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Boldness and Mercy

Day 30 of our 40 Days of Mercy Fast

Boldness and Mercy

‘If the Lord demands something of a soul, He gives it the means to carry it out; through grace, He makes it capable. At the Lord’s command, the soul can undertake things beyond its expectation if God’s power and strength, which makes the soul courageous and valiant, are manifest within it.’ (1090)

‘Your assignment on earth is to beg Mercy for the whole world.’ (570)

Jesus gave St. Faustina a bold calling: to immerse souls in the flood of God’s Mercy at Calvary. Prayerfully, she brought the miserable, the deserted, those deadened by sin and suffering into the Wound that heals—Jesus abandonment on the Cross, His Mercy pool of Blood and Water.

Jesus implored her to share His yearning for the lost. He thirsted for souls to partake of the fruit of His suffering. He wanted none to perish, for all to be saved. He gave her a share in that thirst and in that suffering. She boldly cried out for souls to turn to that Mercy. She persisted day and night in her intercession for souls. He goaded her:

‘Urge all souls to trust in the unfathomable abyss of My Mercy, because I want to save them all.’ (1182)

A bold call, and a bold claim on St. Faustina’s part: Jesus Himself chose her (among others) as His merciful ‘life-line’ for the lost. She believed Him resolutely and proceeded to pray boldly.

For her obedience, she endured constant attacks from ‘holy’ colleagues, which she quietly understood as nothing short of demonic resistance. She knew that the devil hated prayerful confidence in the God of Mercy; if he could discourage or distract the prayerful, souls would be lost to Mercy. So she fell to her knees and cried out for Mercy, enduring the scorn for the joy set before her–Mercy being released to the miserable, hers, mine, ours.

Consider the joy of her child-like warrior heart: she knew that the Father honors bold faith and answers those who persist in agreement with His heart. And what could be more in accord with that Heart than for souls to be liberated by the Mercy that cost Him everything?

Jesus asks for our bold prayers too. And like St. Faustina, we will be subject to terrific warfare. We are rescuing lives from the clutches of evil! We do well as prayer warriors to follow Jesus’ command ‘to go boldly to the throne of grace to receive Mercy, and grace to help us in our time of need.’ (Heb. 4: 16)

Embattled prayer warriors need Mercy! Tending toward the mystical, we vertical ones can lose sight of our own humanity and the impact of the battle upon us. We need normalizing relationships that are arms of this Mercy. These truth-tellers help us acknowledge our humanity and keep us grounded in our need for love.

God takes no delight in mystics who ‘spiritualize’ human need, those yearnings of the heart and body which must be worked out on earth. We do well to seek merciful others for our wounded humanity. They free us to stay pure and true to our bold call to implore sinners to discover Mercy themselves.

Such ‘grounding’ takes a shrill, otherworldly edge off our prayers. They begin to resonate with merciful tones for the suffering of others, imploring Jesus to prepare us His bride to become rich and practical in Mercy. How else will the sin-sick find a place in the Mercy pool if the Church doesn’t exhibit such Mercy?

‘O Father, make Your Church glorious, rich in Mercy and purity, winsome to all who seek an answer to our hope. Show them the Mercy You have shown us; make us evident, shining bearers of Mercy. Enfold the lost through us, O God. In agreement with You, we want none to perish. You delight in the death of no-one. (Ez. 18:32) Through merciful repentance, may many find life in Your house.’

‘For Zion’s sake, I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake, I will not remain quiet, till her righteousness shines like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch…

I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the Lord, give yourselves no rest, and give Him no rest till He establishes Jerusalem, and makes her the praise of all the earth.’ (Is 62:1,6,7)

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 for Beloved Enemies

Day 28 of our 40 Days of Mercy Fast

Mercy for Beloved Enemies

‘Be always merciful, as I am merciful. Love everyone out of love for Me, even your greatest enemies, so that My Mercy may be fully reflected in Your heart.’ (1695)

St. Faustina recorded those words as she listened to God. She was distressed, as a fellow sister in her religious order was spreading lies about her. Housemates’ cool and suspicious response to Faustina alerted her to such gossip. She listened to God, sought His Mercy in order to forgive the liar then actively blessed her.

