Mercy is...a perfect Love from our Lord, to an imperfect soul like me... I remember narrating these words, and how touched I am by them still, each time I hear them. Yes, we are all imperfect, and the perfect Love from the Lord is the puzzle piece that completes the beauty that is in each one of us.
There are times that this love is felt in prayer, or witnessed in the perfect Love between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; brought to us in the Holy sacrifice of the Mass, and then there are times that we are humbled by this perfect love, being expressed by grace, in places we might least expect it.
I had the honor last weekend of bringing Christmas Cards into our local Regional Youth Detention Facility. In the past we had sent cards and ornaments to the youth; but I had not yet had any direct contact with any of them. Arriving with Cards, cookies, mints, red tablecloth, and a mix of 3 hrs of Christmas music in tow - I arrived Saturday to share something I thought would be a kind thing to do, and I was so happy to do it.
What I witnessed were some of the kindest, well-mannered, attentive middle and high school youths that I had yet met. All of them greeting me with kindness, smiles, handshakes, and sincere thanks. I knew that it is entirely possible that the 96 youths now staying at the facility will likely not spend Christmas with their families, and wanted to perhaps bring an opportunity to share a bit of the Christmas preparations they might miss this year. Each card was Christ centered, with pictures of the holy family, doves, wise men etc. And, the youths spent time creating what appeared to be genuine "Love" notes to their families, with pictures, and well thought out messages.
Then, in one of the younger groups, there was a young man who was perplexed who to send one to. Clearly all situations are different, and he was not going to be able to send a card to "family". He wanted to know how he could get his card out. I explained he could write it to whomever he wished. "Well," he said, "I just want to get it to a kid..."; "Ok. ", I stated." Do you mean another youth here?". "No," he said, "like a homeless kid or something...,". With that statement, I saw it, a perfect Love from our Lord, coming with the help of His grace, through another soul like mine, imperfect, to reach another one of His loved children. It was very touching, and I now have sent a bundle of cards out in the mail to homes all over the region - and 1 card is waiting in my car to find a child, without a home, that says "Happy Christmas".
When you are preparing your homes this season, and baking, sending out year end gifts to charities, please remember our Youths, that maybe have not had the greatest start - but, are making every great effort, through the love and grace of those around them to turn their situations around. A very simple thing that everyone can do is this...as you need to perhaps clean out bookshelves and game closets; consider taking gently used games, puzzles, magazines, and books to your nearest Youth Detention Facility. The time spent on vacation from schoolwork is very precious for many of us, however turns idle and frustrating to these youth that really wish they were home for the holidays.
I wish you all the most beautiful advent season of preparation, a yearning for a renewed hope and love in the Lord, for His perfect Love.