As the pandemic continues, we may wonder if there are still instances of Divine Mercy today. At many parishes, the number of faithful who are allowed to attend Mass is limited. Still, others have not returned to church due to health concerns or loss of faith. But I’ve still been blessed with many Divine Mercy encounters.
One special moment was when I taught about St. Faustina at a Little Flowers’ meeting for young girls. We talked about what it means to be merciful and discussed works of mercy. I explained that to be merciful also means to forgive and help others who are suffering, and I shared my favorite quote from the diary of St. Faustina, where Jesus says “snuggle close to my merciful heart.” Toward the end of the meeting, the children were invited to recall what they remembered. One little girl said: “Snuggle close to God’s heart!”
Another instance was when I encountered a picture of the Divine Mercy image with the words, “Do you trust in my mercy?” written across the top. This reminded me of Jesus’ words to St. Faustina: “My heart is sorrowful because chosen souls do not understand the greatness of my mercy. Their relationship [with me] is, in a certain way, imbued with mistrust. Oh, how much that wounds my heart! Remember my passion, and if you do not believe my words, at least believe my wounds.”
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Our heavenly Father wants us to be small enough to rest in his arms. Whether we are suffering from illness, the loss of loved ones, financial woes, fear or other wounds, God is waiting for us to bring him all of our pain and difficulties. He will hold us, console us and comfort us.
Mercy amid a pandemic
Despite limitations caused by the pandemic, we have been blessed with God’s mercy. Around the country and the world during the last year, we have witnessed priests lead the faithful in outdoor or virtual Eucharistic adoration, Eucharistic processions through neighborhoods, outdoor confessions and Masses, Divine Mercy novenas and online devotions, all allowing opportunities for a heart to heart with our merciful redeemer. Several priests have also encouraged people to hang a blessed Divine Mercy image on the front doors of homes and buildings, to show our trust in Jesus and implore his protection.
Could there be a more perfect message for our times? Now, more than ever, is the time for Divine Mercy!
No matter the limitations in your diocese, the Church offers other opportunities for us to receive God’s grace and mercy. One such way is through daily spiritual communion. In the words of St. John Vianney: “A spiritual communion acts on the soul as blowing does on a cinder-covered fire which is about to go out. Whenever you feel your love of God growing cold, quickly make a spiritual communion. ... When we cannot come to church, let us turn toward the tabernacle and make a spiritual communion. A wall cannot separate us from God.” Even with churches reopened, this is a good spiritual habit to practice often.
In fact, the Church offers a partial indulgence for the offering of a spiritual communion. As St. John of the Cross said, “If a person is seeking God, his beloved is seeking him much more.” Jesus is alone in so many tabernacles; it is important that we remember him frequently and offer him our love through adoration, thanksgiving, reparation and petition.
Also, due to the pandemic, Pope Francis has offered the faithful opportunities to receive a plenary indulgence each day by doing at least one of the following:
- Uniting spiritually through the media to the celebration of the holy Mass.
- Visiting the Blessed Sacrament.
- Reading the holy Scriptures for half an hour.
- Praying either the holy Rosary, Divine Mercy Chaplet, the Way of the Cross or other devotions.
- Reciting the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer and a pious invocation to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The faithful should pray with “the will to fulfill the usual conditions (sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer for the Holy Father’s intentions — one Our Father and Hail Mary suffice), as soon as possible.” A person should be detached from sin, even venial sin. Plenary indulgences can be applied to the person performing the works of devotion, penance and charity. They may also be offered for souls in purgatory. When praying, faithful should “implore from Almighty God the end of the epidemic, relief for those who are afflicted and eternal salvation for those whom the Lord has called to Himself.” More information about this may be viewed on the Vatican’s website. The Church is, indeed, opening wide the floodgates of Mercy!
I am grateful to God that, whether in-person or virtually, we are always able to share the message of God’s mercy with others. No matter how dark the world becomes, we know that he is the light. Our risen savior triumphed over death, and his victory is already won.