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Our Hope is in the Divine Mercy

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The following is an initial draft of Fr. Seraphim's talk on Oct. 2, at the World Apostolic Congress on Mercy.

Dear Friends,

The theme of this second World Congress in Polish Reads, "In The Mercy Of God [is] Our Hope."

(The verb "is" is understood)

My translation into English of the theme of this Second World Congress goes like this: OUR HOPE IS IN THE DIVINE MERCY.

What we need to do is: to define — that is, to give the precise sense — of the words that make up our theme, and then to see what is the connection between them.

The words are: HOPE, and, THE DIVINE MERCY.

Since MERCY is at the heart of the theme of the congress, let us examine this word first.

Thanks to instructions from Jesus Himself, and from our Blessed Mother, St. Faustina declares that MERCY is God's GREATEST ATTRIBUTE. The great theologian St. Thomas Aquinas declares the same. That is why mercy is also called "Divine". What this tells us is: that mercy is the greatest characteristic of God, expressing His essential nature with regard to Him as creator, for, as St. Thomas asserts, mercy is "the heart (love) going out to misery with the urgent desire to alleviate it." He then states that the greatest misery is "not to be," "not to exist." Mercy, then, is the first cause of all creation. St. Bernard even declares that God's mercy is "the causing-most cause of all causes."

Please be aware, however, that my translation of the theme of this Congress declares that our HOPE is — not merely—in Divine Mercy, but IN THE Divine Mercy. In the Latin and Polish languages there is NO definite or indefinite article —

"The," or "A"; Polish students of the English language most often have a very hard time with the use of these; invariably they don't use them properly in speech or writing. This is why some confusion can enter into matters concerning the translations of St. Faustina's writings.

To be able to understand the relevance and the importance of what I am insisting upon here, we need to look into examples of grammatical usage in the Greek language — which does have the definite, that is, the specifying article: "the" — because most, if not all, of the New Testament Scriptures are translated from the existing Greek texts.

In the Greek New Testament, wherever the word SPIRIT is found, if Spirit is preceded by the definite article, it means the Third Person of the Most Holy Trinity. Wherever the word spirit is NOT preceded by the definite article, it stands for an activity of, or an effect caused by, the Holy Spirit—for example, when we see leaves fluttering on a tree, we know they are being moved by the wind. (By the way, the Greek word for spirit also carries the meaning "air" and "wind".)

The Reverend Professor and eminent theologian, Ignacy Róycki, who performed a most minute analysis of all of St. Faustina's writings, tells us that, as regards the word "mercy" in the Sister's writings, numerous revelations simply speak of mercy without any apposition (that is, without any word placed beside it so that the second explains the first), which would allow one to determine what the first word — in our case, mercy — specifically indicates; but he adds that almost as many of the revelations have in the context an apposition that determines what it specifically indicates: and so, in 6 cases mercy is notably the synonym of the word "love" [Bl. Pope John Paul II says of mercy that it is "love's second name" — as I mentioned earlier, mercy particularly refers to love's relationship to everything that is created outside the M. H. Trinity, which alone is PURE LOVE.]. Further, Rev. Róycki points out that in St. Faustina's writings in four cases mercy is the synonym of the word "pity"; again in four cases it is the synonym of "goodness"; and in four cases the word mercy directly designates Jesus Himself, particularly to be under-stood as The Divine Mercy Incarnate — the Merciful God in the flesh; Divine Mercy in Person.

Why is this important for us to understand? Because, as we put these two terms of the Congress' theme together, it must be clear that it is the Person — merciful Jesus — who is our HOPE: Jesus — One of the Holy Trinity, therefore, who is God, and so "divine," and "Mercy Itself in the flesh;" — HE, The Divine Mercy, IS our HOPE, as we shall see.

In his Dictionary of the Bible, Fr. John McKenzie has this entry under the term "Name:"

It is a widespread cultural phenomenon that the name is considered to be more than an artificial tag which distinguishes one person from another. The name has a mysterious identity with its bearer; it can be considered as a substitute for the person, as acting or receiving in his place. The name is often meaningful; it not only distinguishes the person, but it is thought to tell something of the kind of person he is. In magic rites the name is extremely important: Knowledge of the name gives control, and utterance of the name is effective either upon its bearer or as containing the power of the person whose name is uttered.

Many of these beliefs occur in the Bible, and where the name of the deity is concerned the conception of the name becomes a theological idea."

Father McKenzie continues: "... a name conferred by [the Lord God] Himself, which is an act of ownership, gives to the person named the protection of the one who confers the name.

[Thus, in the case of the Patriarch Jacob, wrestling with the angel: the angel could not overcome Jacob, and he said: 'Let me go, for it is break of day.' Jacob answered, 'I will not let you go, unless you bless me.' The angel said, 'What is your name?' He answered, 'Jacob.' But the angel said, 'Your name shall not be called Jacob, but Israel [which means 'a Prince
of God,' or 'one contending victoriously with God', or some say it means 'a man seeing God']; for [the angel continued] if you have been strong against God, how much more shall you prevail against men?' Jacob asked him: Tell me by what name you are called? The angel answered: Why do you ask my name? (Evidently Jacob wanted to have power over him by knowing his name.) The angel blessed him, but didn't give his name and, immediately the sun rose, he disappeared.

