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"I desire mercy"


A persistent feeling of guilt for past failures even after repentance keeps some people permanently oppressed in soul, always drawing back at the marred look and disfigurement they see in their own faces.

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AgonyGarden600An angel comforting Jesus before his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane by Carl Bloch, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

It cannot be a fruitful sorrow for sin when a soul never leaves a depressing remembrance of the past as though it still held the soul in chains. Divine mercy is not then known except as an abstraction.

Perhaps this overly sensitive remembrance of past sin is a form of self-conscious unworthiness that appeals to certain souls. But it misses a truth about God and is an obstacle to serious relations with him. God certainly does not cling to the past, as souls at times do. He does not examine our past sins over and over again. On the contrary, he wants the remembrance of any former sin simply to compel our soul to a clear recognition of mercy. And that awareness is meant for one thing: to make our soul uniquely fortified for the effort of seeking the conversion of other souls in need.

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Fr. Donald Haggerty. "I desire mercy," from Conversion: Spiritual Insights into an Essential Encounter with God. Ignatius Press (2017).

Printed in the September 2023 edition of Magnificat. Used with permission.

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The Author

haggerty1Fr. Donald Haggerty, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, serves at Saint Patrick's Cathedral in New York City. He has been a Professor of Moral Theology at St. Joseph's Seminary in New York and Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Maryland and has a long association as a spiritual director for Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity. He is author of Conversion: Spiritual Insights into an Essential Encounter with GodContemplative ProvocationsContemplative Enigmas: Insights and Aid on the Path to Deeper Prayer, and The Contemplative Hunger.

Copyright © 2017 Ignatius Press

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