True Mercy is a Reciprocal Act

Our Divine Mercy prayer group recently received a prayer request for Rita. She was in the hospital in a coma. Her brain was bleeding, and she also suffered from high blood pressure.

We made a special trip to the church to pray with St. Faustina before the Blessed Sacrament. We prayed a Chaplet of The Divine Mercy for healing and God's will in Rita's life.

I didn't know Rita, but I felt a degree of urgency to pray for her.

The next day I was running late for work when I received a call. A request was made for me to go pray over Rita at the hospital using my parish's first-class relic of St. Faustina. I was told Rita wasn't expected to live but a few days. Although I was running late for work and the day's demands were upon me, I felt the urgency to dramatically change my plans for the day.

After calling Rita's husband, I was scheduled to see Rita at about noon. I prayed that she would not die before I got there. I arrived at the hospital early. In Rita's room, I met her children. Together, we prayed the Chaplet as Rita's daughter held the relic of St. Faustina to Rita's heart. It was a very moving moment.

I found out that earlier that day, at about 7:30 a.m., a priest was there to give Rita the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. Then, after that, at about 9:30 a.m., our parish priest, Fr. Mike, was there to pray the Litany of the Saints and other devotions. I arrived at 11:30 a.m. to pray the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy.

What better way to have your life unfold as you are to pass to Heaven than to receive all those graces for the journey!

Jesus once said to St. Faustina, "Let [souls] approach this sea of mercy with great trust. Sinners will attain justification, and the just will be confirmed in good. Whoever places his trust in My mercy will be filled with My divine peace at the hour of death" (Diary of St. Faustina, 1520).

Rita died that night. A couple days later, I was talking to a friend of Rita's family. It seemed appropriate for me to have her ask the family if they wanted to pray the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy - along with the Rosary - at the wake. She agreed to ask the family, and they agreed to have my friend lead it.

During the wake is when I really got to know who Rita was. I found that she was very faithful to God and a witness to her faith. Because of the content of movies these days, she didn't even go to see movies anymore; she didn't want to offend God. She loved God very much and entrusted her life and her death to His hands. She preached of His goodness and mercy to her family and friends. And as our Lord would have it, she received the graces He wanted her to have before she died.

Her witness to a life of faith made me realize what the late Pope John Paul ll meant when he wrote in the encyclical Dives in Misericordia about how an act of mercy has to be reciprocal to be a true act of mercy.

He writes:

Jesus Christ taught that man not only receives and experiences the mercy of God, but that he is also called "to practice mercy" towards others: "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy." The Church sees in these words a call to action, and she tries to practice mercy. All the beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount indicate the way of conversion and of reform of life, but the one referring to those who are merciful is particularly eloquent in this regard. Man attains to the merciful love of God, His mercy, to the extent that he himself is interiorly transformed in the spirit of that love towards his neighbor.

This authentically evangelical process is not just a spiritual transformation realized once and for all: it is a whole lifestyle, an essential and continuous characteristic of the Christian vocation. It consists in the constant discovery and persevering practice of love as a unifying and also elevating power despite all difficulties of a psychological or social nature: it is a question, in fact, of a merciful love which, by its essence, is a creative love.

In reciprocal relationships between persons merciful love is never a unilateral act or process. Even in the cases in which everything would seem to indicate that only one party is giving and offering, and the other only receiving and taking (for example, in the case of a physician giving treatment, a teacher teaching, parents supporting and bringing up their children, a benefactor helping the needy), in reality the one who gives is always also a beneficiary. In any case, he too can easily find himself in the position of the one who receives, who obtains a benefit, who experiences merciful love; he too can find himself the object of mercy.

In this sense Christ crucified is for us the loftiest model, inspiration and encouragement. When we base ourselves on this disquieting model, we are able with all humility to show mercy to others, knowing that Christ accepts it as if it were shown to Himself. On the basis of this model, we must also continually purify all our actions and all our intentions in which mercy is understood and practiced in a unilateral way, as a good done to others.
An act of merciful love is only really such when we are deeply convinced at the moment that we perform it that we are at the same time receiving mercy from the people who are accepting it from us. If this bilateral and reciprocal quality is absent, our actions are not yet true acts of mercy, nor has there yet been fully completed in us that conversion to which Christ has shown us the way by His words and example, even to the cross, nor are we yet sharing fully in the magnificent source of merciful love that has been revealed to us by Him.

Rita, in such a profound witness of faith, gave to me as much - or maybe more - as I gave to her. The gift we both received was given through the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy, God's mercy. Without Rita having ever spoken a word to me, I feel that I can call her a friend, a sister in Christ. We both benefited tremendously by God's unfathomable mercy.

Jesus told St. Faustina, "Tell them that no soul that has called upon My mercy has been disappointed or brought to shame. I delight particularly in a soul which has placed its trust in My goodness (Diary, 1541).

Jay Hastings, of Bartlett, Tenn., is the founder of a growing group of Divine Mercy devotees who ensure that the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy is being prayed every hour of the day. The 24-hour Chaplet members now consist of over 750 people from across the United States, as well as from Canada, Mexico, Philippines, Bolivia, Belize, (Central America) India, Costa Rica, Australia, Kuwait, Iraq, United Arab Emirates, Japan, Tanzania (Africa), New Zealand, United Kingdom, Zimbabwe, Africa, Ireland and Panama who are assigned an hour each day in which to pray. They pray for three things: the promotion of the Divine Mercy devotion; the sick and dying in the hour that you pray; and people about to commit mortal sin. To join the 24-Hour Chaplet, contact Jay via e-mail, or via phone, 901-438-7772.

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