TORONTO (CCN) — As Catholics worldwide prepare to celebrate Easter, Rev. Thomas Rosica is challenging them to extend mercy to the marginalized.
“I suggest to you this week as we prepare for the Holy Week . . . to put mercy into practice,” he said. “Open your hearts and your life to those who are on the fringe. Show compassion and goodness and kindness to them.”
For anyone unsure of how to act this way, Rosica recommends they study the actions of Pope Francis.
“Mercy in action, what better words to describe Pope Francis,” said the Basilian priest, who is CEO of Salt+Light TV. “(A) revolution he’s launched is the revolution of normalcy because everything that he is doing and showing and mirroring and modelling for us is normal Christian behaviour.”
Such behaviour allows Francis to captivate the minds and touch the hearts of the world’s population, bridging borders, religions and race. It is a genuine display of mercy which all Catholics can manifest within themselves, said Rosica.
Rosica’s words reverberated off the eloquent stone walls of the chapel at Loretto Abbey Catholic Secondary School. With about half the senior student body occupying the pews, Rosica gave a lenten mission on the topic of mercy.
As the students listened, a film crew recorded his words, which will air on television as the National Catholic Broadcasting Council’s two-part annual National Catholic Mission. It will be shown by Vision TV on March 21 and 22 and Salt+Light on March 22 and 23.
Part one focuses on mercy as the identifying characteristic of Pope Francis and God.
“When God logs onto a computer his user name is Mercy,” Rosica said.
In part two, Rosica examines mercy as portrayed in one of the Bible’s most well-known parables, “through the lens of the prodigal son.”
Deacon Michael Walsh, executive director and president of the National Catholic Broadcasting Council, hopes this year’s program will help bring the church closer to Catholics with hardened hearts and a wayward faith.
“The message of mercy is something that hearts need,” he said. “The thing we need to do is bring closeness and proximity and warm the hearts of the faithful. The church needs to be more like a field hospital.”
The National Catholic Broadcasting Council’s mission program began in 1995 and supplements the Daily Mass program which has more than 2,000 regular viewers.
“The mission is kind of a tradition in the church,” said Sister Evanne Hunter, a Loretto Sister who sits on the broadcasting council’s board. “During Lent many parishes would have had missions where they would have brought in a special speaker for a couple of evenings. So this is keeping with that tradition.”
And while the mission itself is held in a chapel, its message travels well beyond those walls.
“The goal is to infiltrate the worlds where God has been excluded. We’ve got to be there, we’ve got to find every niche,” said Rosica. “Look at your own life. There are people in your own life who have not been recipients of your mercy.”
After the mission is aired, the program will be uploaded to YouTube to allow broad access to Rosica’s mission message of mercy.
“Not only is this going to go around Canada it is going to go all around the world,” said Rosica. “When this is posted (online) a lot of people . . . will be aware of it and might even tune in.”