Through prayer and openness to grace, you can help God’s mercy to overcome evil in our time
painting, which was featured at the canonization of St. Faustina
Kowalska (1905-1938), depicts Faustina with an image of Jesus as the
Divine Mercy. The image of Jesus depicted here is based on a 1943
painting by Adolf Hyła that hangs in a chapel at the Shrine of Divine
Mercy in Kraków-Łagiewniki, Poland. (Painting by Helena Tchorzewska,
©1993 Congregation of Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy)
Despite so many harbingers of catastrophe and daily temptations to
discouragement and even despair, I’ve got some very good news: Now is the time of mercy.
Now is a time of great and extraordinary grace for the Church and the
world. Now is a time when God wants to pour a superabundance of his
merciful love upon suffering humanity.
But don’t just take my word for it. In his March 6, 2014, address to
the priests of the Diocese of Rome, Pope Francis said the following:
“Listen to the voice of the Spirit that speaks to the whole Church in
this our time, which is, in fact, the time of mercy. I am certain of
this. … We have been living in the time of mercy for 30 or more years,
up to now. … [St. John Paul II] had the ‘intuition’ that this was the
time of mercy.”
And now, thanks to our Holy Father, it’s also the year of mercy — the extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy.
So, you might say we’re living in a time of mercy in the time of mercy!
And this means that you and your family can lend a hand to the mighty
movement of mercy that’s blessing modern humanity. More specifically,
you can help save the world through prayer and works of mercy.
‘LOUD CRIES’ FOR MERCY
The key to understanding the present time of mercy comes from Romans
5:20: “Where sin abounded, grace abounded all the more.” Expressed as a
principle, we could say that in times of great evil, God gives even greater grace.
And the good news is that, right now, he’s giving it. In fact, this is
what that “intuition” of St. John Paul II was really all about. In
response to unprecedented evil in the modern world, it seems that God is
providing unprecedented grace.
This special gift of grace in our time includes the modern message of
Divine Mercy, which comes to us from the great apostle of mercy, St.
Faustina Kowalska. This Polish nun’s testimony to God’s mercy is
reinvigorating the Church and inspiring untold numbers of people to turn
to the very heart of Catholic spirituality, the very heart of the
Gospel — namely, God’s mercy for sinners. Moreover, Faustina’s witness
to mercy inspired St. John Paul II to send the whole Church on a
powerful mission of mercy that truly can save the world.
Specifically, in the stirring last chapter of his encyclical letter on Divine Mercy, Dives in Misericordia (Rich in Mercy),
John Paul gives the Church its marching orders in the present time of
mercy. He indicates that we’re not to flee the evils that afflict modern
humanity. Rather, we’re to directly confront them with the most
powerful weapon of the Redemption: God’s merciful love.
According to Pope John Paul II, who beatified and canonized St.
Faustina, merciful love transforms consciences, puts a stop to evil and
can renew the face of the earth. But to unleash its power, the sons and
daughters of the Church must appeal to God’s mercy with “loud cries” (Dives in Misericordia,
15). Now, by “loud cries,” the pope does not intend that we should
shout when we pray. Rather, he encourages us to pray with intensity,
fervor and zeal. Indeed, he invites us to pray with bold confidence in
the saving power of God’s merciful love. And such prayer truly is
“loud.” In other words, it pierces the heart of God and can help save
But, again, don’t just take my word for it. Because of St. Faustina’s
“loud cries” for mercy, Jesus told her, “For your sake I will withhold
the hand which punishes; for your sake I bless the earth” (Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska,
431). He also revealed to her how prayer “ties his hands,” so to speak,
and prevents him from inflicting the punishments the world deserves
(see Diary, 818).
Today the world certainly seems to deserve a severe punishment. For instance, simply consider that there have been more than a billion
abortions worldwide in the last 40 years. In light of that statistic
alone, it’s a marvel that God has not already sent to the modern world
the same fire and brimstone that rained down on Sodom and Gomorrah.
And yet, we’re still here. But why? It’s because, again, now is the time of mercy.
As Jesus himself said to St. Faustina, “In the Old Covenant I sent
prophets wielding thunderbolts to My people. Today I am sending you with
My mercy to the people of the whole world. I do not want to punish
aching mankind, but I desire to heal it, pressing it to My Merciful
Heart. … Before the Day of Justice I am sending the Day of Mercy” (Diary, 1588).
“SUPERCHARGED” PRAYER AND GOOD WORKS
So we now know that in the present time of mercy, we’re to implore
God’s mercy with “loud cries.” But how do we learn to pray like that?
The Lord himself teaches us through a beautiful prayer he taught St.
Faustina called the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. This prayer is a kind of
extension of what I call “the supercharged moment of the Mass.”
That moment is when the priest at the altar takes the Body and Blood,
Soul and Divinity of Christ and offers it “through him, with him, and
in him” to the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit. It’s
“supercharged” because it’s the perfect sacrifice of love, the sacrifice
of Christ on Calvary, offered to our Merciful Father. You might say
that such prayer becomes the loudest of the “loud cries” we can
offer. Indeed, when we fervently pray these words of the chaplet — “for
the sake of [Christ’s] sorrowful passion, have mercy on us …” — we can
be confident that the Father will not only have mercy on us, but also “on the whole world.”
So, do you and your family want to help save the world and bring it
back to God? Do you want to unleash an ocean of mercy upon hurting
humanity? In this time of great mercy, if we fervently pray the Chaplet
of Divine Mercy in union with the offering of the Mass, we can do it.
But prayer alone isn’t enough. Unless we put merciful love into
practice in our daily lives, “loud cries” for mercy may begin to sound
like a “noisy gong” or a “clanging cymbal” (see 1 Cor 13:1). Christ
reminds us of this in no uncertain terms through St. Faustina when he
says, “I demand from you deeds of mercy, which are to arise out of love
for Me. You are to show mercy to your neighbors always and everywhere.
You must not shrink from this or try to excuse or absolve yourself from
it” (Diary, 742).
So, let’s briefly review the works of mercy. Generally speaking, the
works of mercy include any act of love that seeks to alleviate the
suffering of others. Getting more specific, Jesus taught St. Faustina
“The Three Degrees of Mercy,” that is, mercy in deed, word and prayer
(cf. 742). The Catechism of the Catholic Church unpacks this for us under the categories of the spiritual and corporal
works of mercy: “Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are
spiritual works of mercy as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently.
The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry,
sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and
imprisoned, and burying the dead” (2447).
Pope Francis said it is his “burning desire” during this Jubilee Year
of Mercy that we reflect on and rediscover the works of mercy, so as to
bring to others the “goodness and tenderness of God” (Misericordiae Vultus,
15). And as we put these works into practice while persevering in
supercharged prayer, we not only reveal the true face of our Merciful
Father to the world — we help him to save it.
FATHER MICHAEL GAITLEY, MIC, is author of many books, including The Second Greatest Story Ever Told: Now Is the Time for Mercy (2015), and 33 Days to Merciful Love: A Preparation for Consecration to Divine Mercy (2016).