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Incorporating Acts of Mercy into Your Life

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By Mary Flournoy (Aug 8, 2016)
This story first appeared in the Summer issue of Marian Helper magazine. To get a free copy of the magazine, click here.

I've been meeting many Marian Helpers lately who find creative ways to incorporate acts of mercy into their lives. Since we're in an extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, it seems appropriate to highlight one such example. Her name is Evelyn, a life-long member of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary of Pompeii Parish in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

I just recently consecrated myself to Divine Mercy in the manner of St. Thérèse's "Little Way" (following the retreat in Fr. Michael Gaitley's newest book, 33 Days to Merciful Love), and Evelyn epitomizes for me St. Thérèse's instructions for holiness — of doing little things with great love.

She inspires and humbles me.

Long before Pope Francis announced the Jubilee Year — with the biblical theme to "be merciful, just as your Father is merciful" —Evelyn decided to assign herself little acts of mercy, such as "not having that slice of pizza I wanted, as a penance," she explained.

But eventually, she wanted to do bigger things with great love. Namely, to incorporate acts of mercy with her devotion to Our Blessed Mother and to Divine Mercy — and not only prayerfully, but financially. Not having the amount of funds to make a contribution the size she wanted, she added an additional step to her longstanding acts of sacrifice: She would take the cash she had saved by foregoing treats and set it aside to accumulate until she had the amount she wanted to donate.

When I pushed a bit, Evelyn admitted that her "small penances" go beyond giving up the occasional slice of pizza. She has also given up dinners out, buying new shoes that weren't a necessity, and even vacations. (She insists she still does allow herself the occasional slice of pizza. "I did not give them all up," she laughed.)

She quietly handed the cash she had saved to her pastor, Fr. Bill Hayward, MIC, and asked him to deliver it to Fr. Joseph, MIC, when Fr. Bill came to Stockbridge for Divine Mercy Sunday. The funds — to be used in the Marians' work to spread Divine Mercy — "have taken years of penances to build up," Evelyn said.

What perseverance!

Recently, at Mass here at the Marian Helpers Center,
Fr. Chris Alar, MIC (the current "Fr. Joseph, MIC," director of the Association of Marian Helpers) shared the hard truth that one does not earn"full credit" for performing acts of mercy if they are done with the intention of receiving glory or praise for one's self or our actions. In this, too, Evelyn outshines many of us. She eschews all credit. She wanted to give the funds anonymously. But since I am responsible for managing such gifts, it was I who called to offer Evelyn our gratitude. She was stunned by my call and embarrassed when I said how inspired I was by her example.

"Maybe I'll tell some of my friends," she said, "and we can
start a movement!"

I called her back an hour later to request one more little thing to do with great love. I asked her if it would be OK if I share her acts of mercy with some of my friends: you!

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Christina - Aug 11, 2016

You are my inspiration Evelyn....God Bless you!!

scholarstica muturi - Aug 11, 2016

i am inspired by Evelyn.

Joan - Aug 11, 2016

Thank you Evelyn. My granddaughter's name is Evelyn.