by Mary Pezzulo Reviewed by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D.
The author realized that as she listened to the Gospel that she discovered the mercy of God in the very way God meant it to be discovered-through the mercy of people. She found God again and again in her own life when she was helped and when she was able to help others. This is the heartache and loss of this past year be the definition of this year. The author came out to this area to learn about God so that she could teach others. She tried to learn about God from textbooks when she was in graduate school but 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 they care for us, and that we bring God to 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 us most of all to come to us through people.
The author 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. Emmanuel, God 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) And 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. The author has something to say about God after all. God is present in the Works of Mercy and she can show you how!
In each of the chapters the author teaches us how to recognize and graciously be the work of mercy in the life of another. For example, in Chapter 4, the author teaches us how to counsel the doubtful. She tells us that she spends an embarrassing amount of time on social media. That is what led her into being a blogger. She met many friends on the blog and responded to them. She states: “Christ is someone who loves us, sometimes through others people, sometimes in spite of them, indeed, sometimes even when they are acting in ways that makes Him look like a monster. Christ was also abused by members of his own faith, after all He was abused by both spiritual and civil authorities. Christ is someone who suffers with us, saying ”Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” (My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?) on that terrible cross when we can’t manage to believe just now because it’s so dark.
The author gives us specific examples of how to counsel. For example: “When a person expresses to you that they feel that they’re losing their faith, don’t jump to correct them or recite the catechism. Just listen carefully. After you’ve listened, you can ask questions until you’re sure you understand what’s going on.” At the end of each of the chapters, the author offers a prayer: “Lord, Jesus Christ! Thank you for sharing your doubt with us, when you felt abandoned on the Cross. Help me to be a good listener and an honest compassionate counselor when my neighbors experience doubt. I ask this in your most Holy Name. Amen.”
This book is written with such kindness and devotion, one should buy it for each of one’s friends! The author is also the Creator of Steel Magnificat.