How Do I Start and Finish?
1. Discern your talents and interests. What do you enjoy doing? There are always people who would appreciate and need what you are skilled at or are joyful in doing.
2. Discuss and collaborate with fellow SOFT Disciples in what they feel are you attributes.
3. We highly recommend reading some general support material. The Art of Listening by James E. Sullivan is an excellent (short read) book to start with.
4. Determine how to get where you want to go.
- Make your own new path
- Utilize organizations and agencies to find opportunities.
- Contact SOFT and ask for specific assistance.
5. Focus on the other person. Be Curious. You are both made in the image of God. You are both loved equally by God. Prepare to be vulnerable and share as a brother or sister. This is not charity.
6. Go with a mentor / fellow disciple to discern activities or gain some experience and a comfort level.
7. Create a plan of action and commit to a regimen for serving.
8. Perform as you intended. You can make a difference. They matter. You matter.
9. Share your experience with others, that is part of evangelizing for Jesus and the Church. It is not bragging or prideful to share your experience with other disciples. We are called to! It also greatly improves the quality of the results, your commitment, and your satisfaction.
10. Join or create a tribe for support, encouragement, and having fun.
11. Share anonymously on SOFT, if you desire.
How to Connect
1. Go to our Support section and review the material.
2. To get started, we highly recommend the short-read books The Good Listener and Don’t Sing Songs to a Heavy Heart.
3. Be friendly, confident, look them in the eye, shows you have self-respect, positive attitude.
4. Be yourself.
5. Take the first step.
6. Be prepared to connect – pray beforehand and trust Jesus will be there with you.
7. Be determined to connect. Make a friend or extend the friendship. You must be intentional about concentrating on and listening to the other person’s underlying themes, emotions, and heart issues.
8. Have genuine interest in them. It’s a great opportunity to learn about someone else – God’s child – and what they know. BE CURIOUS. Ask non-judgmental questions. Ask open-ended questions requiring a thought or reflection or comment.
- What’s going on in your life? What do you think…? Why do you think…? How do you thank God for Blessings like that?
- Ideas for conversation: Sports and participation; cars; hobbies; pets; books; weekends, kids, current issues, origins, life track, where they grow up, life story, dreams, amazing stories, marriage, life, jobs, travels, regrets, learn from them, seek understanding.
9. Who are these people? How might they tell their own stories? What thoughts preoccupy their minds? What joys and troubles are coursing through their feelings?
10. Listen in as many ways as possible. Observe what people are doing. Always be asking, listening, watching, and thinking about what you learn. By listening, the servant is able to identify the needs of their colleagues. That puts them in a good position to meet those needs.
11. Make a conscious effort to “pick up the signals” from each person with whom you have meaningful interaction today, to try to get a better understanding of who they are and how they are feeling.
12. Use encouraging language – Great to see you. Missed you. Proud of you. Glad to see you. I care for you.
13. Take the risk of vulnerability – it’s not about you; it’s about them.
- There is something subtle communicated to one who is being served, if implicit in the compact between the two, is the understanding that the search for wholeness is something they share.
- You must give up control of how you are perceived and experienced by the other person.
- To begin connecting, you need to suspend your point of view. Temporarily put aside your own experiences and perspectives, and enter the world of the other person. It helps you see and feel what the other person is feeling.
- When we empathize, we are in there with them; their memories, viewpoints, emotions, and their values. We are respecting them.
- Then he is able to tolerate, look at, deal with who he is, for he is connected in a relationship, NOT all by himself, with himself.
- It is natural to insist that the other person should understand your point of view first. It is spiritual to be patient and hear them out.
- It is natural to correct their distorted viewpoint. It is spiritual to find out what their experience is.
- It is not about you. It is about them!
14. Align your interests, skills, and values with the task. Craft your service so you are working on a task more interesting, meaningful, or developmental.
15. Don’t tell me, show me! How do you overcome your fears? Take one step. Learn. Pray. Act. Love of God is an internal mystery, “I Love God”. Love of neighbor is external proof of that love. By Matthew Kelly
16. Your vision, your passion, is contagious. If it matters to you, it will matter to others. Just doing what you love, changes how you treat others around you, such as your family and colleagues better. In most cases doing what you love involves helping others in some way. Hang around people who think like you do, or want to.
Your effort should be about “is it worth it”? If so, time and cost don’t matter.