St. Faustina gives us a sound example of how to handle beloved enemies. These are the wounds that cut deepest, because the ‘wound-ers’ are friends. The ‘hit and run’ abuse from an unknown adversary cannot compare to the betrayal of those we had every reason to trust.

That’s why Church and family wounds take so long to heal. We relied on these ‘good ones’, so the ‘hit’ sends our soul into loss (lifeless: a ‘life-line’, broken!) and disorientation (clueless: what is it about humanity and myself that I don’t understand?).

Beloved Christian enemies are especially difficult. David wrote:

‘If a foe were insulting me, I could endure it. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship…My companion now attacks his friends; he violates his covenant. His speech is smooth as butter, yet war is in his heart; his words are more soothing than oil, yet they are drawn swords.’ (Ps. 55:12-14; 20, 21)

Yet we have hope amid such betrayal. Why? We live under the shadow of Christ Crucified. In light of beloved enemies, Jesus invites us to share in His suffering. We kneel before His Agony in our little one, welcoming the Water that cleanses our wound from sources of infection (hatred, bitterness, vengeance), as well as the Blood that gives us Life, the living Mercy.

Consoled by Mercy, God asks us to extend Mercy. We forgive our offenders so we can be forgiven (Matt. 6:14, 15). In St. Faustina’s paraphrase: ‘If a soul does not exercise Mercy, it will not obtain Mercy at the day of judgment.’ (1317)

Harder still is bearing with the forgiven offender. St. Faustina grants us a picture of the transforming power of forgiveness. She lived with many of her beloved enemies! She sought no restraining order; she sought instead to imitate Christ by loving them boldly, impartially, genuinely.

Jesus gave her this instruction amid the growing envy and disdain toward her as the ‘divine mercy’ call began to gain momentum:

‘Never claim your rights. Bear with great patience and calm what befalls you. Do not defend yourself when you are put to shame…Let others triumph. Do not stop being good when your goodness is abused. I Myself will speak up for you when it is necessary.’ (1701)

Through the Cross, beloved enemies make us more like Jesus. He uses them to kill our self-justifying ways; He raises us up in turn through His advocacy. And He deepens His well of Mercy in us through such surrender. After one long Church battle, He said to me: ‘If she only gave you good things, your love for her would never mature.’

Merciful surrender to Jesus in the face of beloved enemies accomplishes holy ends. ‘The greater the suffering, the purer the love.’ (57)

‘At my first defense, no-one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that though me the message might be fully proclaimed…’ (2 Tim. 4:16, 17)

‘When they hurled insults at Jesus, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted Himself to the One who judges justly.’ (1P. 2:23)

‘Jesus, show us our wounds, that we might discover Yours afresh. Do not spare us the truth of betrayal. We surrender to You in it. United with You and Your divine purposes, let Mercy prevail. Console us as we ache and forgive, over and over. Strengthen us to rise and to bear with beloved enemies. We do so for Your name’s sake, and for the unity and integrity of Your body, the Church.’

‘O Blood and Water, that gushes forth from the Heart of the Savior as a Fount of Mercy for us, we trust in 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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Meekness and Mercy

Day 27 of our 40 Days of Mercy Fast

Meekness and Mercy

‘You shall conquer by meekness.’ (1597)

Meekness is about having power and choosing not to use it. For Love’s sake. From Love’s power. The soul that is genuinely meek is founded on the God of the Universe who stooped down in Mercy to make him/her great.

Meekness arises out of humility. The meek soul must first be a humble one, living in moment-by-moment dependence upon Mercy. At once miserable and mighty, the meek soul courageously accepts the call to represent God in his/her humanity. (S)he does not question (for long) personal dignity and honor, for to do so would be to question God’s. Mercy secures the meek soul.

So the meek do not race to self-defense. Why should they? The God of the Universe defends them, and in that shelter, they rest from the folly of mere human opinion. Of course they share the truth as they understand it, but it is a tempered truth. The still, small voice of God requires little amplification.

