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
In the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, for example, we read: "Especially from the Eucharist, grace is poured forth upon us as from a fountain."
Where Mercy Flows
The Church, Mary, Saints Tell Ways God Pours Out His Mercy
By Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC (Jul 12, 2007)
The following is taken from The Divine Mercy Message and Devotion booklet. It was written by world-renowned Divine Mercy expert Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC, with Vinny Flynn and Robert A. Stackpole. The booklet condenses the main elements of the Diary of St. Faustina into an easy-to-read format. It has become known throughout the world simply as the "Devotion Booklet."
We now know Divine Mercy is at the very heart of the Gospel, but how can we experience this mercy in our own lives? Jesus said to St. Faustina: Tell aching mankind to snuggle close to My merciful Heart, and I will fill it with peace (Diary, 1074). Thus, it is only by drawing near to Jesus Christ — the very Incarnation of Divine Mercy — and trusting in Him that we can fully experience the love and peace of God. And the best place to encounter the merciful love of Jesus Christ is in His Church, which St. Paul calls "the Body of Christ" (1 Cor 12:27).
As we shall see, in the Body of Christ, the Church, we are given a whole "program of mercy." The Church proclaims the mercy of God, and she dispenses the Sacraments of mercy. As the Body of Christ, the Church prays for God's mercy on the whole world. Also, Mary — our Mother of Mercy and Mother of the Church — plays a unique role in God's eternal plan of mercy.
The Church: Dispenser of Mercy
Pope John Paul II teaches in his encyclical Rich in Mercy that the whole life and mission of the Church centers upon Jesus, The Divine Mercy, who empowers her to proclaim, practice, and implore mercy:
"Christ's messianic program, the program of mercy, becomes the program of His people, the program of the Church" (8). "The Church proclaims the truth of God's mercy revealed in the crucified and risen Christ, and she professes it in various ways. Furthermore, she seeks to practice mercy towards people through people, and she sees in this an indispensable condition for solicitude for a better and 'more human' world, today and tomorrow" (15). "Finally, the Church — professing mercy and remaining always faithful to it — has the right and duty to call upon the mercy of God, imploring it in the face of all the manifestations of physical and moral evil, before all the threats that cloud the whole horizon of the life of humanity today" (12).
In particular, John Paul emphasizes:
"The Church lives an authentic life when she professes and proclaims mercy — the most stupendous attribute of the Creator and of the Redeemer — and when she brings people close to the source of the Savior's mercy, of which she is the trustee and dispenser [especially through the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation]" (13).
"The Church," writes Pope John Paul II, "must consider it one of her principal duties — at every stage of history and especially in our modern age — to proclaim and to introduce into life the mystery of mercy supremely revealed in Jesus Christ" (Rich in Mercy, 14).
This need to proclaim God's mercy is a constantly recurring theme in the Diary of St. Faustina:
Proclaim to the whole world My unfathomable mercy (1142).
Proclaim that mercy is the greatest attribute of God. All the works of My hand are crowned with mercy (301).
Souls who spread the honor of My mercy I shield through their entire life as a tender mother her infant, and at the hour of death I will not be a Judge for them, but the Merciful Savior (1075).
Do whatever is within your power to spread devotion to My mercy. I will make up for what you lack. Tell aching mankind to snuggle close to My merciful Heart, and I will fill it with peace (1074).
Tell My priests that hardened sinners will repent on hearing their words when they speak about My unfathomable mercy, about the compassion I have for them in My Heart. To priests who proclaim and extol My mercy, I will give wondrous power; I will anoint their words and touch the hearts of those to whom they will speak (1521).
Eucharist: The Presence of Mercy
In His great love for us, the Lord Jesus gave us a great miracle of mercy: the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.