It is a great feeling to help people achieve their own passions. Don’t let fear and doubt creep in. Keep the big picture in mind, and continually discern, pray, and explore ideas.
Believe: I AM THE HANDS, FEET, AND VOICE OF JESUS
How Do I Find Opportunities and Activities?
What are your talents and interests? What do you like to do?
- Books – reading / sharing / discussing
- Budgeting / Accounting
- Music – teach / play / entertain
- Food – share / teach / collaborate
- Meditation, Personal
- Technology / Computers
- Social Media – Facebook / Instagram
- Cars – wash / share / visit shows / work on
- Sports – talk / share / visit
- Entertainment – movies / events / free concerts / art
- Garage Sales
- Outdoor activities – landscaping / gardens / lawns
- Wood Working
- Painting and maintenance
- Walking / Swim / Run / Bike / Shuffleboard (go to park, etc.)
- Support Groups
- Education – mentoring / tutors / translating
- Child Care
- Last minute Child Care
- Nursing homes / Care Centers / Rehab Centers
- Mentoring young people in certain “career” paths / curriculums
- Adult Care Relief – 1 to 4 hours / evenings / etc.
“Physical action” Serving Activities
Transporting People to their destinations and/or or sharing your time at camaraderie-building events
- Transporting people: to and fro events, functions, destinations: local needs, park, museum, fishing, church, country drive, car shows, hobby shows, art and music events, take someone on a mission – local, Grocery shopping, errands, pharmacy, hair appointments, mass, church activities, garage sales, airplanes, factories and construction, sports, entertainment, plays, concerts, Volunteer for any kind of event or function – but take the next step – connect with someone, break out of your security zone of friends, etc.
Physical exertion endeavors
- Help neighbors and others care for their homes and do repairs
- Yard work and landscaping
- Shoveling snow
- Cleaning a home, apartment, garage, windows, rooms
- Wash a car, pet, personal belongings
- Work on cars, hobbies
- Painting, house maintenance, etc.
- Cooking and serving the homeless, shelters, home-bound, gravely sick, etc.
- Volunteer during natural disasters
Mentoring and Caring endeavors
- Temporarily host a needy person or family
- Music – teach, play, interact
- Child care – last minute, occasional, free
- Adult care relief – 1-4 hours, evenings, mornings, over lunch
- Education – tutoring, resource support, career path support, job training and networking
- Cooking, teaching, and collaborating on projects related to cooking
- Visit – Nursing homes, care centers, rehab centers, detention centers, high schools
- Visit – grieving, lonely, strangers, home-bound, incarcerated people, esp. loved ones, people in the hospital and in hospice, (check our resources section for books on the appropriate
- language for grieving people, etc.)
- Relieve those providing in-home care to others
- Share your talents – accounting, technology, handyman, entertainment
- Call and talk to a relative or friend, esp. if estranged from them
- Attentive Listening: Stepping out of my world; and into your world. Sensing your deepest feelings. Giving an adequate response. The Good Listener by James E. Sullivan
Practical suggestions for practicing the corporal works of mercy:
Feed the hungry
- See to the proper nutrition of your own children.
- Support and volunteer for food pantries, soup kitchens, and agencies that feed the hungry.
- Make a few sandwiches to hand out as you are two areas where you might encounter people in need.
- Educate yourself about world hungry; avoid wasting food.
- Share your meals with others.
Shelter the homeless
- Help neighbors care for their homes and do repairs.
- Support and/or volunteer every homeless shelter.
- Support and/or volunteer for charitable agencies who care for the homeless, build homes, and provide support in the wake of natural disasters.
- Advocate for public policies and legislation that provide housing for low income people.
- Consider becoming a foster parent.
Clothe the naked
- Go through your drawers and closets and find good condition clothes and shoes to donate to agencies that provide assistance for those in need.
- Participate in programs that provide towels and linens or hospitals in distressed areas.
Visit the sick
- Spend quality time with those who are sick or home-bound.
- Take the time to call, send a card or an e-mail to someone who is sick.
- Volunteer to drive patients to medical appointments and treatment facilities.
- Volunteer at a hospital.
- Assist those who are full-time caregiver for family members.
- Cook and deliver meals to the sick and home-bound.
Visit the imprisoned
- Support and/or participate in ministries to those who are incarcerated; support programs monster by agencies that advocate on behalf of those who are unjustly imprisoned.
