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David Van Sise, with an image created for him by an inmate who was inspired by Divine Mercy materials David gave him. The inmate died soon after he created this image.

When a Lukewarm Soul is Reheated

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By Felix Carroll (May 8, 2019)
This story orginally appeared in our Friends of Mercy monthly newsletter. Visit Learn more about this special club.

David Van Sise, a recovering lukewarm soul, knows all about that particular character flaw that keeps some souls from stepping out in faith.
He knows, for instance, what Jesus told St. Faustina about lukewarm souls — that "My soul suffered the most dreadful loathing in the Garden of Olives because of lukewarm souls" (Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, 1228).

And how does the Lord define lukewarm souls? As "souls who thwart My efforts" (Diary, 1682).

Thwarting Jesus' efforts certainly was never David's intention. But in retrospect, a spiritually lukewarm David Van Sise meant that, among other things, Jesus' Divine Mercy message wasn't reaching certain hardened criminals in a New Jersey maximum security federal prison. That's no longer the case.

David, an insurance industry executive from East Windsor, New Jersey, now engages in prison ministry, each week going cell to cell helping the greatest of sinners come to know of God's love for them.

His own lukewarm faith began heating up in 2014 when he discovered a Marian Press pamphlet explaining the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

"It spoke to my heart," said David. "I said to my wife, Chrystyna, 'This St. Faustina — she has a Diary, too.' Chrystyna said, 'I know,' and she pulled it out and handed it to me. I just kept reading and reading the Diary. I'm still reading it."

He felt the call to learn every-thing he could about Divine Mercy. Eventually, he learned of the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy. He and Chrystyna visited. During Mass, he felt the Lord speak to his heart, telling him to come to the Shrine on the first Sunday of every month and to bring people with him. He's been doing that ever since.

"I went from being a lukewarm Catholic, raised in the faith, but I didn't live my faith," he said. "I lived as if I wasn't worthy of God's
love. But then I read the Diary and came to know that God's mercy is for everybody — the greater the sinner, the greater the right I have to His mercy (see Diary, 723). I realized He never turned His back to me. He was waiting for me with His arms stretched."

During the Church's extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy three years ago, David vowed to obey the command Jesus gave to the world through St. Faustina when He said, "I demand from you deeds of mercy, which are to arise out of love for Me" (Diary, 742). He decided to spend the year engaging in each of the works of mercy. But when he got to "Visit the imprisoned," he seized up.

"That's just not for me," he concluded.

But he eventually went to a workshop led by prison ministers and felt called to help out. Now he looks forward to his weekly prison visits. Each week, in the prison's toughest section, he goes cell to cell and offers himself as a merciful presence and listening ear. He offers the inmates materials on Divine Mercy and Our Lady. He offers to pray for them.

"I make the Sign of the Cross, and I do my best to ask the Lord to speak through me and give me the words that are going to bring some light to them," David says. "And many times afterwards they're like, 'Wow, man. Thanks a lot. That was really good.'"

Why does he choose to minister to an inmate population whom society has declared the worst of the worst?

"What I see is that they thirst for something," David says. "They have an emptiness in their hearts, and many of them have spent their whole lives filling that with drugs, alcohol, pornography, and other vices, and there's never been an opportunity for them to put anything good inside that emptiness."

He has witnessed conversions. Mostly, he's witnessed inmates finding comfort in the simple fact that someone cares and that Jesus never gives up on us.

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