Monthly Meditations on the Works of Mercy
July: Correcting those in error
The history of salvation shows us the continuous interaction between God’s merciful love and mankind’s weakness. As a mother follows her youngest child closely to keep him from danger or harm, so God has guided mankind throughout the centuries. Each of us has experienced in our own lives this close guidance, the hand of Divine Providence. And therefore, how many falls or mistakes on our daily path have become opportunities for an encounter with our Lord!
Correcting those who err [or “admonishing the sinner”] is a work of mercy that we see God carrying out constantly in the biblical narratives, whenever men have been determined (and we can also say, when we are determined) to choose the path of evil. The history of the Chosen People is a clear manifestation of this divine care. In many situations, Yahweh could have let go his guiding hand, but He always (sometimes also with punishments and other warnings from the prophets) leads his People back, putting them once again on the way to salvation.
With the Incarnation of the Word, God’s mercy takes on a human face: that of Jesus. God has become our Brother to look for us one by one: in our present circumstances, with our personal qualities, with the few or many talents that we have. In the Gospel, we see that Christ does not hold back from reprimanding, from correcting those he wants to lead by the straight path, not only the Pharisees who reject his message, but also his friends. He reprimands Peter, even sternly, when he suggests that our Lord should flee from the Passion; and Martha in Bethany, gently, for worrying excessively about her housework. Our Lord knew what tone and language was best suited for each occasion.
Following our Lord’s example, we recall that fraternal correction practiced with rectitude, without humiliating others, has been a help in the Church right from the beginning. “Brothers,” writes St. Paul to the Galatians, “in case someone is found to be at fault, you who are spiritual, correct him gently, taking care of yourself, lest thou also be tempted.” The Apostle is simply repeating Jesus’ command: “If your brother sins against you, go and correct him, just between the two of you. If he listens, you have won your brother.”
Therefore, fraternal correction is the duty of all Christians. When someone gives us a warning for our own good, we should see it as an expression of divine mercy, which uses human instruments to guide us along the right path. At first, we might find it distasteful and unpleasant. Pride may lead us to rebel, and to seek excuses that are always easy to find. However, if we consider this correction in God’s presence, a sincere sense of gratitude will arise, because someone has taken the trouble to make us aware of an error that we had not perceived.
Let us not underestimate the power of mercy, since a fraternal correction accepted humbly can build up a relationship, strengthen a friendship, avoid future complications and be the starting point of a new stage in one’s life.
Some years ago now, Pope Benedict XVI (to whom we should be very grateful) made ample reference to this manifestation of charity. “Today we are generally very sensitive to care and charity with regard to the physical and material good of others, but we are almost completely silent regarding spiritual responsibility towards each other.” And he added: “When faced with evil, we cannot be silent. I’m thinking here of the attitude of those Christians,” the Pope continued, “who out of human respect or convenience conform themselves to the prevailing mentality instead of advising their brothers or sisters about certain ways of thinking and acting that contradict the truth and do not follow the right path.”
Therefore, I tell all of you and I tell myself, when helping someone by a fraternal correction, we need to be guided by charity and prudence, looking for the right time and the right words so as not to hurt our sister or brother unnecessarily. Paul himself encouraged the Galatians to correct “with gentleness.” So the best thing to do is to think about the correction in God’s presence, asking the Holy Spirit to put the right words in our mouth, with complete rectitude of intention.
The temptation may arise to think that our correction will fall on deaf ears, or that the person won’t struggle to change, or that their problems don’t affect us.... And that’s not the case. Those of us in the Church form a united body, and the mistakes of the others must awaken in us (without becoming scandalized and without critical spirit) feelings of compassion and the need to help them with charity.
When we correct, we also need to count on time. Grace is always effective, but people need time—we need time—to make the changes required. Let us recall that the Apostle Peter didn’t want to accept that Christ was going to be put to death, even though the Master had announced it to him clearly and firmly. He needed the time he spent in prison confined in chains in order to fully understand that this sacrifice was God’s will.
Perhaps it also happens to us that, after having corrected someone, their attitude doesn’t change and they persist in their error. In such cases, let us pray, which is the first way to help. Once the seed of mercy has been planted, it has to be watered with prayer, patience and human affection, so that the seed will germinate and bear fruit.