- Support job training and educational programs designed to rehabilitate prisoners.
- Pray for the families of inmates.
- Support programs that provide holiday gifts for prisoners and their families.
- Support efforts that seek the abolition of the death penalty.
Give to the poor
- Take some small bills with you handout to people you encounter who are in need.
- Throw your coin change into a jar and periodically donate to a charity.
- If possible make an offering or monetary donation to a charity that tends to the needs of the poor.
Bury the dead
- Be faithful about attending wakes and visitations.
- Support or volunteer at a hospice.
- Participate in a bereavement ministry.
- Spend time with widows and widowers.
- Take friends and relatives to visit the cemetery.
- Support ministries that offer free Christian burials to those who are unable to afford one.
- Offer daily prayer for those with terminal illnesses and for those who have died.
- Send mass cards to families of those who have died.
Spiritual, Emotional, and Intellectual Connecting Activities
- Touch a sleeve or shoulder appropriately
- Smile at everyone, strangers
- Acknowledge a person’s unique spirit
- Greet with a welcoming smile and ask how you can assist them
- Compliment others as often as possible
- Laugh with them and at yourself
- Spend time connecting and be vulnerable
- Comfort and Care for their well-being
- Protect them
- Encourage, Empower and Support them
- Befriend a stranger, loner, unusual person
- Be curious – ask about: hopes, dreams, past, livelihood, education, region, interests.
- Be present to their struggling – mind, body, soul
- Build-up people in need – inspire, listen, compliment, accept, hope-filled language
- Practice patience
- Read mutual books, discuss, share ideas,
- Help others discern with attention, listening, direction, resources
- Discern what your gifts are, act with them to serve others
- Hospitality and welcoming gifts
- Make time to tutor: new parents, new job, new relatives, your skills and interests
- Introduce people and help them network
- Accept others ideas and discuss
- Cancel a debt
- Recognize when God calls you to serve
Practical suggestions for practicing this spiritual works of mercy:
- Commit yourself to learning about the catholic faith and share your understanding of the faith with your children and with those who welcome it.
- Share your insight, knowledge, and skills with others, especially coworkers.
- Take time to ‘tutor’ those who are just beginning tasks, such a parenting or a new job.
- Read good literature and encourage others to do the same.
- Be courageous yet compassionate in calling people and institutions and be faithful to gospel values.
- Intervene in situations in which people are clearly doing harm to themselves or others.
- Respond to negative and the judicial comments with positive statements.
- Put an end to gossip by walking away; set a good example for others.
- Work at being optimistic and avoiding cynicism;
- Respond to cynicism, skepticism, and doubt, with hope;
- Be articulate about your own hopes; as a people about their hopes and support them in trying to attain them.
- Walk with others through their pain;
- Offer words of encouragement to those who seem discouraged.
- Offer positive words to coworkers who are having a difficult time with their task.
- Be present to those who are struggling or in emotional pain or despair.
- Offer sympathy to those who are grieving.
Bearing wrongs patiently
- Work at being less critical of others.
- Overlook minor flaws and mistakes.
- Give people the benefit of the doubt.
- Assume that people who may have hurt you did so because they are enduring the pain of their own.
- Pray for those who have wronged you.
- Pray for those who have wronged you and pray for the courage to forgive.
- Ask forgiveness from others;
- Let go of grudges;
- Go out of your way to be positive with someone you are having a difficult time with.
Praying for the living and the dead
- When someone confides in you about a burden, assure them of your prayers.
- Begin and end your day by offering prayers for those in need and for those who have died.
- When you pray the Hail Mary, say, Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for…name them… And for all of us sinners, now at the hour of our death, amen.
Serving and Connecting
They will know us by our actions
Christian service is discernment, reflection, prayer, and action.
As Christians, we are taught that our time, talent, and treasure are all on loan to us from God – that one day we will have to give an account for the way we manage them.
Don’t let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do. And what we can do, is make small sacrifices, and simplify our lives in some small ways so that others may simply live.
The needs of others are always an invitation from God for us to live generously.
Generosity is giving, not from our excess, but from our own reserve. It is the recognition that what we have is enough, and will be enough, even when we give from it. It is the understanding that in giving, we receive. Generosity is the fullness of heart that results from sharing our resources, our time, our talents, and ultimately ourselves, for the well-being of others.
