May the Mercy of God be praised!

Today, Divine Mercy Sunday 2012, all over the world men, women and children have responded to the appeal of the Mercifiul Heart of Jesus and have venerated His immense Mercy and implored this same Mercy to be poured out upon countless souls. Let us thank Him for the oceans of grace that have been granted to souls, and for all the answers that God is granting our prayers for His Mercy, today.

What happiness for those who were able to take part in celebrating God’s Mercy today! What sadness and loss for those were not given this opportunity or who chose not to take part! Who wouldn’t want to take the Lord Jesus up on His promise?……

‘My daughter, tell the whole world about My inconceivable Mercy. I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender Mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day all the divine floodgates through which grace flow are opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet. My Mercy is so great that no mind, be it of man or of angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity. Everything that exists has come forth from the very depths of My most tender Mercy. Every soul in its relation to Me will contemplate My Love and Mercy throughout eternity. The Feast of Mercy emerged from My very depths of tenderness. It is My desire that it be solemnly celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter. Mankind will not have peace until it turns to the Fount of My Mercy.’ Jesus to St Faustina, ‘Divine Mercy in my soul’, passage 699

Which priest would not want to resolve to spread the messages of Divine Mercy far and wide after reading what Jesus told St Faustina about Fr Sopocko who worked to spread the news about the Divine Mercy revelations?….

‘He is a priest after My own Heart; his efforts are pleasing to Me. You see, My daughter, that My Will must be done and that which I promised you, I shall do. Through him I spread comfort to suffering and careworn souls. Through him it pleased Me to proclaim the worship of My Mercy. And through this work of Mercy more souls will come close to Me than otherwise would have, even if he had kept giving absolution day and night for the rest of his life, because by doing so, he would have laboured only for as long as he lived; whereas, thanks to this work of Mercy, he will be labouring till the end of the world.‘ ibid. passage 1256.

‘Tell My priests that hardened sinners will repent on hearing their words when they speak about My unfathomable Mercy, about the compassion I have for them in My heart. To priests who proclaim and extol My Mercy, I will give wondrous power; I will anoint their words and touch the hearts of those to whom they will speak.’ ibid. passage 1521

Today the Easter octave is crowned with explosions of grace emanating from the Merciful Heart of Jesus. Today souls are invited to taste and see the fruits of the redemption that Jesus won for us. Today souls that were as corpses have been raised to glorious life through the wondrous Sacrament of Penance. Today graces of conversion have been poured out in abundance. Miracles of healing, and of the reconciling of spouses and other family relationships, have abounded. Let us give thanks to God. Let us praise Him for each and every miracle of Mercy granted today!

Our task now is to live in full response to the Mercy that we have received and venerated. 

…I demand frrom you deeds of mercy, which are to arise out of love for Me. You are to show mercy to your neighbours always and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to excuse and absolve yourself from it. I am giving you three ways of exercising mercy towards your neighbour: the first—by deed, the second—by word, the third—by prayer. In these three degrees is contained the fullness of mercy, and it is an unquestionable proof of love for Me. By this means a soul glorifies and pays reverence to My mercy. Yes, the first Sunday after Easter is the Feast of Mercy, but there must also be acts of mercy, and I demand the worship of My mercy through the solemn celebration of the Feast and through the veneration of the image which is painted. By means of this image I shall grant many graces to souls. It is to be a reminder of the demands of My mercy, because even the strongest faith is of no avail without works.’ ibid. passage 742.

Thank you Lord Jesus for all that You have taught us through these grace filled days of the novena leading up to the Feast of Divine Mercy. Grant that we may make Your intentions our intentions. Your Mercy can transform our mediocrity into sanctity, and all of our mourning into dancing. Please do so.

Jesus, I trust in You. 



An invitation to hope

As human beings we are amazingly good at stuffing up our lives, our health, our minds, our relationships – just about anything that crosses our paths. As human beings we are also amazingly good at forgetting where to go to get our stuffed lives fixed. Thankfully our Creater understands us better than we understand ourselves, so He regularly issues us invitations to hope. If we answer an invitation our lives can begin to get repaired and the gloom on our horizon can give way to optimism.

Most of us have come into contact with someone whose marriage is in trouble, or whom we are pretty sure has an addiction to alcohol, gambling, narcotics etc, or whom we suspect are having a difficult time making ends meet or trying to cope with a toxic relationship. Until that person can admit that there is a problem, and then come to the point of desiring to be free of the problem, there is very little that anyone can do to help them. Up until then, he or she is unable to listen to any helpful advice. The catalyst for change generally comes only after hearing the story of someone who has been in the same sorry pit and how they got out of it. It might take a long time for the seed of that story to ripen into action in the troubled person, but it will happen. Such stories are the invitations to hope that God gives us, and which He expects us, as His ambassadors (2 Cor 5:20) to pass on to others. 

How often we forget that the name ‘Jesus’ means ‘Saviour’! The angel of God instructed St Joseph to give the unborn baby in Mary’s womb the name of Jesus, ‘because He is the one who is to save His people from their sins.’ (Matt 1: 21). It is sin that lies at the heart of all the misery in our lives. To get out of that misery we need the power to forgive, or the power to seek forgiveness; the power that heals, restores and makes new (Rev 21:5). Such power comes only from God and was purchased at the immense price of the blood, sorrows, tortures and death of Jesus.   

Here is an invitation to hope issued by Jesus through St Faustina (passage 1602 ‘Divine Mercy in my Soul’): ’Today the Lord said to me, Daughter, when you go to confession (ie. the sacrament of reconciliation), 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. I am only hidden by the priest, but I myself act in your soul. Here the misery of the soul meets the God of mercy. Tell souls that from this fount of mercy souls draw graces solely with the vessel of trust. If their trust is great, there is no limit to My generosity. The torrents of grace inundate humble souls. The proud remain always in poverty and misery, because My grace turns away from them to humble souls.’

