Photo: Felix Carroll
By Bryan Thatcher, MD (May 19, 2008)
I want to share with you some thoughts on the joy of being Catholic. To those who are hurting spiritually, emotionally, and physically, Jesus said "Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Mt 11:28).
A priest once told me that "Catholicism is simply one beggar telling another where the bread is." To be Catholic is to be part of a much larger family in heaven and on earth and to be aware of one's place in an ancient tradition of Church history. The simplicity of the message of Divine Mercy is knowing how to love. We must love each other, even our enemies. It is a simple message, but a difficult one. The message of Divine Mercy is one of love; mercy is love that seeks to lessen the misery of others.
Jesus asked that we have faith and trust in Him. Below the Image of The Divine Mercy are the words, "Jesus, I Trust in You." Remember in Scripture when Peter walked on water by faith? This is what we must do — walk over our problems and fears through a deep faith and trust in God. Trust is paramount if we want to live the message of mercy.
Jesus said to "love one another as I have loved you." This is so difficult after we have been hurt by a loved one, co-worker, and even strangers. Yet, we are to love all our brothers and sisters regardless of race, creed, or color. We are to be the heart, hands and feet of Jesus to a hurting world. Again, a simple message but a very difficult one to live out!
There is a great joy is helping others heal. God has given us the power to heal through our kind words, example, and prayer. There is great joy in knowing and understanding the Father's love, and especially with having a personal relationship with His Son, Jesus.
As you probably know, many live depressed, sinful, and broken lives. They are lost in a world of shame, guilt, doubt, and self-pity. They are unaware that they can have a personal and intimate relationship with Jesus, and that they can be part of His Mystical Body on earth, the Church. They are unaware that they can receive His Body and Blood at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, or of the ecstatic joy, love, and peace that Jesus wants to give them.
Jesus said, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will enter his house and eat with him, and he with me" (Rev 3:20).
Once one becomes a Catholic, they have at their disposal for knowing and loving, everything from the Blessed Mother in heaven to the poor cripple in Africa who crawls to Mass to receive Jesus in Holy Communion. A rich heritage of theologians like Thomas Aquinas to saintly people like the late Pope John Paul II; they become our brothers and sisters in Christ.
We can never merit heaven or God's mercy through our works of mercy. It is not a question of faith or good works, but faith and good works. Or better, strong faith leading to good works! It is no longer the Bible or the Church, but the Bible and the Church. It is not one or the other! To be Catholic is to pray and work alongside our brothers and sisters, knowing that we are called to be the light of the world.
Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, to enlighten our minds, inflame our hearts, and to empower our lives so we would think, love, and act like Him. The Spirit gives us the gifts of wisdom, understanding, knowledge, prophecy, and counsel so that we can put on the mind of Christ (cf 1 Cor 2:16).
To inflame our hearts, the Spirit gives us the gifts of love, compassion, sensitivity, caring, zeal, warmth, enthusiasm, loving kindness, and forgiveness. As Eucharistic Apostles, we must do things out of love. This must be drawn from the Eucharist above all: It is the "soul of the whole apostolate." As God is love, we must do all things out of love. "We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him" (Rom 8:28).
Let us, as Eucharistic Apostles of The Divine Mercy, understand the joy of knowing, and then living our Faith. Some of the most joyful people on earth are nuns in the order founded by Mother Teresa who pray to our Lord in Adoration, and then go out into the streets to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit the imprisoned, nurse the sick, and comfort the dying. Having nothing materially, they possess everything. That is why Jesus said of people like them,
Blessed (happy) are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Happy are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Today, let us reflect on areas in our lives where we need to forgive, be merciful, and have a deeper trust in God. May God's mercy flood your soul this day, and may the Merciful Father awaken in your heart today the deep love that He has for each one of you.
Dr. Bryan Thatcher is the founder of Eucharistic Apostles of The Divine Mercy (EADM), an apostolate of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception. Learn how to start a cenacle in your area by clicking here.