AN UNMERITED GIFT OF GRACE TO ENTER INTO THE DIVINE MERCY
When my parents dropped me off I said, “Turn the car around. I’m not staying here overnight.”
For the record, whenever you are about to encounter a great good, there’s always a force to pull you back into yourself. In my case whenever I’m leaping forward in the spiritual realm, the dust really kicks up. Thankfully, with time, I can see the signs of this warfare and can actually plan for it, but in my early days, I couldn’t recognize this little battle within myself. The enemy doesn’t want our growth into truth but wants to isolate us and keep us in the dark. This weekend was going to be God’s unmerited gift of grace to enter into his Divine Mercy.
Despite my mini meltdown, at seventeen my faith was exploding. My parents were dropping me off at my first overnight retreat as a high school senior and it was simple and profound. I had strong faith that drew me to the Sacraments, a rapidly blossoming prayer life and Marian devotion, but to share it so openly with others who believed was truly life changing. It made me vulnerable. It made me aware of the power of the community. The friendships that forged and the new aspects of what being the Body of Christ meant, really shaped all the days to follow. Let’s face it. If you don’t have anyone to walk with, it can be a lonely journey on the narrow road of faith, AMIRIGHT?
Thank God my parents in their goodness told me to give it a night and see. I soon forgot about the parking lot drama upon arrival as well as my parents as soon as I was immersed into a weekend retreat full of fun, the power of God, prayer, the Sacraments of the Church, and in a profound way – new friendships – the type of people who would teach, instruct and simply walk with you on your journey of faith.
Kate was my roommate on this overnight retreat and just a year ahead of me as a freshman at Merrimack College. She was part of the leadership team. I was a Framingham kid and she was a north shore girl from Malden. We were roomed together in this old convent and never slept because we stayed up all night sharing everything about ourselves. She already knew she was going to be a lawyer and I already knew I was going to work in television. We talked all night about our family lives, our faith walk, career dreams, desire for boyfriends and eventual husbands – and were amazed at the ease in which we connected and the juxtaposition of our teen selves pouring our hearts out across twin beds at this moment in time. She became a big sister in the faith to me and was very much God sent.
After our Quincy weekend, Kate and I kept up our fast forging friendship all through college and young adult life. I would borrow a car to meet her half way in Boston, Quincy or I would ride up to Malden as I was enamored with her huge Irish family and amazing brothers and sisters. I later joined the retreat team and all through college we had special continual formation weekends with amazing priests and other young adult leaders and married couples. We led weekend retreats delivering faith and sharing our testimony to high school teens from around the Archdiocese of Boston. One of these late nights sitting in her parked car talking, praying together – Kate taught me the Divine Mercy chaplet and spoke to me about this devotion. How come I never heard of this? The Divine Mercy now, and especially then, circa 1990, was a rather new devotion in the Church and though on the rise had not made a permanent fixture into parishes and dioceses until Pope John Paul became its chief herald.
Jesus appeared to a Polish nun, now saint Maria Faustina Kowalska of the Blessed Sacrament, OLM in 1931. Sister Faustina wrote in her diary that on the night of Sunday, February 22, 1931, while she was in her convent cell, Jesus appeared to her as the “King of Divine Mercy” wearing a white garment with red and pale rays emanating from his heart. Read more here.
What is the chaplet? You pray the Divine Mercy chaplet on your Rosary beads and pray the Our Father, Hail Mary and the Creed and then on the big bead “Eternal Father, I offer you the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.” And on the little beads x 10 you pray, “Have mercy on us and on the whole world.” In conclusion you pray 3 times, “Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, Have Mercy on us and on the whole world (Diary 476).” We prayed it right then and there.
Jesus said to Saint Faustina, “Unceasingly recite this chaplet that I have taught you. Whoever will recite it will receive great mercy at the hour of death..Priests will recommend it to sinners as their last hope of salvation. Even the most hardened sinner, if he recites this chaplet even once, will receive grace from My infinite mercy (687) …Oh, what great graces will I grant to souls who recite this chaplet (848)…Through the chaplet you will obtain anything, if what you ask is compatible with My will (1731).. I want the whole world to know My infinite mercy. I want to give unimaginable graces to those who trust in My mercy (687).”
Grace. Great graces. Infinite Mercy. Obtain anything. Unimaginable graces. Trust in My mercy.
The message of Divine Mercy, is truly profound and it really attracted me because of my Polish heritage. I began to read the Diary of Saint Faustina, to whom God revealed his message of mercy and study what it meant. Jesus revealed his message of mercy through a simple Polish nun and all of this recorded revelation – all approved by the Catholic Church (after scrutiny and investigation) is available in the her Diary. This blossoming devotion led us to spend time at the Western Massachusetts National Shrine of Divine Mercy in Stockbridge – a place of extraordinary grace and blessing right in our New England back yard.
Tomorrow, the first Sunday after Easter is the Sunday that the Church designates each year as Divine Mercy Sunday. Churches around the world will have celebrations and devotions in honor of the Divine Mercy, which will include the recitation of the Divine Mercy Chaplet, Eucharistic Holy Hours, the reading of excerpts from the Divine Mercy diary, veneration of the image of Divine Mercy and perhaps in some special places include veneration of the relic of Saint Faustina.
Jesus told Saint Faustina, “At three o’clock, implore my mercy, especially for sinners and if only for a brief moment, immerse yourself in My Passion, particularly in My abandonment at the moment of agony. This is the hour of great mercy. In this hour, I will refuse nothing to the soul that makes a request of Me in virtue of my Passion.” OK that right there is BOSS! Let me repeat what Jesus is saying to you and to me:
I WILL REFUSE NOTHING TO THE SOUL THAT MAKES A REQUEST OF ME IN VIRTUE OF MY PASSION.
We can immerse ourselves at 3 o’clock each day (I call it the hour of power), but on the day where we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday there are extraordinary graces and I implore you to stop everything and enter in. Even if you have never participated in this devotion, enter in for yourself, your family and the knots in your life. I promise you, you will not be the same.
What are the key elements of Divine Mercy?
- Ask Jesus for His Mercy (by prayer, repentance) and ask him to pour His mercy on us and the whole world (if you have not been to confession in a while – even years – this is important – don’t be afraid, but let God undo those knots and visit confession this weekend if you can)
- Be Merciful: God wants us to receive it and share it (share the message of mercy and share his love and forgiveness)
- Trust!! God wants us to trust in Him – the more we trust, the more He can do for us. Jesus, I trust in You!
I don’t know if I ever would have received the Divine Mercy message as soon or as profound if not in the parked car with Kate that night. Would I have answered something from a church bulletin in the same way as a teenager? Like Kate, I want to be your friend of mercy. If you have never heard of this devotion, consider this a turning point for you to enter in. If you recall this devotion and have waned, consider this a re-entry. I want to teach you how to pray this chaplet and invite you to this profound aspect of our faith that opens to us an ocean of His Mercy that is transforming for our lives and the whole world. I want to encourage you to immerse your life, your sins, your failures, your shortcomings, your longings, your sickness, your wounds, your pain, your family, your dreams and your destiny deep into His ocean of Divine Mercy. When Jesus was upon the Cross and his side was lanced, the Blood and Water poured forth as an ocean of Mercy for you and for me. This ocean of Mercy is transformative. I encourage you to stand underneath His side and receive all that he has for you. And then, go out and be a friend of mercy to someone who needs this message.
Jesus, Mercy, Jesus – we trust in You.
Praying for you, my sweet friends+