Saturday, April 18, 2009

Mercy, Mercy


This second Sunday in the Easter season is a special Sunday for many Catholics as well as many Protestants who have discovered some of the richness of the traditions within the Catholic faith.  Protestant Scot McKnight  author of Praying with the Church highlights this often in his books.  It was on April 2, 2005 that the great John Paul II died.  But what was remarkable about his death, was it occurred just as the Roman Catholic Church was celebrating the Vigil of Divine Mercy Sunday.  He had given his life to a mission of Divine Mercy, led the canonization of Sister Faustina Kowalska, 1905-1938, a polish nun who had succumbed at a young age to the ravages of tuberculosis.  She was beatified in 1993 and canonized as a saint by the church in 2000.  This began the feast of the Divine Mercy which has grown in popularity at an astonishing rate.  

According to Pope John Paul II, the feast is "is a perpetual invitation to the Christian world to address, with trust in divine benevolence, the difficulties and trials that await the human race in the coming years."

Faustina's mission was to spread the message of the mercy of Christ to every living human being.  This message was taught through a painting of a vision she had received from Jesus along with what has become known as the Divine Mercy Chaplet.  A prayer that even Protestants have been comfortable praying.  While it begins with the Lords Prayer and the Rosary, many Protestants substitute the Rosary with the Jesus Prayer.  

I won't go into the meaning of the painting or quote the chaplet here as you can find it all over the web.  It would be redundant for me to take up space here.  But what I find comforting about the chaplet is that it is so ecumenical in character and especially appealing to people going through difficult times.  St. Faustina's life is a testimony of the mercy of God that has inspired millions who suffer through physical or emotional sickness, distress of all kinds, poverty or injustice.  Many pray the prayer at the time instructed by her each day at three P.M.  If you have time during that time of the day, obtain a copy of the prayer and pray it with the millions around the globe who also pray the prayer.  

I know this is foreign to us Protestants.  We are not accustomed to praying written prayers.  I've heard people say, "Oh, people just rattle off the words just out of ritual and don't really mean it."  Or, "It's just vain repetition."  Oh??  Do you know what is in the heart of the one praying?  If it is a ritual or meaningless prayer, I'd put the onus on the person praying, not the prayer.  The church has used form prayers since the beginning.  They began with the psalms and scriptures sung and chanted in the synagogues for that's all they knew.  The Psalms have been sung and chanted for centuries, long before Christ and long after his death.
No..it's not empty when your heart is in it.  
I might ask, "Where is your heart when you repeat the Lord's Prayer in your services?"  Is it from your heart or are you thinking of something you saw or heard earlier in the week?  Don't blame the prayer.

Bottom line.  Check out the Divine Mercy Chaplet.  Get to know St. Faustina.  She's was a marvelous person.  Some have accused her of being bi-polar or having some kind of mental illness that led to depression causing her visions.  Read again.  She saw Christ in his perfection and when she saw that she saw her true state as a human and saw how short she was of Christ's perfection.  But, but, that's when she saw his love and mercy.
We can learn from her.  

These Catholics may have some practices that may cause us to stumble, but don't question their faith.  In Faustina's case, it was square on.  She knew who she was, who Christ was and why mercy was so important for us to learn.  
Take this day to join the thousands who honor this saint and learn from her the message of Divine Mercy.

God Bless.

2 comments:

  1. Good evening, Richard. It that a new picture? Missed you for a couple of days, doing some catching up.

    Well, I think you are attracting some readers (from your stat counter), and will eventually get some more comments. And while that would be nice, it's quite okay that people are just reading what you have to say. Your writing is full of hope, openness, and light. Keep it up.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Pennyyal. Yes, it's a new picture. I had to get rid of the "fat" pic. Ha Ha. This is the 70 lbs lighter pic.

    I'm getting some looky lous..I suspect about a third of the count is my visits. Ha Ha.

    I can't post everyday. I just don't have the time.

    ReplyDelete