Part 1: Divine Mercy

mercy-doorAs you know, this year has been declared an extraordinary year of mercy by Pope Francis and so it is of vital importance for you and me to understand what God's mercy is and to rejoice in its implications for our salvation.

Perhaps the most astounding and marvelous truth that God has ever revealed to us sinners is the fact that he is infinite mercy itself. And this wonderful knowledge has been brought to us through the love and prayers and holiness of a humble little polish nun — Saint Faustina Kowalska. By means of her, God has opened wide the gates of his mercy to a sinful world. Jesus himself stated to her "Proclaim that mercy is the greatest attribute of God. All the works of my hands are crowned with mercy." So we are all highly privileged to live in a whole new age of mercy proclaimed by Jesus himself.

FaustinaJesus showed St. Faustina an image of himself standing with his right hand raised in blessing and his left hand over his heart. From his heart there emanates two streams of light, one red and one pale. Jesus says, "The two rays denote the blood and water. The pale ray stands for the water which makes souls righteous, and in the midst of our sins we desperately need righteousness if we are to enter Heaven. The red ray stands for the blood which is the life of souls. These two rays issued forth from the very depths of my tender mercy when my agonized heart was opened by a lance on the cross. These rays shield souls from the wrath of my Father. Happy is the one who will dwell in their shelter, for the just hand of God shall not lay hold of him."

We know that the heart of Jesus was pierced by the lance of Longinus the Roman Officer who oversaw the crucifixion of Our Lord. He himself was personally flooded with the Divine Mercy at that moment, so that he was inspired to exclaim, "Truly this was the Son of God." That Roman Officer, a pagan who knew nothing of Jesus was the second recipient of the mercy of God, the good thief being the first. He was the first of millions of gentiles who would later embrace and come to believe in Jesus as the Son of God and Our Savior, the only one who could call down the mercy of his Father onto the whole world. Jesus says, "My gaze from this image is like my gaze from the cross." Jesus is telling us that as he hung in agony upon the cross, his gaze upon those who were murdering him and upon the scoffers who taunted him was one of infinite mercy and when we look upon the image of Jesus which he asked St. Faustina to have painted, we too should see the merciful gaze of Jesus upon our sinfulness.

Yes, my dear brothers and sisters it is no use denying the fact that all of us are sinners. Please God we are not committing mortal sins which kill our souls but we are certainly committing venial or little sins every day and tragically, most of us don't give them much thought. In fact we usually excuse them by saying 'I am only human', but in excusing ourselves, we fail to realize that even a small sin is abhorrent to a sinless God. There is an old saying, "Take care of the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves." In other words, we really should try to avoid the little sins in our day to day lives, pray to the Lord for the insight to recognize what they are and the strength to overcome them and by doing that we will be much more likely to avoid the graver sins which kill our souls. So, if you suffer a lot from irritability, for example, get to work on that right away.

Try to make today a day of peace and good naturedness, and good will toward your neighbor and your family, so that at bedtime you can examine your conscience and say, "Today I conquered my irritability. By the grace and mercy of God, I have had a victory over myself." But you must not tackle all of your sins at the same time. You will almost certainly fail, if you bite off more than you can chew and digest. No. Take one at a time and chalk up your successes, always giving God's mercy the credit. Sit down soon and make a list of your defects. Put them in the order of importance, then take the least one, not the hardest one, and work on that. Not until then should you take on the next one in line. Do that and the victory will be yours as you grow more and more pure in the eyes of the Lord.


f867073a249065a55471f91d3fc1456bJesus then instructed St. Faustina as follows: "I desire that the first Sunday after Easter be the Feast of Mercy. Whoever approaches the fount of life on this day will be granted complete remission of sins and punishment." This is a wondrous revelation from the Son of God. We know that when we go to confession our sins are certainly forgiven. We no longer carry the guilt for our transgressions but it still remains that we must yet make atonement for those sins. That is to say, we must face the justice of God and be punished for offending him. But now, here is Jesus telling us that if we adore his infinite mercy, if we praise him for his mercy, if we plead with him for his mercy, he will not only erase all the sins of our past life, but he will remit any and all punishment due to us and this will be done for all of us on the Feast of the Divine Mercy. In fact, the Lord tells us, "The greater the misery of a soul, the greater is its right to my mercy." So we need never be afraid. We are told in scripture, Isaiah 1:18, "Though your sins be as scarlet, they can become as white as snow."

