Sunday, April 07, 2002

When Our Lord appeared to St. Faustina in Poland at the beginning of the last century,in the 1930's, hardly anyone went to communion. People did not believe, really believe that God loved them. Now at the beginning of the next century a lot of people go to communion on any given Sunday, but I sense that people still do not believe that God really loves them--now they receive Him more out of convention than conviction.

There are some (mostly priests) who have a problem with the Pope naming today the Feast of Mercy. Our pastor, in his homily which featured Tibetian Monks as the real preachers of compassion, said that he felt the Divine Mercy novena interferred with the Easter Triduum (how that is the case I have no idea--could praying the stations of the cross, another devotion, ruin Good Friday?). I have heard others say that it brings back magical notions of easy grace.

Fr. George Kosicki, who has written widely about this devotion, told me that the associations of Mercy with the Octave of Easter can be traced back to St. Augustine, so that should satisfy the liturgical purists to some degree.

But the issue may be why has this devotion become so popular? Here is my simple answer. Even though we hear it time and time again--that God loves us, we have a very hard time believing it. We keep put conditions upon his love. God would love me if I (fill in the blank) or God will love me when I (fill in the blank), etc. Paul tells us that "while we were sinners God loved us." That pretty much goes against everything that most of us believe.

So here at the beginning of the new century we have this feast which is like a clanging cymbal. Hey guys, in case you made it through all of Lent and Holy Week and you still don't get it--I love you!

Remember the story of Hosea. Hosea is told by God to marry a prostitute, she is an apt symbol for Israel, God tells Hosea. I might add she is an apt symbol for our level of faithfulness. Hosea does as God asks and after awhile his prostitute wife goes back into business. God tells Hosea to take her back (perhaps some of us can still feel the horror of what God was asking Hosea to do). God's love is like that. There is nothing you or I will ever be able to do to earn it, anymore than a child needs to earn his parent's love--it just is.

On this Feast of Divine Mercy, open your heart to that Love that God has for you. Let it flood your being, let it change your life!

Every second of the day is an opportunity to receive God's love. Every moment is a choice. When we allow God to love us, we want to pray, we want to learn more about God, and we want others to experience the peace and joy that we feel.

Too often all of this gets muddled by pharisees who are afriad that something is not being done in the correct way, or violating some liturgical principle (it is interesting how the very same pharisees have trouble genuflecting to the Eucharistic Presence of Our Lord at the consecration--not that I'm watching {Lord fill me with your love so I won't notice!}).

Here is the Divine Mercy message in a nutshell from the Marian Helpers Site:

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. God wants us to receive His mercy and let it flow through us to others. He wants us to extend love and forgiveness to others just as He does to us.

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.

That is it, ASK, BE, and TRUST.