wild to offer to others.
Yet it is by accepting your own brokenness, your own failures and weaknesses, that you can become most loving and most compassionate towards other’s shortcomings. Offer your brokenness to Jesus through Mary.
It is only by recounting the Gospel stories of Our Lord, who wasn’t afraid to share in the poverty of the poor and weak, that you can truly come to have compassion first for yourself and then for others.
When you read about “praying from the heart”, it’s not just referring to praying with emotion. More importantly, it’s praying from the center of your being where God resides.
It is only from this firm resting place that you will be able to reach out to others with compassion. God’s compassionate heart has no limits.
This last Reflection encourages you to rest with hope and confidence once again in the Divine presence, and to express to God through Our Mother of Perpetual Help whatever difficulties you may have in remaining open and compassionate both to yourself and others.
Blessed Mary, I long to be more compassionate in my dealings with others.
So often, though, I am fearful and feel overwhelmed by the poverty and suffering I see around me. I’m also overwhelmed by the problems in my own life, by how I often seem to fail to be the person I want to be, or my struggles to achieve my goals and dreams.
At these times God seems so distant from me. I try to see our Lord face to face. I try to feel that I am resting in His peace. Yet for the present, my knowledge of Him is only fragmentary. I sense His nearness, but He can also seem so very far away.
My desire is to believe in our Lord so deeply, so completely, so powerfully that I will be able to look lovingly both on myself and those around me who are often in such pain and so in need of a kind word or gesture.
My hope in Jesus is not a process of thinking about it, but a deep yearning in my heart to be with my Lord at all times. It is a recognition that my capacity to be in His presence can be deepened by His transforming grace.
Mother Mary, help me to increase my capacity for compassion so that my love for your Son will never be obstructed or contained.
Mary, take me by the hand and show me the way to your Son. Do not allow me to lose heart. Do not let me fall away from you or your Son. Help me to overcome my fears, my despair and my lack of compassion. Help me to look to you at all times.
Hoping always in our Lord, and strengthened always, Our Mother of Perpetual Help, by your loving help, I offer all my days to you.
Throughout this day, practice the prayer that’s known as the Prayer of the Heart or the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.”
Repeat it often, particularly when you feel angry or critical of yourself. At some point, turn your focus to your loved ones, and, when you think of or encounter them, pray in your heart: “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on [name].”
Finally, change your focus to the people you encounter in the course of your day, at work, while shopping, while driving. Repeat the prayer even though you might not know a person’s name, for example, “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on this person who is struggling to cross the street.”
Return at various times to pray again for mercy for yourself and others.