God’s Mercy and Justice

The following is the foreword for the new book, Divine Mercy and Divine Justice: Why Both are Essential to a Catholic Understanding of Godby Robert Stackpole, STD, director of the John Paul II Institute of Divine Mercy. The foreword is by Ralph Martin, STD, president of Renewal Ministries.

This is an excellent and much needed book. It carefully and clearly addresses some of the biggest confusions common in the Church today concerning such important topics as the reality of Heaven, Hell and Purgatory and how to understand the relation between God’s mercy and God’s justice.

Misunderstanding revealed truth on these important topics is not just an academic problem: It jeopardizes salvation itself as well as undermining the call to holiness and evangelization and the motivation for anyone to dedicate their life to the service of God and His people.

Let me share an experience I had that illustrates the point. One day I was speaking to a group about what Jesus teaches about the danger of unrepented serious sin separating us from God forever and a woman came up to me afterwards and declared boldly: “My Jesus would never have said that.”

Shocking. Troubling. Not many people today go around carving little wooden statues and worshipping them but many people today do go around picking and choosing what they like and don’t like in the teaching of Jesus and the Church. It can be a form of idolatry and profound rebellion, creating a “god” in our own image and making up our own religion because we find “offensive” the real Jesus and His actual teaching.

How important is that all of us carefully pay attention to what God has revealed about Himself and the way to salvation and how the Church has understood this and faithfully transmitted it all these years until it is summed up today in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Dr. Stackpole blends together the results of careful reasoning and sensitive attention to the revelation of God, and addresses in a way that may help many the huge deceptions that are weakening the faith, morality and mission of God’s people today.

Although the book is academically sound it is written in such a way that the educated Catholic can certainly understand the flow of his argument and greatly benefit from it.

His treatment of the truth about God’s mercy and justice is absolutely essential for understanding who God is and how we should respond to Him.

He has devoted whole chapters to the important topics of Purgatory and Hell and does not shrink from dealing with the “soft universalism” of Hans Urs Von Balthasar, Cardinal Kasper, and Bishop Barron, which he demonstrates is not solidly grounded in the true faith of the Church or in reason.

He addresses the tough questions: “If God is so merciful, why is there a hell?” “Why was the horrible death of Jesus Christ by crucifixion necessary for our salvation?” “Why do we shy away from facing the truth of the need for punishment — the penal dimension — for our sins?”

In the course of the book, he has many occasions to show how the revelations made to St. Faustina about Divine Mercy, also include clear and repeated warnings that God’s mercy is not forced on anyone but it must be accepted in humility and lead to repentance and conversion.

In a final chapter, he does a masterful job of showing the relevance of mercy to Catholic social teaching.

This is a book that was written with careful attention to the truth and a deep concern for the salvation of souls. It is also a book that took courage to write and for that we are all in Dr. Stackpole’s debt.

Ralph Martin, STD, is president of Renewal Ministries in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and the director of graduate programs in the New Evangelization at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit.