As we near the end of The Year of Mercy, many people are asking themselves if they have fully lived out the goals and ideals of this mission of mercy promoted by Pope Francis. They know it would be a shame to let this opportunity to share the mercy that God shows us with others pass us by. But finding time and inspiration to perform acts of mercy is not always easy.

That’s where Michael Manhardt comes in. He is the founder of “One Strong Family”, an L.A. based lifestyle community based on love and sacrifice. Since 2001, his group has been spreading the message of “F.A.M.I.L.Y.” – (Forget About Me I Love You) to families, teams, faith groups, schools & businesses.

Drawing on his life’s work and the Pope’s proclamation, Michael has created an ingenious, simple, fun, practical, and effect way to FULLY live out the Year of Mercy.

He calls it the “The 2016Mercy Challenge”.

“The 2016Mercy Challenge” is a direct response to Pope Francis’ proclamation of 2016 as The Year of Mercy. What it entails is simply performing 7 familiar and simple Acts of Mercy including Feeding The Hungry, Giving Drink to the Thirsty, Clothing The Naked, Welcoming The Stranger, Healing The Sick, Visiting The Prisoner, & Burying (Honoring) the Dead.

But here’s where The 2016Mercy Challenge is different. When you sign up to do the challenge, you can get 7 bracelets to wear, each one corresponding to one the acts of mercy. You pick one of the bracelets to wear, and when you perform the corresponding act of mercy, you give it to someone else so they too can perform that act of mercy.

Then you begin to wear the next bracelet until you perform that act of mercy, again giving it away, and so on, until you have completed all 7 acts, and given away all 7 bracelets. In this way, the hope is that acts of mercy can go “viral”, and spread mercy to people and a culture so in need of it.

ENTER THE RAFFLE BELOW FOR A CHANCE TO WIN A FULL SET OF 2016MERCY CHALLENGE BRACLETS!

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Michael was gracious enough to answer a few questions about the 2016Mercy Challenge. Plus, at the bottom of this page, you can enter a free raffle to win a set of 2016Mercy Challenge bracelets!

Q. What is the 2016Mercy Challenge and how does it work?

A: The 2016Mercy Challenge is a simple and fun wristband program that encourages people off all ages to perform the corporal works of mercy.

There are two styles of wristbands to choose from: Thin or Regular. Both come in different sizes, although most will fit anyone. When they arrive, you can put the black F.A.M.I.L.Y. wristband on first. It stands for, “Forget About Me I Love You”, to remind us to always be selfless and unconditional in our love for one another. Keep this bracelet on all the time!

Next, choose any one of the remaining seven wristbands. It doesn’t matter which one you start with. Each bracelet represents one of the seven corporal works of mercy! Wear it until you complete the action and then give it away to somebody else – anybody – and challenge them to go perform that work of mercy!

After completing an act, you are ready to put on your next wristband. Repeat the process until the seven bracelets are given away!

If you like to use social media, we established, #MercyInMotion to use on your social platforms.

Most people want to keep their F.A.M.I.L.Y. bracelet as a constant reminder to be more like Jesus, who was never selfish.

Q. How did the 2016Mercy Challenge get started?

A: This program started after two young, non-Christian actors from Hollywood heard about The Year of Mercy from a Catholic youth minister. Even though they were not Catholic, they were intrigued by Pope Francis and the Corporal Works and thought it was a great way to bring more love to the culture. They decided to make a video with their friends from around the world – and the Youth Minister got the wristband program going!

Q. Why is it that people, even non-Catholics, are so drawn to Pope Francis’ Year of Mercy

A: I think it has a lot to do with intrinsic love. Every human being naturally desires to love and to be loved, unconditionally. Somehow, we all naturally know that love is reflected in serving others and putting others before ourselves. It’s the Golden Rule that most people seem to agree on and understand no matter if they are religious or not. Jesus said, ‘whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me.’

I think that our non-Catholic brothers and sisters recognize a certain gift of selfless love in Pope Francis and they desire to emulate it. The concept of “a year of mercy”, gives them (and us) a practical way to respond.

Q. Are there any stories that really stand out of people showing mercy while doing the2016Mercy Challenge challenge?

A: Everyone’s stories and experiences are different, of course. The stories that get me excited are the ones that generate raw human emotions. You know, when someone goes out of their way to show love to a perfect stranger, that triggers an emotional response that is always uplifting and moving. A lot of times those actions will move people to tears. That’s always a beautiful thing. And hopefully, it encourages another person to act mercifully toward someone else as a reaction which continues like a domino effect. There are lots of those stories. But they only come about when someone decides to act first.

Q. How can people get involved?

A: Mother Teresa said, “No one can do everything but everyone can do something”. So the best way to get involved is to just start doing something!

Go to www.2016Mercy.com to watch the video that those kids made and get your wristbands. The 2016Mercy Challenge is for everyone. It’s perfect for schools, youth groups, sports teams, churches, and we even know about people who got it started at their workplace.

It doesn’t come across as an “overly religious” program so that helps those who are trying to evangelize at work or in the neighborhood. Bottom line, it’s all about spreading unconditional love. And at the end of the day, that’s really what the Year of Mercy is all about. And it’s never too late to start. Mercy never ends.

Order You 2016Mercy Challenge Bracelets Here

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