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Mercy Word of the Week


The Mercy Word of the Week

As we progress through the Jubilee Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis, University Ministry offers our community a "Mercy Word of the Week" to help us focus on the themes of mercy that are already so closely aligned to our mission and heritage as an institution sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy.

The first Monday of each month will bring a brief reflection on each of the University's Core Values as expressions of our Mercy charism. We hope these focused thoughts will lead to your own considered contemplation on mercy and its role in your life.

Leaven: Our modern world has mostly lost touch with the metaphoric meaning of "leave." Not too long ago, people used leaven frequently in their homes. When my son was five, I suggested the tow of us bake bread while mom and big sisters were away for the evening. That’s when I learned about leaven. Leaven is not a "fast-food" item because there's nothing fast about leaven. You knead it into dough and then you wait, then you knead some more, wait some more. My son was long asleep before the loaf we worked on from 8 p.m. till 4 a.m. entered the oven. That's what happens when you read break baking directions one sentence at a time.

But I learned a lesson: we're in for the long-haul. As teachers, parents or people working on our own characters, we have to understand leaven. The input we offer, the lessons we teach are like leaven kneaded into a loaf of bread. It requires planning and effort. Kneading dough was harder than I imagined; the dough seemed to resist the pushing and prodding and pounding I was giving it.

And it took more time than I imagined, not to mention faith: covered by a towel, the dough hides in a bowl as the yeast works its magic. When you stare, you see nothing, but after some time, results are visible.

"Leaven" is a good Lenten word because Lent is a time when we can allow ourselves to be kneaded and pushed and prodded. Like dough, we will resist the pounding we have to take to make us really grow. But if we commit for the long-term, results will come. Don't stare; you won't see it. But in time, the loaf will be ready for the transforming fire that will turn it into bread.

Graziano Marcheschi, vice president of University Mission and Ministry