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Devoted to Divine Mercy (And Not in Name Only)

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While visiting the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in July, Whitney Pencina of Brighton, Mass., joined the Shrine's musical group, playing flute during Mass. Whitney is a substitute player for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, which plays throughout the summer at Tanglewood, the famous performance center a few miles down the road from the Shrine. Below, Whitney shares how the message of Divine Mercy has changed her life.

After several years of discernment, Whitney Pencina joined the Catholic Church in 2003. Why?

"The man who became my husband — it's his fault," says Whitney, with a laugh.

His name is Michael. He's a native of Poland. The two met at Boston University in an ecumenical group. She was raised Protestant. He was raised Catholic.

"Every time the two of us would meet, we'd talk about the differences between Protestantism and Catholicism," says Whitney.

One day, Michael explained to Whitney what he considered was the main difference between the two forms of Christianity — that Catholics believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist and Protestants generally do not.

"So I started to think that either the Catholics have had it wrong for 2,000 years, or I've been really missing something," says Whitney. "And over the course of the next year, I believed I was missing something: a deeper understanding of Christ and His Church."

So, after studying the faith, she joined the Catholic Church. When it came time for her to choose a Confirmation name, she picked "Faustina," after St. Faustina, the Apostle of Divine Mercy.

There were several reasons why.

One is because St. Faustina was Polish.

"Since my husband had been so instrumental in my understanding of the fullness of the Catholic faith, I wanted to honor him by picking a Polish saint," says Whitney.

The second reason is because Whitney was drawn by the fact that St. Faustina did not live so long ago. The revelations Jesus gave to St. Faustina were a mere 70 years ago — a sign that Jesus is still very much with us and cares about our salvation.

"This message of Divine Mercy is for everyone, today — for the whole world," says Whitney

The third reason is because of the simple words Christ gave to St. Faustina: "Jesus, I trust in You."

"The words are simple, yet they're so profound," says Whitney.

"Whenever I've put my trust in Jesus, whenever I've ever turned the big choices in my life over to Him, I've been able to see Him work. Trusting Him is the key.

"I can say that my life looks so different now than I would have ever imagined it looking years ago because I've trusted in Him," she says. "It looks better than I would ever have imagined!"

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Moderator - Nov 25, 2006

Dear Bernie,

Excellent questions! St. Ignatius of Loyola has given us powerful, practical tools for discerning God's will at all times. These tools, collectively, are called the discernment of spirits. By using his techniques, we can identify whether the thoughts and feelings we experience are coming from God or from the evil one. Then we can know whether to follow them or resist them.

A great book which explains very clearly how to practice the discernment of spirits is:

The Discernment of Spirits: An Ignatian Guide to Everyday Living by Fr. Timothy Gallagher.

Here is a link to it on Amazon.

Bernie - Nov 24, 2006

How do you know what is the will of the lord in your life? How do you know that what is happening is His will so that you do not resist it or prevent it from happening?

Moderator - Nov 23, 2006

Dear Nellie,

Trusting God is the most important thing in our spiritual lives. It is also one of the most difficult things. Learning to trust Him completely doesn't happen overnight. But we can be grateful to God for sending us trials which test us because they help us grow to trust Him more and more. Seen in this light, we can understand our trials and crosses as gifts or blessings from the Lord.

Therefore, I would recommend four things: 1) In prayer, tell the Lord exactly what you're experiencing: that you want to trust Him in everything but that it's difficult and that you feel frustrated. 2) Express gratitude to God for the trials He sends you, knowing that through them you will grow closer to the Lord and stronger in your ability to trust. 3) Finally, realize that feeling frustrated is a good thing because it teaches us that we can't do it on our own - we are completely dependent on God's grace. So continue to ask Him for the gift of trust. 4) Be patient. It doesn't happen overnight. But little by little, and by trusting in small matters (as you are doing), you will eventually come to trust Him in great matters too.

God bless you!

nellie - Nov 22, 2006

How do I trust God completely? I've been looking for answer to my prayers. I trust God with the big things in my life but cannot do so when it comes to my financial problems. i believe in his promises, but how can I "trust"? Please help me. I feel so frustrated with myself. I do not know anymore which is which.

Truth is, the Divine Mercy has recently manifested a great miracle in my family and I am so very thankful. But why is it that I cannot trust Him with my financial burdens?