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Tell All Souls About My Mercy

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The Day the Music Died

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By Mike Tovrea

Some years ago, before I was married, I had been living in an apartment house, spending my afternoons involved in lay ministry in the local Catholic church, either delivering food to the poor, teaching religious education, or serving as a lector and Eucharistic minister.

I was a night person, and my nights were given to bringing blankets, coats, and food to homeless men who were sleeping beneath a bridge in the lower end of downtown Denver. I stayed up all night with my work and attempted to sleep during the days.

The biggest problem I had living in this manner was an upstairs neighbor in my apartment building, who either played her stereo at an unbearably loud volume right over my head or played an electric guitar at high volume when I was attempting to sleep.

The ceilings in our building were paper thin, and you could hear a neighbor coughing, so you can image what loud music sounded like. I complained to my manager that the music upstairs was preventing me from sleeping, although I never shared with him what it was that I did that caused me to be out all night.

Unaware of my nighttime activities, he became suspicious. The more I com- plained, the louder my neighbor turned up the volume. This war went on until one day, a Denver TV station broadcast a story about my work with the homeless. Our apartment manager saw the story.

He told me that he often wondered what it was I did at night, but wanting to mind his own business, he did not ask. He gave me high praise for my ministry of mercy and told me to keep going out at night.

After that, the music upstairs stopped abruptly. He took care of the problem.

That incident in my life reminded me of just how tender God's mercy is toward His children. It made me see that when everything else in our lives fails to uphold us, His tender mercy will do so.

I am a regular participant in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and every time I attend this Sacrament, I am deeply aware of God's tender mercy. When I have fallen into sin, confession allows me to become profoundly aware of God's love for repentant sinners. I understand the meaning of St. Faustina in her Diary, "The greater the sinner, the greater his right to God's mercy" (423).

I become deeply aware of how faithful God is to forgive my sins through the priest who stands in His stead and pronounces Christ's forgiveness on me. I am also deeply aware of God's mercy when I reflect on how God invariably blesses me with far less suffering than my sins truly deserve and far more consolation than any good I have been able to accomplish.

The day the music finally quieted down, I was able to sleep in His love.

Mike Tovrea lives with his wife in Denver, Colo.

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