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
Judy Sieren stands beside photos of her grandchildren — Samantha, Benjamin, and Jesse. The booklet in her hand, The Divine Mercy Message and Devotion, was written by Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC.
By Mary Kathryn Volpone
While three of Judy's grandchildren visited during the summer of 2007, the tornado sirens sounded. Nine-year-old Samantha never experienced a tornado. Her cousins Benjamin, 8, and Jesse, 6, were familiar with the drill. However, this was real, and they were scared. As Judy ushered the frightened children to a room in the darkened basement for shelter, she grabbed her emergency supplies, which included flashlights and her copy of the Marian Press booklet The Divine Mercy Message and Devotion.
Judy did not hesitate to share her trust in The Divine Mercy, even though she wasn't sure how the children would take it. She always prayed the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy during severe storms. Years ago, Judy had learned to trust completely in The Divine Mercy when she was diagnosed with — and then healed from — an abnormal growth of cells in her uterus, which could have been an early warning sign of cancer. Now she wanted to share this gift with her grandchildren. (To read her story, please see the Summer 2008 issue of Marian Helper magazine, page 30.)
Knowing Samantha had little knowledge of the Catholic faith and Jesse was only 6, she prayed to the Holy Spirit for guidance. Judy felt it was necessary to share a little background about God and faith in Jesus, His Son. She wanted them to understand the importance of turning to God with trust in times of need and asking for His protection.
By using The Divine Mercy Image on the front of the booklet, Judy instructed the children how God's mercy is more powerful than anything they could imagine. She began by explaining that Jesus became a man and that we celebrate His birth at Christmas. Then she added, "He is God the Son who came into the world to free us from sin, so that when our life on earth is over, we can go to heaven to live forever in the love of God."
The children were very interested and filled with questions. They wanted to know why their grandmother prayed the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy during storms. Recalling Entries 474-475 from the Diary of St. Faustina Kowalska, Judy told them how St. Faustina saw the angel of destruction (divine wrath) about to strike the earth. None of her prayers were heard until she started to pray the chaplet. Suddenly, the Angel became powerless. "I always pray that Jesus will not allow the angel of destruction to destroy the earth with storms or tornadoes, which often causes souls great distress," said Judy.
Then the children noticed the words at the bottom of the image. "What do they mean?" they all asked. Judy continued, "Jesus, I trust in You is a prayer Jesus asked us to pray, because it reminds us that we can always trust in Him as our God and friend." She emphasized that Jesus is always with us, taking care of us, and leading us to God the Father in heaven. "We only need to look at Jesus on the Cross and know that anyone who would die for his friends, like Jesus did, loves them very much and can be trusted to do what is best for them."
Samantha wanted to know why Catholics make the Sign of the Cross. In terms that her grandchildren would understand, Judy explained that "Jesus made it known when He was on earth that God is One True God united in Three Persons — God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit." She continued, "When we make the Sign of the Cross, we are praising the Three Divine Persons in the One True God and remembering that Jesus saved us by His death on the Cross."
"Is that why Jesus is on the Cross in your Church?" asked Samantha. Realizing this could be a very complicated question to answer, Judy tried to simplify it by saying, "Yes, and by seeing Jesus on the Cross, we are also reminded that at every celebration of Mass, when we recall the Last Supper, and His suffering, death and Resurrection, Jesus is made present to us through the power of the Holy Spirit in the Eucharist. It is through faith that we can enter into his great redeeming action by uniting ourselves with Jesus and offering ourselves to the Father in adoration, praise, and thanksgiving."
As the children reflected on her words, Judy taught them the Chaplet. She led each decade with "For the sake of His Sorrowful Passion," and taught the children to respond, "have mercy on us and on the whole world." She observed, "The more we prayed together, the more the children calmed down."
"After the Chaplet, we talked about God surrounding us with His love and protection when we trust in Jesus, His Son, just as the prayer promises," Judy commented.
God spared their area, though there was some damage to buildings. They were all safe.
When they emerged from the basement, the children were still asking questions. They were genuinely interested, so the lessons continued. Then Judy noticed Samantha looking at the large Divine Mercy Image hanging in her living room. Samantha observed, "That's the same picture that was in the booklet downstairs. It's Jesus!" As Samantha continued to look at Jesus, Judy described the scene as if a light bulb went on in Samantha's head as she declared, "Oh, I get it! God is our Father, too!" With a smile on her face and hope in her heart, Judy responded, "That's right, Samantha."
I share Judy's story in the hope it might inspire others to share their Catholic faith with the children in their lives. God gives us all kinds of opportunities to share our faith, even in the midst of life-threatening situations.
Judy is an incredibly faith-filled woman who struggles with sharing how God has worked in her life. When God first showered her life with graces years ago, she was overwhelmed and wanted to tell everyone. However, the response from others was not always favorable. People questioned why she received so many graces as if she were special. Despite their prayers and petitions, they felt they had not. Their envy and bitterness led her to ask God, "Am I being proud?"
She decided to discipline herself, to pray for the grace of discernment before speaking to anyone, so she is more in tune with God's will. Judy humbly accepts that these graces are gifts from God. She admits that she does not deserve them and that she is not special. Judy shared with me that she begins every day by asking for the graces to be open to the Holy Spirit, so she can serve as God's instrument.
After much prayer, she discerned that God wanted her to share stories like this one, so others might learn to trust in God's mercy. If this story has touched your heart, I would love to hear from you. Please share your comments below.
Jesus said "Let the children come to Me and do not prevent them for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these" (Lk 18:16).
Mary Kathryn Volpone works in the Marians' Evangelization and Development Office at the Marian Helpers Center in Stockbridge, Mass.