Is God's Mercy for Everybody?

The chilly mid-September day began like a Sherlock Holmes movie, with heavy fog creeping over Kampoosa Bog bordering Eden Hill, home of the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Mass.

At the line where bog ends and the woods meet the north field on the Hill, mists swirled slowly. Later, at 11 a.m., Brother Sun popped through the vapors. On cue, a squirrel dashed across the field, parallel to the tree line. He stopped, danced with indecision, moved to a spot, and buried an acorn. In His mercy and goodness, God had provided for this little one, as He does for us all.

"All" is an unforgiving word. It allows no exceptions, which leads to two vital questions: Is God's mercy for everybody? If so, why?

A 'Eureka!' Mercy Moment
The answers came in a recent chat with Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC, director of the Marian Helpers Association. ?Father Seraphim, one of the planet's ranking experts on the life of St. Faustina and Divine Mercy, is "a notebook filler." That's someone so articulate and knowledgeable on a subject that practically everything the person says is noteworthy.

It's not that the person necessarily talks a lot, as for example someone who can gab the ears off a stalk of corn but whose words add up to little. No, we're talking about a person who says a lot, sometimes in few words. Father Seraphim tossed out this comment: "The Lord doesn't give up on anybody, because we all cost Him too much." The moment he said that, it became clear: That's why Divine Mercy is for everybody, "because we all cost Him too much."

It was a "Eureka!" mercy moment. God's mercy must be for everybody for the simple reason that "all" allows for no exception. ?Father Seraphim's statement answers both questions. Mercy is for all. It is then up to people to accept that mercy, which becomes a statement of faith based on the use of one's free will.

Anyone who appreciates the message of Divine Mercy would believe what Fr. Seraphim said. Now let me share with you my follow-up question to Fr. Seraphim: Does "all" include a man such as Adolph Hitler? The answer was yes. Hitler was a human being and no one except God can know the state of his or anyone's soul at the moment of death. No person can presume to judge another in this way. To do so would be to play God. We also know that Jesus told St. Faustina that at the moment of death, a person has more than one chance to accept the unconditional and fathomless mercy of God, mercy defined as love offered to someone who doesn't merit love. Who's to say that Hitler - or, as Pope Benedict reminded us two years ago, Judas Iscariot - didn't do that?

No Exclusions in God's Love for Us
As plans gear up for the North American Congress on Mercy on Nov. 14-15 at the National Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., and the pre-NACOM Networking Forum sponsored by the Marian Fathers the day before, I think back to another interview. This one was with Fr. Patrice Chocholski, a parish priest in Lyon, France, who serves as General Secretary of the World Apostolic Congress on Mercy (in Rome last year and in Krakow, Poland in 2011).

Father Patrice made a point similar to Fr. Seraphim's. He said the quality of mercy didn't exclude anyone, provided they opened their hearts to receive God's love.

"Moslems, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, agnostics, atheists - it doesn't matter," Fr. Patrice said. "Every human heart longs for mercy, consciously or unconsciously. That's why the message of God's mercy hits such a nerve with so many people." Father Patrice said he used the word "atheist" deliberately to illustrate the extent to which God is willing to take us back.

Atheists are people who profess a disbelief in God with the "certainty" of belief. Their faith in disbelief is incredible. Actually, they believe in many things. For one, they drive as an act of faith, trusting that an oncoming car won't swerve into their lane. They eat in faith that the food they purchase isn't tainted, and so on.

It turns out, according to Fr. Patrice, that "atheist" and "believer" are not the antonyms that first glance would suggest. The two words describe a similar condition - man's grappling with his relationship to God - the way "heads" and "tails" describe the same coin.

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen defined an atheist as a person with "no invisible means of support." ??

So, is God's mercy for everyone and all? Yes. Abraham Lincoln once said of the many forms of religious belief, "Whatever you are, be a good one." "Good ones" open their hearts to accept mercy and love, and extend these beautiful qualities in return.

Apocalyptic Signs
There seems to be "feeling" in the air. More and more people are saying so. This time of mercy, our time of mercy, can be seen as counterpoint to a growing, vague, uneasy, and even apocalyptic sense about the waywardness of the materialistic, consumer-driven world.

There seems to be a sense of events getting out of control, taking culture with it. You can read the signs in the decline of family life, the disharmony of politics, the brutality and shallowness of pop entertainment, and the meltdown of economics.

God produces prophets who warn about such things. Did William Butler Yeats correctly prophesy our times in his poem, "The Second Coming?":

??Turning and turning in the widening gyre?the falcon cannot hear the falconer;?Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;?Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, and everywhere?the ceremony of innocence is drowned.?The best lack all conviction, while the worst?are full of passionate intensity.?Surely some revelation is at hand.?Surely the Second Coming is at hand."

Yeats wrote those words in the fall of 1921. In Germany at that same time, Adolph Hitler was being named chairman of the National Socialist German Workers' Party. Meanwhile, in Aleksandrow near Lodz, Poland, a young girl named Helen Kowalska was being confirmed on Oct. 30 by Bishop Vincent Tymienecki. She became St. Faustina.

Three people, three responses; one God and same the opportunity of mercy for all.

Dan Valenti writes for numerous publications of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, both in print and online. He is the author of Dan Valenti's Mercy Journal.

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