T R U E L I F E I N G O D 46 Receiving The Mercy Of God Experiencing the mercy - Psalm 103 proclaims the Mercy that God is, and His Infinite Compassion to- wards the human race and all creation: to ‘those who fear Him’. The present age, however, has a difficulty: the word ‘mercy’ is not in our consciousness, nor in our regular vocabulary.The word is so seldom used that it carries overtones of being ‘soft’: weak in discernment. Yet the mercy of God remains real for those ‘who fear Him.’ With that being so, perhaps the truth is that generally we have lost our sense of ‘the fear of God’. Have we indeed lost that awareness of His holiness and the call to His creatures to be holy as He is holy? ‘ I come out of My Infinite Mercy to re- mind you that I am Holy and that you ought to be living holy;’ (True Life In God Messages, November 29, 1989) We hear of ‘mercy’often when reciting the psalms, and know it as something taught to us about God. But to understand mercy in truth, we need to experience it and have its reality directing our lives, not simply to know about it. To do that, we need to speak of purification. By Fr. Peter Yates The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always accuse, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His steadfast love to those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far he removes our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion for his children, so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him. (Psalm 103:8-13 NRSV) I will descend though before this to purify you, I will purify you as gold is purified in fire, all impurities will be consumed in this Fire; I will have to do all these things, to wash away all this impurity that covers this earth like a curse ; (True Life In God Mes- sages, November 10, 1988) In her writings on Purgatory 1 , St. Catherine of Genoa writes that purgatory begins the moment we see God. ( Saint Catherine of Genoa, Treatise on Purgatory-The Dialogue) Seeing God, experiencing His holiness, has the effect of real and deep purification. The reason for this is that we see our sins, not with our own eyes (the way we have seen them all our life, informed by our conscience), but rather in the light of God: as God Himself sees them. It is through such experience that we begin for the first time to grasp what the Mercy of God truly is. When that occurs, the result is a profound repen- tance. We weep real tears. We cast ourselves down as an abomination in the sight of God: as hideous, ‘wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked’ (Revelation 1 Purgatory is not ‘a place’, but a spiritual state, one of purification i.e. of being purified by God.