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New Year, New Book: The Church of Mercy by Pope Francis

January 5, 2016 by  
Filed under Book Club, Mercy, Vicki Burbach

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The Church of Mercy (Week 1 of 6)

Dear Readers,

We hope you’ve been enjoying a beautiful Christmas season with your friends and family. With the advent of the new year, we are beginning a new chapter in our spiritual reading book club! You may be aware that Pope Francis has designated this liturgical year a Holy Year of Mercy. In order to help each of us better contemplate the virtue of mercy, we’ve decided to devote our year of reading to the subject, beginning with The Church of Mercy, a compilation of words both spoken and written on the subject by Pope Francis, himself!

The following was taken from the back of my book:

In the year since he was elected, Pope Francis’ simple message of mercy, service, and renewal has spread to every corner of the world. Through his gentle demeanor, selfless actions, and welcoming call for service to others, Pope Francis has captured the attention of a world longing for an authentic message of hope – we want to hear what he has to say.

Collected from Pope Francis’ speeches, homilies, and papers presented during the first year of his papacy, The Church of Mercy is the first Vatican-authorized book detailing his vision for the Catholic Church. From how to be citizens of the world to answering God’s call for evangelization, Pope Francis’ deep wisdom reminds us that the Church must move beyond its own walls and joyfully bring God’s mercy wherever suffering, division, or injustice exists.

Named TIME Magazine’s 2013 “Person of the Year,” Pope Francis is helping the Church continue toward an authentic Christianity that is faithful to the Gospel and resonant with the world’s greatest needs. The Church of Mercy encourages each of us to ignite the flame within to help share the light of Christ and revitalize the Church.

Please join us as we contemplate the virtue of mercy at an intimate and more prayerful level. Obtain your copy of The Church of Mercy at your earliest convenience and join us as we begin our exploration! We plan to follow the schedule posted below:

(Note: Below designates when assignments are given – they are discussed the following week.):

Week            Date        Assignment:

Week One:      1/5           Part I & II

Week Two:      1/12         Part III & IV

Week Three:   1/19         Part V & VI

Week Four:     1/26        Part VII & VIII

Week Five:      2/2          Part IX & X

Week Six:        2/9         No Assignment


If you don’t have a copy this week, you will find it easy to catch up – this book is written simply and eloquently and you should find it easy to make up for lost time.

As you make your pass at the bookstore or library, you may want to take a sneak peak at our entire 2016 schedule:

The Church of Mercy by Pope Francis

The Second Greatest Story Ever Told by Fr. Michael Gaitley

Life of Christ by Archbishop Fulton Sheen

Beautiful Mercy by Matthew Kelly

We look forward to many enlightening discussions in the forthcoming year! Please join us in our reading and be sure to offer your insights by adding to the discussion in the Comment Box each week!

Happy Reading!

Discussion Questions:

1. What comes to mind when you think about mercy?

2. Have you read any of the books on our list? If so, please share your thoughts.


Read More:

For More Information on the Book Club:

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About Vicki Burbach

Vicki Burbach is a wife and homeschooling mother of six children ages four to sixteen years who relishes the calm inspiration of spiritual reading amidst the roller coaster of life. A passionate convert to the Faith, Vicki is an avid reader who started the book club so she could embark with like-minded bibliophiles on a spiritual journey through some of the greatest Catholic books ever written. You can also find her at

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  • Philip George Regan

    Interestingly enough when I discussed the Chaplet of Divine Mercy with a Priest recently I was rather shocked when he commented that praying for sinners in their death agony to prevent their damnation was not worth it – he seemed to think they were not worthy of such intercessory prayer given their sinful status. .

    Yet Jesus came down from Heaven to die for Sinners – and according to the Relevations of Saint Faustina – each soul loss to Jesus wounds him terribly. If the message of Mercy is really going to be taken to the frontlines of Human Misery – where it realty is needed I wouldn’t bank on the clergy .

    I have personally taken the Image of Divine Mercy to people on the periphery of society – each one recognized the Immense Value of this Image and were glad to recite “Jesus I Trust in You” – Our Lord Promised that anyone whom venerated the Divine Mercy Image would not perish – who could contradict Our Lord ?

    • LizEst

      I wouldn’t judge all priests by your experience. There are many good priests who promote the Divine Mercy Devotion. In fact, you may know of the Congregation of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception. They are a religious group of priests who have a mission of promoting the Divine Mercy.

      • Philip George Regan

        It might just well be here in Scotland that the Divine Mercy has not been really promoted by the Catholic Church in the way that Our Lord would wish – it seems a much healthier response though in the USA which is very positive. What to do – well we know that all things are possible via the Divine Mercy so please pray for the Divine Mercy Devotion to be promoted as Our Lord wished here in Scotland.