Every day many prayers go unanswered, and it seems to me that this is not because God did not want those prayers answered, but because he sent us to answer those prayers, and we didn’t heed the call.
We are called to be generous with our time and treasure, but also with our love and compassion, going out of our way to stand with, and feel with, another person.
Don’t tell me, show me! How do you overcome your fears? Take one step. Learn. Pray. Act.
Love of God is an internal mystery, “I Love God”. Love of neighbor is external proof of that love.
By Matthew Kelly
When you empathize, the other person senses that you share his or her problems, but you have the all-important objectivity that enables you to communicate, “let’s get out of this together”. With empathy you firmly grasp the other person’s hand and help him or her through the quagmire back onto stable ground.
God does not give all gifts to all people. It follows that you cannot expect to be able to serve every person who is in need. Still, you need to use the gifts God has given you, recognizing both your strengths and your limitations. Accept your limitations; give the care you can. Some gifts you might never have.
Remember the example of Jesus. Distinctively Christian service takes its cue from the Lord himself, who willingly washed his disciples feet-not as a demeaning task but as an act of selfless love. Christ defined servanthood when he said that “the son of man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
People Need to Allow Others to Help Them
As John Gaspari, a K of C member, said “when working on a project, people are often very reluctant to ask for help, or won’t accept it. But the point is really that we are all-one-family. We all have gifts and Jesus wants us to share these back and forth as part of his family, part of his body.”
Why Do We Not Ask For Help ?
In her great mystical work, The Dialogue, Catherine of Siena writes of God speaking to her of virtues, such as love of neighbor: “These and other virtues I give differently to different souls, and the soul is most at ease with that virtue which has been made primary for her… The same is true of many of my gifts and graces, virtue and other spiritual gifts, and those things necessary for the body and human life. I have distributed them all in such a way that no one has all of them. Thus I have I given you reason – necessity in fact – to practice mutual charity… Whether you will it or not, you cannot escape the exercise of charity. Yet, unless you do it for love of me, it is worth nothing to you in the realm of grace.”
Part of the scenario of “not allowing someone to help you” is being attentive to the possibility that pride might be present. Pride can get in the way of well-to-do people not letting others come and serve them in some manner, especially in listening and caring. But, we all have different, individual, and unique gifts; and utilizing them to serve others is important in God’s plan for us. We are supposed to utilize them in connection with others who have different gifts, which they in turn provide or bring to the table for others.
Serving Others Forward reflects that opportunity to connect and bridge people both ways, so that once someone allows somebody to help them, they can turn around and help someone else with their own skills, and feel good about it! We do not have to be worthy of a gift. God wants us to give to one another freely, and with no strings or expectations of receiving anything in return.
Social justice and family
Serving Others Forward extends the whole concept of a Christian family. It unites us all in different communities that help different people in different ways, and in the end, creates and sustains social justice and understanding of other people and other circumstances.
As Christ’s disciples, we do not care if people are scamming us for “free” services, or whether they can afford to pay for help. That’s not the point. Our part is service only for the Lord; it is not to judge whether or not someone else has asked us to do it, or why.
- The Good Listener by James E. Sullivan
- Don’t Sing Songs to a Heavy Heart – How to Relate to Those Who Are Suffering by Kenneth C. Haugk
- Christian Caregiving – A Way of Life by Kenneth C. Haugk
- Everybody Needs to Forgive Somebody by Allen R. Hunt
- Second Firsts: Live, Laugh, and Love Again by Christina Rasmussen
- Values.com – 60 videos
- Youmatter.com Angela Maiers
- Catherine of Siena
6 Habits to Empathy
Six Habits of Highly Empathic People– by Roman Krznaric, syndicated from Greater Good, Aug 25, 2013
If you think you’re hearing the word “empathy” everywhere, you’re right. It’s now on the lips of scientists and business leaders, education experts and political activists. But there is a vital question that few people ask: How can I expand my own empathic potential?
Empathy is not just a way to extend the boundaries of your moral universe. According to new research, it’s a habit we can cultivate to improve the quality of our own lives.
But what is empathy? It’s the ability to step into the shoes of another person, aiming to understand their feelings and perspectives, and to use that understanding to guide our actions. That makes it different from kindness or pity.
And don’t confuse it with the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” As George Bernard Shaw pointed out, “Do not do unto others as you would have them do unto you—they might have different tastes.” Empathy is about discovering those tastes.
