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Jesus' Name Is Mercy

A short time ago my wife and I had the opportunity to travel to the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, MA.  (side note: This lovely area in western Massachusetts is called the Berkshires and it is loaded with  mountainous scenic beauty, history, culture, and very charming villages.  I highly recommend a road trip.) We have been wanting to do this for months.  We wanted to experience in a full and sacramental way the simple but profound notion of God's fathomless mercy.  Its easy to forget this truth in the hustle and bustle of daily life.  So I decided to bring with me St. Faustina's spiritual masterpiece, "Divine Mercy in My Soul" for spiritual reading.

Divine Mercy in My Soul was a diary that was written by St. Faustina from 1934 to until her death in 1938.  St. Faustina was a mystic which means that she was able to communicate spiritually with Jesus in an extraordinary way. Throughout this diary St. Faustina writes down Jesus' specific words.  After an exhaustive process the Catholic church approved this work and has stated that her writings were authentic. 

In this post I will be quoting a few of the passages that impacted me the most during my overnight to the shrine.  But before that I want to lay the groundwork of what mercy actually is.

Dictionary definition of mercy:  compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one's power; compassion, pity, or benevolence: 

But the definition of mercy goes much further in the spiritual life.  Mercy in the spiritual life means a continuous forgiveness of one's sins.

Note: Jesus' mercy is geared towards our salvation. Salvation in the long term is heaven. Mercy isn't a license to keep on sinning and relying on it as a cheap insurance policy. In order for Jesus' mercy to be operative it must be met with a firm desire to improve ones actions.  The truth is that we all sin. We are all weak and we constantly need God's grace just to survive.  God gives his gift of mercy as a way of drawing us to him and giving us the strength to walk through the inevitable trials of life.  Jesus speaks about his insurmountable desire for mercy as he tells St. Faustina,

"Gather all sinners from the entire world and immerse them in the abyss of my mercy.  I want to give Myself to souls; I yearn for souls, My daughter. On the day of My feast, the Feast of mercy, you will go through the whole world and bring fainting souls to the spring of my mercy. I shall heal and strengthen them." (206)
Jesus again elaborates on his desire for mercy as he says,

"...tell the whole world about my inconceivable mercy. I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, especially for poor sinners. On that day the very depths of my tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of my mercy." (699)

Two things jump out from these passage; First Jesus' passion for all souls especially sinners. Secondly he mentions a specific feast day where this will happen most powerfully.  For Catholics this feast day occurs the Sunday after Easter. I can personally attest to the power and beauty of this feast as I have partaken in the activities in the past.

Our struggles will continue throughout this life, yet God's mercy helps us to find peace amidst our storms.  St. Faustina writes eloquently about this struggle as she reflects:

"As soon as I conquer one obstacle ten more appear to take its place. But I am not worried because I know that this is the time of struggle, not peace.  When the burden of the battle becomes too much for me, I throw myself like a child into the arms of the heavenly father and trust I will not perish...In the midst of the worst difficulties and adversities , I do not lose inner peace or exterior balance , and this discourages my adversaries . Patience in adversity gives power to the soul." (606,607)

My favorite line is the last line, "Patience in adversity gives power to the soul." This statement is profound on so many levels.  First off we all struggle; this struggle isn't confined just to the super saints or to sinners but to everyone.  St. Faustina is telling us that its OK to struggle because we always have Jesus' mercy on our side.  Once aware of this truth we can be patient in tribulation, because we know that we cannot fail if we rely on Jesus' mercy, the most powerful force on earth.

The most hopeful thing about Jesus' message of mercy is that it is available to everyone.  No matter how far one has fallen God's mercy is always there.

I love this devotion to The Divine Mercy.  I love that Pope Saint John Paul II brought it to the forefront.  He was truly in tune with the concept of the Lord's infinite mercy.  I'll end with this great quote :

"There is nothing more man needs than divine mercy - that love which is benevolent, which is compassionate, which raises man above his weakness to the infinite heights to the holiness of God"

-Pope Saint John Paul II


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