Our annual schoolwide retreat is this Friday, October 28, for all students at Sts. Simon & Jude School. Our retreat focus for the students is the Year of Mercy, which will officially end on November 20th. Last December, Pope Francis called on Catholics around the world to use the Jubilee Year of Mercy to “open wide” the doors of their hearts to forgive others and to work against social exclusion, even of those who may have caused them problems, disappointed them, or offended them in some way. Pope Francis also said that mercy and forgiveness “must not remain beautiful words, but must be realized in daily life.” Defining and talking about mercy is one thing, but we must also encourage our children to “mercify” the world. The Pope has asked kindly people of all ages to be “Merciful like the Father.”
As part of the religion curriculum at Sts. Simon & Jude School, teachers have been sharing with students that mercy means caring for the needs of people’s minds, hearts, and lives. It means to share in God’s forgiveness and love. The Corporal Works of Mercy are acts of love that help us care for the physical and material needs of others: feed the hungry; give drink to the thirsty; clothe the naked; shelter the homeless; visit the sick; visit the imprisoned; and bury the dead. The Spiritual Works of Mercy are acts of love that help us care for the needs of people’s hearts, minds, and souls: counsel the doubtful; instruct the ignorant; admonish sinners; comfort the afflicted; forgive offenses; bear wrongs patiently; and pray for the living and the dead.
It’s important for our students to understand that mercy also means having power, and choosing to use that power to help others, not hurt them. Children (and even teenagers) often think they don’t have any real power. Their lives are heavily scripted by outside forces: parents, teachers, coaches, societal expectations, etc. Our students must realize that they always have a choice in how they treat others. In our society today it seems to be very easy for us to behave indifferently, condemn others or pass judgment, but it is often much harder to forgive those who have hurt us, or to show merciful love and compassion to those who need it the most. As Catholics, we must learn how to accept the good in every person, and to spare each other any suffering that might be caused by our negative actions. Only our enthusiastic and prayerful actions will guarantee the results the Pope is hoping for.
Please note that all of the students will have FREE DRESS for the day, and each student will be receiving a FREE cheese pizza lunch as part of the retreat day experience. Unless your child has a great dislike for pizza, you will NOT need to prepare a lunch for him/her this Friday. (Please note that the Choicelunch program will not be on campus the day of the retreat.) The students will be enjoying lunch with their “SSJ School Families.” We are planning to serve lunch at 11:30 a.m. If you can assist us with lunch distribution the day of the retreat, please join us in the kitchen at 11:00 a.m. Thank you in advance for your prayers and support. We know the students will have a wonderful day!