Take the Mercy Inventory

Practice of the Week
Take the Mercy Inventory

Category: Occasional. These are practices suggested for "every once in a while." Some of them are responses to a particular need that may arise; others are simply enriching occasional enhancements to the spiritual life. All of them are worth a try at least once. And any of them might become a regular and central part of your spiritual practice.

See how many of these suggestions for showing mercy you can do in one week. Or in two weeks. Or in a month.

adapted from aleteia.org
  1. Resist sarcasm; it is the antithesis of mercy.
  2. Pare down possessions: share your things with the needy.
  3. Call someone who you know is lonely, even if you understand why they’re lonely. Especially if you do.
  4. Write a letter of forgiveness to someone.
  5. Do something kind and helpful for someone who you don’t get along with, or who has wronged you.
  6. Be mindful of your behavior online. Is that post designed to improve your image and leave others feeling bad? Are you hammering people in order to serve your anger and humiliate others?
  7. Be generous enough to allow someone to help you; people need to feel needed.
  8. If you didn’t mean to be a pain in the neck to someone, admit you were and ask the person to forgive you.
  9. Carry around $5 Starbucks and McDonald’s gift cards for the homeless.
  10. Take time to contemplate the good qualities of someone who is difficult for you.
  11. Send a card, flowers, gift or note to someone on the six-month anniversary of his or her loved one’s death. By then, most people have stopped recognizing their grief.
  12. Offer to babysit for a busy mom to go out and have a couple of hours to herself.
  13. Make a meal (or buy a gift certificate) for a mom who’s just given birth or adopted a child, or for someone who’s just gone through a loss.
  14. Hold. Your. Tongue.
  15. Offer to run an errand (groceries, dry cleaning pick-up, dog-walking) for a busy parent or homebound person.
  16. If you’re sharing a treat, take the smaller portion.
  17. Instead of losing patience with someone online (or in person), try to hear that person’s fear.
  18. Recall a time you were not given the benefit of the doubt, and extend one to someone else.
  19. Put down the phone and really listen to someone else. With eye contact.
  20. Take advantage of sales to buy small toothpastes, soaps, shampoos, socks and feminine products/toiletries; donate them to parish outreaches or make gift bags and have them ready to hand out where needed.
  21. Create a short end-of-day ritual to ask for (and extend) forgiveness with those you live with.
  22. Make a list of your “enemies.” Then, every day, say a prayer for them.
  23. Make a point to smile, greet or make conversation with someone who is not in your everyday circle.
  24. Give away something of yours (that you really like) to someone you know would enjoy it.
  25. Make a gratitude journal for your spouse and jot down little things he or she does that you’re grateful for.
  26. Respond to provocation with the respect you wish a person would show you.
  27. Dig out your most attractive stationery and handwrite an actual letter to someone as a means of demonstrating his or her importance to you.
  28. Offer to read to someone who is feeling ill or is just feeling blue.
  29. Lead with a kind comment with friends as well as strangers.
  30. Can you play the piano, or any instrument? Can you recite poetry? Give free “concerts” to the forgotten people in nursing homes and assisted living centers.
  31. Go on retreat. It’s a way to be merciful to yourself and the people around you, who know you need to go on retreat. If you cannot do that, at least try to make a day, or evening, of recollection.
  32. Offer hospitality in your home to someone or a group of people you would normally never invite over.
  33. Pay the parking or toll fee for the person behind you.
  34. Pray for your dead.
For Journaling

Each day you are following this practice, write in your journal about it. Which items did you do in the last 24 hours? Describe what you did, how you felt, and what effects of your action you observed.

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For list of all weekly practices: "Practices of the Week Index"

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