Thursday, April 17, 2014

Divine Mercy: Becoming a Living Martyr


Often times those who oppose and challenge us contribute more to our growth than those who support us. That is what has happened just recently with me. I just did a post entitled "Are We Judge or Healer" which you can read HERE. In this post, I discussed two recent speakers at Catholic High Schools, Sister Jane Dominic Laurel, O.P. and Father Rocky Hoffman, who gave separate unrelated talks at different schools regarding homosexuality and Catholic teaching. Both of these speakers were met with outrage from many of the students and parents who felt the talks were bigoted and hateful. The problem for the rest of us is that no one outside of the talks knows what was said because no recording or transcript was made of Sister Jane's talk, and although Father Hoffman's talk was recorded, that recording has not been released. So all reports basically amount to hearsay.

That has not stopped the Catholic blogosphere from launching into major attacks against those parents and teachers who complained about the lectures, with the bloggers condemning those who complained for not accepting orthodox Catholic Church teaching. And it is most likely true that the parents and students do not understand and/or accept Catholic teaching.

But my problem with attacking the parents and students is that we don't know what was said, so we really can't make a just judgment. Further, I see the reaction of the parents and students as a wake-up call to the rest of us not so much that there are Catholics who reject the teachings of the Church as the fact that they are spiritually wounded, and condemnation is not going to help but will most likely only drive them further away from the Church and from Jesus Christ. I believe that our Lord would have us lead them to the truth not with harsh words and condemnation but with mercy and compassion. I gave the example of Pope Francis' statement of the Church being a field hospital for the wounded.

This did not sit very well with a few readers, and they let me have it. I was accused of wanting to "pamper" sinners, and told that my ideas were basically protestant, and even go against common sense. The discussion evolved into one about Divine Mercy as given to us through St. Faustina, and I was again told that I had no idea what I was talking about. Those commenting argued that I was misinterpreting Divine Mercy and the words of scripture, which the commenters feel is a sure road to disaster.

For the record, St. Faustina wrote this in regard to the difference between judgment and mercy:
O my Jesus, when shall we look upon souls with higher motives in mind? When will our judgments be true? You give us occasions to practice deeds of mercy, and instead we use the occasions to pass judgment. In order to know whether the love of God flourishes in a convent, one must ask how they treat the sick, the disabled, and the infirm who are there. (Diary 1269)
How does Divine Mercy work in leading people away from their sins and to the saving graces of Jesus Christ? The message of Divine Mercy as given to St. Faustina involves much more than just being "nice" to people. Divine Mercy involves us doing penance and reparation in order to save the souls of sinners. It involves uniting ourselves to the greatest act of Mercy ever known, that of Jesus Christ on the Cross.  Here is an example from St. Faustina's Diary:
On one occasion I saw a servant of God in the immediate danger of committing a mortal sin. I started to beg God to deign to send down upon me all the torments of hell and all the sufferings He wished if only this priest would be set free and snatched from the occasion of committing a sin. Jesus heard my prayer and, that very instant, I felt a crown of thorns on my head. The thorns penetrated my head with great force right into my brain. This lasted for three hours; the servant of God was set free from this sin, and his soul was strengthened by a special grace of God. (Diary 41)
Credit:  www.pinterest.com
Notice the actions of St. (then Sister) Faustina. She saw a priest "in the immediate danger of committing a mortal sin." Her reaction was not to go and verbally warn the priest, or to say anything at all to him. She, instead, asked to join with the suffering Christ.  Our Lord obliged by allowing her to suffer the pain of a crown of thorns for three hours, which is something that I cannot even imagine.  This example of St. Faustina shows that the answer to sin is prayer and penance.  Her reparations joined with the sufferings of Christ saved a priest from mortal sin.  This priest, I am sure, never knew what a great sacrifice St. Faustina had made for him.

There is another example from the diary in regard to St. Faustina's own sister.  
My sister [Wanda] came to see me today. When she told me of her plans, I was horror-stricken. How is such a thing possible? Such a beautiful little soul before the Lord, and yet, great darkness had come over her, and she did not know how to help herself. She had a dark view of everything. The good God entrusted her to my care, and for two weeks I was able to work with her. But how many sacrifices this soul cost me is known only to God. For no other soul did I bring so many sacrifices and sufferings and prayers before the throne of God as I did for her soul. I felt that I had forced God to grant her grace. When I reflect on all this, I see that it was truly a miracle. Now I can see how much power intercessory prayer has before God.
Once again, St. Faustina pulled back another person from the brink of eternal destruction mainly through prayer, reparations and sacrifice.  St. Faustina says in this passage that "for two weeks I was able to work" with her sister.  We don't know exactly what this means, but this passage mainly brings out the great healing effect of prayer and reparation.

