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Photo: Chris Sparks
Shrouded in God's Mercy
By Chris Sparks (Jul 30, 2013)
The Marian Evangelization Team gave a presentation before a crowd of pilgrims in the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy on Saturday, July 27, called "Living Our Faith: An Encounter with Divine Mercy."
The team consists of Fr. Dan Cambra, MIC, and two seminarians who travel around the country giving presentations to parishes and youth groups on the Divine Mercy message and devotion, demonstrating its integral connection to the New Evangelization.
Father Cambra, spiritual director of the Holy Souls Sodality, introduced both speakers, gave an impromptu tour of the National Shrine, and answered questions at the end of the event.
Brother Chris Alar, MIC, soon to profess his perpetual vows on Aug. 16, gave an animated explanation of the reasons to believe the Shroud of Turin is truly the shroud of Christ. He described the many scientific tests applied to the Shroud, a centuries old linen cloth imprinted with the image of a crucified and scourged man. Brother Chris talked about the fact that the image is in the top two microfibers of the linen, guaranteeing that the image is not painted. He added that there are many types of plant pollen indigenous to first century Jerusalem found in the fabric of the shroud. Moreover, due either to an immense burst of light or of radiation, the image is a photo-negative of the body of a crucified and scourged man — something no technology before the 1800s could possibly create. Brother Chris also explained that the carbon-dating on the Shroud done in the 1980s had taken samples from portions of the cloth that had been added by nuns repairing damage done by a fire in the Middle Ages. Thus, reports that the Shroud has been conclusively debunked as a medieval forgery are baseless.
Perhaps the highlight of the talk was Br. Chris's exploration of the Shroud's uncanny resemblance to the original Divine Mercy image painted under the direction of St. Faustina, often called the "Vilnius" image for the city in Lithuania where it was painted. He went so far as to take a life-size image of the Shroud of Turin, transpose it over an enlarged copy of the Vilnius image, and shine a light through the two from behind to reveal the strong correspondence between the face of Christ in each artifact.
Marian seminarian Br. Joseph Lappe, MIC, discussed Bl. Pope John Paul II's prophetic response to the challenges of the present age. He cited the influence of John Paul's family and Polish Catholic culture on the late pontiff's faith and personal formation. Brother Lappe also described John Paul's efforts, first as the Cardinal Archbishop of Krakow and then as Pope, to approve and promote the message of Divine Mercy shared by St. Faustina at the command of Jesus.
He put this work in the context of John Paul's call to be a priest, noting that John Paul first discerned his vocation when he realized that priests stood as beacons of truth and order in a world fallen into chaos and confusion. Brother Lappe noted that today, in an age when many people are relativists, the need for priests to stand for truth is as great as ever.
Audience members were enthusiastic.
"I first met Br. Chris in New Jersey when I heard the talk on the Shroud and I was absolutely amazed," said Sr. Kathy Bernadette Wiinikka, a member of the Eudist Servants of the Eleventh Hour (ESEH). She came to the Shrine with a group of friends so they could hear the talk. "This is their first time to come up to the Shrine," she explained. When asked what the outstanding thought from the talk was, she responded immediately, "God's love for us and His mercy!"
Brother Chris took a moment to explain to the pilgrims the Marian Evangelization Team's work.
"Brother Joe and Fr. Dan are the latest mission team. I was part of the first mission team three years ago. We literally go around the country spreading the message of Divine Mercy to parish after parish. We've been before thousands and thousands of people. Without your help, we wouldn't be able to do that. We just wanted to say thank you."
"Now what is the fruit of all the donations and prayers and everything you guys have given us?" Br. Chris asked. "Here's the fruit: We today have more men studying for the priesthood [in the United States] than we've ever had in the history of our congregation. You should see our men coming up. This is the fruit of your support and prayers, the fruit of your labor."
Brother Chris continued, "Remember when Jesus said to St. Faustina that to prepare the world for His second coming, a spark will come from Poland? Well, we believe we know what that spark is now. It's John Paul II, as Brother just talked about, it's St. Faustina, and it's the message of Divine Mercy. They all came out of the exact same area of Poland. And it's that spark that Jesus says will prepare the world for His second coming.
"Now if the Lord is preparing the world for his second coming, don't you think that's of the ultimate importance?" he asked. "I believe that's why we're receiving these vocations, because this message is important in the eyes of God. In fact, in the Diary [of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska], Jesus said it's the most important message. Pope Francis said mercy was Jesus's most important message. And Jesus said in the Diary it's mankind's last hope. Divine Mercy is the last hope of mankind. Does that sound like something unimportant?"
"That means our Lord is sending Marians to spread the word of the Divine Mercy. Without you guys none of that is possible."
To order a previously recorded copy of Br. Chris's talk on the Divine Mercy, please visit our online catalog.
Here's an excerpt from that video:
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