Like peacemaking, mercy is a habit of being. Conscious choice is the key to creating any new habit.
Habits are the things we do repetitively. They are helpful to our being (such as exercise or meditation) or harmful (substance abuse or smoking). Habits are conscious or unconscious.
To create peace we have to consciously choose the habits of thought and action that make peace possible. To be merciful, we have to consciously choose the habits of thought and action that make mercy possible.
In his book, Opening Hearts, Dr. Lester Sauvage outlines a Spiritual Action Plan for Conscious Living. “In nurturing my spiritual life through this four-step action plan,” he wrote, “I developed the habit of seeing God in all things.” And seeing God in all things, I believe, enables us to develop habits of forgiveness and gratitude so necessary for mercy and peace. The simplicity of Dr. Sauvage’s plan belies its complexity and depth.
- Visit frequently with God; in other words, pray or meditate daily to connect your divine spark with its Source. With daily connection we develop a clearer awareness of our thoughts and actions and the motivations that underlie them.
- Embrace and live each day to the fullest; our lives are unique gifts to live fully even when we face challenges.
- Cultivate radical forgiveness and the power of gratitude; since none of us are perfect, forgiveness as a habit of thought and action that makes life’s journey more livable. Conscious gratitude engenders joy.
- Serve God by serving humanity; become the love of God for those you encounter.
Each of these steps is really quite simple. However, the need to be fully aware of our thoughts, actions, and motivations makes them more challenging than they first appear.
Yet by working this plan to become more conscious, we can access the fruits of the spirit—love, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control—that make life meaningful and full of love.
And by developing conscious habits we can choose to be merciful.
“May the message of mercy reach everyone, and may no one be indifferent to the call to experience mercy.” Pope Francis, from Misericordiae Vultus
So we ask ourselves today:
What habits do I need to cultivate to become more aware? More merciful? More peaceful? Am I able to invite God into that process?
May we have the courage to become fully aware so that we can consciously choose the habits that give way to mercy, forgiveness, love, and peace.