Sunday, April 27, 2014

Mercy Me! An Introduction to Divine Mercy

Divine Mercy Apostolate
By Kristen M. Soley
Many faithful Christians have never heard the name of St. Faustina Kowalska nor have they heard the message of Divine Mercy.   The goal is that after reading this, the reader will have a better understanding of Divine Mercy and the role St. Faustina played in its devotion.

Who is St. Faustina

Born in Poland in 1905, Helena Kowalska was called to consecrated life and joined The Sisters of Our Lady in Warsaw, where she took the name Sister Faustina Kowalska in 1925.  Jesus chose Sister Faustina to be the secretary of His message of Divine Mercy.   
Jesus revealed to Sister Faustina, “You are a witness to My Mercy.  You shall stand before My throne forever as a living witness to My mercy” (Diary 417). Jesus communicated His desire for the Feast of Divine Mercy to be celebrated the first Sunday after Easter; now called Divine Mercy Sunday.

As documented in Sister Faustina’s diary, Jesus told her, “You are not living for yourself but for souls, and other souls will profit from your sufferings.  Your prolonged suffering will give them the light and strength to accept my will.” 1
In 1932, Jesus gave Sister Faustina the following prayer, “O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fount of Mercy for us, I trust in You.” (Diary 186-87)  Jesus said, “I desire that you know more profoundly the love that burns in My Heart for souls, and you will understand this when you meditate upon My Passion.  Call upon My mercy on behalf of sinners; I desire their salvation.  When you say this prayer, with a contrite heart and with faith on behalf of some sinner, I will give him the grace of conversion. “ (Diary 186 – 187)

What is Divine Mercy? 
In Summary, Divine Mercy can be broken down into the following points:
  • We are called to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect. (MT 5:48 NASB)
  • Though called to perfection, we are human; we fall, and thus fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23 NASB)
  • Jesus’ mercy is greater than our sins and those of the entire world. (Diary 1485)
  • Jesus’ mercy “unites the creature with the Creator” (Diary 181)
The message of Divine Mercy holds such promise; it provides hope and can sustain us on our journey back to Him in an eternal family. 

Yes, we are called to be perfect, as our heavenly Father is perfect (MT 5:48 NASB), but on our journey to Him, in our humanity, we will fall; “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23 NASB)   
Fortunately, we need not lose hope; Jesus is “love and mercy itself (Diary 1074) and the promise of Divine Mercy epitomizes love itself.  Jesus teaches us, through St. Faustina, “Let the greatest sinners place their trust in My mercy. They have the right before others to trust in the abyss of My mercy… before I come as a just judge, I first open wide the door of My mercy…” (1146).

With the hope in the message of Divine Mercy, we need not fall into despair; we have nothing to fear.   Jesus knows our nature, He gave us free will.  It is true that our sin displeases and hurts Him.  Fortunately, He is not only just, He is merciful.  He assures us, “My mercy is greater than your sins and those of the entire world” (Diary 1485).  I have opened my Heart as a living fountain of mercy. Let all souls draw life from it.  Let them approach this sea of mercy with great trust. Sinners will attain justification, and the just will be confirmed in good. (Diary 1520)
Conversely, trust in Jesus’ mercy does not give us license to be flaccid in our spiritual life.  We are constantly, with God’s grace, to work to overcome sin, evaluate our faults and cooperate with God’s grace to overcome them.  However, even when cooperating with God’s grace, we can expect to fall.   We have free will, and the human condition is prone to sin. 

If we ask, He will forgive us if we run to him for forgiveness.   Jesus assures us, when we go to Him for forgiveness (confession), “ to this fountain of My mercy, the Blood and Water which came forth from My heart always flows down upon your soul and ennobles it. Every time you go to confession, immerse yourself entirely in My mercy, with great trust, so that I may pour the bounty of My grace upon your soul. When you approach the confessional, know this, that I Myself am waiting there for you. (Diary 1602)

Thus far, we have seen that we can trust in Jesus’ mercy.  In our humanity; we can run to Him and find refuge in His merciful embrace.   That is not where the story ends.  St. Faustina assures us,
"The greatest attribute of God is love and mercy.  It unites the creature with the Creator.” (Diary 181) Yes, Jesus is love and mercy, but for Love of God, we can be united with our Creator; we can cooperate with His mercy, by sharing it with others. 
Living the Divine Mercy Daily

Divine Mercy is not for Mercy Sunday only.  We are called to share in His Mercy and be channels of it as well.

Mercy is the central nucleus of the Gospel message; it is the very name of God, the Face with which he revealed himself in the Old Covenant and fully in Jesus Christ, the incarnation of creative and redemptive Love. May this merciful love also shine on the face of the Church and show itself through the sacraments, in particular that of Reconciliation, and in works of charity, both communitarian and individual. May all that the Church says and does manifest the mercy God feels for man.        ~Pope Benedict XVI, Regina Caeli address, March 30, 2008

Jesus demands of us deeds of mercy which arise out of love for Him.  There are three ways of sharing His mercy with others: first by- by deed, second – by word, third – by prayer. “In these three is contained the fullness of mercy.” (Diary 742) 1

We are called to cooperate daily in acts of mercy.  We can accomplish this in deed - by performing deeds or acts of mercy, in word -  by spreading the message of Divine Mercy and in prayer -  by praying over the Mercy Hour the chaplet of Divine Mercy. 3  
We have been given a gift, the gift of Divine Mercy.  Not only are we recipients of this vast treasure, we are sharers in it.  Freely we received, freely give. (MT 10:8 NASB)

Please note, this is NOT the complete story!  Divine Mercy and its history is far too robust to cover in a short blog post.  Hopefully this is enough to encourage further reading. 

Jesus I trust in You.

For more information on Divine Mercy check out these great resources:

  1. The Life of Faustina Kowalska, Sister Sophia Michalenko, Servant Books, 1987
  2. The Diary of St. Faustina (all references above)
  4. I also found a great article that was the inspiration for this post from simplecatholicliving.com – 10 quotes about God’s Mercy

All For +JMJ+  

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