Pope Francis has called for a "Year of Mercy" beginning December 8th, 2015. The article about the Cloistered Argentine Carmelite nun and her ministry to the trans women in her community is a wonderful example of how we are all called to Show Mercy in our lives. It is a beautiful story of true Christian Love and Service. Are we Loving and Serving ALL of God's children in our lives? Are we rejecting anyone who needs our Love or Mercy?
PLEASE read a personal story about one of my Best Friends...
I have worked with the homeless for over 25 years and I have known many prostitutes, several of them were transgender. One of these "Prostitutes" literally became one of my BEST FRIENDS over the years. She was born a heroine baby and had brain damage because her mother used to bash her head against the wall when she (the infant) cried. Because of this she had SEVERE learning disabilities.
Eventually her mother went to prison, so she was raised by her Grandmother who was a good woman. Her entire life, everyone thought my friend was a little girl. On the first day of Second Grade, the teacher said to the class, "All right now, I want all of the boys to line up here, and all the girls to line up here." My friend (born a boy), lines up in the boys line. The teacher says, "I said the girls are to line up over there" and physically placed "him" (at the time) in the girls line. He was ALWAYS being mistaken as a girl. He never felt like a boy and did identify as a girl so at the age of 13 he transitioned to be a girl with the grandmother's permission.
When 13 years old, her Science teacher would keep her after class and molest her in the classroom every day. She was African American and lived in a very poor neighborhood. There was a man who started to pimp her out (at 13) to all of the men in the neighborhood. She feared for her life because she was forced to be a prostitute and couldn't tell anyone because her Grandfather was the local Minister and she feared all of the repercussions if he found out. Eventually she was able to move away, but she was ILLITERATE (neither able to read or write at all) because of the brain damage caused by being a heroine baby and physical abuse, so she couldn't get a job in an office situation. She couldn't file paperwork, type, do ANYTHING that you and I take for granted every single day. She was so illiterate that she couldn't even fill out a job application. When she was able to get a job, she was a good salesperson but couldn't make change, so she would frequently lose jobs because they thought she was stealing.
As long as I knew her (at least 15 years) she was always involved with learning programs at the local college to help her with her learning disabilities. She WANTED to LEARN, to READ, to WRITE, but her brain was simply not teachable. She literally had NO OPTIONS other than being a Prostitute.
One day I asked her how many people she had sex with throughout her life to survive (she was around 45 years old) and her answer was, "Oh Paul... I have no idea... Thirty Thousand???" You and I might say, "That's impossible!" But, if you think about it, she started at the age of 13 and she "worked" right outside of a military base. She would orally service 10+ soldiers a night! That number... 30,000 was NOT impossible and probably underestimated!
This "Prostitute" (I use quotes because that is what Society would label her as, as if SHE was corrupting the world and SHE was the problem. As if SHE was DIRTY. No one seems to blame her customers, do they???)... This "Prostitute" was one of the best examples of Living the GOSPEL and the LOVE that God asks each of us to show our Neighbors and our Enemies.
"Oh Brother Paul... HOW could you POSSIBLY Say such a thing???!!! She was a PROSTITUTE... A WHORE!!! Surely she will go to HELL!!!!"
Well... You tell me... her story continues...
This "Prostitute" ALWAYS took care of the poor. She volunteered EVERY WEEK at the local soup kitchen (she was NOT homeless). She would collect clothes and blankets and give them out to those in need and on cold nights she would take as many homeless people she could find and let them stay at her house. When her Grandmother died, she inherited the family home and she opened it up for her family to live in who were struggling themselves back home.
Her Greatest asset was her HEART! She knew how to LOVE UNCONDITIONALLY. She showed MERCY because she knew that someday, she would need Mercy shown to her!
Honesty, she has helped more people and is a better example of Christian LOVE than MOST Christians I know.
So, while this seems to have been a tragic story, and I assure you IT WAS, we all LOVE to have a happy ending, Right???
Well... There's NO HAPPY ENDING HERE.
No one had heard from her in awhile, so her best friend had called the police because they usually spoke 5 to 6 times a day. It was highly unusual for her not to hear from her so the police went to her house to see if there was anything suspicious. They weren't allowed to break into the house... 72 hours had to pass before they could enter. After three days, they broke in and she was MURDERED by one of her clients, lying face down on her bed and her little dog was killed by putting it in the freezer.
Was my friend a Saint? Most probably not, but I remember she said to me one day, "Paul, do you think I WANT to be a Prostitute???!!! I only do this to SURVIVE!!!" I HONESTLY, TRULY Believed her. Would anyone WANT to be molested by their teacher or pimped out at the age of 13??? Or to sleep with 30,000 men???!!!
As I said before, "She showed MERCY because she knew that someday, she would need Mercy shown to her!"
How many of us need to be shown Mercy???
Perhaps a few more reminders are needed for us...
"Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven." - Luke 6:37
"Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone."- John 8:7
"Blessed are the Merciful, for they will be shown Mercy" - Matthew 5:7
"Judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment." - James 2:13
Beginning December 8th, Pope Francis has called for a Year of Mercy. Please Join me in making this a priority in our lives.
"Havana, Cuba, Sep 20, 2015 / 06:37 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis on Sunday spoke from the heart about the importance of spiritual poverty, the danger of worldly wealth, and the universal need for mercy. He made his impromptu remarks to Cuban priests, consecrated religious and seminarians at Havana’s cathedral."
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"In The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis examined "two great issues . . . fundamental at this time in history . . . the inclusion of the poor in society, and, second, peace and social dialogue." In the very center of this examination, Pope Francis mentions Francis of Assisi, explicitly by name, as a model.Pope Francis is indeed a Franciscan pope. Yet he is not uniquely so, since previous pontiffs have also tried to incorporate elements of the Franciscan tradition. The difference is that Mario Jose Bergoglio has done it even more explicitly and comprehensively."
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"In his address to the friars, the Holy Father focused on two “essential elements” of Franciscan identity: “minority” (It: minorità), a spirit of littleness; and “fraternity.”The spirit of being a “minor,” he said, “calls one to be and to feel that one is little before God, entrusting oneself totally to His infinite mercy.” The recognition of one’s littleness and sinfulness allows a person to receive salvation. Those on the other hand, who do not feel needy cannot receive the mercy and salvation God offers them. “Minority,” the Pope continued, also means going out of oneself, beyond structures, attitudes, and feelings of security, in order to bear concrete witness of God’s mercy to the poor and needy “in an authentic attitude of sharing and service.”
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