Please, be merciful O Lord

By Tom Quiner


The Catholic Church calls on us to focus on three practices during Lent: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

Have you ever wanted to know what the secret to prayer is? The late Thomas Merton provided a simple answer: “take the time.”

A simple and fruitful goal.

I just returned from an Ash Wednesday service. The first message of Lent is a zinger: “Please be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.”

The late, great venerable Bishop Sheen acknowledges the challenge of confessing our sins:

“It is so hard to admit that one is a sinner; it is so hard to climb the hill of Calvary and kneel beneath a cross and ask for pardon, forgiveness. Certainly it is hard. But it is harder to hang there.”

In other words, Lent calls on us to focus on Christ’s unimaginable sacrifice on our behalf through the disciplines of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

I heard an interesting message at Mass last week. The priest commented on the high divorce rate in our culture. He’d hear time and time again from people who said that their “feelings” toward their spouse had changed.

He looked at us and asked, “what is love? Is it merely a feeling?”

Then he turned and pointed to the large crucifix in the sanctuary. “Do you think Jesus ‘felt’ like hanging on that cross?”

Turning back to the congregation, he declared that love isn’t a feeling, it’s a decision. Christ made the decision to die on that cross for us when He certainly didn’t feel like going through its degradation and depredations.

You and I come from ashes. We’ll return to ashes. Our life is a total gift from God who sent His Son to save our life. As Fr. John Riccardo once said in talking about Christ’s sacrifice, “if that’s the cure, imagine the disease.”

This Lent, let us make the decision to pray more, even if we don’t feel like it. God respects the effort and comes to us in our prayers if we only give Him the time.



  1. leftfooter on February 18, 2015 at 5:26 pm

    A loud Amen!

  2. deborah ann on February 18, 2015 at 5:48 pm


  3. encourage the faithful on February 18, 2015 at 5:55 pm

    Tom, I must read your blog every single day. I receive such nourishment from such pithy posts which I don’t find anywhere else. I share them with my husband as often as i can. He is one of those moderate Catholics who just doesn’t “get it.” I am waiting for him to have a conversion of the heart. He does go to Mass with me weekly and will get ashes today. He shed a tear when I read this one to him (and decided to forego the Popsicle which was going to break his fast). God bless.

    • quinersdiner on February 18, 2015 at 6:12 pm

      Thanks for the kind words. I do appreciate them. God bless.

  4. donrobbins4 on February 18, 2015 at 8:14 pm

    I’m not gay but since gay is OK now with the church, does that mean my sister will send me a Christmas card this year? She is Catholic.

  5. lovelifeandgod on February 18, 2015 at 9:22 pm

    A general rule of thumb for me is this: whenever you feel like praying the least, pray right then and there, because when you feel yourself resistant to prayer, there lies a barrier that you have put up between yourself and God.

    When people say, “I don’t have time to pray,” I must ask what they mean by that. You don’t have to pray for an hour in one go – pray for a few minutes throughout the course of your day, between work, leisure time, meals, getting up from bed in the morning and falling back into bed at night. When you find yourself in a quiet, listless moment – pray; give thanks.

    People forget just how much prayer matters. We like to guide our own steps, but when you give yourself to Christ, He’s the one in charge. It’s God’s Spirit that changes minds and hearts.