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Promises, Promises: How Far Do They Go?

Robert Stackpole Answers Your Divine Mercy Questions

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By Dr. Robert Stackpole, STD (Jan 18, 2012)
Over the past few weeks I have received a bunch of questions about some of the promises our Lord has made about the graces He wants to pour out upon us through the Image of The Divine Mercy and the Feast of The Divine Mercy.

First, with regard to the image, a man named Edward asked me to help him understand what our Lord meant by the promise He made to St. Faustina when He first appeared to her in her cell in the form of the image and said to her:

Paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the signature: Jesus, I trust in You. I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish. I also promise victory over [its] enemies already here on earth, especially at the hour of death. I Myself will defend it as My own glory." (Diary of St. Faustina, 47 and 48)

In particular, Edward asked if there are any "conditions" attached to the promise that "the soul that will venerate this image will not perish." He suggested that it almost sounds like a "Get out of Jail Free" card from the Monopoly board game!

Thanks so much for your good question, Edward. Our Lord did not spell out any particular conditions for obtaining this promise other than the general one for every form of the Divine Mercy devotion: "The graces of My mercy are drawn by means of one vessel only, and that is — trust. The more a soul trusts, the more it will receive" (Diary, 1578). Thus, devotions and prayers made to the Merciful Lord through use of this image will open the heart to receive graces in proportion to the amount of trust that the soul places in Him. Notice also that the rays flowing from the Heart of Jesus are already flowing toward the viewer, unconditionally (there is no "on" or "off" button that we need to press to get them to flow). To receive them all we need to do is bring a vessel of trust.

See also the very first entry in St. Faustina's Diary: "O Eternal love, You commanded Your Sacred Image to be painted and reveal to us the inconceivable fount of mercy. You bless whoever approaches Your rays, and a soul all black will be turned to snow... from Your open Heart, as from a pure fount, flows comfort to a repentant heart and soul." There are no "hoops" we need to jump through to receive this free grace: just a heart that has let go of its sins through repentance so there is room enough in that heart for grace to flow in — and a heart that has opened the floodgates to that grace through the virtue of trust.

A reader of this column named Kathleen asked me about the promises of the Feast of The Divine Mercy, and how they might be extended to the needs of the souls of our children and grandchildren who are wandering far from the faith. She wrote:

I would like to think that the Feast of The Divine Mercy blessings may be extended even to our unbaptized grandbabies. However, recently I read that Canon Law indicates that the unbaptized cannot participate in nor receive any indulgences. Of course, I'm not a theologian so I really don't know how to take this information.

Can you give me any advice about how more fully to extend the Divine Mercy blessings and healings to our non-practicing children and grandchildren?

Well, Kathleen, I will do my best. But, as a matter of fact, our Lord makes it easy for us to help them. Some people get very upset when they learn that an "indulgence" can only be obtained for oneself, or for a soul suffering in purgatory, and that the special grace of Holy Communion on Divine Mercy Sunday ("the complete remission of sins and punishment," as our Lord promised in Diary, entry 699) are only available to souls who receive Holy Communion themselves that day in a state of grace, with trust in Divine Mercy. It seems as if we can help the faithful departed and ourselves on Divine Mercy Sunday but not our living loved ones all around us!

But let's look at the promises Jesus made to St. Faustina more closely. He says in that same entry (699): "On that day, all the divine floodgates through which graces flow are opened." If all those floodgates are open, then that means more channels of grace are open than just the special graces of Holy Communion on that day and the special indulgences available on that Feast. Father Ignacy Rozycki, the theologian who examined St. Faustina's Diary on behalf of the Vatican as part of the official Church investigation of her life and teachings, discussed this matter in his famous address, "Essential Features of the Devotion to The Divine Mercy":

Jesus did not limit His generosity on the Feast of Divine Mercy exclusively to this one, supreme grace [that is, to the extraordinary grace promised for the devout reception of Holy Communion on that day]. On the contrary, He declared "On that day, the very depths of My tender mercy are open... On that day all the divine floodgates through which graces flow are opened" (Diary, 699). For this reason, "let no soul fear to approach Me." From these words of Christ it is evident that He fervently desires the Feast of Divine Mercy to be an unusually effective refuge for all mankind, especially for sinners, incomparably more effective than all other forms of Devotion to The Divine Mercy.

So, Kathleen, I think this means that there is no day on which intercessory prayer for our loved ones who have wandered from the faith, and for their children, can be more powerful than prayers said at the Mass of Divine Mercy Sunday. Heart-sprung prayers offered up on that feast day to the Merciful Heart of Jesus for the sake of His lost sheep, with trust in His Divine Mercy, and in honor of His Divine Mercy, cannot fail to partake of His promises, whether in unseen ways, or even in dramatic and miraculous ways: "Souls that make an appeal to My mercy delight Me," Jesus said. "To such souls I grant even more graces than they ask" (Diary, 1146).

Your good letter has reminded me, Kathleen, of some relatives of mine that also need the grace of the Good Shepherd to be led back to His flock. Let's pray the Chaplet for them often — and bring them in our hearts to His Merciful heart on Mercy Sunday:

We pray Thee too for wanderers from Thy fold;
Oh bring them back Good Shepherd of the sheep,
Back to the faith which saints believed of old,
Back to Thy Church which still that faith doth keep;
Soon may we all one bread one Body be,
One in this Sacrament of Unity.

Robert Stackpole, STD, is director of the John Paul II Institute of Divine Mercy, an apostolate of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception. His latest book is Divine Mercy: A Guide from Genesis to Benedict XVI (Marian Press). Got a question? E-mail him at [email protected].