With the practice of fraternal correction, we can effectively resist the temptation to gossip and make ironic comments, which causes so much damage to family and social relationships. This can be a good resolution for the Jubilee of Mercy: to avoid even the slightest criticism of our relatives or friends, of our superiors or those who depend on us, of people we know and people we don’t know. This may seem like no easy task, since numerous frictions and misunderstandings arise every day. But if we persist with God’s help and strength, we will be sowers of the serenity that comes from avoiding confrontations and trying to suggest positive solutions.
Let us help one another with this balm of mercy. No one can find happiness when they seek it alone. Let us not be oblivious to the struggles of the others, and let us ask God for the simplicity of heart needed to accept corrections with humility and gratitude; and to help others by correcting them with affection and understanding when necessary.
August: Forgiving offenses
One of the works of mercy that the world most needs, now and always, is forgiving offenses. “At times how hard it seems to forgive!” the Holy Father said. “And yet pardon is the instrument placed into our fragile hands to attain serenity of heart. To let go of anger, wrath, violence and revenge are necessary conditions to living joyfully.”
Living joyfully is a desire harbored by all men and women. But no one can attain happiness on their own, turning their back on God and others. Not infrequently, we could have the impression that those around us are an obstacle for us: because they offend us; because they mistreat us; because they cause us physical or moral pain—evils that Christ himself experienced, crucified by those He had come to save.
Our Lord, the visible face of the Father’s mercy, forgave without giving way to resentment. “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do,” he prayed as he hung from the wood of the Cross. Thus he decisively broke the vicious circle of hate that only generates more hate, the circle of vengeance and resentment. And He brought it about that from that Cross there would flow forth a stream of mercy, able to change the history of every woman and man.
Our Lord’s Cross helps us understand that we are all in need of forgiveness: to forgive and to be forgiven. Whoever does not accept this reality becomes unable to fathom the marvelous depth of the love that unites us to another person and to God.
Let’s review the parable of the prodigal son. The young man, blinded by inexperience and pride, turns away from his father’s house and squanders everything he had received. If he returns home, it’s due to the fact that he had experienced closely, on previous occasions, his father’s mercy, his understanding, and knew very well that he wouldn’t be rejected. He returns to his father, who with his embrace gives his greatest gift: his forgiveness. And his father not does so without humiliating him, without any reminder of his previous warnings and advice. Only then does the young man come to understand the real treasure of his father’s love that he had ignored and left behind, and that fortunately, upon coming back contritely, he recovered.
Each of us also needs to go to the sacrament of forgiveness frequently, to understand in some way the depth of divine love. “God never tires of forgiving,” the Pope reminds us. “We are the ones who tire of asking for forgiveness.” Indeed, unfortunately sometimes we are even determined to grow accustomed to the coldness of sin. So if we already benefit from this sacrament, let’s receive it with the best dispositions we can foster, going more often or preparing better. To achieve this, let us throw ourselves into the merciful arms of God, and radically uproot the prejudices and excuses that can prevent us from perceiving in our soul the caress of our Lord’s understanding. Perhaps we fail to remember the happiness we experienced the last time we reconciled with another person. Isn’t asking for forgiveness a human gesture capable of “giving a face” to this God of ours, whom so often we separate from our lives and whose goodness we have forgotten?
Many Christians are unaware of the beauty of Confession. Let’s have the conviction that this sacrament has gone out of style and never will. It has and will always have an ever-present power. Moreover, it is a sacrament that opens our lives to the future, because it restores hope to us. Therefore let us pray that the Jubilee Year of Mercy will allow many Christians to rediscover the path back to the father’s house.
Perhaps someone might think that in order to confess, a very complex preparation beforehand is required, and this is not the case. It’s enough to desire grace, to make a good examination of conscience (perhaps with the help of a written guide or someone who can provide assistance), and then going trustingly to the priest. Let’s not overlook the fact that it was his interior and exterior sufferings, knowledge of his personal misery and the memory of his father’s love that interiorly moved the prodigal son to set out for home. Many people around us are in a similar situation. They just need someone to accompany them on the journey back to the Father's house.
Moreover, just as God forgives so should we forgive others as many times as necessary in our daily life. Perhaps because of misunderstandings, personality differences, political or cultural divergences or other issues, some people hold on for years to the memory of the offenses caused by friends or third parties. Unfortunately, with a disposition like this in the soul, conflicts can last much longer, with each side refusing to budge.
