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You Got Questions? The Marian Fathers Have Answers.

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In a recurring feature in the Friends of Mercy newsletter, the Marian Fathers answer questions from club members:

Lisa asked: Father, a friend of mine told me that St. Faustina said that if we want to free a soul, we should pray three Divine Mercy Chaplets for them. I asked her if she was talking about freeing them from Purgatory or hell. She said that since God is not bound by time or space, we could free them from even going to hell, even if they are already there. This is very confusing for me. Also, I cannot find this anywhere in the Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska. What are your thoughts?

Lisa, unfortunately, there are limits to the idea of praying to God who is outside of time or space. We cannot pray for things in the past that actually have happened to not happen. An example would be to pray today that World War II not happen. In fact, it has happened, and nothing can change that — history remains history. Hence, if someone already is, in fact, in hell, then we can't pray they not be there, since we can't change that by prayer today.

What your friend told you doesn't come from the Diary. In fact, St. Faustina laments that there are souls who, despite every exertion of prayer and sacrifice on the part of others, still refuse grace and choose hell. She further speaks of her own experience of hell, where she confirms that the punishment is forever — that the fate of souls there cannot be changed. Lastly, the Catechism states the same in paragraphs 1033-1037.

It is incumbent on us to pray and sacrifice much, as Our Lady requested at Fatima, so that sinners do not choose to enter hell. The sad reality is that it seems people still choose to enter. But just think — how many can we help to not make that choice of hell if, while we have time in this life, we pray and sacrifice for them? I encourage you, and all our readers, to do so.

Sheila emailed: If you are the sole practicing Catholic in a family and understand Jesus' words to St. Faustina, to "tell the souls about this great mercy of Mine, because the awful day, the day of My justice, is near" (Diary, 965), but your loved ones do not return to the Sacraments, or even feel that being a practicing Catholic is important, do your prayers on their behalf influence God's mercy at all?

Thank you for an excellent question, Sheila. I would refer to Jesus' instructions to St. Faustina to practice mercy in whatever way is possible — whether in deed, word, or prayer (see Diary, 742). If neither deed nor word is possible for us (since others can make it clear they do not want to receive the Gospel), then we can still pray for them. This is clear even in Jesus' own words and life. He instructed the Apostles not to continue to preach in towns where the Gospel was not accepted; He told them to go to another town (see Mt 10:14). But He rebuked James and John when they wanted to invoke fire upon such cities to destroy them (see Lk 9:54-56). Rather, we are to invoke mercy and conversion upon them. Jesus Himself, when He went to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, preached the Gospel. But He, too, was reduced to silence during His Passion; nevertheless, He prayed for forgiveness for us, and His prayer, combined with suffering, brought about our redemption. There are times when those who need to hear the Gospel do not want to hear it. We ought to respect that, while still bringing these people before the Lord in our prayer, begging for His pardon and mercy. Jesus taught St. Faustina that souls are "purchased" by two means only: sacrifice and prayer (see Diary, 1767). These means are always available to us, independent of people's responses to our own words or actions.

Do you have questions for the Marian Fathers? Email us at FriendsOfMercy@marian.org or write to Friends of Mercy, Marian Helpers Center, Stockbridge, MA 01263.

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