These are only two examples of the suffering and reparation St. Faustina did on behalf of sinners. There are many more examples given in her diary.

Most of us are not capable of the great sanctity shown by St. Faustina nor are we able to bear such suffering as she did.  But in Diary paragraph 246, she gives a list of "small mortifications" that we can consider:
Small Mortifications

To recite the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy with outstretched arms.
On Saturdays, to say five decades of the Rosary with outstretched arms.
To sometimes recite a prayer [while] lying prostrate.
On Thursdays, a Holy Hour.
On Fridays, some greater mortification for dying sinners.
In Diary #243, she gives a further list of mortifications that she engaged in for the sake of others:
I will thank the Lord Jesus for every humiliation and will pray especially for the person who has given me the chance to be humiliated. I will immolate myself for the benefit of souls. I will not count the cost of any sacrifice, I will cast myself beneath the feet of the sisters, like a carpet on which they can not only tread, but also wipe their feet. My place is under the feet of the sisters. I will make every effort to obtain that place unnoticed by others. It is enough that God sees this.
In the comment section of my post regarding Sr. Jane and Father Hoffman, one person said that we need to confront people and tell them they are "dirty rotten sinners headed to hell."  St. Faustina would not agree:
235 O Jesus, I long for the salvation of immortal souls. It is in sacrifice that my heart will find free expression, in sacrifice which no one will suspect. I will burn and be consumed unseen in the holy flames of the love of God. The presence of God will help my sacrifice to be perfect and pure.
Credit: friendsofdivine.blogspot.com
Many of us believe that our words to sinners are what will save them, that we have to confront them with the evil they are involved in. But how many of us are wise enough to truly understand the hearts of others, to know exactly what is motivating them? We don't know the experiences of their lives that may have brought them to the sin they are involved in. For example, many homosexuals were abused as children, spiritually and emotionally wounded. Despite their outward show of pride and defiance, they are really dealing with the constant pain of self condemnation. Our words of condemnation will only drive them further away from the saving graces of Jesus Christ.

The diary of St. Faustina shows us that the greatest way to bring sinners to repentance is to join with the suffering Christ. to spiritually hang on the Cross with Him:
To suffer without complaining, to bring comfort to others and to drown my own sufferings in the most Sacred Heart of Jesus!

I will spend all my free moments at the feet of [Our Lord in] the Blessed Sacrament. At the feet of Jesus, I will seek light, comfort and strength. I will show my gratitude unceasingly to God for His great mercy towards me, never forgetting the favors He has bestowed on me, especially the grace of a vocation. 
I will hide myself among the sisters like a little violet among lilies. I want to blossom for my Lord and Maker, to forget about myself, to empty myself totally for the sake of immortal souls – this is my delight (Diary 224)
In Diary #324, Our Lord told St. Faustina, "When I was dying on the cross, I was not thinking about Myself, but about poor sinners, and I prayed for them to My Father."  In Jesus' greatest moment on earth,  when He was hanging on the Cross literally pouring out His Precious Blood for the salvation of mankind, suffering beyond comprehension, He said He was thinking only about "poor sinners."  Notice the complete lack of condemnation in His words.  He was talking about us, the ones responsible for His horrendous death, and yet all He shows is compassion and mercy.

In this same passage, #324, Jesus tells us the way to save sinners:
There is but one price at which souls are brought, and that is suffering united to My suffering on the cross. Pure love understands these words; carnal love will never understand them.
In the very next paragraph, #325,  Our Blessed Mother appeared to St. Faustina and emphasized the importance of prayer:
My daughter, what I demand from you is prayer, prayer, and once again prayer, for the world and especially for your country.
This statement from Our Blessed Mother echoes almost exactly what she said at Fatima less than 20 years before the time of St. Faustina:

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The angel of Fatima also told the children to pray and sacrifice for sinners:
What are you doing? Pray! Pray very much! … Offer prayers and sacrifices constantly to the most High…. Make everything you do a sacrifice, and offer it to God as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and in supplication for the conversion of sinners. You will thus draw down peace upon your country…. Above all accept and bear with submission the suffering which the Lord will send you.
Nowhere in any of these statements or examples are we told that the way to convert sinners is to confront them with their sin.  Even Our Lord saved sinners not by confronting them but by His Death on the cross.

