Mercies are better in the plural

Let’s not risk a mercy shortage. Especially in this Jubilee Year of Mercy, I vote that we multiply the word and amplify its meaning so as to immerse ourselves in it.
As I pondered the word one day, I looked it up in the index of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Would you believe the book mentions mercy only twice? At least that was the number of entries in the index of my admittedly old edition of the 1994 catechism. Fortunately, the index of the online edition has been updated to point to 12 references.
Fortunate because it’s a more accurate reflection of the catechism’s contents–and better because this update may reflect the fact that, thanks to St. Pope John Paul II, St. Faustina, Pope Francis, and others, the Church over time has become more mercy-conscious.
Now I recommend just one more improvement in the handling of this beautiful word. My online research also turned up an apparent neglect of the very interesting plural form of the word–namely, mercies. The singular form can often be applied to a single “act of mercy” that we human beings can perform, even as it can refer to a defining character trait of our loving, forgiving God.
I’d like to raise our consciousness of that even more compelling, beautiful word, “mercies.” It seems to me that dictionaries too often suffice it to say this word is simply the plural of mercy. But I think “mercies” can take us into an even richer time of reflection, focusing us on the graces bestowed and actions taken, so consistently and generously, by our Lord in our lives. It evokes a story of supernatural abundance, patience, and loyalty, causing us to be especially thankful.
My favorite use of the word “mercies” is found in that wonderful hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” We sing that, morning after morning after morning, we see new mercies and graces that prove God’s ongoing involvement in our lives–His love as an action word.
My edition of the Catechism of the Catholic Church had no index entry for “mercies,” and the online search I used at the USCCB site made no distinctions when I asked for “mercies” instead of “mercy.” Alas, the Bishops’ Bible site did not even use “mercies” in the Lamentations 3:22 passage which served as a basis for “Great is Thy Faithfulness.”
So maybe “mercy” and “mercies” constitute a distinction without a difference. But please keep praying for this year to be a jubilee of multiple mercies–an ongoing, interactive flow of mercies shown by the Lord and by us under the inspiration of the Divine Mercy, and indeed a flow that will continue after this formal year is over. Let’s enjoy that sense of abundance and real encounters in countless lives, a mandate not limited to checklists of specific “acts of mercy.” Rather let’s focus on a compassionate heart which continues beating, breaking, and blessing–acting in love constantly. It’s something we can remember and rediscover alwys … because His mercies endure forever.

About Bill Schmitt is the home for Bill Schmitt's blog and biographical information. This blog, initiated during Bill's nearly 14 years as a communications professional at Notre Dame, expresses Bill's opinions alone. Go to "About Bill Schmitt" and "I Link, Therefore I Am" to see samples of multimedia content I'm producing now and have produced during my journalism career and my marketing communications career. Like me at, follow me on Twitter @wschmitt, and meet "bill schmitt" on LinkedIn.
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