This was a prophecy of the power that Jesus would wield in the future and was realized in the wonderful truth of the Divine Mercy, which we enjoy today. So no matter how awful the sins of my past life, no matter how badly I feel about them, no matter if I am afraid of God's wrath, Jesus is eager to shower down his mercy upon me and to erase not only my sins, but also the punishment which is certainly my due. What greater love could we ask for than that? My dear people, God must love each one of us with a love beyond all our imaginings. Are we not profoundly blessed that we are loved so much by our Creator God in spite of the fact of our sins which hurt and offend him so much?

Saint Faustina says, "Beginning on Good Friday, Jesus is commanding me to make a novena before the Feast of Mercy." In other words, the novena begins on the very day that Jesus died, the very day when he gazed out from his cross with that powerful look of mercy on all of us — yes, even on you and me, who were not yet born. He saw us all and we are to honor his death by praying the novena and praying it right through to the great Feast. Jesus said to offer it for the conversion of the whole world. "So that every soul will praise my goodness. I desire trust from my creatures. Encourage souls to place great trust in my fathomless mercy. Let the weak, sinful soul have no fear to approach me for even if it had more sins than there are grains of sand in the world, all would be drowned in the unmeasurable depths of my mercy."

However, Jesus informs us of the tragedy of the large numbers of souls who are tumbling into hell and he regards it as of the greatest importance to tell us through St. Faustina what hell is like. Now I know that this is not a very popular topic of discussion yet if it is an urgent matter for Jesus, it is surely intended as an urgent matter for us to think about. So here is what St. Faustina wrote:

"I Sister Faustina by the order of God, have visited the abysses of hell so that I might tell souls about it and testify to its existence. The devils were full of hatred for me but they had to obey me at the command of God. I noticed one thing: that most of the souls there are those who did not believe that there was a hell. When I came to, I could hardly recover from the fright. How terribly souls suffer there. Consequently, I pray even more fervently for the conversion of sinners."

She goes on to say, "Today, I was led by an angel to the chasms of hell. It is a place of great torture. How awesomely large and extensive it is. The kinds of tortures I saw; the first torture that constitutes hell is the loss of God. The second is perpetual remorse of conscience. The third is that one's condition will never change. The fourth is the fire that will penetrate the soul without destroying it, a terrible suffering since it is a purely spiritual fire, lit by God's anger. The fifth torture is continual darkness and a terrible suffocating smell, and despite the darkness, the devils and the souls of the damned see each other and all the evil, both of others and their own. The sixth torture is horrible despair, hatred of God, vile words, curses and blasphemies. These are the tortures suffered by all the damned. But that is not the end of the sufferings. There are special tortures destined for particular souls. These are the torments of the senses. Each soul undergoes terrible and indescribable sufferings, related to the manner in which it has sinned. There are caverns and pits of torture where one form of agony differs from another. I would have died at the very sight of these tortures if the omnipotence of God had not supported me. Let the sinner know that he will be tortured throughout all eternity in those senses which he made use of to sin. I am writing this at the command of God, so that no soul may find an excuse by saying there is no hell or that nobody has ever been there and so no one can say what it is like." There is a hell and we must be informed of what awaits the soul that denies God and refuses the graces he is offering to it.

Yes! Terrifying though all this may be, it is nevertheless one of the 4 last things that the church urges us to meditate upon. These are death, judgement, heaven and hell. If all we do is fear hell with all our hearts, that would be enough to ensure our salvation. But our Merciful Lord goes much further than that. He offers us his mercy while there is still time left to us in our earthly life. He simply asks two things of us: (1) to appeal to his mercy and (2) to pray for the conversion of sinners. Surely Jesus is not asking very much of us whereby we can ensure our salvation and so escape from Satan and his devils and to send him in a rage back to the deepest pits of his own hell. All of us here have that God-given power to appeal to his infinite mercy, to generously pray for sinners throughout the world and to banish the devil from our lives.

Now to a much lighter and hope filled note. In addition to the nine days of novena from Good Friday to Divine Mercy Sunday, Jesus has asked us to implore his mercy at 3 o'clock every day. He says, "At 3 o'clock, implore my mercy especially for sinners and, if only for a brief moment, immerse yourself in my passion, particularly in my abandonment at the moment of agony." Did Jesus not cry out from the cross, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" That was the moment of the greatest suffering for Our Lord, greater than all the physical tortures he had had to bear. St. Faustina goes on to quote Jesus , "this is the hour of great mercy for the whole world. I will allow you to enter into my mortal sorrow. In this hour, I will refuse nothing to the soul that makes a request of me in virtue of my passion." What an amazing promise from God himself, that at the 3 o'clock hour, if you say the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy, God will grant you whatever you desire and ask of him. What more could we expect of God, we who are so weak and sinful and undeserving of mercy? Yet in spite of our fallen condition, we are loved infinitely and God promises to answer the prayers of our heart. Your child is living in sin, you have financial difficulties, someone you love is sick, you want to love God more. What ever your problem may be, pray the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy at 3 o'clock in the afternoon. Jesus will answer your needs. He said so.

