This Sunday is Divine Mercy Sunday, a day, according to the words spoken by Jesus to St. Faustina, that all the divine floodgates through which graces flow are opened (Diary, 699). But what does this message of Jesus’s Divine Mercy mean to you, me and the entire world? This loving message, reintroduced by Jesus in the 1930s to St. Faustina Kowalska, is at the heart of the Gospel or good news. If we look at how God revealed himself in Scripture and Church Tradition, we discover afresh how mercy is essential to understanding Christ’s message of love and salvation. Mercy reveals the very identity of Jesus, the message that God loves us, all of us, no matter how great our sins. He desires nothing more than for us to call upon Him with trust, to receive His mercy and to let it flow through us to others, so that all may come to share in His joy.
This Good news of God’s healing and redemptive mercy is one of pure love, a love revealed on the Cross and perfected in His Resurrection to new life. At once, it represents a gift, an invitation and doorway to the glory of the Easter Season. Jesus, I trust in You is the words inscribed at the bottom of the Divine Mercy Image given to St. Faustina by Our Lord. How much do we trust in God’s holy will, which according to the closing prayer of the Divine Mercy Chaplet represents “Love and Mercy Itself” (Diary, 950). This is the question I find myself asking over and over again, not only in the face of trial and difficulty, but also at the moments of profound glory. Could this possibly be true, did the Lord rise, did He just give myself and my family such a profound and miraculous gift? Can this gift be true, certain and dependable, or am I simply exhibiting wishful thinking? Join me today, six days after Easter and one day before Divine Mercy Sunday, as I share my own family’s journey from the pain of the cross, to the glory of the resurrection, and finally to the certitude of hope which can only be found within the Healing Eyes of God’s Mercy.
Huge Divine Mercy Statue positioned on the grounds of the Marion Fathers of the Immaculate Conception Cana Pilgrimage Retreat House, overlooking the Shrine of Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, in Kibeho, Rwanda.
Excepts taken from my soon to be released book: The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Trinity of Love. When my now seventeen and a half year old adoptive son, Joseph, was 13, he and I boarded a plane destined for the small African country of Rwanda. Two months earlier, I had distinctly heard my spiritual mother, Mary, say, “Bring your child to my Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart.” I knew that Joseph’s special needs, aggressive acting out, and difficulty with crowds, would prove challenging, however, I offered my loving obedience just the same. Although I placed my trust in Jesus, I did not recognize the profound blessings awaiting each of us in the rolling hills of Rwanda. There, within the joyful hearts and smiling faces of the Rwandan people, we would find the power of forgiveness, Mary’s unconditional love, and the resurrected hope and glory which always follows the cross.
About two years earlier, Joseph, diagnosed with bipolar mental disorder, had suddenly found the growing demands of middle school too difficult to manage. Aware of his apparent social and academic failings, he chose aggression as his preferred method of escape. Unfortunately, these acting out episodes, once saved for the safety of our home, began to occur during tutoring sessions and unstructured school time. It was then, amidst the chaos of my son’s growing sense of pain and isolation, that I cried out on my son’s behalf. “My God, My God, why have You abandoned Us? Please, Merciful Father, help me reach my son, Joseph! We are in desperate need of Your mercy.” That following weekend, Tom and I enrolled our son in a tranquil, tucked away Sacred Heart Brother’s boarding school for boys. Excited about the future possibilities, we looked forward with hopeful optimism for Joseph’s new start that fall.
It was July of 2012, two months before Joseph’s new start, that he and I boarded that plane to Kibeho, Rwanda. Three days later, we pulled into Kibeho’s Cana Pilgrimage Center, exhausted by the long and bumpy eight-hour drive from the country’s capital city known as Kigali. Bright and early the next morning, Joseph set out to discover all the marvelous things awaiting him on the pilgrimage center grounds. Two hours later, he returned to the room shoeless, and began describing the exciting start to his day. While praying beneath a thirty-foot tall Divine Mercy Statue of Jesus, Joseph met a bright Rwandan teenage boy named Jean Bosco. Jean Bosco spoke decent English and was able to discuss many important things with Joseph that morning, including his deep love for Mary, Our Lady of Kibeho, and his constant desire for knowledge. He explained to Joseph his dream of attending boarding school one day and his desire to help the people of Rwanda obtain a better life.
