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Photo: Felix Carroll
Tell My Priests!
By Fr. George Kosicki, CSB (Apr 25, 2010)
In this, the Year for Priests, we offer the following excerpt from Tell My Priests: The Words of Our Lord to Priests about His Mercy, by me — the Rev. George W. Kosicki, CSB:
God loves us with a covenant love, a committed, faithful love, a love that is "fatherly," His love is also tender and compassionate, a "motherly" love. In a word, God is MERCIFUL, God is mercy itself.
Mercy is of the very essence of the redemptive incarnation and the priesthood of Christ. By its very nature His priesthood is a work of mercy based on the covenant of mercy that God made with man.
Christ brought God's gift of mercy to man, bringing forgiveness of sin by the sacrifice of his own Body and Blood — as a new and eternal covenant of God's merciful love.
Moreover, God has willed to take us into partnership so that we may cooperate in this work of mercy. By our baptism, and more specifically by our Holy Orders, we are ordained as partners of Christ the one High Priest, Redeemer, and Mediator. Like Mary, the Mother of God and of the Church, we too are cooperators with Christ in the work of redemption and mediation — in this work of mercy. As priests we are ordained to be channels and instruments of the Lord's mercy through the Sacraments of Eucharist and Reconciliation.
The conclusion and consequence of God's covenant of mercy and our partnership in it is that, for priests, devotion to The Divine Mercy is not an option. Devotion to The Divine Mercy is of the very nature of the priesthood. That is the reason for this book: to present to priests the words that our Lord and Sister Faustina addressed to them about mercy.
And what is this devotion? It is not "just another devotion." Rather, it is what devotion ought to be in the root sense of the word — a consecration, a dedication by solemn vow. In this sense the "devotion" to The Divine Mercy is a total commitment to God as Mercy — to be merciful as He is merciful. It is a covenant of mercy.
The objection is easily raised by priests about devotion to the Divine Mercy: "Is this still another devotion? We don't need any more devotions." But I like to respond that this is putting the issue of devotion backwards! This is not our devotion to God, rather it is the other way around. It is God's devotion to you and me. The issue of this devotion is that God is Mercy Itself and wants to have mercy on all (see Rom 11:32).
The devotion was brought into new prominence by the revelations of our Lord to Sister Faustina, begun in 1931, and continuing until her death in 1938. The message of the Lord is one of mercy. Now is the time to turn to his mercy, while it is the day of mercy, before the day of judgment. The Lord asks especially for trust in His mercy; that we implore His mercy, that we honor His mercy by accepting it, that we proclaim His mercy, and that we be merciful to one another. This is the heart of the Gospel!
Moreover, the Lord gave us, through Sister Faustina, special means of drawing on His mercy in addition to the Sacraments of Eucharist and Reconciliation: an image of The Divine Mercy with the signature "Jesus I Trust in You," a Chaplet of The Divine Mercy, a Feast of The Divine Mercy, prayer at the hour of His dying on the cross. A further description of these elements of the devotion will show how it is a priestly devotion.
Pope Leo the Great many years ago directed priests to proclaim God's mercy, saying that we have no choice in the matter:
The priest does not have the right to refrain from preaching about so great a mystery, all the more since there cannot be lacking to him material for discourse on the topic of about which enough is never spoken; and, if in the face of God's glory we do not find ourselves in a position to comment on the works of mercy, still, let us apply our efforts and dedicate our intelligence to the point of exhausting all the possibilities of eloquence'(Sermo I, de Passione).
Pope John Paul II, in the encyclical Dives in Misericordia also speaks about proclaiming mercy:
The Church of our time... must become more particularly and profoundly conscious of the need to bear witness in her whole mission to God's mercy, following in the footsteps of
the tradition of the Old and the New Covenant, and above all of Jesus Christ himself and his apostles (VII, Introduction).
... the Church must consider it one of her principle duties — at every stage of history and especially in our modern age — to proclaim and to introduce in life the mystery of mercy, supremely revealed in Jesus Christ (#14).
... On five occasions our Lord told Sister Faustina [as recorded in her Diary] to tell priests about His mercy. She was to tell them:
• that they are to receive mercy (177),
• that they are to tell everyone about his great and unfathomable mercy (570),
• that they are to proclaim mercy to sinners (50),
• that hardened sinners will repent on hearing their words of mercy, and wondrous power to touch hearts will be given to priests who proclaim His mercy (1521), and
• that priests are to recommend the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy to sinners (687).