Another Reason Why Cenacles Matter
By Stephanie McClain
About 18 months ago, we started a Eucharistic Apostles of Divine Mercy (EADM) prayer cenacle at our parish, St. Stephen, in Valrico, Fla. Meeting weekly for prayer and discussion, we studied the messages Jesus gave St. Faustina, which she documented in her Diary. We also studied the Bible, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and EADM's first Cenacle Manual. As we started to learn more about the messages and Jesus' requests for deeds of mercy, we began performing various corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
Our first effort towards this end was feeding the homeless in downtown Tampa. We partnered with THORN Ministries, which has been feeding the homeless for many years. With them, we travel to three different locations within the city. At each location, we set up tables with food and drink on the side of the road. Men and women line up and wait patiently for a meal. The food is blessed and the meal served. At the end of the table we offer prayercards with the image of The Divine Mercy for those who might want one. Almost all take a card and are appreciative of the meal and the kindness shared with them. Once each has had his or her fill, tables and food containers are packed away and we head to the next location. We've witnessed many special moments while serving our brothers and sisters living on the streets.
In fact, one particular Sunday we arrived at the first location and a homeless man approached us. He said, "It's been raining and it rained until you got here." He said it with a sense of wonder and amazement, almost as if it were a question. Had God truly stopped the rain when His servants arrived? What a witness this must have been to this man, as it was to us, because there was more to come. The clouds parted slightly and the sun shyly peeked through while each was being served. After all had eaten, we began packing up as a light rain returned. The rain gradually increased in intensity, and by the time we were driving to the next location it was pouring. Our Father had held the rain at bay so His children could enjoy a hot meal and eat until they had their fill.
Not long after feeding the homeless, we started a new work of mercy. We felt called to pray for our diocesan seminarians. We prayed the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy for their intentions and for their journey. We asked the Lord to protect them as they prepare to shepherd Christ's Church in the coming years and to provide the necessary graces through their journeys. After praying, we wrote each man a letter, explaining who our group was and expressing our wish to support them through prayer. Included in the letter was a prayercard with the image of The Divine Mercy on the front.
To our surprise, a few weeks after mailing our letters, we began receiving letters and prayercards from the same seminarians we supported. They were very appreciative of our prayers and expressed a need for the faithful to support them through prayer as they continue on their journey. One seminarian wrote, "I couldn't do this without the Holy Spirit and the strength your prayers have given me." Another wrote, "Thank you for your very generous card and thank you for your prayers. I need those to sustain me on this journey. The chaplet has actually been one of my favorite devotions since college... " Another wrote, "We always need prayers, and I am thankful for yours. I am a witness to hope for the future of our church."
These examples are truly the tip of the iceberg, as we have experienced so much as a group. It's been a great year and a half, and the Lord has given us many opportunities to reach out to others. Know that since starting our Divine Mercy cenacle, the blessings have generously flowed through our group. Our Father has blessed each of us and blessed our families. We have witnessed relationships being healed and folks going back to confession after decades away from the sacrament. We have witnessed cenacle members growing in holiness and allowing God to work through them. We have witnessed the faith of the homeless, the hope of the seminarian, and the love of God.
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