From A to Z
Neither rain, nor sleet, nor lots of snow can stop Marie from spreading Divine Mercy.
By Felix Carroll (Feb 24, 2011)
I invite you to follow along through one Marian Helper's recent experiences. They serve as a prime example of how God draws straight — from A to Z — with crooked lines.
A: She was afraid for a loved one.
Z: She trusted Jesus and now spreads the message of The Divine Mercy with zeal.
Everything was building toward zeal. She had learned to rely on the Chaplet of the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy for strength. She had visited the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy for solace. She had lit candles to draw deeper into communion with Christ. And lately, because of her, there's hardly a mailbox in her hometown into which a Divine Mercy prayercard hasn't been placed (with the help of a certain mailman who — ah-em — agreed to "look the other way").
Marie Mullen is her name.
In late 2009, Marie received news that her nephew, "Collin," was diagnosed with schizophrenia.
"My sister and I were both so afraid," Marie says. "Schizophrenia was so new to us. We didn't know what to expect."
Marie had already been introduced to the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy, the powerful intercessory prayer given to St. Faustina. Upon her nephew's diagnosis, Marie and her sister began a daily regimen of praying the Chaplet together over the phone. "We pray that the Lord watches over Collin," she says.
Within three months of his diagnosis, Collin was admitted to a treatment facility that happens to be a mere 12 miles from the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy, in Stockbridge, Mass.
"We thanked God for this favor," Marie says. "Several times in the winter of 2009-2010, I made the two-and-a-half-hour trip to Stockbridge with my sister. I would spend the afternoon at the Shrine while she visited her son and those caring for him."
She recalls that when she first walked the grounds of the Shine she discovered one of several candle shrines. She says she was "drawn close by the wonderful odor outdoors of burning wax and the heat and noise of an exhaust. Indoors, what a sight! More than 2,600 candles, twinkling inside red glass, with blue votive candles here and there."
She immediately asked for a candle to be lit for Collin.
The Catholic custom of lighting candles is rooted in Church teaching that Christ is the Light of the World. Candles serve as an outward sign of the light of faith burning in our hearts. They help us to draw into communion with the Living Christ.
"Since then I've asked for four other candles to be lit," says Marie. "The candles are a way of saying, 'I am asking our Lord to protect you. You could not be in a safer place.'"
Marie has felt moved to draw into a deeper relationship with the Marian Fathers through the Association of Marian Helpers, the spiritual benefit society based at the Shrine. The Association prayerfully and financially supports the priests and brothers of the Congregation of Marians of the Immaculate Conception.
For instance, she has joined the Marians' Circle of Light, program through which candles are lit on behalf of those seeking to lift up prayer intentions to the Lord for 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
She also looks forward to receiving Association mailings from the Shrine.
"They're very comforting when I long to be there in person," she says. "Mail is also sent to my nephew's family, which comforts my sister and reminds her of my continual prayers."
Once Collin was diagnosed, Marie said she experienced a deeper appreciation for life's preciousness and life's trials.
"As I tried to find a way through the pain and anguish," she says, "I made a concerted effort to live out genuine faith, thanksgiving, trust, and obedience." She has continually turned to St. Faustina's Diary, finding inspiration in Faustina's abandonment to God's will and trust in His love.
"The Bible comes alive in St. Faustina's Diary entries," Marie says. "Abandonment to His will, complete thanksgiving and total trust in His love all become more and more real as I practice what Jesus preaches."
She has also begun a ministry of buying Divine Mercy prayercards and pamphlets in bulk and distributing them.
"I've dropped off 100 pamphlets at 100 Catholic churches in our closest major city," she says. "In addition, I live in a very small town, and with the grace of God, I intend to hang a pamphlet on every resident's mailbox."
So far, so good (see photo to the right).
She says she had first distributed the Divine Mercy materials only at night, motivated by "fear" — that is, the fear of someone seeing her. "I didn't want anyone yelling at me," she says.
But her nocturnal mercy mission soon saw the light of day when she came across the following two Bible passages:
"For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes ..." (Rom 1:16)
"Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven" (Mt 10:32).
"So I started making the rounds in broad daylight, praying for protection," Marie says.
Her husband, David — "the world's greatest husband" — helps with this effort.
"I told him that I'd like to donate to the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy," Marie says. They now have a jar in their pantry; it's dubbed the "Divine Mercy money," she says.
As for her nephew, Collin, he remains near the Shrine in the care of excellent doctors.
"The Circle of Light candle is very comforting," Marie says. "When my sister and I pray the chaplet at 3 o' clock each day, I know there is also a candle burning for Collin right at the Divine Mercy Shrine."