Fully immersed as we are in the Year of Mercy, have we discovered this time as a great opportunity to offer reconciliation, including when we are the offended ones? Our Lord always takes the first step to forgive, even when we do not deserve his grace. Have we truly decided to follow the Master’s example? “Force yourself, if necessary,” wrote St. Josemaría, “always to forgive those who offend you, from the very first moment. For the greatest injury or offence that you can suffer from them is as nothing compared with what God has pardoned you.”
May we have a strong desire that the decision to forgive and to ask for forgiveness become our habitual attitude, in each family and among friends. Let us realize that without the willingness to forgive, all the different settings of our lives, including our own family, turn into desolate and selfish environments that poison and sadden souls. Christ’s lesson is very clear: to love untiringly, including those who hurt us.
Therefore, if the others respond to our offer of forgiveness, let us give thanks to God. But when we do not get the response that we would have liked, let us not get discouraged, because mercy is free and does not expect anything in return. Jesus died praying for those who crucified and offended him. His redemptive death was what caused the veil of hatred to fall from the eyes of souls. And only then, in contemplating Christ’s death, did the centurion standing at the foot of the Cross utter this beautiful act of faith: “Truly this man was the Son of God” (Mk 15:39).
If Christians readily forgive offenses received, with joy and simplicity of heart, many people will be attracted by the love of the children of God, and they will encounter the good Father who wants to embrace everyone with his mercy.
September: Comforting the sorrowful
The day after the Sabbath, Mary Magdalene went with great sorrow and love to our Lord’s tomb, to anoint the Crucified. When we read about this event in the Gospels we experience true joy, because we know that there, beside the tomb, she will find Jesus Himself now resurrected, with his glorious Body. Our Lord wanted to reveal Himself in that encounter, so he calls Mary Magdalene by her name: “Mary!” She recognizes Him right away and exclaims, “Rabboni!, Teacher!” Mary neither can nor wants to suppress that cry of joy at the certainty that our Lord is alive. At that moment, the darkness in this woman’s soul disappears; sadness gives way to an irrepressible joy. Our Lord lets Himself be recognized by a woman of faith.
I wanted to recall this episode so we may realize that the very first action carried out by the Risen Christ was the work of mercy we are reflecting on today: comforting the sorrowful.
We children of God have been created to rejoice in the Good. But we can encounter on our path through life sorrow and pain, because we freely and sadly choose sin or because God’s Providence allows suffering so that we may unite ourselves to his Cross, as the Gospel tells us. The daily coexistence with evil forms part of the human mystery. This reality shouldn’t discourage us, but rather lead us to redouble our hope in God and our desire to turn to Him, confident that sorrow and suffering do not escape his loving designs, just as the invitation to repent and begin again when we have erred is part of his Providence.
It may happen that those who experience evil could tend to isolate themselves, thinking they are able to cope with this burden without anyone’s help. By this ruse, the devil tries to separate us from God and our brothers and sisters, making us see around us only misunderstanding and hostility, and offering us in exchange false consolations that, in the end, leave behind a residue of bitterness. Eve was alone in Paradise when she dared to dialogue with the Tempter, as was Judas when he despaired on the night of the Passion. How rightly Saint Paul states in his letter to the Corinthians: “worldly grief produces death.”
Setbacks and suffering are part of life, but how much wrong we would do if we were to confront them solely on our own! Faced with this struggle, sadness could arise, and sadness brings with it pessimism, distancing us from God and from our brothers and sisters. “Abyss calls to abyss,” says Scripture. At such times, we need someone’s help to keep us from falling further.
To those who go through this bad patch in their lives, Saint Josemaría advised them to first seek comfort in prayer and in the tabernacle, since from God comes all mercy. “You ask me to suggest a cure for your sadness,” he writes in The Way. “I’ll give you a prescription from an expert adviser, the Apostle Saint James: Tristatur aliquis vestrum, are you sad, my son? Oret! Pray! Try it and you will see.”
The founder of Opus Dei would appeal to Heaven when it was hard to accept a tough situation, such as the death of someone close, a relative or a friend. Although he suffered the natural sorrow of a father — of a son, a brother, a friend — he didn’t give in to sadness, but instead prayed: “May the most just and lovable will of God be done, be fulfilled, be praised and eternally exalted above all things. Amen, Amen.” He repeated the word “amen” twice, to cling tightly to the Divine Will, even when it was hard for him or he didn’t understand it. I remember very vividly how Saint Josemaría found great comfort in that prayer in order to keep going.