I have caused unnecessary suffering to others due to my lack of meekness. I have often not understood the power of my voice, and in frustration have turned it up mercilessly. That has seared the saints at times, much to my shame. Wise shepherds and sheep alike have told me this truth until I have understood it. Change takes longer.

Change requires suffering, getting and staying low before the Crucified until the heart beats and voice speaks in sync with His own. Christoph Schonberg writes of the Virgin Mary, the original Christ-bearer who is in turn a model for all Christians: ‘Mary triumphs, not with a sword in her hand, but with a sword in her heart.’

My sword is a daily reminder of the hurt I have caused others, and can still cause them, due to meekness’ lack. So I seek Him daily for the sword that pricks, the meekness that restrains, the Mercy that looses my heart and tongue as He wills.

The meek trust Mercy, and possess a quiet confidence. St. Faustina writes:

‘When my intentions are not recognized but rather condemned, I am not too much surprised…Truth will not die, and the wounded heart will regain peace in due time, and my spirit is strengthened through adversities…When I have regained my equilibrium, I say more.’ (511)

The meek trust in part the truth as they understand it; they trust in full the Truth of Mercy. All is His, and everything He has is ours.

‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am meek and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’ (Matt. 11:28-30)

‘Jesus gave me to know the depth of His meekness and humility and to understand that He clearly demanded the same of me.’ (758)

‘In Your Mercy, make us meek, O God. Truth burns in our hearts; temper it with Mercy. May our words convey a heart founded on Your meekness and humility. May less prove to be more in our efforts to convey Your truth to others. Show us how to pierce hearts with a few well-aimed and timed arrows. Make us meek warriors through 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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Humility and Mercy

Day 26 of our 40 Days of Mercy Fast

Humility and Mercy

‘God has surrounded me with His special Mercy precisely because I am the weakest of all people.’ (1099)

‘Humility is nothing but the truth.’ (1502)

Mercy opens our eyes to the Creator who upon the Cross gave us everything. Mercy opens our eyes to the magnificence of our God.

In the light of His splendor, our only honest response is humility. He created all yet we are but one of a billion created beings—humbling. He never sinned yet He gave up everything to free us from our sin—humbling. Forgiven by His Water, enlivened by His Blood, we still sin, denying Him in thought, word and deed—humbling. Divine Mercy alone sustains us—humbling.

Humility is nothing but the truth. St. Faustina said nearly all we need to know about humility in those six words. It results from knowing who God is and who we are in light of Him. When Almighty Mercy courses through an increasingly self-aware soul, we grow in humility. Truth breeds humility, humility is sustained by Truth.

Fixed on the Author and Finisher of our human destinies, we come to a startling revelation. We are not mostly beast; we bear His image. The Creator and Redeemer of the Universe made us human in His likeness. We represent Him on earth in these beautiful, broken frames. Nearly unfathomable. Humility alone makes it possible to accept God’s call upon our humanity to reflect His glory.

We look at the true image of God in Jesus Christ and we witness humility. He who possessed all power surrendered that power to be reconciled to us. We used our created power to resist Him in self-defense. He poured out His power to give us Mercy, the grace to lay down our arms until we rest in His.

‘Humility, humility and ever humility, as we can do nothing of ourselves; all is purely and simply God’s grace.’ (55)

Jesus embodies humility; His life commands that power be judged solely by whether it empowers others to love.

And so we take our places in God’s Church, less inclined to judge others as worse sinners. Our eyes barely see others’ faults in light of the Mercy gazing upon our beauty and our brokenness. The more weakness, the greater the divine strength; with heightened misery, Mercy rising…

‘Your attitude should be the same as Christ Jesus, who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant…’(Phil. 2:6,7)

‘I put up with this Church in the hope that one day it will become better just as it is constrained to put up with me in the hope that one day I will become better.’ Erasmus

‘May strong Mercy empower us to love others. We take our cues from You, O Lord of love, who uses power to empower us onto higher, truer expressions of our humanity. As we humble ourselves before You, elevate our vision, O God. As we humble ourselves before Your family on earth, use us to elevate their vision. Let strong Mercy flow from humble reckoning with our weakness before You, Humble King.’

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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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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