|Mother of mercy: Mother Riccarda|
Shhh...Remember to say it quietly, but...
Mother Riccarda, who has a cause for beatification with Rome and who was received as an infant into the Church at the parish in which I attend Mass, did not discriminate between the Jew and the Nazi when she was welcoming guests. This is less well-known than her kindly treatment of the Jews at risk of death.
It is a matter of historical fact now (UPDATE: It's not!) that as well as taking in persecuted Jews into her convent, Mother Riccarda also took in Nazis on the run seeking refuge.
Of course, that she took in Jews is something we can shout about, but no doubt we would rather be quieter about her kindness to Nazis as well. To those who would have commended her on her heroism in protecting Jews however, I am quite sure she would have said she was only doing her duty, both out of love for Jesus Christ and in fidelity to His Vicar on Earth at the time, Pope Pius XII, who asked convents and monasteries to take in the Jews at risk from Nazi persecution.
For her, it seems, Christ's call for mercy and love for the outcast, the persecuted, and even for wicked, notorious sinners fleeing towards what appeared the only safety and refuge in Rome, was general, universal, even - yikes! - unconditional. We are not told of any who, seeking refuge were turned away from her convent in Rome, or kicked out to be rounded up by Hitler's troops. She loved them all and showed them all mercy - the mercy of God Pope Francis has been calling us to show to our brothers and sisters. Showing mercy to the innocent is easy. Hard mercy - showing mercy to the wicked - is hard, yet that is what we understand is the mercy Jesus showed us and that He wishes us to show to others.
Of course, I am sure that she would have loved Pope Francis very much, as the visible head of Christ's Body on Earth, the Vicar of Christ and representative of the True Head of the Church, Jesus Christ. I must say I am starting to lament a little my harsh treatment yesterday of Pope Francis. The call to mercy and overlooking the faults we see in others isn't conditional. It is our love and mercy which is so often conditional, as you'll have seen in my last blog post. It is a lack of mercy which is condemned in today's Gospel reading.
That the SSPX have more mercy that the Church of Rome is, well, somewhat embarrassing! That the SSPX are following the call to mercy given by the Lord by putting mercy above public reputation and human respect is maybe a PR disaster for them on Earth, but I expect Heaven is somewhat impressed - or Heaven is at least glad some have done what Heaven would expect. Maybe they thought, "Well, everyone thinks we're Nazis anyway, so I can't see this making much difference...", or perhaps they thought Jesus's words in the Gospel ("Dead men's bones, anybody?") are worth taking seriously, walking the walk, as well as talking the talk. How lamentable, that this man was, in death, accorded no mercy from the Church of the God of Mercy!
A moment of mercy is what Pope Francis described as the requirement in this epoch in reference to matters of divorce and remarriage. We're not quite sure what this will mean in actuality. Anyway, take a moment of mercy, why not, and pray for the soul of a baptised Catholic who went off the rails under the Nazi regime and committed some terrible crimes. We've no sure way of knowing whether, in such times, we would have been like Mother Riccarda, or like him, a killer. I am also praying for a moment of mercy will be shown to the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, whose situation within the Church is, it appears, growing worse. Jesu, mercy. Mary, pray.
If Mother Riccarda would have taken the individual into her convent while he were still alive, I can't see her wishing the individual barred from all Churches in Rome, as a corpse. If we cannot show mercy to the dead, who can do us no verbal harm, how can we learn to show mercy to the living, who are able to answer back? For that reason, and for many others, not least that we desire mercy for ourselves at our judgment, we should afford to the dead the measure of mercy that we wish to receive ourselves.
UPDATE: Apparently, the convent didn't take in fleeing Nazis after all. Er...Well...we are still called to show mercy. Truth and fact has rather made a mess of this blogpost!