At the same time, God’s help so often reaches us through other people: friends, colleagues, relatives or even strangers. They will console us or we will offer them comfort, thus opening a way for God, in his mercy, to mitigate the difficulties and sorrows we all face on our earthly journey.
Consoling others isn’t easy, since it requires a lot of tact; the soul of a person who is suffering is, so to speak, “raw to the touch,” with a deep unease. One word more or less can cure or can cause even more damage. In that case, our presence will often be enough; at other times, it will be necessary to say something that conveys hope and helps that person to consider the situation from another perspective.
I advise you, when trying to console others correctly, to call on the guardian angels for help. God the Father sent an angel to comfort Jesus in the Garden of Olives, during that time of such intense suffering in our Savior’s life. My daughters and sons, sisters and brothers, in this scene, which so often could nourish our prayer, we see clearly that to console someone is a divine action. This consoling presence amid Christ’s agony reveals God’s Love, the assistance of the Holy Spirit, the great Comforter.
You will recall that Saint Josemaría — following the Church’s tradition — said that when we men and women are in God’s grace, we are Temples of the Trinity. Therefore when we carry out or receive an act of mercy, we are manifesting to the world the stream of love that stems from the Father, embraces the Son, and reveals the Holy Spirit. And yet something so important can, out of God’s goodness, be carried out with gestures as ordinary as a caress, some words of comfort, some minutes of patient listening, accompanying in silence or with our prayer a person who is suffering.
In that same scene in the garden of Gethsemane, we see one of the difficulties this work of mercy involves: that of not being able to discover our neighbor’s suffering. Just a stone’s throw from our Lord, the Apostles slept oblivious to the sorrow overwhelming their Master. Let us see ourselves reflected in their drowsiness. We fall asleep when we are absorbed in our own problems, when rushing around prevents us from stopping to listen, when we don’t give importance to the signs of sadness in a relative or a friend, when we offer advice without having listened beforehand, when we pour out reproaches on those who have done wrong, putting a limit on our patience...
I close with a beautiful prayer of praise that Saint Paul sends to his brothers and sisters in Corinth and that sums up the heart of the work of mercy that we are considering here: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” Amen.
October: Bearing others’ defects patiently
Throughout this year, we are trying to let God’s mercy leave its mark on our interior life and be shown in deeds. As Saint Josemaría would say, it is in ordinary situations that we find the best place to make God’s goodness present; we either find Him there, or we will never find Him.
Thus, living alongside others in the workplace or in the family offers opportunities to identify ourselves with Him and, with this “lever of love,” to raise the world to God. Therefore it is very timely to examine how we are practicing the work of mercy we are considering this month: patiently suffering and loving our neighbor’s defects.
Love and suffering are two realities difficult to separate. Who has not suffered for love of a spouse, a child or a friend? Sometimes this odd combination may seem mysterious, but from the Cross Jesus shows us that this was the path taken by God himself. Aware that our Lord knows best, when we face this mystery in our daily life, let us look at the Cross that will be a source of peace.
The founder of Opus Dei always advised that we carry a crucifix in our pocket, or that we have one on our desk, next to the photograph of our loved ones. Then, by kissing the crucifix or praying a few words to Jesus Crucified, it becomes easier to accept the day’s annoyances, to confront our defects without being discouraged, or to overcome the inevitable frictions with others. Saint Josemaría would add that we aren’t being asked to “put up with” our neighbor, but rather to love each person and accompany them on their daily journey.
Losing our fear for the Cross, loving it and embracing it when it appears in ordinary or extraordinary situations, will enlarge our heart and help us welcome others when they need it most. Thus we will prepare ourselves to appear before our God, who understands us and awaits us in Heaven, ready to pour out superabundantly in our poor soul his infinite Love.
Saint Paul describes the characteristics of a purified love with these words: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”
My friends, if we seriously seek the good of others, we will understand why a weak brother or sister is no excuse for haste, criticism or impatience. Although we may try to shape our neighbor to our own liking, and are easily irritated by their persisting in the same defects, isn’t it true that God has had and continues to have even more patience with us?
