Embraced by a merciful God: Camrose Associates

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Back row, from left: Sr. Jeannette, Jan Kehoe, Debbie Muise, Bernice Schlaut-Macfarlane. 
Front row: Kathy Leibel, Audrey Heck, Archbishop Sylvain Lavoie OMI, Connie Prost.

Sr. Jeannette Filthaut organized the Camrose Associates’ meeting at the Star of the North Retreat Centre in St. Albert for the annual retreat on June 6, 2016. Facilitated by the centre’s chaplain, retired archbishop Sylvain Lavoie, the theme of the retreat was “Mercy”, appropriate in Pope Francis’ year of mercy.

In our time, there is a great need for a message of mercy. Each of us is called to help the world become more merciful and to be merciful as God is merciful. Mercy is a virtue. Bishop Sylvain asked us to write our own definition of mercy and then the definitions were read aloud. Mercy is related to the Hebrew word, Hesed - steadfast love, loyalty, justice, kindness. It is an act of blessing others with compassion and undeserved love.

God’s mercy begins with the creation of the world. His covenant with his people, through Adam & Eve, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David, is an intimate relationship in which God discloses himself and promises a Redeemer. The Chosen People are called to reveal God to the world. The new and eternal covenant is sealed by the blood of Christ.

Jesus gives the experience of forgiveness to his apostles and all those he meets. On the cross, Jesus reveals God’s unconditional love and mercy for us. The resurrection shows the power of mercy. The Spirit is the transformative power. Known by several names, the Spirit is Energeia, Exousia, and Ruah. With a huge Rembrandt print of the Prodigal Son as the focus, we read the parable in Luke’s Gospel, and discussed the mercy the father offers to his sons. Archbishop Sylvain presided at the Eucharist.

Our afternoon resumed with the Prayer of Pope Francis for the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Pope Francis reminds us that the poor are the privileged teachers of God’s love and mercy. True mercy demands justice so that the poor find a way to be poor no longer. Mercy includes solidarity, accompanying, and defending. Justice and mercy accompany each other. Archbishop Sylvain discussed the mercy of Christ to the woman caught in adultery. 

Reviewing the Corporal Works of Mercy and the Spiritual Works of Mercy, we performed a self-evaluation of those works that we have recently performed and those we need to consider. Then each person was invited to pick out a picture from several on the table, and to explain what the picture said to them about mercy.

The retreat, a day of renewal, drew to a close. We have been challenged to be workers of mercy on this earth, emulating Christ’s example. We are grateful for Archbishop Sylvain’s leadership among us. 
-- Providence Associate Jan Kehoe

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