The priest also explained the difference between grace and mercy.
He said, “Grace is when we receive something we don’t deserve, and mercy is when we don’t receive something we do deserve.”
He repeated that line a few times, so I figured it was important. With this post, I’ve written it down to help me remember.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about the times in my life when the words “grace” and “mercy” have made an impression on me.
Whenever I hear the song “Amazing Grace” I get chills. Both the words and music move me, sometime to the verge of tears.
There’s also a saying about grace I remember a neighbor repeat while I was living in Massachusetts in the 1970s. Whenever she saw someone with an obvious impairment or heard about a person’s tragedy or misfortune, she shook her head and said, “There but for the grace of God go I.” Her words about the grace of God have stuck with me, and I’ve repeated them when I’ve encountered similar situations.
My first recollection of using the word “mercy,” is goofing around and wrestling with my siblings when I was a kid. “Mercy” was what we had to say when we admitted defeat to the stronger person.
The word “mercy” also reminds me of high school English class. Every year, the nuns at St. Alphonsus “Rock” High School taught us at least one of William Shakespeare’s plays. One semester, during Sophmore year (I think it was), we were assigned to read “The Merchant of Venice” and had to memorize Portia’s quality of mercy speech. I don’t recall all of the passage, but five decades later, I still remember this much:
"The quality of mercy is not strained;
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomesThe throned monarch better than his crown . . ."
Back then I focused on getting a good grade; since then the words have come to mean more to me, especially the first four lines.
Those are my thoughts on grace and mercy.
What about you? Do you have any favorite quotes, thoughts, or memories about one or both of those words?