Mercy in the City

How to Feed the Hungry, Give Drink to the Thirsty, Visit the Imprisoned, and Keep Your Day Job


by Kerry Weber

Reviewed by Holy Name Cathedral Catechumens with a Facilitator Commentary by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D.


Introduction


Mercy in the City by Kerry Weber was given to all liturgical ministers in the parish and then offered to the RCIA to read in our small groups, it seemed to be an unabashedly simple book. That simplicity mirrors Christ’s simplicity throughout the Gospels in doing the corporeal and spiritual works of Mercy. Kerry Weber’s holiness permeates the examples she brings forth for reflection. We are looking for the Face of Mercy/the Face of Christ. There are so many examples: identity and clothing, how difficult it is to keep Lenten resolve as we change our patterns, giving to the poor is giving to yourself, the freedom of age and giving yourself to God, the importance of water, the depth of her community relationships, her call to serve, the men’s shelter and other ordinary and simple stories that showed her devotion to Christ. It is not, as a University professor, a book that I would pick up on my own but it was a great deal of conversation and fun reading with the RCIA folks who have new eyes to old beliefs and now I do too! I don’t say this in arrogance but having different gifts than the author. On some levels it is profoundly deep asking us to make relevant the ordinary, everyday work that transpires in our lives to bring the Face of Mercy to all who we meet.


This comment is from one of the RCIA candidates: Donna Moy


Kerry Weber writes simply and effectively. Her descriptive narratives make it feel like she’s sitting across from you and conversing about her experiences. After reading the first chapter, it’s easy to identify with her. She is a regular person who tries hard to be a good Christian/Catholic. Like all of us, she stumbles and, at times, unsure but keeps trying. I like her optimism. She injects humor in many situations which make them memorable. In some situations, I felt I was with her, e.g., I envisioned being at the homeless shelter where she spent the night. She is inspirational. Her narratives are so well written that it makes for fast reading. It’s a pleasure to read each chapter.


Another Candidate writes: Chris Pope


I really enjoyed the content of the book, as it allowed for easy conversations around the Corporeal Acts of Mercy. I felt she navigated each act with practical and honest insight that would appeal to any reader at any spiritual level. I know it touched me personally in a very pragmatic way as I found myself energized to donate, contribute time and stop to speak more to those beautiful souls that are marginalized throughout our city. It is from these acts that I learned a lot about myself in order to get more in touch with a group of individuals that I don’t have enough association with. I believe this book really contributed to my philanthropic and social outreach which has become a part of my soul now going forward not only in a year of mercy, but rather during a lifetime of mercy.


Another Candidate comments: Teresa Rios


What I found the most helpful about Mercy in the City is the way that Weber investigated how much Catholic teaching can (and should) inform our day-to-day lives. Within our spiritual lives, it's very easy to become consumed by the big picture of salvation or the particulars of a certain issue. It's harder, however, to give serious though to the way that our "ordinary time" should be informed by the Church's teachings. Even though some might accuse Weber's endeavor (performing all seven corporal works of mercy within the 40 days of Lent) of being self-involved or self-aggrandizing, it compels its reader to question how much they allow the Works of Mercy to inform their own lives.


Facilitator commentary


In doing some Spring cleaning as a Lenten action, I realized I had too much ‘stuff’ and needed to realize that giving is the greatest joy one can have so that our work for Christ becomes more evident. My spiritual director encouraged me to give more of my money to charity, scholarships and schools. What I realized was that found myself very attached to some of my possessions that were difficult to give away  that were received in a spirit of kindness and generosity. I had a coat that I really loved and many other articles of clothing, I bagged them up to take to Catholic Charities. The coat I really loved was on top part of the bag, it still fit nicely and I really liked it, perfect color, perfect fit!. I took it the few blocks to Catholic Charities and placed it in the bin where they collected the clothing. I went to do some work at the University and coming home I thought about the coat and how special it was to me. I had written a big grant with some very special friends/colleagues that was awarded and I treated myself to the coat. I went back to Catholic Charities to claim it. Thank God, it was no longer there. In praying about this later in the evening, I really appreciated the nudging God has given me to purge myself of ‘things’. I am still not there but I am getting closer. The things I no longer have, I don’t miss. I have more time for works of mercy and for prayer. I am delighted. Christ fills my heart with thoughts of others and how I can be a good disciple and help others be good disciples this comes from the inspiration of Kerry Weber.


Conclusion


I would continue to offer this book to others. It is a great beginning Thank you for getting the RCIA started in small groups, I think that new converts to Christ have enjoyed them and will continue to do so. The intention, I think from the director of liturgy, was to help us see the Face of God in work, home, Church and everywhere we are….connecting the dots!

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