Sunday, April 23, 2017

Of all the 'conditions' necessary to receive the graces of Divine Mercy ...

Jesus, I trust in you.

"I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners."

Some argue that the plenary indulgence attached to the devotion may only be gained in and through the usual requirement, while others insist that the promises of Our Lord for those who approach him on the Feast of Mercy are fulfilled with or without fulfilling the requirements for a plenary indulgence.

Sounds confusing, right?  

We can become so scrupulous over rules and conditions, and I'm often reminded that some mystic once had a revelation that few souls receive the Jubilee indulgence - plenary indulgence - because they are not completely detached from venial sin.  Who even knows that except God?  What is needed is trust.  One can will to be completely detached, even from unknown sins and/or attachment to venial sins - one can make a sincere and genuine act of contrition.  Those who insist upon conditions and dispositions of soul, either as a means of criticism, or in an effort to discourage the smoldering wick of hope in a soul, are limiting God's mercy.  Although there are canonical requirements to obtain the complete remission of sin - those who always hold up such precautions run the danger of completely missing the deeper meaning of the Divine Mercy devotion.  They can also discourage the ne'er do wells of the spiritual life from trusting the message of Divine Mercy.  The devotion to Divine Mercy is the foot in the door of salvation.  Christ's invitation is really a 'come as you are' invite.  "Come to me, all you who are heavily burdened and weighed down ..."  He came to call sinners - those who are well do not need a doctor - the dejected do.
On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. - Jesus to Faustina
Yet, even without these requirements, our Lord's invitation to those most in need of mercy stands out in a singularly unique manner.  He told St. Faustina to go throughout the world, extending his invitation to come to him, to come to his image, depicted for her, and revealed for us, as the Divine Mercy, signed with the prayer, "Jesus I trust in you!" He promised unimaginable graces to those who turn to him: "My mercy is so great that no mind, be it of man or of angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity."

But back to my original point.  It seemed to me this morning that the one, great condition necessary to obtain the graces of the Divine Mercy, is of course, trust.  The other may be to show mercy to others.  To forgive from our heart.  To genuinely forgive, and forgive, and forgive.  Over and over.  To show, to have mercy upon others ... unto folly.  To will to do so and to try to do so ... that is - to 'practice' showing mercy to others.  To become a channel of mercy.

Prayer to be Merciful to Others
[This prayer gives us a true measure of our mercy, a mirror in which we observe ourselves as merciful Christs. We can make it our morning invocation and our evening examination of conscience.]

O Most Holy Trinity! As many times as I breathe, as many times as my heart beats, as many times as my blood pulsates through my body, so many thousand times do I want to glorify Your mercy.

I want to be completely transformed into Your mercy and to be Your living reflection, O Lord. May the greatest of all divine attributes, that of Your unfathomable mercy, pass through my heart and soul to my neighbor.

Help me, O Lord, that my eyes may be merciful, so that I may never suspect or judge from appearances, but look for what is beautiful in my neighbors’ souls and come to their rescue.

Help me, that my ears may be merciful, so that I may give heed to my neighbors’ needs and not be indifferent to their pains and moanings.

Help me, O Lord, that my tongue may be merciful, so that I should never speak negatively of my neighbor, but have a word of comfort and forgiveness for all.

Help me, O Lord, that my hands may be merciful and filled with good deeds, so that I may do only good to my neighbors and take upon myself the more difficult and toilsome tasks.

Help me, that my feet may be merciful, so that I may hurry to assist my neighbor, overcoming my own fatigue and weariness. My true rest is in the service of my neighbor.

Help me, O Lord, that my heart may be merciful so that I myself may feel all the sufferings of my neighbor. I will refuse my heart to no one. I will be sincere even with those who, I know, will abuse my kindness. And I will lock myself up in the most merciful Heart of Jesus. I will bear my own suffering in silence. May Your mercy, O Lord, rest upon me.

You Yourself command me to exercise the three degrees of mercy.
The first: the act of mercy, of whatever kind. 
The second: the word of mercy — if I cannot carry out a work of mercy, I will assist by my words. 
The third: prayer — if I cannot show mercy by deeds or words, I can always do so by prayer. My prayer reaches out even there where I cannot reach out physically.

O my Jesus, transform me into Yourself, for You can do all things (163). - St. Faustina


  1. Blessed Divine Mercy Sunday to you! I do not know how to paste an image in a com box and perhaps it's not even possible, but I found a beautiful rendition of the divine mercy image that I will send to you via email. I know that you mentioned how you like to find different versions.

    1. Thanks - I got them. I'll share them.

  2. I've been praying the novena with a little group at my parish. Some of them seem a bit hung up on the details to get the indulgence. I just tried to concentrate on the right disposition and the trust aspect. I do not think God is sitting there with a checklist.
    PS...apparently St. Faustina had red hair!

    1. I totally understand that, it's kind of like the requirements for the First Saturday devotions. First comers - or people who just show up shouldn't worry about the details however - at least that's how I think. Show up, pray, and trust - He works miracles on this feast day - unimaginable graces.