The big buzz about empathy stems from a revolutionary shift in the science of how we understand human nature. The old view that we are essentially self-interested creatures is being nudged firmly to one side by evidence that we are also homo empathicus, wired for empathy, social cooperation, and mutual aid.
Over the last decade, neuro-scientists have identified a 10-section “empathy circuit” in our brains which, if damaged, can curtail our ability to understand what other people are feeling.
Evolutionary biologists like Frans de Waal have shown that we are social animals who have naturally evolved to care for each other, just like our primate cousins. And psychologists have revealed that we are primed for empathy by strong attachment relationships in the first two years of life.
But empathy doesn’t stop developing in childhood. We can nurture its growth throughout our lives—and we can use it as a radical force for social transformation.
Research in sociology, psychology, history—and my own studies of empathic personalities over the past 10 years—reveals how we can make empathy an attitude and a part of our daily lives, and thus improve the lives of everyone around us. Here are the Six Habits of Highly Empathic People!
Habit 1: Cultivate curiosity about strangers
Highly empathic people (HEPs) have an insatiable curiosity about strangers. They will talk to the person sitting next to them on the bus, having retained that natural inquisitiveness we all had as children, but which society is so good at beating out of us.
They find other people more interesting than themselves but are not out to interrogate them, respecting the advice of the oral historian Studs Terkel: “Don’t be an examiner, be the interested inquirer.”
Curiosity expands our empathy when we talk to people outside our usual social circle, encountering lives and worldviews very different from our own.
Curiosity is good for us too: Happiness guru Martin Seligman identifies it as a key character strength that can enhance life satisfaction. And it is a useful cure for the chronic loneliness afflicting around one in three Americans.
Cultivating curiosity requires more than having a brief chat about the weather. Crucially, it tries to understand the world inside the head of the other person. We are confronted by strangers every day, like the heavily tattooed woman who delivers your mail or the new employee who always eats his lunch alone.
Set yourself the challenge of having a conversation with one stranger every week. All it requires is courage.
Habit 2: Challenge prejudices and discover commonalities
We all have assumptions about others and use collective labels—e.g., “Muslim fundamentalist,” “welfare mom”—that prevent us from appeciating their individuality.
HEPs challenge their own preconceptions and prejudices by searching for what they share with people rather than what divides them. An episode from the history of US race relations illustrates how this can happen.
Claiborne Paul Ellis was born into a poor white family in Durham, North Carolina, in 1927. Finding it hard to make ends meet working in a garage and believing African Americans were the cause of all his troubles, he followed his father’s footsteps and joined the Ku Klux Klan, eventually rising to the top position of Exalted Cyclops of his local KKK branch.
In 1971 he was invited—as a prominent local citizen—to a 10-day community meeting to tackle racial tensions in schools, and was chosen to head a steering committee with Ann Atwater, a black activist he despised. But working with her exploded his prejudices about African Americans.
He saw that she shared the same problems of poverty as his own. “I was beginning to look at a black person, shake hands with him, and see him as a human being,” he recalled of his experience on the committee. “It was almost like bein’ born again.” On the final night of the meeting, he stood in front of a thousand people and tore up his Klan membership card.
Ellis later became a labor organiser for a union whose membership was 70 percent African American. He and Ann remained friends for the rest of their lives. There may be no better example of the power of empathy to overcome hatred and change our minds.
Habit 3: Try another person’s life
So you think ice climbing and hang-gliding are extreme sports? Then you need to try experiential empathy, the most challenging—and potentially rewarding—of them all. HEPs expand their empathy by gaining direct experience of other people’s lives, putting into practice the Native American proverb, “Walk a mile in another man’s moccasins before you criticize him.”
George Orwell is an inspiring model. After several years as a colonial police officer in British Burma in the 1920s, Orwell returned to Britain determined to discover what life was like for those living on the social margins. “I wanted to submerge myself, to get right down among the oppressed,” he wrote.
So he dressed up as a tramp with shabby shoes and coat, and lived on the streets of East London with beggars and vagabonds. The result, recorded in his book Down and Out in Paris and London, was a radical change in his beliefs, priorities, and relationships.
He not only realized that homeless people are not “drunken scoundrels”—Orwell developed new friendships, shifted his views on inequality, and gathered some superb literary material. It was the greatest travel experience of his life. He realized that empathy doesn’t just make you good—it’s good for you, too.
