In Layman's Terms - Bob Sullivan

Divine Mercy

“This is the Time of Mercy.”

If you are not highly familiar with that statement, look into the work of Father Michael Gaitley MIC. Read his books, listen to his talks, watch his videos and attend his events. He is a great resource on the Gospel’s message of mercy.

Vinny Flynn also has excellent books and talks on Divine Mercy. From these and other sources, you will learn of an abundance of grace. To pique your interest, here are 10 things to know about Divine Mercy:

1. God desires mercy, not sacrifice. (Matthew 9:13) Father Raniero Cantalamessa (the Pontifical Household preacher since 1980) says this verse tells us that God wants “to be merciful, not to condemn. Its biblical equivalent is found in Ezekiel [18:23: ‘Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked… rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?’] God does not want to ‘sacrifice’ his creature but to save him.”

2. There have been times in the history of the Church in which the faithful seemed totally ignorant of God’s mercy. This is most thoroughly demonstrated in Jansenism, a heresy in the 1600s and 1700s. Jansenism painted God as harsh and unforgiving. A hallmark of Jansenism was the belief that it was almost impossible for a person to be holy enough to receive the Eucharist. In Europe, some religious women resisted receiving their first Communion until it was administered during their last rites on their deathbed. Divine Mercy is a powerful antidote to the callous, cold and rigorous Jansenism.

3. St. Faustina was a meek and uneducated Polish nun, who experienced visions, revelations and other consolations which led to the Divine Mercy Image and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Like many mystics and great saints of the faith, she experienced significant criticism and persecution during her life and even after her death.

4. The Divine Mercy Image was largely lost and forgotten during WWII and the Communist occupation of Eastern Europe following WWII. Only through a few faithful Catholics and what many would describe as divine intervention, was it eventually rediscovered and placed back in a Catholic Church in 2005. The original image is now in the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Vilnius, Lithuania.

5. St. Faustina recorded all of her visions and consolations in a diary, “The Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska: Divine Mercy in My Soul.”

After writing the first portion of her diary under the spiritual direction of her confessor, Father Michael Sopocko, he left for a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. While Father Sopocko was gone, St. Faustina was visited by an angel in very bright clothing. The angel told St. Faustina to burn her diary and she complied.

When Father Sopocko returned and asked to look at the progress in her diary, she informed him of the angel’s visit. At that moment, she realized it wasn’t an angel, it was Satan (an illustration of the importance of having a spiritual advisor). She then rewrote and eventually completed her diary.

6. St. Faustina passed away on October 5, 1938. At the time of her death, she had been warning her fellow sisters that a terrible war was about to consume Europe. Almost exactly one year after her death the Nazis invaded Poland.

7. Shortly after St. Faustina’s death, people in Poland began praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. The devotion to Divine Mercy spread throughout Europe and to numerous other countries (including the United States) until 1959, when the devotion was suppressed by the Church. The suppression was due to the fact that the poorly educated nun’s diary was full of grammatical errors, making it difficult to read in Polish.

On top of this, in order for the theological review necessary for Church approval, the diary had to be translated from Polish to Italian. The translation was very difficult and also contained additional errors. Therefore, when the translation was reviewed, it was determined to be inconsistent with Church teachings.

8. St. Pope John Paul II, the Archbishop of Krakow, was elected pope in 1978. Being from Poland, he was familiar with the Divine Mercy Image and Chaplet, and as the Archbishop of Krakow, had asked that the matter undergo a new analysis. This time, people were more careful about translating the original diary. The review determined that there was no doctrinal error in the diary and the suppression was lifted in 1978.

9. St. Faustina was canonized on April 30, 2000. She was the first saint canonized in the new millennium.

St. John Paul II also declared that the first Sunday of Easter is to be called Divine Mercy Sunday. Catholics receive special graces by receiving Holy Communion on Divine Mercy Sunday, while in a state of grace, and with trust in The Divine Mercy. There is also a plenary and a partial indulgence attached to Divine Mercy Sunday.

10. The Divine Mercy Novena began on Good Friday and concludes on Divine Mercy Sunday. It is one of the most beautifully written novenas we have, as it conveys God’s merciful love for each of us.

Finally, the graces we receive through Divine Mercy enable us to be more merciful with others as well. You can think of mercy like an inverted “T." We receive Mercy from Christ’s Passion and Resurrection, then we are merciful on our brother and sisters while receiving mercy from others as well. Vinny Flynn describes this as “loving backwards.”

In St. Faustina’s Diary, Jesus tells her, “The greater the sinner, the greater the right he has to My mercy.”

This is the message for our troubled times.

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