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The Divine Mercy Message and Devotion

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Put Your Devotion Where Your Mouth Is

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By Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC (Jun 22, 2007)
The following is taken from The Divine Mercy Message and Devotion booklet. It was written by world-renowned Divine Mercy expert Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC, with Vinny Flynn and Robert A. Stackpole. The booklet condenses the main elements of the Diary of St. Faustina into an easy-to-read format. It has become known throughout the world simply as the "Devotion Booklet."

Devotion and Devotions
"Devotion," in the root sense of the word, means consecration ... giving of oneself completely ... dedication by solemn vow. In a religious context, devotion is an attitude of caring about God and all that God cares about. It involves a decision and a commitment that permeates our lives, giving direction and form to all our actions.

Among these actions are what we call "devotions": specific religious attitudes, prayers, and practices that express and nurture our devotion — our total consecration to God. Thus, devotions can be of very real value, both as a witness to others and as a fruitful way of growing in personal holiness.

The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, presented by the Second Vatican Council, teaches that popular devotions of the Christian people are warmly commended as long as they are in accord with the laws and norms of the Church.

A New Focus on Mercy
From the diary of a young Polish nun, named Sr. Faustina Kowalska, a special devotion to the mercy of God is spreading throughout the world.

The message is nothing new, just a reminder of what the Church has always taught: that God is merciful and forgiving and that we, too, must show mercy and forgiveness.

But, in the Divine Mercy devotion, the message takes on a powerful new focus, calling people to a deeper understanding that God's love is unlimited and available to everyone — especially the greatest sinners: The greater the sinner, the greater the right he has to My mercy (Diary, 723).

Some of the elements of this new focus include a sacred image of the merciful Savior, several new prayers, and a cornucopia of promises. But the main elements are trust and deeds of mercy.

Devotion to The Divine Mercy involves a total commitment to God as Mercy. It is a decision to accept His mercy with thanksgiving, to trust completely in Him, and to be merciful as He is merciful.

The devotional practices proposed in the Diary of St. Faustina and set forth in this booklet are completely in accordance with the teachings of the Church and are firmly rooted in the Gospel message of our Merciful Savior. Properly understood and implemented, they will help us grow as genuine followers of Christ.

"Lip Service" or Merciful Heart?
There are two scriptural verses that we should keep in mind as we involve ourselves in these devotional practices:

1. "This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me" (Is 29:13);

2. "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy" (Mt 5:7).

Which of these would you and I like to hear the Lord say about us?

It's an ironic and somewhat frightening fact that many of the most religious people of Christ's time (people who were actively practicing their religion and eagerly awaiting the promised Messiah) were not able to recognize Him when He came.

The Pharisees, to whom Christ was speaking in the first quotation above, were very devoted to the prayers, rules, and rituals of their religion; but over the years, these outer observances had become so important in themselves that their real meaning had been lost. The Pharisees performed all the prescribed sacrifices, said all the right prayers, fasted regularly, and talked a lot about God, but none of it had touched their hearts. As a result, they had no real relationship with God, they were not living the way He wanted them to live, and they were not prepared for the coming of Jesus.

When we look at the Image of the Merciful Savior, or pause for prayer at three o'clock, or pray the Chaplet — are these things drawing us closer to the real sacramental life of the Church and allowing Jesus to transform our hearts? Or have they just become religious habits? In our daily lives are we growing more and more as people of mercy? Or are we just giving "lip service" to God's mercy?

Asking for the Lord's mercy, trusting in His mercy, and sincerely trying to live His mercy in our lives, we can be assured that we will never hear Him say of us, "Their hearts are far from Me," but rather that wonderful promise, "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy."

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Don - Nov 29, 2007

Well said Fr. Seraphim!
I struggle with having a daily prayer life...prescribed amount of prayers, scripture reading, and just being with The Lord. I went a whole month without vocal prayers(just a few ejaculations). The Lord recently put it on my heart to do a Holy Hour each week because I was feeling bad about talking to Jesus like He was sitting in the room right next to me. Thanks again for explaining these common missteps in the spiritual journey.