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MERCY IN THE MODERN WORLD WARNINGS MARK HIS MERCY—DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY Part I

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DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY Part I

MERCY IN THE MODERN WORLD

WARNINGS MARK HIS MERCY

We continue in the “Divine Mercy” theme as we look forward to Divine Mercy Sunday on April 19th, 2020—the Second Sunday of Easter. It is fitting that we look to God’s loving kindness and great mercy in this Easter season. We are still celebrating the victory of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ over sin, death and the grave, and look to the One Who is rich in mercy.


We have focused on three co-related themes in the Paschal series we presented during Lent—including the topic of God’s mercy. That theme has been present throughout church history, and it is our current focus. From beginning to end in Scripture we witness God’s mercy. God speaks of it often through His written word and demonstrates it frequently—throughout the Old and New Testaments. Then we see it in the writings of the Church Fathers. And we see it daily in our own lives and in the world around us—if we open our eyes to see.


APPARITIONS AND MESSAGES

In the latter half of the 17th century in France, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque experienced apparitions of Jesus and of His Sacred Heart. Simply put, His Sacred Heart represents His great love for us, and prayers to Jesus’ Sacred Heart invoke His mercy that comes from His loving heart.

St Faustina Kowalska was a 20th century saint born in Poland in 1905. Faustina had visions of our Lord and of His heart showing red and white rays emanating from it—representing His blood shed and His mercy. She wrote and kept a diary (at our Lord’s request and that of her spiritual director) in which she recorded her encounters with Jesus. St. Faustina was canonized by (now St.) Pope John Paul II in the year 2000. At that time, the pope also established “Divine Mercy Sunday” to be celebrated on the Sunday after Easter each year. He said that this act would help to “pass this message on to the new millennium.”

Some of the most primary themes in St. Faustina’s revelations are these truths:

“Tell all people, My daughter, that I am Love and Mercy itself. When a soul approaches Me with trust, I fill it with such an abundance of graces that it cannot contain them within itself, but radiates them to other souls.” Diary of St. Faustina, 1074

“I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners… I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy … Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet.” Diary of St. Faustina, 699

“My daughter, write that the greater the misery of a soul, the greater its right to My mercy; [urge] all souls to trust in the unfathomable abyss of My mercy, because I want to save them all.” Diary of St. Faustina, 1182

“Souls perish in spite of My bitter Passion"… Diary of St. Faustina, 965

“Souls that make an appeal to My mercy delight Me. To such souls I grant even more graces than they ask. I cannot punish even the greatest sinner if he makes an appeal to My compassion, but on the contrary, I justify him in My unfathomable and inscrutable mercy.” Diary of St. Faustina,1146

"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." Diary of St Faustina, 1059

“He who refused to pass through the door of My mercy must pass through the door of My justice.” Diary of St. Faustina, 1146

“Let all mankind recognize My unfathomable mercy. It is a sign for the end times; after it will come the day of justice.” Diary of St. Faustina, 848

[from Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, Marian Press, Stockbridge, MA 01263]


GOD’S LOVING MERCY WARNS HIS CHILDREN

Warnings have been part of our loving Father’s communication throughout God’s history with mankind. He cares so much for us that, like the father who warns his children to stay away from the street or the mother who warns a child not to touch a hot stove, He warns us of dangers. This is evident from Genesis through the New Testament… in the Garden of Eden… the books for the Prophets… Psalms, Gospels and Epistles. And it does not stop there.

In modern times, God continues to speak to His people—to both canonized saints, everyday saints and to His followers. He does so in order to repeat, emphasize and apply what the Bible has already said…through messages, apparitions and visions… and even through new waves of the Holy Spirit.

Modern day messages and visions include the Marian apparitions at Lourdes and at La Salette—both in France in the mid-19th century. There are many present-day voices throughout the Christian world who are speaking prophetic messages that dovetail with both Biblical messages and Marian messages. We are living in a time when it seems apparent that God wants to get through to us—whatever way He can.

In the 20th century, Mary appeared to the three young children at Fatima—with messages and visions given. This has been widely publicized. A vision of hell and a prophetic secret opened later in the 20th century were included in these visitations. (You can get details from our Fatima series published just 2 ½ years ago as we celebrated the 100th anniversary of the apparitions. A series of four articles were posted on this blog in October 2017: THE FATIMA STORY AND THE ROSARY; THE SECRETS AND A CALL TO PRAY; THE DIFFICULT MESSAGE OF FATIMA; and WARNINGS; WHY PAY ATTENTION NOW?)


