I must admit that when I heard of the atrocities in Belgium this week I once again became afraid and angry. How far will this continue? The horrific events in the Middle East with Christians and their neighbours decapitated, raped and treated with contempt seem so far away. I’ve looked at images of my Christian bretheran on their knees and wondered what was going through their mind as they bent their head ready for the blade. Would my faith ever be that strong?
As a parent now the fear isn’t just for me it’s for them too. After all, we know from the last century that events that start far away can come to reside near us in a terrifying manner. Once again the world seems to be being covered in darkness.
Today the novena for Divine Mercy officially starts and I want to encourage you to take part particularly in light of recent events and those throughout recent years.
It’s significant that this devotion started to spread from a young Polish nun’s diary in the 1930s. The message: that God is merciful and forgiving and that we, too, must
show mercy and forgiveness. His love is unlimited and available to everyone — especially the greatest sinners. A message much needed for that time and this.
Saint Faustina Kowalska, an uneducated Polish nun who, in obedience to her spiritual director wrote a diary of about 600 pages recording the revelations she received about God’s mercy. Even before her death in 1938, significantly before the invasion of Nazi forces on 1st September 1939, the devotion to The Divine Mercy had begun to spread.
God loves us — all of us — and He wants us to recognize that His mercy is greater than our sins, so that we will call upon Him with trust, receive His mercy, and let it flow through us to others. Again, a message that is as important now as then.
It’s not enough for us to hang The Divine Mercy image in our homes, pray the Chaplet every day at three o’clock, and receive Holy Communion on the first Sunday after Easter. We also have to show mercy to our neighbors and our loved ones.
Jesus speaks about this to Saint Faustina:
I demand from you deeds of mercy which are to arise out of
love for me. You are to show mercy to your neighbors always
and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to
excuse yourself from it (Diary, 742).
At times like this this calling may seem impossible and we may even doubt that our actions, small as we are, will have any impact. However in the diary Sister Faustina records Jesus saying “When a soul approaches Me with trust, I fill it with such
an abundance of graces that it cannot contain them within itself, but radiates them to other souls” (Diary, 1074).
This “radiate” is significant. Like the little boys fish and loaves the little we bring to God, once blessed, has the ability to transform the world around it. And heaven knows, the world needs transforming.
So as we pray this novena let us be mindful especially of our actions, words, and our prayers. “In these three degrees,” he tells Sister Faustina, “is contained the fullness of mercy” (Diary 742). We need to ask Him, who understands our individual personalities and situation, to help us recognize the various ways we can each show His mercy in our daily lives.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”
I’ll be posting next the first prayers of the novena. God bless this Good Friday, a day when light comes out of darkness.