Seeing through mercy changes what we see. With conferences for four distinct communities this summer (and two already completed), Notre Dame Vision has ventured into the mystery of mercy in three moments: revelation, reception, and response.
Mercy is first revelation, because God always makes the first move. In the Book of Exodus, God is introduced as the one who hears and acts (Ex 2:23-25). By what He does, God reveals who He is. Our first task in the journey of mercy is to be attentive, to be still, to take a chance on being the ones upon whom the dawn of mercy breaks.
Mercy demands the discipline of reception, of learning how to receive the gift of God’s love that comes to meet us in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is among the most challenging of tasks, especially in modern life, because receiving the gift of God’s mercy will require us to change, accommodating grace in our lives. In some respects, we will have to see ourselves and each other by a new light, while in others we will have to adjust or rewrite the operative narratives by which we live. The discipline of receiving mercy is learning how to say and trust that “I am one who is looked upon by the Lord,” as Pope Francis once put it.
Finally, to receive God’s merciful movement towards us requires us to learn to move in like manner—that is, mercy demands a response. This leads us to the Works of Mercy—corporal and spiritual—by which the Lord choreographs the dance of mercy in the world. By doing these works we become merciful. The challenge of response is the challenge of living in the grace of God, in whom we “live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).
The first conference—for high school students (June 20-24, June 27-July 1, July 11-15, July 18-22)—gathers 1300 participants from all across the country, guided by a team of well-trained 70 Notre Dame undergraduate students. The second conference—for campus and youth ministers (same dates as high school conference)—gathers 200 adult ministers from high schools, parishes, and dioceses who will refresh their own vocational callings and renew their ministries for young people. The third conference—for young adults (June 27-July 1)—was new this year and will host 25 twenty-something Catholics who will immerse themselves in liturgical prayer and patient reflection to explore the gift and challenge of forming character in faith and mercy as the foundation for life. Finally, the fourth conference—for liturgical music ministers (July 18-22)—is offered in conjunction with the Notre Dame Center for Liturgy and allows 25 professional ministers to learn, pray, and refresh their approach to leading and forming worship communities in their particular settings.