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Be a part of the discussion. Add a comment now!

Donna Marie Chmiel - Apr 1, 2012

Ineed to know specifically in what document of John-Paul II that he says that we should venerate the Image on Divine Mercy Sunday. I need to give that quote to a priest. I know what it says in the Diary. Many people are not interested in Diary Qoutes.

Mike - Feb 21, 2012

Regarding indulgences for your living loved ones: God is outside of space and time. How about offering your indulgences for your loved ones and ask God to apply them at the moment of their death? I can't imagine that God would refuse this.

Tom Houston - Jan 27, 2012

Good day! Here I believe is more proof that God has no condition for his mercy/Love Edward. As Doctor Stackpole Answers."Our Lord did not spell out any particular conditions for obtaining this promise other than the general one for every form of the Divine Mercy devotion.

Look at the Novena, where God tells St. Faustina - she is to bring to Him(she is chargerd) - "Today bring Me souls". there is no condition tied to this request to her, these souls will get a chance to accept His special graces of the Divine Mercy.

Remember God promises but the soul must accept. We can help the soul with the Divine Mercy we bring to that soul when we beg/ask God for that grace.

As mention Diary 1320:" I will refuse nothing to the soul that makes a request of Me in virtue of My Passion..."

Kathleen - Jan 25, 2012

Dear Dr. Stackpole, Thank you so much for your helpful & comforting answer to my question about Divine Mercy Sunday’s application to our unbaptized grandchildren !! I have printed it (several copies) so I can carry it with me through prayer times, to Adoration during Lent, Easter , Divine Mercy Sunday and throughout the coming year.
Most striking to me was, that the day I looked for your answer Jan. 18, the website also carried the Mercy Minutes excerpt of JESUS’ Words from 739 of the Diary : “My Daughter, don’t be exerting yourself so much with words. Those whom you love in a special way, I too love in a special way, etc. “ These words of Jesus dovetail so closely with the needs I have felt and expressed with my question to you ! I’m always explaining to Him all the reasons why I need to presume upon His Mercy for the sake of these little ones who are not included in the Church (and for all the unborn and all aborted babies as well). Now I can relax and focus more deeply on the on-flowing REALITY And PRESENCE of His Mercy for ALL- especially at this time of the March for Life! Thank you once again! In the Merciful Hearts of Jesus and Mary, Kathleen

Bob Allard, Director, Apostles of Divine Mercy - Jan 22, 2012

Thanks Robert,
So true... we are learning so much more about the Divine Mercy Image as time passes on and trusting in Jesus is the best thing that we can do to receive the graces that Jesus wants to give us.

And I agree, the graces of the Feast of Mercy cannot be matched anywhere. That day is set apart from any other day. I pray that all priests and bishops may come to this understanding and that they do their very best to encourage souls to approach the Fount of Mercy.

Michele - Jan 19, 2012

Thank you for this article! I am a poor and weak soul, and I desire Jesus' mercy on me and on the whole world, especially our world. Often I feel discouraged with all the violence and selfishness going on about us. But this is exactly why Jesus died on the cross for us, as the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. How wonderful is our God, and how incredible is his mercy!!! I know for a fact that I can trust Jesus, and that he has NEVER, EVER, let me down. I fear that I might have let Jesus down with me not trusting enough. So I pray for Jesus to alight my heart with the fire of TRUST and mercy. And my biggest wish is when I pass from this world to the next is that Jesus says to me: "Well done my faithful servant." I've got to work hard on trying to be the best human being I can be.

Jim - Jan 18, 2012

I can honestly say that, like so many others, I have had the same questions about the Divine Mercy Image - they aren't questions of disbelief, or even thoughts of what conditions must be met, but rather what can I do to obtain every single blessing Jesus promises to us. This desire to obtain these graces has intensified with in my heart, mind, body, and soul the past few months. I must admit, much of it has been propelled by hours upon hours of reading about the life of Pope John Paul II, St.Faustina, and events that have taken place in my own life. What I know...what I believe...what I am willing to base my own personal salvation upon is this, and I say it with the utmost and deepest conviction I can convey in this comment - EVERY, SINGLE GRACE THAT JESUS CAN GIVE US...EVERY SOLITARY REQUEST WE MAKE OF HIM BEFORE THIS DIVINE MERCY IMAGE WILL BE GRANTED TO US so long as it is compatable with His will. I asked a well know priest one time how could I know what was compatable with God's will. His answer makes perfect sense - "Everything is compatable with God's will so long as it is not sinful and draws us closer to him to glorify His mercy, the ultimate gift to us." The Image of Divine Mercy is a gift to us to prepare us for the second coming. It is not just photo - the Catholic Church is steeped in history of the power of Images, however, for our lifetime, this is the Image of Images. It is the Image to prepare us -it's the avenue upon which we can travel and enter into the unfathomable, unending grace and mercy of God. This is not an image to just remind us of God's love - it is an Image that IS God's love. It is an image of salvation as powerful as the Crucifix itself because it is born of the Crucifix. Look at it and you'll see the nail imprints in both his hands and feet. We know what the rays coming from His Heart represent - they represent graces to cleansing and purification. Look at his feet - One is extended in front of the other - that indicates He is stepping to us - coming to us to draw is to him. What can we present to Him before this Image - EVERYTHING. The Image is another grace in and of itself just as as powerful as the Mass, the Eucharist, the Rosary and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy because God told us to come to this Image the Receive. He told us to ask much because He desires to give much. I not only ask much, but I expect much because He promises much. That's not greed or wishful thinking - that's trust in His Divine, loving Mercy. Trust in the Image and what He promises. He will never let you down.