  3. Dear Terry,

    I know I should not say this, but how I wish the word "indulgences" and all the rot which followed from this, had never been conceived (invented?)in the Catholic Church. I say this as a convert whose stumbling stones had not been the Mother of God, or the tradition of the Roman papal authority, but INDULGENCES! I have read Hans Urs von Balthasar's and Ratzinger's (few) apologiae for this, still to me, inexplicable and un-Biblical tradition. Reading them I could vaguely sense where it "came from". But it was also very clear to me that as great Biblical scholars they had some trouble defending this tradition without discarding the nomenclature and terminology attached to it. The last mentioned just makes no sense to me. It still does not. And I am on the verge of 73. When I read Balthasar on this - basically theological - doctrine.... - I could for some moments grasp the reason for this practice. I have to say that I am not a great fan of Pope Francis (for very valid reasons)but I had hoped that he would, with his ultra-Lutheran view of the gospel, then at least managed to move the one massive stumbling block, the indulgences tradition of the RCC, to be newly studied by theologians, exegetes and church historians precisely in the light of the Gospel and the increased knowledge we have in these days of the era of the Second Temple Judaism in which our Lord preached, was crucified and then resurrected to the Glory of God, our Father, and His. The Word of God is very clear on some things, for example the question of remarriage after divorce. The whole of Christianity always knew that until the Protestants started to muck things up. We don't need commissions to study that aspect of Christian faith.
    BUt, IMHO, and that of millions of other Christians, the "indulgences" practice SHOULD be re-assessed very thoroughly and honestly. Not even the Orthododox Churches has something like that.....or am I wrong?

    Thank you for you tireless blogging, Terry. Forgive my intervention here. But, I do think it is important, especially in this year where Pope Francis wants us to con-celebrate the Reformation. (I won't, I have been a Protestant.) But, precisely because of this I'd like the Catholic Church hierarchy to delve into the NB stumbling block for all non-Catholics: indulgences.

    1. Hi Catherina, indulgences are tied into ability of the Apostles and their successors, the priests,to bind and loose. Interesting to note it was today's Gospel for Divine Mercy Sunday (John 20:19-31). Scott Hahn covers this in his book "Lord, Have Mercy: the Healing Power of Confession".

  4. Am I obligated to believe with regards to indulgences? Doing my daily duty is challenging enough ...

  5. Catherine of Siena, the first thing to remember is that the church doesn't follow solar scriptura, so we're not looking at the bible alone. That's your protestant roots showing.

    We follow both scripture and tradition.

  6. Angela is right - it is directly tied to the power vested in the Apostles and their successors. The power to forgive sins. It is in the Gospel today, and can be seen in how Christ treated sinners, 'go and sin no more - your faith has saved you'. What is needed is trust. On the cross Jesus forgave the good thief and he did not go to purgatory - Jesus said this day you will be with me in paradise - it was perhaps the very first plenary indulgence. In a way, the greatest plenary indulgence quickly followed when he descended among the dead to free Adam and Eve.

    He is risen. Without calling his promise an indulgence, in essence that is what it is. Consider that the first prayers of the chaplet are the same as the set of prayers required to gain an indulgence - the Creed, Pater, and Ave - for the intentions of the Pope. Likewise, the conditions of Confession and Communion are the same. In a sense, our Lord affirms the teaching on indulgences with this feast day.

    I didn't mean to insinuate any disrespect for indulgences and conditions required. I just recall my own experience - before I knew anything - he was there, right in front of me.

    1. Thanks for the clarification on indulgences, Terry.

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  7. Simply have a "habit" of prayer during life and the Enchiridion for Indulgences gives a plenary at point of death:

    Chapter V, norms..." n.18 -- To the faithful in danger of death who cannot be assisted by a priest to bring them the sacraments and impart the apostolic blessing with its attendant plenary indulgence (according to canon 468, para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law) Holy Mother Church nevertheless grants a plenary indulgence to be acquired at the point of death, provided they are properly disposed and have been in the habit of reciting some prayers during their lifetime. To use a crucifix or cross in connection with the acquisition of this plenary indulgence is a laudable practice."

    What does "properly disposed" mean? Ask your priest as long as he is reliable...unlike monseignor meth from New England some years back.

  8. Catherine of Siena....think of the good thief who according to Mark's gospel was abusing Christ earlier in the hours of the crucifixion....along with the bad thief. Then he changed as the reality of death set in and Christ gave him a plenary indulgence simply based on his late kind words..." this day you will be with me in paradise"....the first plenary and it required less than the ordinary pre death plenary of the Church. And for all we know, the good thief may have maimed innocent people in his past criminal life....

  9. The problem with this particular issue is there is the "promise" made by our Lord in the Diary which has no conditions other than Confession and Holy Communion on the Feast of Mercy. Then later the Church also attached an Indulgence with all the usual conditions to the Feast of Mercy as well. The two get confused frequently. It probably would have been best that the Church not attach an indulgence so that the promise of Our Lord would not be overshadowed by all the rules of the Indulgence.

  10. Aloysius...private revelations are not binding because they can have deficiencies due to the saint's intellect or emotions perhaps and maybe the Church felt herein that the saint's intellect was faulty in this detail.

  11. One of the biggest remaining impediment between our RC Chiurch and our Protestant friends is indulgences. This is, I think why they have been downplayed since VC II. The other being Mary and her role in salvation. Few have an understanding of the issue. I always wondered how they were tabulated and redeemed.


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