During the Transfiguration, while our Lord rejoiced with the Father and the Holy Spirit, the nine disciples waiting for Him at the foot of the mountain tried in vain to heal an epileptic boy. Their lack of faith rendered them unable to cure the boy, who threw himself into water and fire trying to inflict self-harm. When informed about the failure of his disciples, Jesus reacts with a certain note of disillusionment, in which perhaps we recognize our own disappointment or distancing ourselves from the faults of others. “How long must I be with you?” the Redeemer exclaims. “How long must I bear with you?”
However, as Jesus came to earth to redeem mankind, to show great patience towards all, he heals the boy and tells his disciples the source of their failure: “If you had faith,” he tells them, “nothing would be impossible for you.” Our Lord’s deep love for mankind — for you, for me — is the strength that spurs Him to save us, to offer us his forgiveness again and again, to see in us the dignity of God’s children, which He has won for us and which is hidden under the cloak of our miseries.
Following in the footsteps of Christ, let us not turn our backs on the faults of others; and, without seeing oneself as a victim, let us strive to understand that it is not a question of “putting up with” other people but of welcoming them with humility. Let us look at others with the kind eyes with which God sees them and us, instead of with our own. If internal criticism easily arises in us, or we think ourselves unable to cope any longer with the temperament of this or that person, let us take better care of our personal examination of conscience. A person who does not know himself well, who does not seek humility, tends to be intransigent with others. On this topic, Saint Augustine wrote that “a humble sinner is better than a proud righteous person.”
I remember how Saint Josemaría used to recollect himself before the Tabernacle for a few minutes, also at the end of the day, before retiring, to draw up a balance for his day. Those moments before our Lord helped him remember the times when he could have given himself more to others, and he would ask God for forgiveness and help to better tackle the next day. Only a person who knows his own weakness, and has laughed at himself a bit, discovers how much he needs God and the understanding of his brothers.
Only a patient and humble soul, aware of its own shortcomings, is capable of being available when needed to those seeking a hand to hold on to, some apt advice or a smile that expresses sincere understanding. Little is accomplished, in contrast, by confrontations or phrases filled with cynicism or spite.
Saint Josemaría told married couples, “Try to be ever youthful, and to keep yourselves completely for one another. You have to love each other so much that you love even the defects of your spouse, so long as they don’t offend God.” Loving the defects of one’s spouse, or a friend, is possible when love is mature. And this attitude does not imply stoically accepting the shortcomings of others. We want the good of others, and therefore we try to help them get rid of their faults, such as their angry or apathetic character, lack of order, sensuality, laziness or activism, tardiness, wastefulness, and so on.
These imperfections are crosses that each of us carries for many years, and perhaps permanently. Let us not add more weight to the cross that each one bears; our patience towards others will be for many people the Simon of Cyrene that soothes their daily struggle, and that helps us identify ourselves with Christ on his way to Calvary, carrying the Cross for us.
Let us ask our Lady to teach us to be patient. She was quick to welcome the Apostles who had abandoned her Son, and with her motherly presence accompanied the Church in its early stages. We can be sure that Mary walks with us, helping us to imbue all human relationships with merciful understanding.
November: Praying for the living and the dead
“Without me you can do nothing.” These words of Jesus to his disciples — and to you and to me — make clear that without our Father God, without his help, our efforts to be merciful would be in vain. But Jesus also assures us that his concern for all men and women leads Him to want to accompany us always, if we act uprightly. So as we approach the end of this Jubilee Year, we put ourselves once again in his hands and entrust to Him the resolutions that will make our ordinary life a “time of mercy.”
The last work of mercy for us to consider is that of praying for the living and the dead. By our prayer for our neighbor, in first place we humbly acknowledge that all good comes from God alone, and so we turn to Him; also we gain divine protection for souls; and finally we reinforce the supernatural ties that unite us to others, including those who already enjoy God’s presence.
The need to support one another with our prayer — both for the living and for those who have already left this world, but who continue being part of the Christian family — has the savor of the early Church. “Pray for one another, that you may be healed. The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful.” says the Apostle James. “We give thanks to God always for all of you, remembering you in our prayers, unceasingly,” Paul writes to the Thessalonians. “If anyone sees his brother sinning, if the sin is not deadly, he should pray to God and He will give him life,” says Saint John. After hearing these words, we can ask ourselves, dear friends, if we are supporting with our prayer our colleagues at work, our family, our neighbors, the people in our parish…. If someone is having a hard time, do we help that person with our prayers, even though he or she may never come to know about it?
