Skip to comments.The Message of Divine Mercy
Posted on 04/25/2003 1:35:35 AM PDT by nickcarraway
On April 30, 2000, the Holy Father canonized St Faustina Kowalska, who was a Polish nun and mystic. Throughout her life, St Faustina received many private revelations from Our Lord, which, in obedience to her spiritual director, she recorded in her now famous Diary.
St Faustina is known throughout the world as the "Apostle of The Divine Mercy," for that was what she wrote about in her Diary, devotion to Our Blessed Lord's divine mercy.
The Divine Mercy Devotion is simply an extension, a modern day manifestation of the traditional devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Divine Mercy Devotion has become so widespread throughout the Universal Church since it began in the 1930s that five days after the canonization of St Faustina, the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship decreed that the Second Sunday of Easter would henceforth receive the name Divine Mercy Sunday.
This is "a perennial invitation to the Christian world to face, with confidence in divine benevolence, the difficulties and trials that humankind will experience in the years to come."
We need only turn on our television or read the newspapers about the war and its aftermath in Iraq and here in the United States to see that those "difficulties and trials" are upon us; and, hence, we are in great need of Divine Mercy.
There is, of course, nothing new in this message, as the Church has constantly taught through her Sacred Scriptures and her Sacred Tradition that God is infinitely merciful and that He desires us to be merciful and forgiving, also. This devotion stresses the fact that God's love is extended to everyone and that His mercy is available to everyone, even the greatest sinner.
The difference, however, between God's love and His mercy is that His love is unconditional, but His mercy is not. God loves us all, no matter how wretched our sinfulness; He loves every one of His creatures with a love beyond all telling, and He places no conditions upon that love, for God is Love. For God not to love is for Him not to be God.
But God's mercy, while it is infinite, while it can forgive any sin, God's mercy is predicated upon our contrition. That is the one condition for obtaining God's mercy: true repentance, true contrition in our hearts, a desire to stop sinning and turn back to the Lord. If we make a sincere effort back in that direction, then our loving Father's mercy is always there waiting for us.
Now, we're talking about an honest effort to detach ourselves from sin. That does not mean that we shall never sin again. But it also does not mean that we resign ourselves to failure. Instead, we trust in God's grace, in His love and mercy and we pick ourselves up every time we fall to a temptation. That's why He left us that beautiful sacrament of Confession.
As the great Italian poet, Dante Aleghieri, reminded us, Inferno is not filled with sinners; it's filled with unrepentant sinners. Paradiso is not filled with people who never sinned. It's filled with sinners who repented of their sins and sought God's forgiveness.
Compassion and Conversion
Perhaps the message of divine mercy has always been needed in the Church, but it is definitely needed at this point in human history, for the world is quickly losing its sense of personal sin. We hear often about social sins, such as racism, sexism, and intolerance. Although intolerance is not really a sin. It depends upon what the object of our intolerance is. It's certainly not a sin to be intolerant of racism and sexism and murder and rape.
In fact, tolerance, while extolled by the secular world, is not really much of a virtue. For the object of tolerance is always evil. When we say that we tolerate something, we are acknowledging that the thing we tolerate is something evil. If it were something good, then we should not tolerate it but love it. There are evils that we should hate, and there are evils that we can tolerate, but we never love evil. However, we do love the good, we do not tolerate it. We all know this intuitively because no mother wants to hear her child say, "Mommy, I tolerate you." No spouse wants to hear, "Honey, I tolerate you." No child wants to hear, "Son, I tolerate you."
We desire to hear, "I love you." Toleration has its place and its purpose, but it's not the ultimate virtue that the secular world would have us believe it is. Love is the true virtue, because God is Love and the object of our love is always the good. It is because God loves us that He extends to us His divine mercy. It's not because He tolerates us.
And yet, it's been society's misguided sense of tolerance that has caused us to lose our sense of personal sin. It's been in the name of tolerance that we've rationalized our way into loving the sin along with the sinner. But without that sense of personal sin, without that personal confession that I am a sinner and these are my sins, there is no true contrition, no conversion of heart, no firm purpose of amendment, and, hence, no mercy.
Therefore, we are being neither loving nor compassionate when, in the name of tolerance, we neglect to challenge our brethren to conversion. Our Blessed Lord always coupled compassion with a call to conversion: "And Jesus said [to the adulterous woman], 'Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again'" (Jn 8:11).
