An Introduction to Divine Mercy This is the handbook that has introduced millions of souls to the life-changing message that brings hope to a hurting world. Covering every a... Read more
Photo: Felix Carroll
Drawing Near to Jesus Through Prayer
By Br. Leonard Konopka, MIC (Jan 29, 2007)
Saint Teresa of Avila once wrote: "Prayer doesn't consist of thinking a great deal, but of loving a great deal."
Saint Faustina wrote of prayer:
A soul arms itself by prayer for all kinds of combat. In whatever state the soul may be, it ought to pray. A soul which is pure and beautiful must pray, or it will lose its beauty; a soul which is striving after this purity must pray, or else it will never attain it; a soul which is newly converted must pray, or else it will fall again; a sinful soul, plunged in sins, must pray so that it might rise again. There is no soul which is not bound to pray, for every single grace comes to the soul through prayer (Diary of St. Faustina, 146).
Saint Faustina clearly demonstrates in her Diary that one of the greatest privileges we have in life is prayer. God calls each of us into a relationship that only He can satisfy. Our Lord knows that when we invite Him in, only then will the deep longing within our hearts be satisfied. Fortunate are those who have an awareness of the void in their hearts — a void that is waiting to be filled with His love, presence, and grace.
In her Diary, St. Faustina writes how Jesus made known to her how very pleasing to Him were prayers of atonement. She quotes Him: "The prayer of a humble and loving soul disarms the anger of My Father and draws down an ocean of blessings" (320).
Jesus reveals the secret of what pleases His Father. Through our prayers of atonement, we are given an opportunity to become irresistible to God.
Our prayers of intercession for those in need are also vital in the eyes of our Lord. For instance, Our Lord gives overwhelming encouragement for praying the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy. Saint Faustina writes: "The Lord let me know that everything can be obtained by means of this prayer" (Diary, 1128). Our Lord specifically said that the dying would be assisted by our praying the Chaplet, so that they would have trust in His mercy (see 687, 834, 835, and 1797).
We also have a great opportunity to save souls by simply praying for the conversion of the world. Our Lord said: "The prayer that pleases me most is for the conversion of sinners. This prayer is always answered" (Diary, 1397).
We see His Mercy reaching out with hope to those who are fearful. He reaches for us in order to bring us through the door to eternal life and to His eternal embrace. We need not fear any longer since He always keeps His promises.
When we want to know whether our prayers are truly benefitting others as well as ourselves, Our Lord again gives us assurance. One of the greatest proofs of His mercy is manifested in the following statement: "There is more merit in one hour of meditation on My sorrowful Passion than there is to a whole year of flagellation that draws blood; the contemplation of My painful wounds is of great profit to you and it brings Me great joy" (Diary, 369).
We can see that through no merit of our own, other than dwelling on His Passion, His mercy is extended to us to depths that are beyond human understanding. We, of course, need penances and self-mortification; yet Our Lord raises the standard of what is pleasing to Him. We are reminded of that passage in Mathew 9:13: "I desire mercy and not sacrifice."
Our Lord continues to provide us with directives on our journey to Him. Many of us struggle in bearing our crosses, overwhelmed with responsibilities that seem to have little light at the end of the tunnel. Jesus does not remove these burdens of ours, but He does help us to bear them. "When it seems to you that your suffering exceeds your strength, contemplate My wounds," He says (Diary, 1184).
In a certain way, we can become grateful to God for sending us those specific burdens and setbacks and struggles. They force us to surrender to Him. He knows how we are made and supplies the graces for us to see our utter vulnerability.
Still, how many of us find ourselves questioning why bad things happen to good people? Well, the following passage may answer those questions: "My daughter, consider these words: 'And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly.'" Saint Faustina then writes: "When I started to think about them more deeply, much light streamed into my soul. I learned how much we need perseverance in prayer and that our salvation often depends on such difficult prayer" (Diary, 157).
That passage illustrates clearly the need for continued prayer. Now consider the following passages from the Diary:
"Jesus told me that I please Him best by meditating on His Passion and by such prayer much light falls on my soul ... I get a clear understanding of many things I could not comprehend before" (267).
"Divine light can do more in one moment than I, fatiguing myself for several days" (1250).
After spending three hours in what St. Faustina considered fruitless prayer and increased discomfort, she persisted, after which Jesus said: "I often wait with great graces until towards the end of prayer" (268, 145).
Note how St. Faustina had to persevere in her prayers, and only then did she receive light.
It may, likewise, take our own perseverance in prayer before Our Lord reveals to us His will. But in the meantime, be assured that He is permitting certain unpleasant events to happen to us in order that they will lead us to Him. Without His light on the subject, we may not be as open to accept all "these things," which come from His merciful heart.
The Diary contains a profound lesson on the need for continuing our effort in prayer until we become so united with Jesus that even questioning Him is no longer deemed necessary.
Let us pray with St. Faustina:
O uncreated beauty, whoever comes to know You once cannot love anything else ... (Diary, 343).
Brother Leonard Konopka, MIC, is on the staff of the Marian Seminary in Washington, D.C. He also provides spiritual direction, retreats, and seminars. Brother Leonard has a leaflet available that has a series of meditations on the five wounds of our Lord. The meditations are intended for use while praying the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy. Click here to order Contemplate My Wounds. He also has a CD available with the meditations on the five wounds, interspersed with the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy. Click here to order A Musical Interlude.