Helping one another through prayer is a work of mercy that God has wanted to be abundantly present in the history of the Church, from its origins right up to today. Recently the Pope is asking us to pray intensely for persecuted Christians, brothers and sisters of ours willing to give up everything to preserve the faith. Similarly, he has invited us to pray for immigrants who risk their lives seeking a future in other countries, for those who are unemployed, for the elderly living alone, and also for many others in need of the warmth of the Communion of Saints.
Praying for others will help us escape from the selfish individualism that leads so many people to withdraw into a comfortable and apparently secure life, attentive only to personal needs, but insensitive to the suffering of others. As Saint Josemaría said: “We must learn to recognize Christ when he comes out to meet us in our brothers and sisters, the people around us. No human life is ever isolated. It is bound up with other lives. No man or woman is a single verse; we all make up one divine poem.” Therefore, in a society that seems to be gradually ridding itself of the ties that bind it together (this isn’t meant to be pessimism), daily prayer will be a powerful source of unity and strength.
Besides the great human problems I mentioned above, there are also the difficulties and opportunities each one confronts in their personal or family life. That’s why it is so in accord with the Gospel to bear generously in our soul the joys and sorrows of others! And since we Christians want to live in solidarity with those around us, let us be convinced that when one of the baptized prays, he or she is already doing so. When we seek God’s intercession, He hears us and intervenes. He does not remain indifferent. Let us firmly believe that we can change the history of our neighbor, or of a family or a community, by the strength of our own prayer. Sometimes we may not see results, or things may not turn out the way we had imagined, since we are well aware that God has his own ways, ever merciful, and ever surprising. But let us dream! Let us pray for those who do not seem to offer any hope; let us ask for what is beyond our own possibilities; and let us never put a limit on God’s mercy.
In an earlier reflection on another work of mercy, “Burying the dead,” we considered with confidence how mercy can cross the barrier of death, and benefit even those who await their eternal reward. Praying for the dead enables our love to reach those who have rendered their souls to God. Saint Josemaría stressed how moved Jesus was by the death of the son of the widow at Nain, and how he reacted by bringing him back to life. As Saint Josemaría wrote: “Saint Luke says, misericordia motus super eam, [Jesus] was moved by compassion, by mercy for that woman.” Let us learn from that scene: can’t our prayer also move our Lord anew so that, out of his mercy, He grants true Life to those who have gone before us?
The Jubilee Year that is coming to a close should not be just one more event on the calendar, but rather should spur us forward and renew our firm desire for holiness. I ask myself and I ask you, with trust and as a friend: has this time of the Holy Year left its mark on your soul? Have you discovered God as a merciful Father? Have you come to know our Lord’s merciful heart more deeply, his interest for each and every one of us?
Let us recall, as the Holy Father said, that “it is not enough to experience God’s mercy in one’s life; whoever receives it must also become a sign and instrument for others, through small, specific gestures.” Therefore, the fourteen works on which we have meditated together during these months invite us to constantly plant the seed of the “first evangelization” in so many hearts that still do not know Christ or that have fallen away from him. With the warmth of our affection and with the help of grace, many souls perhaps hardened by indifference will open again to God’s love, and there will awaken in them the hunger to know the good Father who awaits their return.
We place our resolutions and intentions in our Lady’s hands, and pray: Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope … turn thine eyes of mercy towards us; and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary!
 Pope Benedict XVI, Message for Lent, 2012.
 Pope Francis, Papal Bull Misericordiae Vultus, no. 9.
 Pope Francis, Angelus, March 17, 2013 among, others.
 St. Josemaría, The Way, no. 452.
 St. Josemaría, The Way, no. 663.
 Ibid., no. 691.
 St. Augustine, Sermon, 170, 7,7.
 St. Josemaría, Notes taken from a get-together, November 18, 1972, published in Romana no. 39, p. 182.
 St. Josemaría, Christ Is Passing By, no. 111.
 St. Josemaría, Notes from a family gathering, September 25, 1971.
 Pope Francis, Audience, October 12, 2016.
Romana, n. 63, July-December 2016, p. 310-322.