Pity at another person's sorrow or misfortune, with the desire to alleviate or, on occasion, even to suffer in the other's stead.
O Holy Virgin, in the midst of all your glory, we ask you not to forget the sorrows of this world. Cast a look of pity upon all who struggle against life's difficulties, and who cease not to feel all its bitterness. Have pity on all who have been separated from those they love. Have pity on the lonely and friendless. Pardon the weakness of our faith. have pity on those whom we love. O Holy Mother, show a mother's compassion toward the sorrowful and those who tremble under life's afflictions. Give them hope and peace.
- Be compassionate. When you spot faults in others, show courteous sympathy. It is both a test and a proof of your love that you can observe such faults without experiencing shock. Others will have an opprtunity to bear with your faults, many of which you might not recognize yourself. Pray for anyone who has a vice and try to practice its oppsite virtue. Your actions will teach others far better than your words and suffering... Look for good in others. Don't forget this. One person's love can help others. If you brecome angry and speak hastily, correct yourself immediately and pray resolutely. This also applies to grudges you may have or your desire to be the greatest. Understand that you have driven your [God] from His home. Cry out to Christ and correct yourself. - St Teresa of Avila.
- She stood in silence, smoldering in anger at the smug self-assuredness of her accusers. She knew in her heart why she had committed such an act. Surrounded with hypocrites, she was angry with the world, and she was angry with God. She was fed up with the misery she had to endure and wanted some excitement, some satisfaction, some sense of something for herself. Still, she felt a strange curiosity about that man squatting on the ground in front of her. “What is he going to do?” she wondered. She cast quick glances at him, yet she never caught him looking at her... She waited for what seemed like an eternity. People were shaking their heads and walking away, muttering to themselves. She looked at him. He didn’t look at her. He just scratched in the dust with his finger. Then, with a mysterious calmness, he looked up and asked her a question. She shrugged and shook her head, almost whispering, “No. No one sir.” For the first time she felt him looking at her—not just at her, but into her. His next words stunned and confused her. “Neither do I condemn you.” Her heart quivered as it tried to comprehend what was happening... But: He had something else to say. “Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.”
- Many people try to make it seem that compassion amounts to a broad-minded acceptance of anything. But that misses the point. Jesus came to us to save us from our sins. His mission was not to condone sin and pretend it didn’t exist. His mission was to show us how much we do sin, how much our sin hurts us, how much it hurts others, and how much we will lose if we persist in it. His mission was a mission of compassion: to call us away from sin and into holiness... Christians must always affirm the truth about sin, but also in a tangible way must communicate the peace, healing, and mercy of Christ.
- When I see the crosses and sufferings others have to bear, I can only wonder why my own cross seems so relatively light. Yet inevitably we all must confront the reality of human suffering... We can read all we want, and pain is still a problem and suffering often does not make a whole lot of sense without the supernatural vision of faith. Suffering is a mystery that we’ll never fully understand in this life... When we are alive in Christ, every aspect of our life-including suffering-is invested with meaning and salvific potential... Our life in Christ enables us to suffer for the sake of the Church, but it also enables us to enter into others’ suffering. This is known as the virtue of compassion, which empowers us to suffer with and for others... [On the other hand] St. Augustine, in his Confessions, written in the early 5th century, discussed the fraternal compassion we owe to others and advised that we should prefer to find nothing in them that would elicit our compassion.
- Yet, we must recognize the many counterfeit versions of compassion today. For example, what some might call compassion is really only pity. True compassion involves entering into another’s pain. It involves self-sacrificing love and supernatural hope. Pity despises the suffering, but doesn’t offer real consolation to the one who suffers. He or she rightly insists “I don’t need your pity.” Pity is a cut above “pitilessness” or a failure to even recognize another’s suffering, but it’s not compassion.
- Secular society sees no value in suffering and strives to eliminate it. Remember Our Lord’s rebuke of Peter when he suggested that Christ forgo His Passion (cf. Mt. 16:21-23). Not only is such an approach futile, but also manifests a refusal to share another’s pain. And of course if suffering has no value, then the door is open to euthanasia, eugenic abortion, and a host of other evils. When it comes down to it, our society tends toward self, and doesn’t want to be bothered with others’ suffering.
- Many of us who uphold the Church’s teachings, especially in questions of morals, have been told we’re not compassionate. How dare we tell couples they shouldn’t live together before marriage, or that they shouldn’t contracept, let alone abort their children once they’re married? How dare we tell those with same-sex attractions to avoid acting upon these urges? How dare we bring up uncomfortable truths on a whole range of issues, from capital punishment and just wars to honesty, the rights of workers, and the Sunday obligation? In other words, for many, truth is a hindrance to their conception of compassion and love. Such compassion is really, as Don DeMarco wisely notes, a code word for “expediency.”... You now hear teachers and priests—as well as television, movies, music, video games, magazines, and newspapers—telling you, “Go ahead. If it feels good, do it. You have our permission.”... They even insinuate that there must be something wrong with you if you do not comply.
- Christians frequently manifest compassion through the spiritual and corporal works of mercy, such as feeding the hungry and visiting the sick or lonely... For ourselves, let us pray for growth in meekness, which empowers us to act virtuously and nobly in the midst of suffering. Suffering is not a curse, but God’s way of getting our attention, of drawing us to a greater good. Nothing in our lives is accidental or a waste. Every circumstance of our lives, especially moments of pain and sorrow, provides an opportunity for thanks, as the Lord is preparing us for His eternal kingdom.