We can each conduct our own experiments. If you are religiously observant, try a “God Swap,” attending the services of faiths different from your own, including a meeting of Humanists. Or if you’re an atheist, try attending different churches!
Spend your next vacation living and volunteering in a village in a developing country. Take the path favored by philosopher John Dewey, who said, “All genuine education comes about through experience.”
Habit 4: Listen hard—and open up
There are two traits required for being an empathic conversationalist.
One is to master the art of radical listening. “What is essential,” says Marshall Rosenberg, psychologist and founder of Non-Violent Communication (NVC), “is our ability to be present to what’s really going on within—to the unique feelings and needs a person is experiencing in that very moment.”
HEPs listen hard to others and do all they can to grasp their emotional state and needs, whether it is a friend who has just been diagnosed with cancer or a spouse who is upset at them for working late yet again.
But listening is never enough. The second trait is to make ourselves vulnerable. Removing our masks and revealing our feelings to someone is vital for creating a strong empathic bond. Empathy is a two-way street that, at its best, is built upon mutual understanding—an exchange of our most important beliefs and experiences.
Organizations such as the Israeli-Palestinian Parents Circle put it all into practice by bringing together bereaved families from both sides of the conflict to meet, listen, and talk.
Sharing stories about how their loved ones died enables families to realize that they share the same pain and the same blood, despite being on opposite sides of a political fence, and has helped to create one of the world’s most powerful grassroots peace-building movements.
Habit 5: Inspire mass action and social change
We typically assume empathy happens at the level of individuals, but HEPs understand that empathy can also be a mass phenomenon that brings about fundamental social change.
Just think of the movements against slavery in the 18th and 19th centuries on both sides of the Atlantic. As journalist Adam Hochschild reminds us, “The abolitionists placed their hope not in sacred texts but human empathy,” doing all they could to get people to understand the very real suffering on the plantations and slave ships.
Equally, the international trade union movement grew out of empathy between industrial workers united by their shared exploitation. The overwhelming public response to the Asian tsunami of 2004 emerged from a sense of empathic concern for the victims, whose plight was dramatically beamed into our homes on shaky video footage.
Empathy will most likely flower on a collective scale if its seeds are planted in our children. That’s why HEPs support efforts such as Canada’s pioneering Roots of Empathy, the world’s most effective empathy teaching program, which has benefited over half a million school kids.
Its unique curriculum centers on an infant, whose development children observe over time in order to learn emotional intelligence—and its results include significant declines in playground bullying and higher levels of academic achievement.
Beyond education, the big challenge is figuring out how social networking technology can harness the power of empathy to create mass political action.
Twitter may have gotten people onto the streets for Occupy Wall Street and the Arab Spring, but can it convince us to care deeply about the suffering of distant strangers, whether they are drought-stricken farmers in Africa or future generations who will bear the brunt of our carbon-junkie lifestyles?
This will only happen if social networks learn to spread not just information, but empathic connection.
Habit 6: Develop an ambitious imagination
A final trait of HEPs is that they do far more than empathize with the usual suspects. We tend to believe empathy should be reserved for those living on the social margins or who are suffering. This is necessary, but it is hardly enough.
We also need to empathize with people whose beliefs we don’t share or who may be “enemies” in some way.
If you are a campaigner on global warming, for instance, it may be worth trying to step into the shoes of oil company executives—understanding their thinking and motivations—if you want to devise effective strategies to shift them towards developing renewable energy.
A little of this “instrumental empathy” (sometimes known as “impact anthropology”) can go a long way.
Empathizing with adversaries is also a route to social tolerance. That was Gandhi’s thinking during the conflicts between Muslims and Hindus leading up to Indian independence in 1947, when he declared, “I am a Muslim! And a Hindu, and a Christian and a Jew.”
The 21st century should become the Age of Empathy, when we discover ourselves not simply through self-reflection, but by becoming interested in the lives of others. We need empathy to create a new kind of revolution. Not an old-fashioned revolution built on new laws, institutions, or policies, but a radical revolution in human relationships.
All We Have Is A Gift
Mercy is the power of love to restore a relationship. Therefore Mercy is never condescending.When God gives us his mercy, he is also asking for our mercy back. God seeks our mercy. In true friendship and Love, He gives us the dignity of accepting and caring for him through our confidence and our trust in him.
