Hey, What's Divine Mercy Doing on That Thing?

Father Michael Gaitley, MIC, who has, as of today, taken over as director of the Association of Marian Helpers, succeeding Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC, has big news to share.

Thanks to his efforts, the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception have created a Divine Mercy "app," or application. In case you don't know the technological lingo, an "app" is a software program that can easily be downloaded to an iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, or Android.

If you love the message of Divine Mercy, you're just one free download away from having a whole world of Divine Mercy information and resources at your fingertips. In the following interview, Fr. Michael tells how the app was created and why it's a groundbreaking initiative for the spread of Divine Mercy.

Father Michael, less than a year ago you had never even heard the word "app," so how did you become the creator of such an amazing app about Divine Mercy?

It's simple. I had a lot of great help. First, there's Nick Daverin from our New Media Department, who had never made an app before. I asked him for help, and he quickly taught himself the programming language for the iPhone. Then, he worked long hours, patiently put up with my constant suggestions and changes of mind, and did an incredible job making the idea a reality. Also, Terry Peloquin, from the same department, found or created stunning images for the app, which were always better than my original plans. Finally, a generous benefactor named Jeff provided all the funds needed to make the app. He had only one condition: that the Marians make the app available to people for free. It's because of Jeff's generosity and zeal for Divine Mercy that what could have been quite an expensive app - by App Store standards - is now completely free.

The timing of the new app is perfect. It was only two months ago that the Holy Father spoke of the Church's need to find creative ways to communicate the Gospel and evangelize in the "digital age."

Maybe this is Divine Providence at work. Or maybe the Marians are just totally on the ball. Either way, that's pretty cool. And can you imagine the disciples in Jesus' time having iPhones or iPads at their disposal to spread the Gospel? They sure would have saved a lot of wear and tear on their sandals. The truth is, while there are many aspects of the digital age that can be harmful and that can jeopardize our pursuit of truth, beauty, and goodness, the digital age is here, and we can't deny it. We have an obligation to "contribute to maturation in humanity," as the Holy Father says. Certainly, people use the Internet for impure purposes or as a distraction or a means of escape. That puts the burden on believers to double our efforts to reach them, to communicate and form a dialogue with them, and to inspire them with the greatest message the world has ever known. That's what Christ calls upon us to do.

You mention the disciples, but can you imagine how happy St. Faustina must be. She must be in heaven smiling upon this new Divine Mercy app?

I was thinking about that throughout this project. Saint Faustina received Christ's message of Divine Mercy and was told by Him to spread it throughout the world. Following her death in 1938, my Congregation, the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, became official promoters of the message, and it's amazing to think of the tools now at our disposal that help us fulfill this mission. In the early 1940s we began our Divine Mercy apostolate by printing prayercards, pamphlets, books, and magazines. First we used a makeshift mimeograph machine and printed literature from our basement here on Eden Hill, in Stockbridge. But we've moved with the times. We bought increasingly bigger and more sophisticated printing presses as technology changed and have printed literally millions of pieces of literature. Six years ago, we launched thedivinemercy.org, which has become daily reading for thousands of people around the world. And now this app. This is incredibly exciting for us all. I know St. Faustina has no need for an iPhone, but I sort of wish I could personally show her our Divine Mercy app.

Father Michael, you made sure everyone in our office saw the Divine Mercy app as soon as it came out. I seem to remember you running and jumping around the halls with glee. And, yes, the app really is amazing. So, why don't you tell our readers about it.

Yes, Felix, as you well know, I'm pretty excited about this project. I haven't seen any other Catholic app like it, and it's got everything Divine Mercy. Really. For those who don't know much about the message of Divine Mercy, they can easily learn the whole story. For those who are already "experts," they will have an opportunity to go even deeper. And for those who are simply looking to meditate on passages from the Diary of St. Faustina, pray the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy, or make the Stations of the Cross, they'll find great graphics and aids to prayer.

OK, Fr. Michael. So, the App has something for everyone: the uninitiated, the experts, and the "saints." Now tell us how the app is organized and its specific features.

There are three main "chapters" to the app: The Message, The Devotion, and Mercy Plus.

"The Message" has the following features:

• An introduction to the message of Divine Mercy
• two biographies of St. Faustina (a long one and a short one)
• A ton of passages from the Diary of Faustina conveniently organized according to themes
• A timeline that describes the main events of the Divine Mercy story
• A collection of the most significant "Divine Mercy quotes" from Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI
• A list of the main Divine Mercy resources that can be purchased right through the app.

"The Devotion" includes these features:

• An interactive chaplet that you can actually pray without the aid of Rosary beads and an audio option to listen to the chaplet (my favorite feature - the one I was jumping around the halls about)
• An interactive Stations of the Cross that uses the words from St. Faustina's Way of the Cross
• A selection of images of Divine Mercy that turn the iPhone into a vivid prayer card
• Information on the "three ways" to observe the Hour of Great Mercy
• An explanation of Divine Mercy Sunday that also answers the main questions people often ask about the day
• The Divine Mercy Novena and a treasure trove of other prayers.

"Divine Mercy Plus" has the following features:

• An introduction to my community, the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, who have been the main promoters of the message of Divine Mercy in the English speaking world (this section includes a "meet our seminarians" section complete with photos)
• Information about the Association of Marian Helpers and pdf documents of the most recent and archived Marian Helper Magazine
• Information on and photos of our Apostolates: the Eucharistic Apostles of Divine Mercy, Mother of Mercy Messengers, the John Paul II Institute of Divine Mercy, and Healthcare Professionals for Divine Mercy
• Information about the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy, which includes photos, a calendar of events, spiritual renewal opportunities, and more
• Recent articles from our website, a collection of "Divine Mercy 101" articles, and articles that cover frequently asked questions
• The Marian's full online religious catalog.

OK, OK. Stop. Really. Cut to the chase: How do people get your free app? And will it be available for Droid and other Smartphones?

For now, to enjoy the Divine Mercy app, you need to have an iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad. [EDITOR'S NOTE: As of April 18, the app is available for Android.] If you've got one of these mobile devices, then you simply go to the App Store, type in "Divine Mercy," and download the app. My friend Jeff, who paid for the development of the Divine Mercy app for iPhone, is also footing the bill to make it available for the Droid phone. And speaking of Jeff, please say a prayer him. He deserves it. Without him, I don't think the Marians would have been able to make the Divine Mercy app available for free. His generosity is helping us to spread the message of Divine Mercy to many more people. Thanks, Jeff. And thank you to all the other Marian Helpers who have supported the Marians over the years. May God bless you 100-fold for your goodness to us.

Finally, Fr. Michael, you mentioned that your father bought you your iPod Touch. As you know, I don't have an iPod Touch. Would you do me the favor of asking your father to buy me one, too?

No. But it was nice of you to ask ...

And Felix, since you're so good at asking, please do Divine Mercy the favor of asking your friends and family who have Apple mobile devices to check out the Marians' new, FREE Divine Mercy app.

Fine. I'll do it for Divine Mercy.

+ + +

Again, to enjoy the Divine Mercy app, you need to have an iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, or Android. If you've got one of the Apple mobile devices, then you simply go to the App Store, type in "Divine Mercy," and download the app. Android users can download the app here.

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