Photo: Nick Daverin
The Example of Pope John Paul II
By Very Rev. Daniel Cambra, MIC Provincial Superior (May 1, 2011)
On May First 1933, Sr. Faustina professed her perpetual vows which ended her long spell of dryness in prayer beginning in 1925 when she entered the convent as a postulant.
She passed on to her eternal reward just five years and five months later on October 5th, 1938.
Merely two and a half years later, on May First, 1941, Fr. Joseph, the Founder of the Marian Helpers Association, with the help of the Felician Sisters and his fellow Marians, began the distribution of informational and devotional material about the message of Divine Mercy as it had been revealed to Sr. Faustina.
On the Mercy Sunday 2000, Pope John Paul canonized St. Faustina as the First Saint of the Third Millennium, and he inaugurated the celebration of the Second Sunday of Easter as Mercy Sunday for the Universal Church. He said it was for this moment he believed he became Pope.
For this MOMENT!?! Really? What an extraordinary statement from an extraordinary man!!!
Time Magazine declared him Man of the Year on Dec. 26, 1994, citing his activities which promoted the fall of Russian Communism. He traveled more than all previous Popes combined and canonized nearly 500 saints. He inaugurated World Youth Days, called for Universal Day of Prayer for the Sick, issued the Catechisms of the Church and renewed the Church's commitment to the Natural Law and the value and dignity of each member of humanity from conception to natural death.
He lived the gospel message of forgiveness ... forgiving the man who shot him in an attempt to end his life and a year later forgiving the priest who attacked him with a knife at Fatima when he placed the bullet which almost killed him in the crown of the Statue of Mary in the Capalinha.
At a time when family structure are no longer stable,
The exploitation of the poor has become rampant,
The atrocities of ethnic cleansing and the barbarianism of international terrorism daily flood the news,
We have grown cold and complacent toward the heartache of others: those under-wanted preborn children, the unemployed, the addicted, the latest disaster victim in another place or the immigrant under our nose. This is an evil age, under the reign of the Evil One. Have we ever been in greater need of a MERCIFUL SAVIOR?!? Jesus spoke and St. Faustina recorded his words in her Diary at Paragraph 83: ... I am coming as the King of Mercy, before I come as the Just Judge....
We need to follow the example of Pope John Paul II. His aged illness was his badge of humility, he did not hide behind arrogance. He lived his contrition asking for forgiveness from those wronged by the Church. He led the public penances of Rome each Lent and was known as a man of personal prayer who frequented the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Always a gracious host when speaking to each and ever person he greeted.
I recall the first time I met Pope John Paul II and how when he spoke it was as if we two were the only ones in the room. Like when you pray in a church and you feel alone with Jesus although others may well be praying to Him in the same place.
Today's Gospel gives us two encounters with the Risen Savior. In each Jesus walks through a locked door, into an upper room where the Apostles are gathered in prayer. The First time is on Easter and the second time is on MERCY SUNDAY when Thomas is present.
As Devotees of the Message of Divine Mercy we should immediately see why Blessed Michael Sopocko, St. Faustina's Spiritual Director, felt that it was appropriate to include the doorway behind Jesus in the picture of Divine Mercy as the artist Skemp had done in his version of the Divine Mercy Picture.
In today's Gospel, Jesus invites the Apostle Thomas to touch His nail marks and behold the residue of His mercy. Jesus calls Thomas to place his hand in the wound left by the lance which cut open the fount of His mercy. Jesus asks Thomas to believe. Do you believe? Do you really believe that Jesus underwent all this suffering to hear you say with an ardent faith: JESUS, I TRUST IN YOU!
Jesus engages only Thomas because it is only Thomas who has not professed his trust in the Risen Savior. And at this Eucharistic Celebration, Jesus the Merciful Savior looks to each of us and asks us to respond to Him, "Jesus, I trust in You. Jesus, I trust in You."
We read in the Diary of St. Faustina at Paragraph 1447 the words of Jesus: ... I love them [each soul] tenderly and sincerely ... I want to lavish My graces on them." Open your heart to Jesus. Tell Him that you do trust Him!
When you receive Him in Holy Communion, quietly tell Him that He s the most welcomed guest of your soul. Invite Him to reign in your heart, soul, and mind. That He might govern every action of your life. Give Him your will, your intellect and your memory. Tell Him that everything you are is His and all that you claim as your own is at His disposal.
Jesus, I trust in You!
The Very Rev. Daniel Cambra, MIC, serves as the Marian Fathers' Provincial Superior in the United States and Argentina.