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Misery and Mercy

Day 25 of our 40 Days of Mercy Fast

Misery and Mercy

‘The more miserable my soul, the more I feel the ocean of God’s mercy engulfing me and giving me greater strength and power.’ (255)

St. Faustina was a weak woman with a mighty calling. She learned early on to entrust her afflictions to the God of Mercy. This is our key as well. Any being-healed one who seeks to restore others must acknowledge profound weakness in order to access the Mercy that is deeper still.

We live first from the fount of Life: Christ Jesus at the point of His greatest weakness, abandoned, pierced and pouring out Blood and Water. We weak ones live from that Source. His weakness is the purest, strongest expression of Mercy.

Similarly, our weakness can be the threshold for powerful Mercy. The servant is not greater than his/her Master. Real life grants us many little crosses that invite us to slow down and kneel before His Cross. Its fruit floods in; the Crucified is our Strength in weakness.

One ‘cross’ applies to temptations of many kinds—the ways we weak ones want to bypass the hard work of loving others well, be it in seduction, addiction, lying, isolating, etc. The challenge here is not in the temptation itself but rather in not facing it squarely with the help of God and others.

St. Faustina writes: ‘I must struggle with many faults, knowing well that is not the struggle that debases me but cowardice and failure.’ (1340) Bold confessions grant us freedom from fear and cleansing from our failures! Then Mercy can flood us and strengthen us where we are most in need.

Another weakness lies in our woundings—the truth that others disappoint, even betray us. We must learn to suffer well before the Crucified. ‘All my tears flowed silently toward the One who alone understands what pain and suffering is.’ (1454)

If we do not abide with Him who bears our sufferings, we become conformed to those wounds—bitter, unbelieving, unmerciful. Only through communing with Mercy Himself can we find the Mercy we need to extend to our betrayers.

As He arose from suffering unto glorious Life, so His wounds grant us patience to bear ours, certain that release will come.

We wait with Him, bearing our wound or temptation in fellowship with Him and trusted ones. When we do this, we can be confident that God is growing something merciful inside us. He is digging a deep well of Mercy in us.

Apart from Jesus, weakness does nothing for us. It makes us a target of cruel adversaries. We must choose the Merciful Cross. Surrendering weakness there transforms misery into life-giving power.

So we must first acknowledge affliction, then we kneel. Water cleanses, Blood give life. We arise to do His will, our weakness overcome with Mercy.

‘Nothing disturbs the depth of my peace. With one eye I gaze on the abyss of misery, with the other, the abyss of Mercy.’ (1345)

‘For when I am weak, then I am strong.’ (2 Cor 12:10)

‘Jesus, we trust Your Mercy in our weakness. Lead us to the Cross once again. Grant us courage to behold our sin or injury. Help us to abide there with You, that we would not forfeit the grace that could be ours. Our world is merciless and cruel. Show us Your Mercy, that we in our weakness would not be conformed to this world but rather transformed, overflowing with Mercy.’

Author’s note – Each day’s entry is based a passage from St Faustina’s diary. The passage entry is the number in parentheses at the end of each opening quote or simply a page number in parenthesis. Diary of St Maria Faustina Kowalska – Divine Mercy in My Soul (Association of Marion Helpers, Stockbridge, MA 01263) is available through the publisher or Amazon.com.

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Mercy’s Meal

Day 20 of our 40 Days of Mercy Fast

Mercy’s Meal

‘Jesus, may Your pure and healthy blood circulate in my ailing organism, and may Your pure and healthy body transform my weak body, and may a healthy, vigorous life throb within me…’ (1089)

I have the privilege of taking communion most mornings at a church down the street from me. This is my daily bread: the Word spoken, the Word broken and offered generously to hungry ones like me.

At the center of this church is a huge cross, on which Christ hangs, His finished work dripping upon the communion table beneath Him. Amazing: He who gave everything for us now says: ‘Take Me, drink Me, eat Me; I gave Myself wholly to you.’

John Paul ll describes communion as the re-presentation of the Cross in which the central event of our salvation becomes present to us. I marvel: Jesus longs to be savored, and so impart Mercy to us at the most basic, authentic level possible.

He who was broken and punctured for us wants to sustain us with the fruit of His wounds. He wants none of His suffering to be wasted. He wants life to spring forth from His death. Communion is how death becomes life, how Holy Wounds heal us. He who fills all in all allowed Himself to be broken in order to become the Merciful Source and sustenance of our lives.

Raised in an Anglo-Catholic Church, I am not unfamiliar with communion. Yet as I age its meaning becomes increasingly precious and essential. At 53-years-old, the wounds I have sustained and the wounds I tend in others requires daily Mercy. Humanity is fractured—longing for love and connectedness and yet defended, bitter, stuck. The Church of Jesus is as unified as she is divided. We are her!

So daily I savor the host as it breaks within me, and like St. Faustina I trust that His brokenness will intermingle with mine and raise me up whole. I drink the cup, trusting that its Almighty Mercy will dissolve walls in me.