    • WelderChick

      Not sure why that priest thinks that way. Even the Fatima prayer says to pray for sinners: Oh my Jesus forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to heaven esp. those in most need of thy mercy.

      Keep doing what you’re doing. Our Lord said: blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy. You are doing something merciful and putting those people into His hands and trusting in Him. That’s what He asks of us. The salvation of each soul is God’s work, not ours. We are simply His instruments and all He asks is that we listen for what He wants us to do, and then do it.

      • Philip George Regan

        Thanks for those kind words of encouragement !!

    • Gina

      Priests are human beings first and foremost and graces bestowed upon priests are not automatic simply because they are priests. You are on the right track and onus is up to the Christian community to be praying for all souls….saints, sinners and all in-between. The person/priest is precisely such a soul that I grieve much for when I mention above God needing to teach me how to be toward ignorant and careless people…ignorant of God’s fullness and careless in not leading all souls to Him. Rather than not banking on clergy folk, pray ceaselessly for them given that praying is the number one Christian motto. The priest has definitely fallen short there.

    • Gina

      Matthew 13:23 come to mind re the priest.

  • Gina

    Hi Vicki,

    I posted a question previously which seems to be removed re how to go about joining the book club and in particular this time’s discussion. Can you confirm please what I need to do as I have The Church of Mercy book already? Thanks. Gina.

    • Vicki

      Gina, thank you so much for your question! If you receive posts via email each Tuesday, you are officially part of the book club. If not, click on the box at the top right of the Home page where it says “Subscribe to our Newsletter.” To participate, merely read along with us each week and share your thoughts right here with the rest of us! The more participation we have, the more beneficial to the entire group. God bless you and Happy Reading!

  • Gina

    I think it is simply adding my thoughts to the Comments box as suggested?

    • LizEst

      Yes, just add your thoughts to the comments box (combox) just as you did in typing your question above. Thanks. God bless you, Gina.

  • Tdwunder

    I am absolutely in love with this book! I could highlight the whole first chapter. Pope Francis really knows how to bring mercy to where we are. I so appreciate that.

    • LizEst

      That is a terrific endorsement. Thank you for sharing, Tdwunder! God bless you!

  • Gina

    Thanks for the confirmation Liz & Vicki, really appreciate it. And Tdwunder I share your enthusiasm so I think we need to hold on tight as this is going to be a surprisingly delightful 6-week ride for us both 🙂

  • Deanna Bartalini

    This is just the push I need to read this book which has been on my shelf for months! Looking forward to reading together.

  • WelderChick

    Just ordered the book and signed up for the newsletter/book club. My parish priest has talked about evangelization frequently. However starting with the Year of Mercy, he’s been talking about it in every homily and has told us he will be doing so thru the entire year.

    I’ll be honest, I sometimes don’t know what to make of Pope Francis and I hear a lot of bashing of him by everyone, including Catholics. This will be the first book from him that I’ve read and I’m hoping I’ll get a better idea of who he is and where he’s coming from.

    I’ll get the book on Monday so I’ll have a lot of catching up to do!

  • MariaGo

    Oh good! We have this book! For those in the Philippine, I think they sell this in either Tanging Yaman or St Paul seminary stores. 🙂

  • Shirley

    I’ve begun reading the first chapter! Can’t wait to read the comments.

  • WelderChick

    I just got the book today and have finished last week’s assignment: parts I and II. Several things struck me.

    It had never occurred to me, when I’m praying before Mass or at Adoration, to let Jesus look at me. I know He’s there, but I tend to be a chatter box, rather than sitting quietly and just letting Him look at me.

    Even tho I pray for graces and direction from the Holy Spirit, the idea of asking for the grace of humble harmony also didn’t occur to me. Pope Francis mentioned several times gossiping and arguing. He mentioned that others may view things from a different angle, but do we insist on OUR view or a uniform view (do we get Star Trek Borgish?)

    These things struck me esp since I comment on forums. One of my new year’s resolutions was to stop the bickering. I was tired of the uncivil discourse. No one seems to listen to each other anymore. And too often we have the attitude of “my way or the highway”. Was I listening to others? Was I trying to see commonalities or honest misunderstandings? Was I presenting the truth as a Christian, or was I just interested in bludgeoning my point home? Is God trying to tell me something thru others, others I might dismiss as being His instruments?

    This world is in bad straits. It needs the truth, but presented in a way that draws people to the truth. Shamefully, I’d have to say I’ve sent people running from the truth just cuz of my presentation. This new year I wanted to change that.

    And so, Pope Francis’s calls for prayer, people to pray for, and relying on the Holy Spirit and letting Jesus look at me for a change and me just listen (be Mary for a while [which can be hard for me] instead of Martha) is a good way to start.