Right to left: Joseph pictured with Jean Bosco, Jean Claude and Innocent.
Although I was overjoyed by this wonderful encounter, I looked down at my son’s bare feet and asked, “Joseph, where are your shoes?” He simply replied, “Jean Bosco needed them. His feet were all dirty because he didn’t have any of his own. I figured, since I have so many, I could give him the pair I was wearing.” In the face of such a kind gesture, I simply replied, “You’re right. I am proud of your generosity, Joseph.” Next, Joseph asked, “Mom, can we help Jean Bosco go to boarding school?” I replied, “Joseph, I think that is an excellent idea. Dad and I will make this happen, I promise.” Jean Bosco and Joseph became inseparable for the remainder of the trip. They played soccer, prayed at the Divine Mercy statue, walked the Stations of the Cross, and visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Sorrows.
Five years later, our son, Joseph, is one year away from High School graduation. He has been confirmed, has consecrated himself to Mary’s Immaculate Heart, and is looking forward to a promising and faith filled start to Jr. College next year. Prior to our trip to Rwanda, Joseph was testing at 20% compared to his peers. This past Monday, his practice ACT test results placed him at 89%. Our family has indeed risen to resurrection glory, as family prayer and trust in Jesus took hold of our relationships. The willing acceptance of the crosses in our lives, our blind trust in Jesus amidst these most difficult of times, and the eternal hope of new life in Christ is indeed true. Jesus has risen! He desires nothing more than for us to come to Him and throw ourselves into His merciful and loving arms. We do not have to convince God to be merciful to us because He says, “I am Love and Mercy Itself” (Diary, 1074). He is always ready to pour His merciful love into our hearts if we are only willing to ask and receive Him. Jesus says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock” (Rev. 3:20).
Joseph and I at the Easter Vigil Mass last Saturday.
On April 30, 2000, St. Pope John Paul II declared that from then on, throughout the Church, the Second Sunday of Easter would be called Divine Mercy Sunday. He stated that the message coming to us from God about the “Easter message of Redemption” not only included the suffering, death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Christ, but also the sending of the Holy Spirit on this Feast of Divine Mercy, the Octave Day of Easter. At this same celebration, he canonized Sr. Maria Faustina, who was instructed by the Lord to share His urgent message of mercy with a troubled, modern world. We can recall this message by remembering the ABCs of Divine Mercy:
A: Ask for His Mercy. God wants us to approach Him in prayer constantly, repenting of our sins and asking Him to pour His mercy out upon us and upon the whole world.
B: Be Merciful to Others. God wants us to receive His Mercy and let it flow through us to others. Gaining a greater understanding of Divine Mercy leads to a deeper appreciation of many existing Church teachings such as the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. The 7 Corporal Works of Mercy include: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, comfort the imprisoned, visit the sick and bury the dead. The 7 Spiritual Works of Mercy include: admonish the sinner, instruct the uninformed, counsel the doubtful, comfort the sorrowful, be patient of those in error, forgive offenses, and pray for the living and the dead.
C: Completely Trust in Jesus. God wants us to know that the graces of His mercy are dependent upon our trust. The more we trust in Jesus, the more we will receive.
Recent picture of Jean Bosco and other students whom Tom and I have helped over the last four years. Since that time, I have formed a non-for-profit company, entitled, The Healing Eyes of Mercy, dedicated to the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Various outreach efforts include providing assistance for the people of Rwanda, Haiti and the Holy Land, along with active evangelization efforts as a member of WINE (Women In the New Evangelization). My new book, entitled, The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Trinity of Love, is due out this June. Please visit our website http://www.spiritualsafariguide.com or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about our charitable outreach and my soon to be released book. Thank You.
Closing 3:00 Prayer for Divine Mercy.
Eternal Father, I offer You, the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and the sins of the entire world.
For the sake of His Sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the entire world. (Repeat two more times).
Jesus, I trust in You. Amen
Please click on the link below to learn more about my non-for-profit company, The Healing Eyes of Mercy, make a donation for the people of Haiti, Rwanda, or the Holy Land, shop, or read about my upcoming book, The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Trinity of Love. Thank you and God Bless!