Book Access - "Mercy" Ch. 15 of "Virtue Stands in the Middle" Dr. Gustafson

Chapter 15

Dr. Christopher Gustafson, STD is a Catholic theologian in the United States. GPQ did an interview with him in January of 2022 on his upcoming book, Virtue Stands in the Middle, which you can access  here. More recently, GPQ talked with Dr. Gustafson regarding the virtue of digital temperance, which is available here. Dr. Gustafson has graciously offered to share parts of his upcoming book on virtue. The work not only delves in Catholic tradition and teaching on virtue and vice, but offers access to many images of the symbolism and iconographic tradition of the Seven Lady Virtues. Below is access to chapter fifteen. 

Definition: Mercy is heartfelt sympathy for another’s distress, impelling one to help if possible. The terms compassion and pity are nearly synonyms with mercy. With all three terms, one’s heart goes out to another in distress. But mercy goes further as it desires to relieve the suffering if possible. Jesus speaks directly to this virtue in the Beatitudes: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7). The virtue of mercy is closely associated with the virtue of charity. In fact, in his encyclical on the mercy of God, Dives in Misericordia (1980), Pope St. John Paul the Great remarks how “mercy is love’s second name”: For mercy is an indispensable dimension of love; it is as it were love’s second name and, at the same time, the specific manner in which love is revealed and effected vis-a-vis the reality of the evil that is in the world, affecting and besieging man, insinuating itself even into his heart and capable of causing him to “perish in Gehenna” (Matthew 10:28) (n. 7). As a result of mercy’s close connection with charity, mercy’s standing as a virtue is often forgotten. But St. Thomas lists it as a distinct virtue. In support of this, he quotes St. Augustine who references Cicero’s praise of Caesar: “Of all thy virtues none is more marvelous or more graceful than thy mercy.”