Photo: Felix Carroll
A Holiday in a Holy Way
He didn't even consider the typical motivator when making vacation plans. Rather, his motivator was a desire to "go to" rather than "get away." That's why he visited the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Mass. He wished to go deep into the heart of the Divine Mercy message and devotion.
Father Anthony Saverimuthu, a diocesan priest from southern India, had a cursory knowledge of the Divine Mercy revelations of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska. He wants to know more. With a month off, he arrived in the United States in mid-May and made his way to the Marian Fathers in Stockbridge, where he stayed for nearly three weeks living in community with the Marians.
"I wanted to make use of this holiday in a meaningful way, so that's why I'm here," he said in an interview on June 1.
When studying in France in the 1990s he was on a trip to Germany when he met a Sri Lankan woman. During conversation, for whatever reason, she inquired about the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy and its origin. Father Anthony knew next to nothing about it, but promised to get back to her. On her behalf, when he returned to France, he asked some priest friends. They told him the facts as they knew them — how Jesus, through revelations to a lowly, uneducated Polish nun in the 1930s, presented new forms of devotion to His mercy and reminded us how we are called to completely trust in Him, to accept His mercy with thanksgiving and be merciful as He is merciful.
Saint Faustina documented these revelations in her Diary, a copy of which Fr. Anthony is now a proud owner. Indeed, during his stay, the Marians presented Fr. Anthony with a stack of Divine Mercy materials — more than he could fit in his carry-on luggage — including a copy, in French, of the findings on the holiness of St. Faustina from the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints.
Geographically and spiritually, Fr. Anthony has come a long way since that day the Sri Lankan woman asked her question. But not at first. After he phoned her back, he didn't pay much attention to Divine Mercy.
"The lady wanted an explanation, and I gave it to her," Fr. Anthony recalled.
But back in India, he heard talks from some priests who were devoted to The Divine Mercy. Eventually, Fr. Anthony got in touch with his good friend Br. Brian Manian, a Marian living in Connecticut and an India native. Father Anthony knew the Marians had a connection to Divine Mercy — that they have been official promoters of Divine Mercy since 1941. Brother Brian invited his old friend to come to Stockbridge and get a crash course on all things Divine Mercy.
"Before, I didn't know much, but after reading the biography on St. Faustina and reading the source itself [the Diary of St. Faustina], you see the whole of Catholic theology in St. Faustina's Diary," Fr. Anthony said. "It is presented in such a way that it must be divine revelation. Given St. Faustina's context and background and considering the complex theology, it's not possible for her to have written that without Christ and the Holy Spirit inspiring her. Even for me — having a philosophical, theological background — I can't write like this."
He continued, "I'm touched by her fidelity to the Catholic Church and her recognition that her spiritual advisor and confessor was a representative of Christ on earth," Fr. Anthony continued. "It makes me think very seriously who I am. It's not just that I'm ordained and it's over. I have an inner urge to continue to be faithful to the calling and to listen to Him and carry out His will. That gives my soul an inner urge to be more faithful and be a proper guide to the people, the people who are entrusted to my care."
Back in India, Fr. Anthony has served as vicar general of his diocese. But he soon begins the next phase of his priestly life as a professor at a seminary. In this, the 25th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood, he plans to pray the Chaplet everyday.
"And now I'm going to the seminary to teach and to serve in the parish. I have the desire to start this practice of prayer in my parish, and when I get a chance, to teach priests and seminarians about Divine Mercy.
"I want to give this to others," he said, "because I'm convinced."