He has given us this free choice to accept him, and care for him. And there really isn’t any other way he would want it. God puts himself in our hands – asking for our mercy – and then we have the dignity to offer a gift to him – our trust and confidence in a truly loving exchange. So it is not just a one-way relationship of his mercy for us, but a mutual friendship, built on being able to give him a gift that he can’t have otherwise.
This is what you do with your friends, you put yourselves in their hands. Most of us will not follow through and have the trust to let our friends take care of us. And we don’t really step up and trust God either.
In the Prodigal Son parable, when the father pleads with the son, he is making himself vulnerable to his son. You have the question of whether the older son will come in or will stay outside. So the father is again vulnerable to the response. In the same way, God is making himself vulnerable to us. But most of us want a God who will save us, so there is the paradox and great scandal of the parable. We do not expect, or even want, a God that is going to place himself in our hands.
Yet, he does!
Blessed Are the Poor In Spirit
Live in a detachment from material goods and with an attitude of gratitude for all you have.
Blessed are those who mourn…
Be sorrowful for your sins and for the sins and injustices of society, and allow your mourning to lead to repentance.
Blessed are the meek …
Show restraint, be gentler spirit but strong and commitment.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness. ..
Desire what is just, show compassion and mercy for all, respect people’s rights, fulfill your obligations others, and care for those who are in need.
Blessed are the merciful. ..
Give other more love than they deserve; offer people who have wronged you another chance; be a forgiving person; let go of grudges.
Blessed are the pure in heart. ..
Remain focused on the gospel in on your mission as a disciple of Jesus; avoid distractions but stay focused on God.
Blessed are the peacemakers. ..
Offer to resolve conflicts at work and at home; help reconcile people to one another.
Blessed are those who are persecuted and righteousness’ for my sake. .
Take pleasure only in knowing that you are doing God’s will.
Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. .
Know that, even when it seems that no one else appreciate you, God loves you; know that following Jesus means following him to the cross..
Fervor For Spirit
Why don’t we have same fervor for eternal life that we have for physical life?
We are a spirit first, and a body second.
If there is no suffering, then there is no compassion; nor opportunity to help others – to serve others; for us to grow; and to change from selfish to unselfish.
Jesus called us to be involved. Jesus called us to serve.
Jesus, support me in what is good for you, not what is good for me. You are my example.
One of the seven signs – Repentance. Surrendering to God the right to one’s self. That’s what Jesus did when “he did not consider equality with God something to be grasped at”, and that is what Christians do when they humbly give up their rights in order to serve God and care for others.
Repentance means turning away from one’s own rights; and surrendering in order to live God’s will. That is true humility.
“You want to know more, but you do not want to live what you already know”.
Live so people will want to know what you know. Live in contentment and
happiness. Live in joy through gratefulness your sins have expiated by Jesus.
Oh Jesus! Meek and humble of heart, hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed, deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved, deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being extolled, deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being honored, deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being praised, deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being preferred to others, deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being consulted, deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being approved, deliver me, Jesus.
From the Fear of being humiliated, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of suffering rebukes, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being culminated, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being forgotten, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being ridiculed, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being wronged, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being suspected, deliver me, Jesus.
That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others maybe esteemed more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be chosen and I set aside,
Jesus, grant the grace to desire it.
That others may be praised and I go unnoticed,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be preferred to me in everything,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I
should, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
Love: seeking and doing what is best for another.
Love first, without being loved first or in return.
Love your neighbor as you would want to be loved.
Be loved, receive love, experience love. Get it from the outside, and let it change you.
Ask God for help.
Commit to growing in love.
Find a growth context for yourself – open up to others.
Look for others who need to be loved.
Spend time and energy being a loving person.
May all that I am today, all that I try to do today, even the frustrations and failings, all place my life in your hands. Please, let this day give you praise. I ask for the grace that my Lord would guide me in choosing how I will live my life more with and in Jesus.
Serve one another.
Walk Humbly with the Lord.
Open My Mind, Lord
Prayer Excerpts from:
“Don’t Sing Songs to a Heavy Heart: How to Relate to Those Who Are Suffering”
book by Kenneth C. Haugk
Open my mind, O Lord, to the influence of your blessed Word. Teach me what you would have me know about suffering.
Let knowledge chase away my preconceptions and misconceptions, and let love animate the understanding I gain. This I ask in the name of your Son, Jesus.
Help me to honor the uniqueness of those who suffer and the uniqueness of their suffering.