God did not only become man in the Incarnation to give His life for us on the cross and to rise again in glory. The Incarnation also looked forward to Jesus remaining with us to the end of time in the Eucharist. By this great miracle of Our Lord's love, the Real Presence of Jesus remains with us under the form of bread and wine. As Pope Paul VI wrote in The Credo of the People of God:
"The unique and indivisible existence of the Lord glorious in heaven is rendered present by the sacrament in the many places on earth where the Mass is celebrated. And this existence remains present after the Sacrifice, in the Blessed Sacrament which is, in the tabernacle, the living heart of each of our churches. And it is our very sweet duty to honor and adore in the blessed Host which our eyes see, the Incarnate Word whom they cannot see, and who, without leaving heaven, is made present before us" (pub. 1968).
The Eucharist is central to devotion to The Divine Mercy, and many of the elements of the devotion are essentially Eucharistic — especially the Image, the Chaplet, and the Feast of Mercy. The Image, with its red and pale rays, represents the Eucharistic Lord Jesus, whose Heart has been pierced and now pours forth blood and water as a fountain of mercy for us. It is the Image of God's sacrificial gift of mercy made present in every Mass.
Several times in her Diary, St. Faustina writes of seeing the red and pale rays coming, not from the Image, but from the Sacred Host; and once, as the priest exposed the Blessed Sacrament, she saw the rays from the Image pierce the Host and spread out from it all over the world (see 441). So too, with the eyes of faith, we should see in every Host the merciful Savior pouring Himself out as a fountain of mercy for us.
This concept of the Eucharist as a fountain of grace and mercy is not only found in the Diary, but also in Church teaching. The Church clearly teaches that all the other sacraments are directed towards the Eucharist and draw their power from it.
In the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, for example, we read: "Especially from the Eucharist, grace is poured forth upon us as from a fountain." And, in a note in the Catechism of the Council of Trent, pastors are urged to "compare the Eucharist to a fountain and the other sacraments to rivulets. For the Holy Eucharist is truly and necessarily to be called the fountain of all graces, containing, as it does, after an admirable manner, the fountain itself of celestial gifts and graces, and the Author of all the Sacraments, Christ Our Lord, from whom, as from its source, is derived whatever of goodness and perfection the other sacraments possess" (10).
No wonder, then, that St. Faustina was so devoted to the Eucharist and wrote so powerfully about it in her Diary:
"Oh what awesome mysteries take place during Mass! ... One day we will know what God is doing for us in each Mass, and what sort of gift He is preparing in it for us. Only His divine love could permit that such a gift be provided for us ... this fountain of life gushing forth with such sweetness and power" (914).
"All the good that is in me is due to Holy Communion" (1392). "Herein lies the whole secret of my sanctity" (1489).
"One thing alone sustains me and that is Holy Communion. From it I draw all my strength; in it is all my comfort. ... Jesus concealed in the Host is everything to me. ... I would not know how to give glory to God if I did not have the Eucharist in my heart" (1037).
Reconciliation: The Tribunal of Mercy
To help us prepare to receive within us the actual Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of our merciful Savior in the Eucharist, Our Lord left us another "miracle of mercy," the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Here, too, Jesus is present for us — for all of us, no matter how great our sins — as the merciful Savior, the fountain of mercy that cleanses, comforts, forgives, and restores to life.
When you go to confession, to this fountain of mercy, the Blood and Water which came forth from My Heart always flows down upon your soul (Diary, 1602).
[I]n the Tribunal of Mercy [the Sacrament of Reconciliation] ... the greatest miracles take place and are incessantly repeated (1448). Here the misery of the soul meets the God of mercy (1602).
Come with faith to the feet of My representative (1448).
I Myself am waiting there for you. I am only hidden by the priest ... I Myself act in your soul (1602).
Make your confession before Me. The person of the priest is, for Me, only a screen. Never analyze what sort of a priest it is that I am making use of; open your soul in confession as you would to Me, and I will fill it with My light (1725).
Were a soul like a decaying corpse, so that from a human standpoint, there would be no hope of restoration and everything would already be lost, it is not so with God. The miracle of Divine Mercy restores that soul in full. Oh, how miserable are those who do not take advantage of the miracle of God's mercy! (1448).
