What is difference between Pity and Mercy?

In this weeks gospel Bartimaeus, the blind man crys out to Jesus, "Jesus, son of David, have pity on me." The question posed to me was what is the difference between pity and mercy. Your comments are appreciated.
~ Debbie Aguilera, St. Catherine of Siena in Rialto, CA

Thanks for the question, Debbie. We asked our ParishWorld Theology editor to answer your question and this is what he said:

Pity: The Spanish translation uses the word "compasion". Pity is a feeling of sadness that we get when we consider a limiting situation in another person. It can be physical, spiritual, intellectual or emotional. It is not a driving force that makes us rectify the limiting factors in the person that they afflict because they don't come from us or from any other source over which we have any discretion, authority or power. Whatever good we do for the afflicted person will more than likely not restore the person to a non-afflicted state of normalcy.

Mercy on the other hand is an emotion that arises for some of the same reasons as pity except mercy makes us do something to alleviate the elements of distress that afflict the person in which they exist. We take mercy on someone when we forgive an insult, for instance. Mercy is granted to criminals when the judge either shortens or commutes the sentence. Mercy is offered to persons who have called the affliction down upon themselves and are now suffering the consequences of their own behavior.

Bartimaeous asks Jesus to take pity on him because his blindness is a consequence of a natural condition and not the result of sinful actions on his part. If he wanted to draw attention to himself as a sinner at least partially deserving to be punished through blindness, he would ask Jesus to have mercy on him, not pity.


Detroit Tigers manager and his priest brother

Re: Tigers manager and his priest brother both shepherd winning 'teams'

I wanted to tell the story of the time that Jesus went to a baseball game. He sat there and never cheered for one team or the other. When a rabid fan asked Him why, Jesus replied, "I'm enjoying the skill of these intense young men. Who wins or loses will not take away the skill with which they have been gifted." I was reminded of that when Father Leyland, Jim's brother said that he doesn't pray for one team or the other but just that the players retain their health. Good job, Father.


Thank you, Bishop Rutilio

Thank you, Wally, for the good service you provide God's people.
~ Most. Rev. Bishop Rutilio del Riego, Diocese of San Bernardino


"We must be as open as a child"

Shared by Jocelyn of Bonne Lake, WA

This picture was published in a New Orleans newspaper on Sept. 11, 2002. The following is the caption that accompanied the photo:

Amy and Andrew J. DiMaggio Jr. of LaPlace don't have to be told that their 1-year old daughter Anna Maria is special. They get a glimpse of it every day when the toddler walks out to the front yard of her house and begins an animated conversation with the Blessed Mother. "Whenever she is with us in the front yard, she will always stop playing at some point and walk up to our statue of Mary," the DiMaggio said. "In this photo, she was holding her hands up and talking to Mary in her own babble language. We hope that this picture will inspire your readers to remember the words of Jesus who said that to enter the kingdom of heaven we must be as open as a child."

We thought we should share this with our readers. Now ask yourselves this question: "What would you tell the Blesss Virgin Mary if she appeared in front of you and spoke with you?"


Is First Friday Mass an obligation?

I am just a regular parishioner who goes to church every Sunday and to other holiday obligations. But it is very rare that I attend the mass on first Friday. My question is, is it an obligation to go to this special mass, and what is the significance of it?

By the way, this magazine is wonderful. Very inspirational to everyone and has lots of good and interesting stories to share. God bless the people who made it possible. Keep up the great work.

-- Chino Hills resident

Dear Chino Hiils resident,
We asked Paul Dion, STL - ParishWorld blogger and Theology Editor - to answer your question and this is what he said. We know many like yourself will be enlightened and blessed by this reponse.

Dear Reader:

No one who is a regular reader of Parish World is “just a regular parishioner.” So, here we go.
The First Friday Mass is part of a very special popular devotion that has been around since about the 1920’s. Being a popular devotion, it is not imposed on all Catholics and the First Friday devotional Mass is therefore not obligatory.

The devotion that it supports is to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In the late 19th century a French nun by the name of Margaret Mary had visions of Jesus with his heart visible through His chest. These visions took place at the convent where she was staying at Paray-le-Monial in France. The nun was a very holy person and in fact was canonized early in the 20th century.

Along the course of the visions, the Sacred Heart made a promise that found its way into the hearts of His people around the world. Essentially is this: Anyone who attends the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and participates in the sacred banquet of holy communion for nine consecutive first Fridays will not die outside the loving kindness and presence of the Sacred Heart in the form of the sacraments of Penance, Sacrament of Healing (Anointing of the sick) and the Viaticum.

This devotion, along with its promise, received unprecedented, and very rare support from the Pope who canonized Saint Margaret Mary when he mentioned the promise of the First Fridays in his Bull (letter) announcing his intention to canonize Margaret Mary. As you can imagine, this devotion “took off” and is one of the cornerstone devotions of our Catholic prayer life to this very day.

The reason why you, and many others, wonder if attendance at Mass on First Friday is obligatory is that you hear people saying all the time, “It’s First Friday tomorrow, I have to go to Mass.”

It’s because so many people do not do the novena, that they then forget about it. But many keep doing it most of their lives. How do I know that? I am one of those “habitu├ęs.”

Here is a link that you may enjoy.

Paul Dion, STL