In the Diary of St. Faustina, Jesus praises those who make great sacrifices:
To comfort you, let Me tell you that there are souls living in the world who love Me dearly. I dwell in their hearts with delight. But they are few. In convents too, there are souls that fill My Heart with joy. They bear My features; therefore the Heavenly Father looks upon them with special pleasure. They will be a marvel to Angels and men. Their number is very small. They are a defense for the world before the justice of the Heavenly Father and a means of obtaining mercy for the world. The love and sacrifice of these souls sustain the world in existence. (Diary 367)
St. Faustina would often feel that she was not accomplishing anything, but Jesus assured her otherwise:
In the evening, I saw the Lord Jesus upon the cross. From His hands, feet, and side the Most Sacred Blood was flowing. After some time, Jesus said to me, All this is for the salvation of souls. Consider well, My daughter, what you are doing for their salvation. I answered, “Jesus, when I look at Your suffering, I see that I am doing next to nothing for the salvation of souls.” And the Lord said to me, Know, My daughter, that your silent day-to-day martyrdom in complete submission to My will ushers many souls into heaven. And when it seems to you that your suffering exceeds your strength, contemplate My wounds, and you will rise above human scorn and judgment. Meditation on My passion will help you rise above all things. (Diary 1184)
In Isaiah 55:8-9, God says:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

What may seem to be "common sense" to us is not the way of God but the way of the world which will only lead to death. Certainly we need to speak out against the evil in the world. Our Lord commanded us to preach the Gospel to all creatures. That is the purpose of the Church. We must never hesitate to proclaim the Word of God. But if we are truly sincere in wanting to save sinners, to pull them from hell, then we must be willing to suffer with Jesus on the Cross. If we put our main efforts into condemnation of sinners, we are no better than Satan, the great accuser.
In the book of Numbers, the children of Israel had rebelled against God, and God had sent deadly snakes among them as punishment.  Many people died from the poisonous bites of these snakes.  Our Lord instructed Moses to put a brass snake on a pole and hold it up for the people to look at, and when they did so, they would be healed of the poisonous bites of the snakes:
Numbers 21:4-8:
They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”
Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.
The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.
Moses and the brass snake
The brass snake on the pole is a picture of Christ on the Cross and the healing that comes from His Great Sacrifice.  If we want to help save people from their sins, we must turn them towards the Cross, let them look at Christ's Sacrifice, from which all true healing comes.  We do that by joining our sacrifices to His.

We should also be aware that our acts of mercy towards others may well decide our own fate:
If a soul does not exercise mercy somehow or other, it will not obtain My mercy on the day of judgment. Oh, if only souls knew how to gather eternal treasure for themselves, they would not be judged, for they would forestall My judgment with their mercy. (Diary 1317)
In this Holy Week in which we are commemorating that great sacrifice that saved us all, let us not stand in condemnation of the world but instead truly endeavor to become one with Jesus Christ, and bring healing and hope to those in such dire need. As John 3:17 says, "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." If we are to be followers of Jesus and allow Him to live in us, we too must be about saving the world, not condemning it.

Some final words from St. Faustina:
I often communicate with persons who are dying and obtain the divine mercy for them. Oh, how great is the goodness of God, greater than we can understand. There are moments and there are mysteries of the divine mercy over which the heavens are astounded. Let our judgment of souls cease, for God's mercy upon them is extraordinary. (Diary 1684)
Credit:  divine-mercy.ca

9 comments:

  1. Very well written and very true. What you wrote shows a profound and accurate understanding of what our Lord gave St. Faustina to pass to us. In fact, what you wrote somewhat puts me to shame to my on application of the teaching of the Divine mercy of our Lord. Thank you and bless you for that mortification.
    In these Diary passages you including St. Faustina gives her example and witness in her humility to accept that on her own she can nothing, but in the same act in your faithfulness to acknowledge that nothing is impossible for God. Most of us will fall short of her saintly example.
    My favorite part of what you wrote was from Diary 1684, "Let our judgment of souls cease, for God's mercy upon them is extraordinary." In a private revelation from my own Angel, I have learned that God extends his mercy and forgives us our sins immediately and unconditionally. His love for us is so immense; he forgives us as soon as we commit sin. What sends us to Hell is actually ourselves not accepting God's forgiveness. Because also in His immense love for us, He gives us the freedom of choice, even freedom not to choose Him. Accepting forgiveness mean admitting our sins with a contrite heart. If we fail to do that, we, ourselves choose Hell.
    We can not convict the hearts and minds of others, only God can do that. I believe that this is why St. Faustina showed us the power of our interior actions and how a silent prayer does more good than all the external actions we could possible think of.
    However, not being a saint, but try to be one, I try to marry my interior and my external actions. I pray for conversions of souls and I speak and act, but I go to great pains to make sure what I say or do actually will help. For I truly believe if I am not part of the solution, then I easily can because part of the problem and that would be my own soul.