To emphasize the importance of these two great sacraments of mercy, Our Lord has made their reception a necessary condition for obtaining His promise of complete forgiveness of sins and punishment for those observing the Feast of Mercy. And Pope John Paul II, who repeatedly stressed the importance of God's message of mercy, has exhorted us that "the Church of the new Advent ... must be the Church of the Eucharist and of Penance" (Redemptor Hominis).
In her Diary, St. Faustina pointed out that the Sacrament of Reconciliation not only obtains for us God's forgiveness, but also heals the soul of the wounds of sin:
"Concerning Holy Confession. We should derive two kinds of profit from Holy Confession:
1. We come to confession to be healed;
2. We come to be educated — like a small child, our soul has constant need of education" (377).
This focus on sacramental confession as a source of spiritual healing is clearly emphasized in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
"The Lord Jesus Christ, physician of our souls and bodies, who forgave the sins of the paralytic and restored him to bodily health, has willed that His Church continue in the power of the Holy Spirit, His work of healing and salvation, even among her own members. This is the purpose of the two sacraments of healing: the Sacrament of Penance [Reconciliation] and the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick" (1421). "Indeed the Sacrament of Reconciliation with God brings about a true 'spiritual resurrection,' restoring the dignity and blessings of the children of God, of which the most precious is friendship with God" (1468).
Prayer: The Plea for Mercy
Along with the Sacraments, both corporate and personal prayer is essential if we are to experience God's mercy. True prayer is the dialogue of a trusting soul with the God of mercy. Whether we are confessing our sins in prayer, or giving praise or thanks to God, authentic prayer always springs from our trust in the merciful love of God. It opens us to receive more and more of His love.
Blessed George Matulaitis, the Renovator of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception, provides us with a beautiful example of this kind of prayer in his Spiritual Journal:
"Once again, I examined my life. On all sides, I see how corrupt my human nature is. Lord, such weakness. So many imperfections. I would fall into despair if I did not trust so completely in Your infinite mercy.
"I can see, Lord, how Your abundant graces, flowing like the waters of a stream, constantly wash and purify my soul of the dust of its imperfections and the dirt of its transgressions. Thank You for this, O merciful God!"
Intercessory prayer, too, must flow from trust in God's mercy. We do not have to convince God to be merciful to us because — as we have seen — He is "Love and Mercy itself" (Diary, 1074). He is always ready to pour His merciful love into our hearts if we are only willing to ask and receive Him. Jesus says, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock" (Rev 3:20). Through our humble prayer of petition, we open the door to Him in every circumstance of life. Saint Faustina understood the need for such prayer, especially in difficulties:
"In whatever state a soul may be, it ought to pray. A soul which is pure and beautiful must pray, or else 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, 146).
"Jesus gave me to understand how a soul should be faithful to prayer despite torments, dryness, and temptations; because oftentimes the realization of God's great plans depends mainly on such prayer. If we do not persevere in such prayer, we frustrate what the Lord wanted to do through us or within us" (872).
Mary, Mother of Mercy
"Hail Holy Queen, Mother of mercy." For centuries people have invoked Mary under this title, and now, in modern times, Pope John Paul II presented it to us again to emphasize the unique role Mary plays in God's eternal plan of mercy. In his encyclical letter Rich in Mercy, he devotes an entire section to Mary, the "Mother of Mercy." She is the one, he explains, who has the deepest understanding of God's mercy, the one who, more than anyone else, deserved and received mercy. Called in a special way to share her Son's mission to reveal His love, she continues to proclaim His mercy "from generation to generation" (9).
For St. Faustina, Mary was a constant source of God's Mercy, as mother, guardian, teacher, and intercessor. From Mary, she received a special gift of purity, strength in suffering, and countless lessons on the spiritual life. "Mary is my Instructress," she writes, "who is ever teaching me how to live for God" (Diary, 620). "The more I imitate the Mother of God, the more deeply I get to know God" (843). "[B]efore every Holy Communion, I earnestly ask the Mother of God to help me prepare my soul for the coming of her Son" (1114). "She has taught me how to love God interiorly and also how to carry out His will in all things" (40). "O Mary, my Mother, I place everything in your hands" (79). "O Mary, you are joy, because through you God descended to earth and into my heart" (40).