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Becoming Divine Mercy: A Mission of Mercy
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God, the source of all mercy, provides us with an experience so great that we have no choice but to reflect it to our own brother and sister. Mercy calls for an outward response, which is made clear in the examples of the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. You can feed the hungry, comfort the sick and forgive offenses. These are all outward-focused actions that recognize the deep need and dignity of the person and call for a direct response.
Within the fields of psychology and counseling, this need for mercy and a direct response can be seen in the face of those who are suffering. The statistics on mental health are astonishing and there is no denying that there are many who suffer with mental illness and are in need of services, may not have access or cannot afford treatment. There is a greater response needed within these fields. There is a greater need for persons to respond to this call. There is a greater need for people to work within this mission of mercy.
The Catholic Bishops of New York State released a statement in 2014 entitled, "For I am Lonely and Afflicted: Toward a Just Response to the Need of Mentally Ill Persons" in which they describe this need for mercy:
In our society, those with mental illness are often stigmatized, ostracized and alone. The suffering endured by mentally ill persons is a most difficult cross to bear, as is the sense of powerlessness felt by their families and loved ones. As the Psalmist called on God to deliver him from affliction and distress, so, too, does the person with mental illness cry out for healing. Our Judeo-Christian tradition calls us to be witnesses of God's love and mercy and to be instruments of hope for these individuals. We have no better example of how to respond to those with mental illness than that of Jesus Christ."
By virtue of our baptism, we are called to be a witness to God's love and mercy to those who are suffering. In this Year of Mercy, which is already bearing fruit for the world, it provides us with a deeper opportunity to respond to suffering of the world.
Earlier this year, the Institute for the Psychological Sciences (IPS) announced that it was expanding to Divine Mercy University, with a launch of a new School of Counseling. The new Master's in Counseling degree, which is offered online, is a direct response to the need in the mental health field. The foundation and tradition IPS has with the Catholic-Christian view of the human person, marriage and family, along with greater access to training and education, will help form and guide a greater number of mental health professionals. For those working as mental health professionals, it is truly a mission of mercy. It is a vocation to heal.
Mercy leads to the truth in helping see beyond the barriers that come between us and God and how with His help we are able to overcome them. Mercy enables us to see the love of God and how His love is transformational. When we are merciful, we reflect the goodness of God and the duty to our neighbor. Mercy restores value to fallen man and gives glory to the power of Christ and His salvific mission. Mercy in the light of psychology calls for a direct response to the value and dignity of the human person amidst suffering.
As instruments of mercy, we must constantly contemplate the mystery of mercy. As Pope Francis has declared, mercy is "the bridge that connects God and man, opening our hearts to the hope of being loved forever despite our sinfulness." We are called to be merciful in all of our actions. "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy." In the face of those suffering, we must look to how we can respond more deeply to the call of mercy and participate in the mission of mercy in the world.
For more information about Divine Mercy University and the programs offered, please visit www.ipsciences.edu.
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