Compassion and conversion together make the full Gospel message. Together they lead to God's Divine Mercy. Alone, each is only half a truth, which is to say a lie; and that's an evil that we should never tolerate!
Another way to look at it is to remember that mercy is never merited. By it's very definition, we do not deserve God's mercy. We do not have a right to it. We do not have a right to Heaven. If we had a right to it, then we should receive it out of justice, not mercy. But mercy, by its very definition, is a gift that God gives to us, a gift that we do not deserve.
As soon as we start to believe that we deserve God's mercy, that we have a right to it, that we have a right to Heaven, we've at once lost our purpose of amendment; and, hence, rejected His gift of mercy. Conversion from the Latin "convertere" meaning "to turn around" conversion of heart is our turning back around to face God again so that we can accept the gift of mercy that He is offering us. Turning around means turning away from sin, which means acknowledging and rejecting sin in our life, not rationalizing it.
"It's just an alternative lifestyle."
"That's not practical, it's unrealistic."
"Everybody does it."
That's not conversion, that's rationalization.
The message of Divine Mercy is best remembered by calling to mind ABC:
St Augustine said, "God Who made you without you, will not save you without you." We did not participate in our creation, but we do participate in our salvation.
We participate by avoiding sin and imploring God's mercy.
God made us free, hence, He will not force anything upon us, not even His mercy. By asking for His mercy, we are at the same time rejecting sin, which is the one condition for receiving His mercy. So, we begin by asking every day for His mercy.
But that mercy is intended to flow through us to others. "Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful" (Lk 6:36). "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."
The easiest way for us to be merciful is to practice the traditional Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, visit the imprisoned, and bury the dead; instruct the ignorant, counsel the doubtful, admonish the sinner, comfort the sorrowful, forgive injuries, bear wrongs patiently, and pray for the living and the dead.
And, finally, the vessel with which we drink from the fountain of God's mercy is our complete trust in Him. The Divine Mercy image that our Blessed Lord commissioned St Faustina to have painted bears the signature, "Jesus, I trust in You." That complete trust is our ability to let God be God. Pride was the sin of Satan and it was the sin of Adam. It's the root of all sin and what prevents us from completely trusting in God. But the more we place our trust in God and not in man, in His will and not in our own will, the more we're able to drink from His ocean of mercy. It is most especially during our moments of suffering that our complete trust in Jesus allows us to find peace in His mercy: "Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven."
Ask for His mercy. Be merciful. Completely trust in Jesus on this upcoming Divine Mercy Sunday and every day of your life.
(Fr Augustine H.T. Tran attended seminary at the North American College in Rome, Italy and was ordained to the priesthood in 1998. He serves in the Archdiocese of Atlanta, and is currently in residence at St. John Catholic Church in McLean, Virginia, while he completes a Canon Law Degree at Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. He may be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com.)
Editor's Note: Divine Mercy Sunday is this Sunday, April 27. Click here to find out how you can more fully participate in this great devotion.
Dear St. Faustina, I have come to know you as a friend. I ask you to plead to the Lord for me the prayer I ask of you. In times of doubt, dear friend, implore the Lord's Mercy as you did so often here on earth, that I may remember who I am, and to what His mercy has called me.
In times of fear, implore His Mercy that I may ever remember to trust, and trust again, in joy, and in the knowledge that God is preparing me for a beautiful mission.
Please pray dear St. Faustina, that I may never forget that the abyss between my Lord and I has been bridged by His tender mercy. He will continue to be faithful and heal me of anything which stands in the way of His Will. My life is in His Hands.
Thank you dear friend. Pray with me the prayer Our Lord taught you to spread throughout the world; Jesus, I trust in You! Remind all pilgrims of life that if our trust is great, there is no limit to Jesus' generosity.
The Marians of the Immaculate Conception are in the beginning stages of producing a film on the life of Saint Faustina. For more information and a short video about the project click here.
In fact, tolerance, while extolled by the secular world, is not really much of a virtue. For the object of tolerance is always evil. When we say that we tolerate something, we are acknowledging that the thing we tolerate is something evil.
This statement caught my eye. Same could be said about that other secular PC "virtue" of discrimination. Being a discriminate person used to be a virtue, even in the secular world. As in a person on correct discernment. "Why, he's a handsome caught with discriminating tastes!"
Oh well, guess it got lumped into the "social sin" category held among many today.
First post since Easter, must be all the chocolate (or meat). Corrections below.
As in a person of correct discernment. "Why, he's a handsome catch with discriminating tastes!"
Why is it that saints often die so young?