Mercy's Essential Ingredient

The following is taken from The Divine Mercy Message and Devotion booklet. It was written by world-renowned Divine Mercy expert Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC, with Vinny Flynn and Robert A. Stackpole. The booklet condenses the main elements of the Diary of St. Faustina into an easy-to-read format. It has become known throughout the world simply as the "Devotion Booklet."

The devotional practices revealed through St. Faustina were given to us as "vessels of mercy" through which God's love can be poured out upon the world, but they are not sufficient unto themselves. It's not enough for us to hang The Divine Mercy Image in our homes, pray the Chaplet every day at three o'clock, and receive Holy Communion on the first Sunday after Easter. We also have to show mercy to our neighbors. Putting mercy into action is not an option of the Divine Mercy message and devotion; it's a requirement!

How strongly Our Lord speaks about this to St. Faustina!

I demand from you deeds of mercy which are to arise out of love for me. You are to show mercy to your neighbors always and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to excuse yourself from it (Diary, 742).

Like the Gospel command, "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful," this demand that we show mercy to our neighbors "always and everywhere" seems impossible to fulfill. But the Lord assures us that it is possible. When a soul approaches Me with trust, He explains, I fill it with such an abundance of graces that it cannot contain them within itself, but radiates them to other souls (1074).

How do we "radiate" God's mercy to others? By our actions, our words, and our prayers. In these three degrees, He tells St. Faustina, is contained the fullness of mercy (742). We have all been called to this threefold practice of mercy, but we are not all called in the same way. We need to ask the Lord, who understands our individual personalities and situations, to help us recognize the various ways we can each live His mercy in our daily lives.

One thing we can all do is take a fresh look at what the Church calls the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy, a list of 14 ways to respond to the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs of others.

Saint Faustina herself learned that when she practiced the works of mercy, she was actually serving the merciful Savior Himself: "As you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did to Me" (Mt 25:35-40). The Lord's compassion flowed through her to the materially and spiritually poor, because she recognized that they were most in need of His mercy.

She never forgot how a poor young man, barefoot and with his clothes in tatters, came to her convent gate on a cold and rainy day begging for hot food. She immediately went to the kitchen, but found nothing there for him. Sister Faustina finally succeeded in finding some soup, which she reheated and into which she crumbled some bread. After the young man ate the soup, He unveiled to her His true identity - the Lord Jesus Christ Himself!

Then he vanished from her sight. But, later, she heard these words in her soul:

My daughter, the blessings of the poor who bless Me as they leave this gate have reached My ears. And your compassion, within the bounds of obedience, has pleased Me, and this is why I came down from My throne - to taste the fruits of your mercy (Diary, 1312).

Mercy for the Dying

One of the greatest works of mercy we can perform - and one often overlooked - is to pray for the dying. For St. Faustina, this was an important aspect of her mission of mercy. "Oh, dying souls are in such need of prayer," St. Faustina wrote in her Diary. "O Jesus, inspire souls to pray often for the dying" (1015).

The Lord Himself impressed upon her the importance of such prayers when He said to her:

Pray as much as you can for the dying. By your entreaties, obtain for them trust in My mercy, because they have most need of trust, and have it the least. Be assured that the grace of eternal salvation for certain souls in their final moments depends on your prayer (1777).

In particular, Jesus recommended to St. Faustina to use the Chaplet to aid the dying: At the hour of their death, I defend as My own glory every soul that will say this Chaplet; or when others say it for a dying person, the indulgence [pardon] is the same (811).

When we pray for the dying in this way, we can be assured that it opens the floodgates of Divine Mercy for souls in their time of greatest weakness and greatest need:

"God's mercy sometimes touches the sinner at the last moment in a wondrous and mysterious way. Outwardly, it seems as if everything were lost, but it is not so. The soul, illumined by a ray of God's powerful final grace, turns to God in the last moment with such a power of love that, in an instant, it receives from God forgiveness of sin and punishment ..." (1698).

Mercy for the Dead

Along with prayer for the dying, another great work of mercy is to pray for the dead. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches:

"All who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven" (1030).

Jesus Himself encouraged St. Faustina to remember the souls in purgatory. He told her: Enter into purgatory often, because [souls] need you there (Diary, 1738). One time St. Faustina saw in a vision the souls suffering in purgatory, and she saw their great need for our assistance:

"I saw my Guardian Angel, who ordered me to follow him. In a moment, I was in a misty place full of fire in which there was a great crowd of suffering souls. They were praying fervently, but to no avail, for themselves; only we can come to their aid. The flames which were burning them did not touch me at all. My Guardian Angel did not leave me for an instant. I asked these souls what their greatest suffering was. They answered me in one voice that their greatest torment was longing for God. I saw Our Lady visiting the souls in purgatory. The souls call her 'The Star of the Sea.' She brings them refreshment. ... Since that time, I am in closer communion with the suffering souls" (20).


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