Work, Works, Worship

By Chris Sparks

What does it mean to work for the Catholic Church, especially by working for (or with, in the case of volunteers) the Marian Fathers?

It means that on Eden Hill in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, at the Marian Helpers Center and the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy, our days are filled with prayer as well as the efforts the secular world would recognize as work. It means that Mass is a necessary part of our day, and that we pause for prayer in the morning, at the 3 o’clock Hour of Great Mercy, and the evening. 

The liturgy is the work of the whole Christ, head and body. Our high priest celebrates it unceasingly in the heavenly liturgy, with the holy Mother of God, the apostles, all the saints, and the multitude of those who have already entered the kingdom (Catechism, 1187).

It means that we are reminded throughout our day in ways large and small that our earthly work depends on grace; that the ministry of the Marian Fathers and the apostolate of the Association of Marian Helpers can only succeed and endure by the supernatural grace of God completing and perfecting our own natural efforts.

It means spiritual warfare comes with the daily labors, looking rather more like Screwtape than “The Exorcist” for the most part, but warfare nonetheless. It means that we hear the best and the worst of the life of the Church, encountering the people most in need of Divine Mercy and those most invested in sharing Divine Mercy with the whole world. It means that we are taught the meaning of the words “Jesus, I trust in You” each day, and often each moment, with each interaction with other people. It means blessings and burdens, joys, light, sorrows, and glory. It means being close to one of the places where the veil between this world and the next is often quite thin, where miracles are recounted (and sometimes even happen), where the Church is alive and the Holy Spirit is active (with His Spouse, Our Lady) in a way much of the rest of the world may not be privileged to see.

It means participating in the mysteries of our Lord’s Incarnation, all of them, each in its own season, as St. Faustina did throughout her life. She suffered on behalf of the souls who would be saved and assisted by the Divine Mercy message and devotion. I suspect all of us who share in the labor of promoting the Divine Mercy message and devotion will also share in the sorrows and crosses, as well as the joys and graces, described by St. Faustina in her Diary. Certainly, we will all be blessed with the grace we need to live “Jesus, I trust in You,” but we will probably also find that we need to practice the spirituality of trust because of the challenges of life and the apostolate.

But we have promises, solid and true, given by Jesus, as recounted in Divine Mercy Promises and Insights, collected by Fr. Scott Foley, a priest of the Diocese of Davenport, Iowa. We have assurances of extraordinary graces and blessings for all who promote and practice the Divine Mercy message and devotion. We will have the grace we need to meet any challenge and overcome any obstacle, even though God may answer our prayers in His own time, after His own fashion.

So in this New Year under the protection of Our Lady, the Immaculate Conception, let us take up the tremendous gifts He has given to us and set forth to work alongside the Marian Fathers in the vineyard of the Lord. Let us live the message of Divine Mercy, asking for God’s mercy; being merciful to others through word, deed, and prayer; and completely trusting in God’s mercy. Let us make sure we are making use of the graces given us through each part of the devotion, which we can remember using the acronym FINCH, as Fr. Chris Alar, MIC, explains in his book, Understanding Divine Mercy

The world needs Divine Mercy more than ever; let us not leave Lazarus lying in the street when we have such riches to share.

Saint Faustina, pray for us! Jesus. I trust in You!

Pray for me, that I may practice what I preach. I’ll pray for you.

Chris Sparks serves as senior book editor for the Marian Fathers. He is the author of the Marian Press book How Can You Still Be Catholic? 50 Answers to a Good Question.

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