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    1. Thank you, Mr Clark, for your insight. Jesus Christ sits at the Right Hand of the Father constantly interceding for us by the sake of His Sorrowful Passion, just as we pray in the Chaplet. Could there ever be any sin, no matter how black and depraved, that could be bigger than that Great Sacrifice of God on the Cross? And yet, as you say, God's Love is so immense for us that He actually gives us the freedom to reject that ultimate cost paid by the Creator. And for those who have accepted that Sacrifice to wash away their sins, He allows, nay commands, them to join with Him to save sinners. By joining with Christ's sacrifice, we can literally pull people from hell.

      The Love of God is truly beyond all human comprehension.

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  2. So many words just to say that you really, really like St. Faustina's counsel and devotion. Meanwhile, the crux of the matter is whether this method is the ONLY permissible, much less the only prudent and authentically Catholic, means of witness. You write as if it were, which is absurd, and therefore you seem to be tilting at windmills on a hobbyhorse of one devotion among many.

    A further logical defect in your position, I'm afraid, is that you are forcing a false dilemma, between explicit moral exhortation and unseen spiritual co-suffering. Indeed, there's no small irony in the fact that, in order to correct your interlocutors, you WROTE a blog post comprised of WORDS, instead of merely swallowing the issue and doing as St. Faustina, apparently, would have you do in secret. As always, the Catholic "both/and" must be maintained.

    2 Timothy 3 -- "16 All scripture, inspired of God, is profitable to teach, to reprove, to correct, to instruct in justice, 17 That the man of God may be perfect, furnished to every good work."

    2 Timothy 4 -- "I charge thee, before God and Jesus Christ, who shall judge the living and the dead, by his coming, and his kingdom: 2 Preach the word: be instant in season, out of season: reprove, entreat, rebuke in all patience and doctrine. 3 For there shall be a time, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears: 4 And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables. 5 But be thou vigilant, labour in all things, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill thy ministry. Be sober."

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    1. You say that I am "forcing a false dilemma, between explicit moral exhortation and unseen spiritual co-suffering." First of all, I don't see it as a "dilemma" at all. In order to follow Christ, we must be willing to suffer with Him. That is what it means to take up the Cross. But joining our suffering with Christ doesn't mean never speaking. That is ridiculous.

      You seem to think it has to be one or the other. Words and no actions, or actions and no words. Then why do we have the Bible, the great spiritual writing given to us through the Church, etc? Why does the Pope bother to write anything? Why do you write?

      I really don't know what your problem is with this, Elliott, except that you just don't like it. You quote scripture to somehow prove that what I wrote goes against sound doctrine. How does it do that? I gave specific examples from St. Faustina's diary. How is any of this "false?" if it is a "false dilemma," then why did St. Faustina write about it? I also don't know what the two scriptures you quoted are suppose to mean other than to tell me that I don't know what I'm talking about.

      Elliott, why do you do your blog? I do mine first of all for myself. It helps me clarify my thoughts. I have gone through tremendous changes in my spiritual life because of my blog. If my blog helps others, then I am grateful. As I subtitle this blog, it is the journey of one Catholic trying to find truth in a world gone mad. I have found that Divine Mercy and joining my suffering with Jesus Christ has been my pathway to peace. I must say, your writings show that you are still struggling to find peace.

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  3. Codgitator
    I myself do not find duplicity in the 2nd letters of St. Paul to Timothy and the Dairy of St. Faustina. I them to be 2 sides of the same coin. One of my favorite sayings is, In medio stat Virtus, In the middle stands virtue. I think it applies here. God Bless.

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  4. Christ has died. Christ has risen. He has truly risen, Alleluia!

    http://www.crisismagazine.com/2014/what-really-happened-at-charlotte-catholic-hs

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    1. Dismas, this does not address the point of my post. I have already conceded that these talks were most probably orthodox. My point is that the students and parents who responded as they did show that they are spiritually wounded and we need to find a different approach with them. Obviously the approach used in these cases only served to turn those who needed them most even more against the teachings of the Church. People need to know that the Church is not their enemy. Have you done the Novena for Divine Mercy Sunday? Look at and study the prayers given to us by Jesus Christ. The problem with these talks is the students and parents felt they were being attacked. That will never bring anyone to Christ. It is always important to bring the true teachings of the Church to people, but HOW we present the truth is just as important as WHAT we say.

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  5. Sorry you choose to take my post personally, it wasn't really about you at all. I just completed day eight of the novena for the holy souls in purgatory, thanks for suggesting it. I also sent Father Matthew Kauth a card today thanking him for his Priesthood through the Te Deum Foundation at http://www.tedeumfoundation.org/priestyear/bpmemorial.html

    Christ has died. Christ has risen. He has truly risen, Alleluia!

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    1. You've confused me, Dismas. I assumed since you posted here, it was in regard to what I had written. Is there another reason why you posted this article?

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