To access this power requires admitting that we have stuffed up our lives. The reason why pride is so bad is because it stops people admitting that they need help and it also stops them from admitting that they want to change. 

Going to Confession is a lot like going to the doctor, only better. For the Divine Physician to help us we have to tell Him all that is wrong with us, and show Him all of our inner wounds – the self inflicted ones as well as the hurts received from others. He has the power to heal us. Through His intermediary He gives us advice and the medicine of penance (be it prayer, service, restitution or some form of self denial). Afterwards the uplift of grace comes, which helps us resist temptation and helps us to forgive and seek forgiveness of others.

The season of Lent is a time when lots of invitations to hope are issued. Sadly some priests only go as far as talking about the need for conversion, but never talking about what we need to be converted from (sin that leads to misery) and what we need to be converted to (getting out of the pit and living a much happier life under God’s smile). Unfortunately these priests who speak about the need for conversion don’t understand that we in the pews need a far more direct approach. We need to hear that the major step in the conversion journey is going to confession. If we want to kick start our spiritual lives and ask God for a second chance, we need to go to confession – because that is where the grace, healing and bounty of God’s love is found. That is where the Mercy of God meets us right where we are in our sinfulness, heals us, cleans us up, and sets our souls singing for joy with His personal care and attention.

The biggest invitation to hope is issued by God on Divine Mercy Sunday, the Sunday that comes after Easter Sunday. On this day the flood gates of God’s Mercy are wide open. This day is meant to be the great altar call day; the day when God’s priests challenge God’s people to take hold of the transforming power of the Passion, Death and Resurrection in their own lives by making a whole new start with Jesus through the Sacrament of Penance (Confession). On this day miracles of Divine Mercy should superabound to the glory of God. Sadly the great majority of priests have never really taken Divine Mercy Sunday seriously. To paraphrase a famous quote, it hasn’t been tried and rejected because it has never been truly tried. 

Here are some of the promises that Jesus gave through St Faustina: (passage 49b,50a ibid) ‘I desire that there be a Feast of Mercy. I want this image, which you will paint with a brush, to be solemnly blessed on the first Sunday after Easter; that Sunday is to be the Feast of Mercy. I desire that priests proclaim this great Mercy of Mine towards souls of sinners. Let the sinner not be afraid to approach Me. The flames of Mercy are burning Me—clamoring to be spent; I want to pour them out upon these souls.’ (passage 570 ibid) ‘No soul will be justified until it turns with confidence to My Mercy, and that is why the first Sunday after Easter is to be the Feast of Mercy. On that day, priests are to tell everyone about My great and unfathomable Mercy.’ (passage 1521 ibid) ‘Tell my priests that hardened sinners will repent on hearing their words when they speak about My unfathomable Mercy, about the compassion I have for them in My Heart. To priests who proclaim and extol My Mercy, I will give wondrous power: I will anoint their words and touch the hearts of those to whom they speak.’

How I have longed to hear a priest speak about God’s Mercy on Divine Mercy Sunday! That has yet to happen. The most I have heard is a tiny brief acknowledgement as Mass begins or a small announcement about parish devotions at the end. To some it is of no consequence that the Magisterium of the Church has both approved and strongly recommended it. Others want to preach about what they want to preach about that Sunday and won’t consider that they happily talk about God’s love on the Feast of the Sacred Heart and about the marvel of the Eucharist at Corpus Christi. It has to be the priest that preaches of Mercy and leads the faithful in Divine Mercy devotions that Sunday because the priest is the witness par excellence of the Mercy of God in the sacred Tribunal of Penance. He is the one who knows how great God’s Mercy really is because He has absolved so many sins in God’s name. During the homily is when he needs to preach it. We all know that at the Divine Mercy Devotions those that come are already convinced of God”s Mercy and are leading regular sacramental lives. Jesus wants to reach those who are on the fringe, those whose souls are at risk. In the pews on any given Saturday vigil and Sunday Mass there are plenty of them. That’s why the homily that Day is so important, because it is supposed to be the biggest invitation to hope of the whole year of grace.

Even then, should you be so fortunate as to come across a priest who actually preaches about God’s Mercy on Divine Mercy Sunday, they don’t go far enough. To preach of God’s Mercy and then to not offer the Sacrament of Penance to those whose hearts have been touched is plain stupidity. It is a mighty rare priest who tells his congregation that he will be available after Mass for any who want to avail themselves of the Sacrament of God’s Mercy. Multiply them Lord!. If they only preached on His Mercy and generously made themselves available in the confessional afterwards they would see stupendous miracles of grace. If they were really convinced that these promises of Jesus to St Faustina are real, they’d have an assistant priest already in the confessional ready and waiting for pentitents as soon as the homily of Mercy begins. Particularly with the grace of returning to the Sacrament of Penance, if you don’t strike while the motivation is there, and red hot, that motivation dissipates rapidly and may never ever come to fruition. 

So, if you haven’t experienced God’s personal Mercy towards you for some time, get along to the Sacrament of Mercy this week.

If you have experienced God’s Mercy for yourself, tell someone about it – issue them with an invitation to hope. If needs be, change names, dates and places, but get your story of God’s Mercy out there online – on a facebook page, on a Catholic online forum, as an xt3 personal blog.

If there is a priest that you know who might benefit from reading this, send him a copy. They need invitations to hope, too.

Divine Mercy, I trust in You.

St Faustina, pray for us

Father Sopocko, pray for us.