by Mary Pezzulo
Reviewed by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D.
The author endured many physical and psychological problems in her early life. She came out of the fog of these maladies when the darkness was already grown dark. The mist was rising off of the noxious, polluted Ohio River, and the near-perpetual December rain was falling. The whole world was wet, gloomy and cold, but it felt warm.
The author reports that she came out to the wilderness to learn about God so that she could teach others. She tried to learn about God from textbooks and teachers. She dropped out of school due to sickness and was in darkness for a long, long time. Along the way, she learned about God. She learned about God in the Works of Mercy. She discovered what she should have known all along that God comes to us through others when we care for them. She stumbled into the grace of understanding that of all the ways God can choose to come to us in the pain and suffering of our day to day lives, he loves most of all to come to us through people. She found the thing she came out to see after all. She wanted to see the living God, and she found God living in us, with us is here in the dark, ugly mist and the cruelty of Steubenville, Ohio. He is here in the people who need our help: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me” (Mt 25:35-36) God is here for us in the love of other people even in this world so terribly dark and so often seemingly empty of love. She has something to say about God after all. God is present in the Works of Mercy and she wants to show you how.
In the text, she takes each of the Works of Mercy, reflects on it and then helps us to see how we can live each of the Works of Mercy. At the end she provides us with a short prayer that reflects on the Work of Mercy being studied. In the conclusion of the section on Feed the Hungry she states: “Food is a sacred gift that nourishes us in every aspect of our being body, mind and soul. It’s a pleasure that is intimately wound up in our cultural experience. There is food everywhere, but for many people it’s not readily available. It’s our job, as the hands and feet of Christ to change that. To feed the hungry is to take part in God’s work of creation. It’s a simple act, a joyful one, and it binds us in a powerful way to our community. That is a gift we should all be grateful to accept.”
This is a wonderful resource for the Works of Mercy and how we can make them part of our lives. It is thoughtfully and carefully crafted to make it accessible to all. It is a lovely book to read or to give as a gift to a person you love. The author invites the reader into a robust spiritual and theological initiation into each corporal and spiritual work of mercy. The author’s gift as a writer is to educate through bold narrative, and after reading this book you’ll never thing about giving a drink to the thirsty or instructing the ignorant in quite the same ways. This is an excellent resource for both committed and searching Catholics who want to live out their faith through the incarnate mercy of Jesus Christ.