CONNECTED WARNINGS

There is not commonly known connection between Lucia’s account of her experiences at Fatima and a request made to St Margaret Mary Alacoque. In 1689, St Margaret Mary was given a message from the Lord to give to the King of France, King Louis XIV. He was asked to consecrate his country to the Sacred Heart. He did not. One hundred years later, King Louis XVI made the consecration—too late to keep France from the French Revolution (and its bloodshed and persecutions) or keep King Louis XVI and his queen from violent execution.

Then it was in 1931 that the Lord referred back (through His message sent through Mary to Lucia of Fatima) to the disastrous consequences for France following King Louis XIV’s failure to heed His request to dedicate France to the protection of His Sacred Heart. The visionary, Lucia, at Fatima was told to tell the pope that he was called to gather the bishops of the world to publicly consecrate Russia to the Immaculate heart of Mary. In similar manner to the events in France in the 17th and 18th centuries, such a dedication did not happen until decades later—after Communist bloodshed, persecution and propaganda flourished through much of the 20th century.

The following warning had been revealed to Lucia:

“Make it known to My ministers that given they follow the example of the King of France in delaying the execution of My command… that, like him, they will follow him into misfortune. They will repent of it and they will do it, but it will be too late. Russia will already have spread its errors in the world.” [The quote is taken from St Margaret Mary and the Sacred Heart, by Brian Kelly, April 8, 2014, Catholicism.org.]

A recent apparition was in 1973 on October 13th—the same date as visitations of Mary at Fatima—at Akita, Japan. Our Lady spoke of a “great chastisement” and said for the people to “Listen well” , saying that we “must repent and better [our]selves” for something “greater than the flood” and “never seen before” would be coming upon the whole earth—including “fire from the sky”.

She warned both clergy and hierarchy of trouble in their midst, saying that the “roar of the devil” would be seen in the church. Cardinal Ratzinger, in 1988, as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, affirmed these apparitions. The events of Akita seem to continue to have ecclesiastical approval.

The warnings about clergy were also experienced by Padre Pio (St Pio of Pietrelcina) in a vision he had of Jesus.

Padre Pio was long accustomed to deep prayer times. St. Pio had an occasion in 1913—5 years before receiving the stigmata vision—when Jesus also appeared... and Jesus was "in distress". The saint wrote in a letter to another priest:

“ ‘On Friday morning I was still in bed, when Jesus appeared to me. He looked all battered and disfigured. He showed me a great multitude of priests, regular and secular, among whom many [were] ecclesiastical dignitaries; some were celebrating, some were putting on the sacred [vestments], and others were taking them off.

The sight of Jesus in distress was very painful to me. His glance turned toward those priests…and when he looked back at me…I saw two tears running down his cheeks…’ ”

Much more is included in the blog from which this quote is taken:

PART II of ST. PIO OF PIETRELCINA: PADRE PIO VISIONS AND CALLING, posted September 17, 2019, on this blog site. See more about his life and vision in that blog, and in PART I of ST. PIO. The above quote is found in the book (and more in the two PADRE PIO blogs): PADRE PIO: UNDER INVESTIGATION Secret Vatican Files, by Fr. Francesco Castelli—a professor of Modern Church History in Taranto, Italy. This esteemed priest-professor (who was the historian for the Pope John Paul II beatification process) wrote a book presenting the secret Vatican files on the three-year investigation into Padre Pio’s life when St. Pio was in his thirties. The book is translated from the 2008 Italian version of the original 1921+ report, called “Votum” [the “Acts”]. The file documents dated before 1939 were not made publicly accessible until 2006 by Pope Benedict XVI.

This book is a gripping account of the original Vatican inquest and report that began in 1921—three years after Padre Pio's stigmata began. The book is an interesting, understandable and readable account, with clear and detailed explanations all along the way. This astute, insightful, erudite author reveals an earlier vision of Padre Pio that sheds much light on the purpose and mission involved in St. Pio’s stigmatic suffering.

It was for "his brothers" that Padre Pio felt primarily impelled to pray, and offer up the pain and suffering of his stigmata. His stigmata was manifested in 1918, with some experiences prior, while the above vision of Jesus came in 1913.

All of the apparitions and messages in more recent times merely underscore and affirm and emphasize the warnings and truths that God, through Scripture, has long proclaimed. Even Christian voices speaking outside of the Catholic Church are sharing prophetic messages that point to these truths. They dovetail with foretelling signs found in Scripture, and similar in warning to Marian apparitions and other (including Divine Mercy) messages.


HOW DO WE RESPOND?

It seems that we human beings love to be about our own business (and too often not about our Father’s business). The Bible is full of such stories and prophetic warnings in many of its books. Consequently, our loving Father knows that we need frequent reminders. We are like wayward children.