Guide me as I enter the place where they are.
Teach me how to move to understanding as I get to know each of them as individuals, even as Jesus knows me.
I need you. Prepare me. Be with me. Make me your tool.
Most loving God, help me to sense the presence of Jesus at work in me and through me, so that the other person will see Jesus in me.
And when I gaze into the eyes of the suffering one, help me to see the face of Jesus so I always remember that as I care, I care for Jesus, and as I love, I love Jesus.
Dear God, sometimes I feel uncomfortable when someone cries in front of me. I know you’ve provided tears for times when words aren’t adequate to express the depths of pain and suffering. Jesus wept. Teach me to embrace the tears of those who are hurting and at times even to weep with them.
Dear God, tune me in to you, and to the needs of the suffering one. Help me to balance this tightrope of not-too-much-too-soon and not-too-little-too-late. Enable me to reach out with your love and be as consistent in my caring as you are in caring for me.
Dear Lord, I want my presence to be a help, not a hindrance. Help me to make it so. Help me relate to suffering people honestly, being good and true to their needs.
Without your watching over my tendencies to evade and avoid, I can’t do it, Lord. Thank you for guarding me from my own discomfort.
Dear Lord. I don’t want to close up if someone tells me bad news. Help me to radiate acceptance and love to hurting people, no matter what they find the courage to tell me. Thank you for giving me unchanging love no matter what I tell you.
Dear God, relating to those who suffer is profoundly holy work. Help me to keep the pure simplicity of it ever in mind, and keep me ever in your mind as I offer this gift of loving care to others. In your Son’s name. Amen
Prayer For Evangelization
Loving God, you called us each by name and gave your only Son to redeem us.
In your faithfulness, you sent the Holy Spirit to complete the mission of Jesus among us.
Open our hearts to Jesus.
Give us courage to speak his name with those who are close to us, and the
generosity to share his Love with those who are far away.
We pray that every person throughout the world be invited to know and love Jesus as savior and Redeemer.
May they come to know his all-surpassing love. May they transform every element of our society.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen. Mary, Mother of the church, pray for us. St.Paul the Apostle, pray for us.
Evangelization is personal – both for you and the people you hope to influence. Because you love and respect them, you want to help them find what you have found.
You think about the needs of those in your life. You let them know you care.
It’s how you experience God, and how you share that experience with others.
Sharing your faith in God is a great expression of that friendship. Go and do
what Jesus asked you to do.
A Prayer Process
1. Gratitude: begin by thanking God in a personal dialogue for whatever you are most grateful for today. What has God done for me today? What has he given me? How does he sustain me? What is he offering me?
- The Grace we seek in accompanying Christ through his suffering is compassion. We reflect not merely on the physical pain he endured, but also on the emotional, interior suffering of a person who is misunderstood, isolated, rejected, and alone.
2. Awareness: revisit the times in the past 24 hours when you were, and were not, the-best-version-of-yourself. Talk to God about these situations and what you learned from them. “They sought the approval of man, rather than the approval of God”.
3. Significant Moments: identify something you experienced and explore what God might be trying to say to you through the event (or person).
4. Peace: Ask God to forgive you for any wrong you have committed (against yourself, another person, or him) and to fill you with a deep and abiding peace.
5. Freedom: speak with God about how he is inviting you to change your life, so that you can experience the freedom to be the-best-version-of-yourself.
6. Others: Lift up to God anyone you feel called to pray for today, asking God to bless and guide them.
Jesus heals so that we will participate in his mission of bringing others to life.
Lord, Jesus Christ, I acknowledge that I am a sinner. My sins hurt Christ, who loves me. Because I am hurting you Lord, I am going to stop.
And I beg you to forgive me. Come into my heart.
Take control of my life, be my Lord and Savior. Fill me with your Holy Spirit and make me your apostle. I love you, Lord Jesus Christ, and I surrender my life to you forever.
We should always be joyful because of our gratefulness that we have all of our sins forgiven, fully redeemed by Jesus. We should exemplify Christian joyfulness to everyone all the time.
We learned the rules of Christianity (which are guides for living), but not that God is amazing. That he is ALIVE and LOVES US. That he walks with us, that he hears us when we pray, and wants to be our friend. He is not an abstract idea.
If we don’t take that to heart, then it’s hard to care about him, and hard to
care about sharing the truth about him.