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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

It’s only May, and many of us are weary of the never-ending news cycles about the 2016 Presidential election.  With our primary election still several weeks away, and both major party candidates reasonably certain already, many Californians have a “why bother” attitude.  I’d like to suggest an antidote for election fatigue but first, allow me to take this opportunity to gently nudge those news-weary voters: in addition to Presidential hopefuls, other candidates are on the California Primary ballot including those running for U.S. House and Senate seats and State Senate and Assembly seats.

To vote in the June 7 Primary in California, those who aren’t registered or who have changed their name or address, or wish to select a new party affiliation, must register by May 23; for the November General Election the cutoff date for registration is Oct. 24.

Now for an antidote for election fatigue:  Practice mercy.  As important as voting is to affect our civil society, much of the hard work of being good citizens and shaping our culture for the better takes place beyond the voting booth in the ordinary experiences of our daily lives. Practicing mercy is so essential to our faith that last year Pope Francis declared an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy:

“It is my burning desire that, during this Jubilee, the Christian people may reflect on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.  It will be a way to reawaken our conscience, too often grown dull in the face of poverty…Jesus introduces us to these works of mercy in his preaching…and they will serve as the criteria upon which we will be judged…” Pope Francis, Misericordiae Vultus, 15.

To celebrate the Year of Mercy, the National Council of Catholic Women recently launched an initiative called “A Million Works of Mercy” which began on Divine Mercy Sunday (April 3) and runs until the Year of Mercy ends on Nov. 20, the Solemnity of Christ the King. During this time NCCW members will submit tallies of their works and share ideas. The goal is to record at least a million examples of living our Christian faith.

The NCCW Works of Mercy form is an excellent resource for anyone who wants to review the corporal and spiritual works of mercy to which Pope Francis has called us,  The form can be printed out in English and Spanish and contains many simple suggestions for practicing mercy.

We have a powerful impact on our culture by the way we live day by day, by simple acts of human kindness—counsel the doubtful, feed the hungry, speak up for the marginalized, spread a little sunshine wherever we go. This year we have the great privilege of voting on two days.  But every day is an opportunity to practice mercy in order to build a better world.