"God recognizes Israel by giving it the name,"[Fr. McKinzie points out], "and in the same way God recognizes Moses," as we find in the 33rd chapter of the Book of Exodus. Moses says, "You command me to lead forth this people; and you do not let me know whom you will send with me, especially whereas you have said: 'I know you by name, and you have found favor in my sight.' If therefore I have found favor in your sight, show me your face, that I may know you, and may find grace before your eyes...' God answered: You cannot see my face; for man shall not see me, and live. But he ordered Moses to stand in a hole of a rock where he will protect him with his right-hand till he passes. And God said, "I will take away my hand, and you will see my back parts: but my face you cannot see." God did not want Moses dead, because he had a mission to fulfill. "And when the Lord had come down in a cloud he stood there with Moses and proclaimed his name, the Lord. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, "The Lord, the Lord, the merciful and gracious God, slow to anger [in the sense of 'patient'], abounding in love [in the sense of much compassion] and [abounding in] faithfulness, maintaining mercy to thousands [in other passages meaning 'generations'], and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin;" whereas punishment for sin is only to the third and fourth generation.

Having revealed his name to Moses as the 'merciful' and 'gracious' God, it is as though God gave Moses power over Himself. The work of Jesus was to make known the name of the Father, to reveal His true character. As regards all that God created HE IS, above all, MERCY (as initially defined).

The most remarkable development of the concept of name in the New Testament, Fr. McKenzie notes, is the way in which the theology of the name is applied to Jesus; this is a testimonial of the divinity of Jesus Himself. The invocation of the name of Jesus empowers the disciples to work wonders, in particular to heal and to expel demons. This power of the name is even seen when the one who invokes it is not a member of the company of the disciples. Jesus, however, tolerated this use of His name; it is evident that it was used in genuine faith. ...

But the power of the name of Jesus appears most eminently in its quality as an instrument of salvation. The Hebrew and Aramaic name — Yeshua — means "Yahweh [that is, The Lord, God] is salvation". The root of the word yeshua appears to signify the freedom and security, which is gained by the removal of constriction. Hence "to save" means to render help or protection in any "straits," that is, in any difficulty or distress, which, of course, speak of misery.

You may be wondering, Dear Listeners, "Why this wandering from one topic to another?" It is to be able to see the depth, the importance and the relevance of the message God sends to His Church and to the world about His mercy precisely in our moment of history. In Sr. Faustina's Diary we find this sentence: "Mankind will not find security so long as it will not turn with trust to My mercy" (300); and again: "Mankind will have no peace [but more like "tranquility"] so long as it does not turn to [or, return to] the source of My mercy" (699). And Jesus calls "recourse to His mercy" and the Divine Mercy Chaplet "the last sheet-anchor." The dictionary defines this composite word as "a person or thing to be relied upon in danger or emergency." It was the largest anchor carried amidships that could be shot out rapidly and used only in emergencies.

When Sr. Faustina's spiritual mentor asked her to find out from Jesus "where the inscription should be placed [on the image according to the Sister's vision], because there was not enough space in the image for everything," she received an inner understanding about it. She wrote: "I understood that Jesus wanted the whole formula to be there, but He gave no direct orders to this effect as He did for these three words: Jezu, Ufam Tobie [Jesus, I Trust, in You].

What is the whole formula? Under the Diary 186 and 187 we find this entry: ... Call upon My mercy on behalf of sinners; I desire their salvation. When you say this prayer, with a contrite heart and with faith on behalf of some sinner, I will give him the grace of conversion.

This is the prayer:

O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fount of Mercy for us, I trust in You.

But Jesus insisted only on these three words: JEZU UFAM TOBIE. In the Polish language the "I" is included in the word TRUST, and the preposition "in" is included in the pronoun You. What we must be aware of, however, is that, although the prayer formula addresses the Blood and Water, it ends with "I trust in You," the pronoun "You" being in the singular, and the letter "Y" in the upper case, signifying reverence, for it stands for Jesus, since the first of the three words Our Lord insisted upon is His name.

It is to be understood, then, that the entire phrase: "O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fount of Mercy for us" stands for the Person of Jesus, in whom the trust is placed.

This, I believe, is capsulized in one of the parts of The Divine Mercy Chaplet: "For the sake of [that is, out of regard for] His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world." The separation of Blood and Water bespeaks the culmination of Christ's Passion, for it occurs after one has died. In his analysis of Sr. Faustina's Diary the theologian Róycki points out that by this prayer one is invoking the strongest motive to be heard and answered, for it is an appeal to the merciful love of the Eternal Father through the sacrifice accomplished in love for sinners and His Father by His dearly-beloved Son for the recasting of humanity in grace: Sinful humanity is put to death in the human nature that Jesus assumed in order that it may rise as a new creation — the God-man nature — through Christ's resurrection from the dead.

