Year of Mercy: The Family Challenge

Thurles Parish invites your family to embrace the spirit of the Year of Mercy as follows:

A Year of Mercy Bookmarker for the diocese and a Year of Mercy Logo  are available for collection at the Parish Office to families who wish to take up this challenge.

The Language of Mercy in the Family

In refreshingly clear, concrete and straight-talking language, Pope Francis has repeatedly stated that a family of mercy frequently needs to hear the following words: “excuse me”, “please”, “sorry” and “thank you”.

  • “Excuse me” expresses an attitude of respect that recognises the preciousness of other family members. In family, more than anywhere else, we reveal our fragilities, weaknesses, defects and sicknesses. Our respect for these vulnerabilities is vital to both protect and nurture family members, especially the children, the elderly and the disabled in our family.
  • “Please” expresses our effort to kindly ask for something and safeguards the convivial spirit of married and family life. Saying “please” saves us from taking what the family has and shares for granted. Asking politely is a form of love and does so much good for families.
  • “Sorry” expresses the courage and humility to ask forgiveness. When this word is lacking small cracks widen – even unintentionally – to become trenches. Saying sorry is the medicine that stops the infection of family suffering and disharmony. If we cannot apologise, we are unable to forgive. Mercy rebuilds trust and strengthens the foundation of the family that can withstand any difficulties the future brings.
  • “Thank you” expresses gratitude that is the antidote to an attitude of entitlement or that the world or others owe us. Being grateful is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength. Gratitude acknowledges that we are not the centre of the world or attention. Pope Francis says that a person who forgets to say “thank you” has forgotten the language of God.

Acceptance as an Attitude of Mercy in the Family

Mercy is not something a family needs only in times of misunderstanding and mistakes but it is weaved into the fabric of everyday family life through the attitude of acceptance. We can choose our friends but not our family! In family we need to take account of different personalities, characteristics, interests and tastes. Acceptance fosters understanding and patience for values, choices and opinions we don’t share. There are choices that children make that sadden parents. Acceptance doesn’t always mean approval. Sometimes we need to express our disapproval or disagreement with respect, love and firmness at the opportune time and place. Acceptance allows family members to be true to themselves and to others.


Prayer as the Door to Hope and Mercy for Families

There are many families marked by sickness, economic hardship, sadness and many other problems. The Christian family vocation and vision is to look to the future with hope even when difficulties and darkness appear to overwhelm a family. Prayer is the door to hope and mercy. In praying together or individually, a family seeks God’s direction for the future, his guidance for decisions and his divine closeness for confidence and to live life to the full. Prayer allows a family to forgive each other’s weaknesses but to be grateful for the joy received in family life. Prayer allows God’s presence, compassion, peace and mercy to enter into the life of the family and the home.


Corporal Works of Mercy and the Family

Mercy is not just about forgiveness but also concrete acts of love, justice, compassion for other people as listed in the corporal works of mercy. During this Year of Mercy, your family can choose to dedicate itself to one or more of the corporal works of mercy. With a little imagination and creativity a family can adapt any of the corporal works of mercy to their contemporary circumstances.

  • Feed the hungry: donate something to a food bank; forfeit a desert or treat once a week and give the money saved to charity; avoid wasting food.
  • Give drink to the thirsty: don’t waste water.
  • Clothe the naked: give unused good clothes to a clothes bank or a charity shop.
  • Shelter the homeless: write to your local politician advocating for public policies and legislation that provide adequate housing for first time buyers and low-income people.
  • Visit the sick: visit a relative or neighbour who is house-bound or in a nursing home; take the time to phone, send a card or an e-mail to someone who is sick.
  • Visit the imprisoned: support efforts that seek the abolition of the death penalty; pray for the families of inmates; support advocates of those of those who are unjustly imprisoned.
  • Bury the dead: write a note of sympathy or call on someone who is lost a loved one; care for family graves and local cemeteries; visit the graves of loved ones.


Spiritual Works of Mercy for the Family

The Spiritual Works of Mercy are kind acts by which we help our family and neighbours with everyday spiritual and emotional needs.

  • Instructing: Commit yourself to understanding your faith better and sharing your understanding of the faith with your children.
  • Advising: Be courageous, compassionate and challenging example to your children in living the Good News of the Gospel.
  • Consoling: Work at being optimistic and not cynical in family life.
  • Comforting: Offer a word of encouragement to a family member who is struggling, discouraged or grieving.
  • Forgiving: Let go of grudges, and pray for the family member or friend who has hurt you and for the courage to forgive for the humility to ask forgiveness.
  • Bearing wrongs patiently: Work at being less critical of children, parents, siblings; avoid putting people down.


Year of Mercy – The Family Challenge!

Accept the challenge to become a family and a home of mercy.

  • Place the sticker of the Year of Mercy on the inside or outside of the door of your home;
  • Use the Bookmarker as a source of reflection and prayer every day;
  • Promote the language of mercy in your family and the values they express;
  • Strive to be a welcoming, hospitable and accepting family for challenging family members;
  • Promote family prayer (by attending Mass, praying grace before / after meals, the Angelus, morning / night prayer, holy water font at the door, a cross in the home, prayer in the car, the rosary on long journeys, etc.).
  • Adopt a corporal and spiritual work of mercy as a family for this year.
  • Make a pilgrimage to the Cathedral, Holycross Abbey  – see for further details.