Jesus continues, "I remind you, my daughter, that as often as you hear the clock strike the third hour, immerse yourself completely in my mercy, adoring and glorifying it. Invoke its omnipotence for the whole world and particularly for poor sinners for at that moment mercy was opened wide for every soul. In this hour you can obtain everything for yourself and for others for the asking. It was the hour of grace for the whole world. Mercy triumphed over justice." My dear people, we would be crazy to ignore such an offer from the great promise keeper, Jesus the Son of the Living God.

Jesus begs St. Faustina, "Oh, if sinners knew my mercy, they would not perish in such great numbers. Tell sinful souls not to be afraid to approach me. Speak to them of my great mercy." So Jesus is telling you and me that we too should be speaking to other souls of his great mercy and that also means that we should be extending our hand of mercy to them. We are recommended by the Church to evangelize, to bring Jesus to those who have never heard of him, to those who are regrettably lukewarm, to those who do the bare minimum in their spiritual life and to those who have rejected Jesus and turned their backs on God. So we who know about his unfathomable, endless mercy, must joyfully offer others hope where hope has been lost and mercy where sinners are in despair of ever being forgiven.

If we have received mercy, we are in turn obliged to bestow mercy on others, especially those who have wronged us in any way. We receive God's mercy in the same measure that we give it to our poor brothers and sisters who are trapped in their own sins and are blind to the wonderful graces he wishes to give them. Jesus, Our Lord and King, for whom all things are possible, still needs you and me to share his mercy with others and we do that by showing them mercy, loving them and giving them our time. Jesus has no one else but you to do this work for him. So never fear to joyfully tell others of the great mercy he has shown to yourself. That can powerfully lead others to desire that same mercy for themselves and so bring them to conversion. In other words, you do not have to preach to souls. That rarely works. No! Show them your own joy and that can work wonders.

Now, Jesus taught St. Faustina a powerful prayer which he wanted us to say over and over again. He said, "When you say this prayer with a contrite heart and with faith on behalf of some sinner, I will give him the grace of conversion." Imagine, this short and simple prayer is so efficacious it can actually convert sinners. Do you know someone in need of conversion?

Of course you do. Then pray the prayer repeatedly for him or her. Hold him back from the abyss of hell. Beg Jesus that your prayer will convert the heart of that unhappy person. Claim the promise of Jesus and call down his mercy and grace upon the one you are interceding for. Here is the prayer: — "Oh blood and water which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fount of mercy for us, I trust in you." That's it! Let us pray it again, "Oh blood and water which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fount of mercy for us, I trust in you." My dear brothers and sisters, we are a privileged people. We can justly lay claim to the infinite mercy of Jesus. He is eager to pour it out into our souls. Should we not be equally eager to receive it and to share it? Never fear to approach the fountain of his mercy.

Do not deceive yourself that your sins are too great for God's mercy to be yours. Close your ears to the lies of Satan who tries to tell you that you will never be worthy of God's forgiveness and mercy. He wants to close the doors of heaven to you and will tell you lies and do any thing to drag you down into the endless abyss. Tell him, "It is written, get behind me Satan" then turn immediately in humility and repentance to the mercy of God. God is waiting for you to ask. "Ask and you will receive." And the Kingdom of God will be yours. This is a Divine offer you can't refuse. Your eternal home in heaven awaits. Take it with both hands and rejoice. Jesu ufam tobie. Jesus I trust in you. Say these words from your heart, say them repeatedly throughout your day. Make it a habit and your whole day will be filled with the endless and healing mercy of God. Jesus I trust in you.



Given at St. Hedwig's Lent Mission Mon. Feb. 22, 2016

Part 1: Divine Mercy | Part 2: Trust in God's Mercy | Part 3: God's Supreme Act of Mercy - The Passion

Deacon Dr. Bob McDonald is a Catholic pysician and psychotherapist who resides with his wife Rita in Barry's Bay. Ontario, Canada.
Some of his talks can be found as audio CD's at |


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