Read the article ‘Top secret mission of mercy’ and answer the following questions. Then share your answers in pairs, small groups or in a classroom discussion.
1. After reading ‘Top secret mission of mercy’, which operation do you think was the most merciful? How do you think Dinelle measured success in her mercy operations?
2. In operation one, Dinelle offers Jane a compliment. Compliments aren’t really a part of Catholic Social Teaching, but why do you think offering someone a compliment could be an act of mercy?
3. When displaying acts of mercy, why is it important to consider being kind or helping others - especially those who are going through a difficult time?
4. Why should we share what we have (even our yummy cupcakes) with others?
5. In operation four, Dinelle takes on a task for Jane so that she can pick up her siblings. Many of the operations show how Dinelle is paying attention to the needs of Jane. Why is being aware of others needs an important part of our faith and showing mercy to others?
6. In the last operation, Dinelle makes a big sacrifice to help Jane. Dinelle gives her space in an upcoming public speaking competition to Jane. That’s pretty generous! To make your friend smile or brighten their day, would you give up something that meant so much to you? When have you sacrificed something important to you for someone else?
1. Your mission of mercy: For five days, each student should complete one act of mercy each day for someone who needs cheering up or a bit of help. After each act they should follow the template of Dinelle Hettiarachchi’s ‘Top secret mission of mercy’ and record the name of the operation, a summary of events, the person receiving the act of mercy’s reaction and if the operation was successful or not.
(If students would feel more comfortable, names can be changed to keep acts of mercy anonymous.)
After the five days are complete, students can present their top secret mercy mission notes to the class.
2. Song meditation: Teachers play the song ‘St Theresa’s Prayer’ by John Michael Talbot as your students quietly listen to the words. After the song is finished, teachers can lead a classroom discussion on the ways we are Christ’s hands, feet and eyes. Ask students: where do you see this in the world around them? Where do you see people carry God's love and mercy to others in your family, friends, priest, religious, teachers, classmates and in yourself?
Students can then write a reflection on their experience of this song meditation.
For younger students
Read the story to your students and ask them what they think of Dinelle’s mercy operations. Talk with your students about what acts are considered merciful and how they can share God’s love with others through their acts of mercy.
Teachers can then pass out a white piece of paper to the class and instruct the students to trace their hand on this piece of paper. In the middle of the hand, students can write the word ‘mercy’. Then they can decorate their hand with words or symbols that represent mercy.
When the class is finished, teachers can hang up the class's ‘mercy hands’ as a reminder of what we can do to share God’s mercy.
For further learning
1. The title ‘Top secret mission of mercy’ implies our mercy missions should not be promoted like diplomas on a wall. The Gospel verse Matthew 6:4 sums it up perfectly, ‘But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.’ What do you think of keeping our acts of mercy a secret?
2. What does the Catholic Church teach us about promoting our good deeds? What does the world teach us about keeping good deeds secret? What are the similarities and difference in these two views?
3. Why did Jesus teach us to keep our good deeds to ourselves? Why does the world teach us to promote ourselves and our good deeds?
4. Imagine you are kind to another person in need of help, support or a encouraging word.
a. Then imagine you tell all your friends and family what you did. How does this feel? What do you think your friends and family would think? What about the person you helped?
b. Now imagine you don’t tell anyone. How do you feel now? How do you think the person you helped would respond to you not telling anyone about your act of kindness?
c. Which action felt genuine? Which felt disingenuous? Why?
5. After answering the above questions, has your understanding of what should be the motivation behind acts of mercy changed? Explain.