It is the Resurrection of Christ from the dead in the recast humanity with its promise to be shared by everyone who belongs to Christ, that is the guarantee of our hope of salvation for which we pray with each "Our Father" — Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. "Only the certainty that is born of faith enables man to live the present intensely and, at the same time, to transcend it, perceiving in it the reflection of the eternal to which time is ordered," these were the words spoken by Pope Benedict's representative to The Meeting of Friendship Among Peoples held in Rimini, Italy, last month.

The HOPE we are talking about is not what is called "wishful thinking" — that could be considered as "the vague and fuzzy optimism that somehow things may work out in the end."

In his message of August 10th sent by his secretary of State — Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone to that Meeting, the Holy Father stated that "man cannot live without the certainty of his destiny." The theme of the Meeting was And existence becomes an immense certainty. "In Christ Jesus, man's destiny was wrenched definitively from the nebulosity that surrounded him. Through the Son, in the power of the Holy Spirit, the Father unveiled to us definitively the positive future that awaits us. The Risen Christ is the 'ultimate and definitive foundation of existence, the certainty of our hope."

There is the witness of the late James Stockdale who rose to the rank of vice admiral in the U.S. Navy and served as president of the Naval War College. ... In September 1965, while commander of Carrier Air Wing 16 aboard the USS Oriskany, he was shot down over North Vietnam. He was savagely beaten and held as a prisoner of war for the next seven years.

Many men were broken in those North Vietnamese prisoner-of-war camps. But Stockdale wasn't. What was his secret? It was what was named "the Stockdale Paradox." He explained later: "I never lost faith in the end of the story, I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which, in retrospect, I would not trade." Stockdale had a realistic understanding of the situation. But that was tempered by an absolute conviction that he would prevail in the end. That's what Christian Hope is — not "will I make it?" but "it's surely there for me; I can absolutely count on it!"

That's why the anchor is taken as the symbol of HOPE. We read in the Letter to the Hebrews: "... God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath" (Heb 6:17) [For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, 'Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.' ... For men indeed swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is for them an end of all dispute. Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things [His promise and His oath] in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.

"This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence [that is, of God] beyond the veil [that is, in the holiest place] where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek" (Heb 6:13-20).

As we hear these words of Sacred Scripture, will it be possible for us to doubt that the revelations granted us through St. Faustina are truly God's renewed attempt to awaken us today as to how to take hold of the means He is offering us, in the midst of increasing chaos and corruption, to attain the merciful purposes He intended by bringing us into being?

On the occasion of the first public exposition of the image painted by our Lord's command of Himself as The Divine Mercy in Person, which took place during the ceremonies of the closing of the 1935 Holy Year commemorating the 900 years since our Redemption, Sister Faustina was granted the following experience as recorded in her Diary. [We find it in entry 420]:

Toward the end of the service, when the priest took the Blessed Sacrament to bless the people, I saw the Lord Jesus as He is represented in the image. The Lord gave His blessing, and the rays extended over the whole world.

Suddenly, I saw an impenetrable brightness in the form of a crystal dwelling place, woven together from waves of a brilliance unapproachable to both creatures and spirits. Three doors led to this resplendence. At that moment, Jesus, as He is represented in the image, entered this resplendence through the second door to the Unity within. It is a triple Unity, which is incomprehensible — which is infinity. I heard a voice, This Feast emerged from the very depths of My mercy, and it is confirmed in the vast depths of My tender mercies. Every soul believing and trusting in My mercy will obtain it.

This is a distinct representation of the passage from the Letter to the Hebrews that was quoted. The image of Jesus as The Divine Mercy Incarnate represents Him coming out from the Holy of Holies with the rays of Mercy, (which He explained as representing the Blood and Water that flowed from His pierced Side on the Cross as a fount of mercy for us), assuring us, who approach Him with faith, of divine forgiveness, as was portrayed in the Old Testament by the exit of the High Priest alive from God's Presence to impart the Blessing of His Name upon the people. The Resurrection of Jesus after He offered Himself in our place is our assurance of acceptance by His Father. It is our assurance that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb 13:5) This is the gift of His Great Mercy.

Saint Therese, the Little Flower, took great delight in quoting the ancient Greek mathematician Archimedes, namely about his famous saying of over two thousand two hundred years ago:

"Give me a place to stand, and with a lever long enough I will move the whole world."

The place to stand, or the point or prop of support on which a lever turns in raising or moving something carries the name of fulcrum. A prominent theologian declared that the only true fulcrum that can be relied upon never to slip or give way is divine mercy. The lever to accomplish the desired task is trust.

Saint Faustina closes one of her prayers for Divine Mercy with the firm assurance: And we expect to obtain everything promised by Jesus in spite of all our wretchedness. For Jesus is our Hope. Through His merciful Heart as through an open gate we pass through to heaven (1570).

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