These online lessons may be used:
• by individuals anytime, anywhere.
• in group settings — families, faith sharing groups, faith formation programs, and schools.
• in “flipped” classroom situations for people to view before meeting face to face.
You may just want to use a suggested video, story, or question — in anyway that helps us recognize that God’s mercy is anytime, anywhere, and we are called to be merciful as well.
The structure of the lesson is based on Msgr. Francis Kelly’s Ecclesial Method.
Step 1 – Preparation: Each lesson will begin with a video and prayer to help us focus on the Works of Mercy in General.
Works of Mercy Reflection:
Have you ever asked for, and received forgiveness?
Think of a time you have forgiven someone.
Loving God, as You so generously forgive us, help us to forgive others. If we hurt others give us the strength to apologize. If people hurt us, give us the strength to forgive and to keep away any form of hate, anger or retaliation. Help us to recognize the valuable gift of forgiveness and the power of Your love in our lives. Amen.
Step 2 – Proclamation: Each lesson will repeat the Works of Mercy to help us remember them.
The Spiritual Works of Mercy:
The Spiritual Works of mercy are acts of compassion, as listed below, by which we help our neighbors with their emotional and spiritual needs.
Counsel the doubtful
Instruct the ignorant
Comfort the afflicted
Forgive all offenses/injury
Bear wrongs patiently
Pray for the living and the dead
The Corporal Works of Mercy:
The Corporal Works of mercy are these kind acts by which we help our neighbors with their material and physical needs.
Shelter the homeless/Welcome the stranger
Feed the hungry
Give drink to the thirsty
Clothe the naked
Visit the sick
Visit the imprisoned
Bury the dead
Step 3 – Explanation: This step will address a specific Work of Mercy. We will focus on Forgive All Offenses/Injury.
This Month: Forgive all Offenses/Injury
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
Forgiveness can bring healing and defuse bitterness and hostility. When we forgive others we let go of past hurts and learn to forgive ourselves for our mistakes. We too easily think that ruminating over past hurts will somehow change what happened. It will not. Clinging to our hurt and anger, understandable though it may be, only harms us. Forgiveness is first for us, more so than for the other. The gift of forgiveness allows for the freedom from the heaviness of anger and resentment.
Step 4 – Application and Appropriation into Life is the bridge between head knowledge and daily living as a disciple of Christ.
Faith in Action:
Do you know of someone who forgave another for a very grave offense?
Does someone have to ask for forgiveness before they should receive it?
Faith in Ritual:
This video was created with an iPhone, edited in iMovie and uploaded to YouTube.
Parishes/Schools can create such resources themselves for free.
“The scrutinies are meant to uncover, then heal all that is weak, defective or sinful in the hearts of the elect and to bring out all that is upright, strong and good.” paragraph 141, RCIA
What is broken in your life? What are some things that are blinding you to seeing the goodness around us?
When have you witnessed the power of forgiveness? When has someone else forgiven you for hurting him or her? How did it feel to be forgiven? Who do you need to apologize to right now? Who do you need to forgive right now?
What action might you be able to take to show what love is about? To share God’s grace and mercy with others?
Suggested Activities (add your suggestions below):
- Create a forgiveness sandbox – draw/write sorry prayers in the sand and then smooth them over as a sign of forgiveness and a new start.
- Create an apology pad – Have a specific notebook to write down apologies when you hurt someone in the family. When that person reads the apology, rip it out and throw it away as a sign of forgiveness.
- Write a letter of thanks and sorry’s – the first sentence will be a thank you sentence, the second sentence will be a sorry sentence, the third sentence will be a thank you sentence and so on. For example, Thank you for always being there. I am sorry I can be crabby sometimes. Thank you for always making the meals. Sorry I do not always give you my undivided attention.
- Advertise times for the sacrament of Reconciliation for the Festival of Forgiveness; there will be ten churches across the Diocese that will host the sacrament from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on March 4.
Ask students to write down something they would like to forgive or be forgiven for, and put it in a basket. Offer up the messages at a school Mass. This would be a great Lenten initiative, with the offering taking place at the Mass before Easter.
Books to Read:
Learning About Forgiveness for the Life of Nelson Mandela by Jeanne Strazzabosco
Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculee Ilibagiza
Step 5 – Celebration: Lessons will close with a prayer, silent or communally, that gives glory to God.
I confess to almighty God and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have greatly sinned in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done, and in what I have failed to do; through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault; therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin, all the Angels and Saints, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God. Amen.
Act of Contrition
My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart. In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good, I have sinned against you whom I should love above all things. I firmly intend, with your help, to do penance, to sin no more, and to avoid whatever leads me to sin. Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for us. In his name, my God, have mercy. Amen.
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.
In the “Leave a Reply” area below, please suggest another activity people could do to address this Work of Mercy, share a story about someone who has forgiven others, or write your own prayer for people in need of forgiveness.