As human beings, wounded by original sin, we are subject to error and to sin.  But, called by grace and attracted by mercy, we strive to move beyond whatever there is of sin and error in our lives.   Paradoxically, we can make progress through sinning.   By humbly acknowledging our failures, by turning to God and imploring his mercy, we grow spiritually.  God allows us to see the abysmal depths of sin in order to reveal the deeper abyss of his mercy.

It is through the experience of error that we advance to the truth.  Paradoxically, it is through failures that we succeed.  Having done wrong we learn to do right.

Consciousness of our sinfulness can lead to profound discouragement, even to despair.  But the experience of failure can also be turned to our benefit.  Juliana of Norwich suggested we regard our failings and humiliations as penances, as penances tailor-made for us and more effective than ones we choose for ourselves.

Rather than being depressed by our failures we need to remember God’s mercy.  In prayer we can open ourselves to God’s mercy and ask to be delivered from obsession with our failures.  Love alone is brave enough to believe in the mercy of God.  We can experience ourselves surrounded by an all-encompassing love.  More valuable than all the striving we may undertake to perfect ourselves is an inner attitude of receptivity to God’s mercy.  Deep security and comfort result from committing oneself to God’s mercy.

It is God’s merciful love that allows us to accept ourselves with our limitations without allowing them to overwhelm us.  We begin to shift focus from our failures to God’s mercy and we are gently lead to understand that our failings do not inhibit mercy but rather summon its healing power.

According to John Paul II, “Mercy is the indispensable dimension of love; it is, as it were, love’s second name.”  (Dives in Misericordia)  To remember God’s mercy is to remember our God is a loving God; that love is not one of God’s attributes but is his very essence.
Mercy does not abrogate God’s justice.   Mercy is justice tempered by love.  It includes compassion and forgiveness.  Mercy is the generosity of goodness when confronted with misery.  If we do not know and acknowledge our own misery, we cannot know and glorify the mercy of God.  Humility is the glad recognition of God’s mercy.