As I circle around the church after communion en route to my seat, I am usually overcome with an inexplicable joy, as if all present are one, the bride that has made herself ready. I go forth onto the fragile ground of a new day, stepping lightly and lively from the Mercy just received.

Truly communion embodies the fullness of both Christ Crucified and Resurrected! In the words of St Ambrose, ‘He rises daily for us’, setting our hearts on fire with the burning love of Jesus!

‘It is most important that the Holy Eucharist becomes life’s focal point; that every day is received from His hand and laid back therein; that the day’s happenings are deliberated with Him. In this way, God is given the best opportunity to be heard in the heart, to form the soul, and to make its faculties clear-sighted and alert for the supernatural.’ Edith Stein

‘Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.’ (Is. 55:2)

‘Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood remains, abides, and dwells with Me, and I remain, abide, and dwell with him/her.’ (Jn. 6:54-56)

‘Jesus, thank you for Your Holy Meal. You died to give us this gift of life. You rose to raise us up through it. May we never take communion for granted but approach it with child-like faith and adult sobriety. Let Mercy have its perfect way in us through these elements that embody You, Merciful God. Make us Merciful and generous like You, through You.’

Author’s note – Each day’s entry is based a passage from St Faustina’s diary. The passage entry is the number in parentheses at the end of each opening quote or simply a page number in parenthesis. Diary of St Maria Faustina Kowalska – Divine Mercy in My Soul (Association of Marion Helpers, Stockbridge, MA 01263) is available through the publisher or Amazon.com.

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The Gaze From The Cross, Part 4

Day 19 of our 40 Days of Mercy Fast

The Gaze from the Cross, Part 4  (Please also read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3)

‘When I was dying on the cross, I was not thinking about Myself but about sinners, and I prayed for them to the Father.’ (324)

Prayer for sinners to enter into God’s Mercy must become action: intercession primes our hearts with God’s intentions for them. What a privilege to steep loved ones in God’s merciful heart for them! Prayer then looses merciful words and actions toward each one.

I love that rhythm: we live out of God’s pure Blood and Water, sourced at Calvary. We live from those ‘waters’, longing for loved ones to find their place in the pool. We cry out to God to open their eyes and hearts to their need for that Mercy. In that process we become ambassadors of Mercy, an answer to our own prayers.

That requires good hard work, in prayer and deeds. Jesus describes it best in the Parable of the Fruitless Fig Tree. A man owned a vineyard with a tree that failed to bear fruit; he thus ordered the gardener to destroy it. The gardener pleaded with the owner: ‘Leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’ (Lk. 13:8, 9)

We too look at the lives of ‘fruitless’ loved ones. No longer ‘abiding in the vine’, they thus fail to bear fruit. (Jn. 15:4, 5) We cry out to God: ‘Spare them as we make every effort to fertilize their lives in prayer and action.’ We then seek the Lord, asking for divine wisdom as we seek to be timely, inspired ambassadors of Mercy for them.

My son Sam had an extended season of hurt and disappointment in his life. He wandered in the wilderness, far from home. He knew the ‘house rules’, that we would not support his addictions; at the same time, he wanted freedom from the shame of our scrutiny and freedom for his autonomy.

We ached for our beloved son. When we saw him, we ached more because we could see the impact of his wandering: an afflicted, progressively sterile soul. Because we knew him well and loved him so, it was not difficult to bear with him. We asked God to inspire little acts of kindness and choice words that might break up hard ground and mirror his fruitful potential.

We prayed for Sam to behold his own fruitlessness; we asked for incidents that might shake him and cause him to yearn for something deeper and truer within.

Jesus’ Mercy prevailed. Sam lost his job and began to lose patience with his empty way of life. He returned home. Humbled, he began to cooperate with Jesus. Hail the Merciful One who mercifully prunes and fortifies the afflicted, helping them to bear lasting fruit.

‘As God has made us sharers in His Mercy, and even more than that, dispensers of that Mercy, we should therefore have great love for each soul…’ (539)

‘If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples.’ (Jn. 15:7, 8)

‘Sow for yourselves righteousness, and reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until He comes and showers righteousness on you.’ (Hos. 10:12)

‘Jesus, we cry out for our fruitless ones. Give us time to prepare the ground of their hearts to welcome You afresh. We ask for the rain of Your Mercy in their lives; use whatever You must to break up the fallow ground. Help us to grant each what (s)he really needs. We set these ones apart for Your purposes, O God. Make them fruitful once more, in Your Name and by Your Mercy.’

Author’s note – Each day’s entry is based a passage from St Faustina’s diary. The passage entry is the number in parentheses at the end of each opening quote or simply a page number in parenthesis. Diary of St Maria Faustina Kowalska – Divine Mercy in My Soul (Association of Marion Helpers, Stockbridge, MA 01263) is available through the publisher or Amazon.com.

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