It’s as if God is saying—with utmost patience and clarity—“What will it take for you, My dearly beloved children, to listen to My word, and heed My voice?” The Bible is continually available to us to read and learn its rich instructions, encouragements and warnings. How do we respond? Are we paying attention? Or are we like those children who run out into the busy street or play with the fire on the stove… and wonder why hurtful consequences come? (And even blame the loving, attentive, deeply caring “Father” when these unfortunate consequences come?)

The above is true no matter what year or season we are in. The bulk of this blog was first written a couple of years ago. Now—in April of 2020—we find ourselves in a dramatically different Lenten and Easter season. Perhaps we are ready to consider those above questions in a different light, and more soberly. God’s great love and mercy and grace are mightily with us to do so.

As frustrated and disturbed as many feel concerning the conditions and events and practices in the world as a whole, we can heed the words of a former pope who said, “The salvation of many depends on the faithfulness of a few”. What can we do? We can choose to join with those “few”. We can continue to pray and intercede. Jesus, Himself, encouraged us: “Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many” [Mt 20:28; Mark 10:45]. 

And we can continue to face and embrace the truth—even truth that is difficult to swallow when it comes to taking seriously the Lord’s warnings. It may be even harder to face our own failure to obey the Lord’s directives in Scripture and in prophetic utterances and visitations. But we’ve just been focusing on God’s rich and abundant mercy—available to each one of us. His mercy, individually, comes to us in response to our repentance—a change of heart with a determined alteration of our attitudes, thoughts and behaviors. The merciful grace and loving arms of the Father await us.

We can, at least, give our lives in prayer as often as possible—in all kinds of Spirit-led prayer. Mary has exhorted us in her apparitions to pray the rosary. Jesus requested devotion to His Sacred Heart and His Divine Mercy—recognizing the depths of His loving kindness and mercy that is available as we earnestly repent and seek to change (making new decisions with changed hearts and appropriate follow-through action).

Let’s get very current and take a few moments, adding a note from the “Stay at Home” and “Shelter in Place” orders that most of us have been living under for several weeks now. Our lives, habits, jobs, work schedules and places, shopping patterns, entertainment and eating routines, fellowship/ friend-and-family gatherings, finances and worship opportunities (etc.) have been shaken.

The sudden and dramatic, out-of-our-control changes in our lives have caused some of us to re-examine things. God’s Biblical admonitions to “Be still and know that I AM God” seems to fit here. Many of us have had some element of “forced stillness” thrust upon us. Whether we come to seek and know God—and His love, truth and ways—better through all this is a choice each of us makes. What are we willing to see? What can we hardly avoid seeing?

The themes of warning and of sudden dramatic events calls to mind what we see in Old Testament Israel’s history. We read and hear it there over and over.And we see cautions, warnings and prophetic words in the New Testament—frequently in Jesus’ words in the gospels; in many of the epistles; and in the book of Revelation. All because of our loving Father, our blood-proven, life-giving Savior, and the Holy Spirit—still now—seek to open our eyes, ears, minds and hearts in order to “lead us into all truth” as Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would.

There is much hope and better days, I believe, after this current crisis. That is said fully receiving and believing both the urgency and seriousness of all of these warnings. How long the “better days” last is a large question. How many of us experience the “better part” is also only an answer God can give. What is ours to do? What do we need to see? To realize? To take to heart? To be more sober about? To change?

History is on the move. And God is doing some sifting of history—and of us in the process. Are we ready to hear the voice of God in these (written, revealed, and circumstantial/situational) kind Fatherly warnings? For what we do not heed because of what we hear, we may learn to heed because of what we experience. Touching a hot stove is a quick and impressive lesson. Next time, we may be more willing to heed the words, without the experience.

Are we ready to hear and heed the voice of God in these kind Fatherly warnings? What happens if we put things off like it happened with the Divine Mercy revelations, and the Fatima revelations, and innumerable prophetic warnings to God’s people Israel? What important things in the New Testament have we treated lightly, discounted or ignored?

Whatever form of prayer we choose to pray that gives God glory, we can be assured that our loving and merciful Father hears and cherishes every prayerful petition and intercession, each loving praise and grateful thanksgiving, each cry of our hearts or communication with Him—however small or short or quiet or public or private it is. Jesus the Savior is still “ever interceding” for all of us. We can join, in Spirit, with Him and with His heart that continues to reach out. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit—and a needy world—await our prayerful action.

"Therefore, He is always able to save those who approach God through Him, since He lives forever to make intercession for them.” [Hebr 7:25]


We have more coming up in DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY, PART II as we focus on the love and mercy of God in THE HEART OF THE TRINITY: LOVE AND MERCY—Seeing it, Receiving it and Walking in it. PART III is THE DIVINE MERCY THEME IN PAPAL WRITINGS. Join us!


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