    I does require humility 🙂 to at least admit that there may be more than just my way to deal with things without discounting my perspective either. With the Spirit, that kind of harmony, that can allow all of us to start listening to each other and start working together thru Christ to bring Him and His healing, truth, and Life to the world is possible.

  • Gina

    I think this book is going to be a very inspirational read so I am looking forward to the next few weeks of reflecting, praying and discussing themes re Mercy that come through for me.

    The word Mercy for me connotes more forgiveness and when I think of God as Mercy I delve into how God is very very forgiving (which reflects His love) especially toward those who are truly repentant as in the father who welcomed the wayward son with open arms. How could the father possibly be so generous in welcoming his son? What consequence has there been for the son? And if the son were to repeat his actions again, would the father again be so welcoming? The answer for me is God is beyond all human grievances and this is where I am needing to sit and let God teach me how to be (as I do grieve much with people who are just so ignorant and careless) given God does not operate as the world operates.

    I do find God’s way quite hard to follow and live by most times so I pray for faith and nurture what faith I do have to not lose sight of Him.

    • Tina Larin

      Hello Gina, I can already feel the inspiration an a stirring inside as I read the insights Pope Francis has to offer us.
      I felt as you do that one cannot consider mercy without contemplating the act of forgiveness. How blessed we are to have a merciful Father that is always there with open arms ready and eager to forgive.

      • Gina

        Hi Tina, thanks for sharing and Mercy is not a good word for me as it gives a sense of ‘having wronged’ with God needing to show His wrath/mercy. Fortunately I am coming around to the fact that latter is not so and given Christ’s redemption has been out of His infinitely great love/mercy for us. How absolutely beautiful our God is.

        • Tina Larin


  • Tina Larin

    Hello Vicki and fellow explorers, the exploration took off before I did but I am catching up soon. I enjoy the reading, Pope Francis clearly speaks to the common man. My first thought of mercy brings words like sadness, pain and suffering to mind; however, on further contemplation I begin to feel privileged and blessed, knowing that it is an added gift that is wrapped up in faith and am thankful to have been able to accept the gift of faith and all the graces that accompany it.
    I have not read any of the other books listed but look forward to spending the entire year contemplating and reflecting on the grace of mercy.

  • Marianne

    I too have really enjoyed reading the Holy Father’s book so far. He speaks directly to the heart. I also agree with WelderChick that I have never thought about letting Jesus look at me. I’m too busy thinking about what to pray about next or get so easily distracted. However a thought that occurred to me regarding the depth of Jesus’ mercy was Him on the Cross looking directly at me. What would He see? “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” All I can say is…Wow.

  • Shirley

    There are several of Pope Francis’ thoughts that have reassured me in my faith; such as pray to the Holy Spirit to be open to goodness, open to the beauty of God. I love this. It really touches my heart.

    We all probably wonder how did the disciples become so bold to proclaim the life of Jesus? The answer: The fire of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Day! They feared nothing and no one! Again, this reminder strengthens me.

    And a reminder for us pray-ers to stop talking to God and to listen, look at him, and sense his presence.

    Thanks to all who have commented and I await the comments of others.

  • Gina

    The key for me is remembering to turn to God which is just starting to come along as I tend to turn inwards to include turning to other things and people. That is when needing to be in a personal relationship with Jesus turning inwards in a good thing as God naturally dwells there although I must remember that God does naturally dwell there rather than having to turn to myself and finding only me. I can only do so much and being in a relationship is requiring two people.

    Pope Francis reassures and assures that if I am having difficulty following Christ (this was mentioned in my last post) to simply trust in His utmost care and well-being of me. I can now see Mercy starting to unfold more.

  • Shirley

    Thoughts on Chapter V and VI. To be Christian is a lifestyle. We must get out of our comfort zones and give up our “dreary way of living, faith that has become a habit” which is a way of shutting God out.

    The Church exists in order to evangelize. Evangelizing brings joy; egoism makes us bitter, sad, and depresses us. Christ sent out apostles into the world so that he might continue to exercise his office of Teacher, Priest, and Shepherd.

    When we have a relationship with God and with his people, and grace passes through us, then we are priests, mediators between God and people.

    My last comment is about the “sad priests”–becoming collectors of antiques or novelties instead of being shepherds with the “odor of the sheep.”

  • Shirley

    Oops, put my earlier comment in the wrong week, sorry.

    • LizEst

      Too funny! I wondered about that! God bless you, Shirley!

  • Shirley

    I’m having difficulty finding the latest week for posting! I’ve clicked on so many things but can’t get to chapter vii and viii. Can someone help me with 1, 2, 3, instructions? Thanks.

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