CONCERNING Fr Hanlon’s reply to the question on the subject of the Divine Mercy movement, communicated by Sr Faustina Kowalska (CL 11/6/00).
There are a number of public communicators in these times who lay on us unsavoury, and in this case ill-considered material, with a camouflage of “kitsch” humour. Father’s stated inability to discern if we are superstitious or imbued by grace reflects on him – surely the people and products of grace are easily discernible from those of superstition. Jesus said: “I know my own and my own know me” (Jn 10:14b). Remembering the rejection of the cornerstone by the builders (Acts 4:11) it behoves our teachers to use careful discernment. We do not have the luxury, as did Gamaliel, (Acts 5:34-39) to stand aside and watch the movement fire or fail, we are in the main stream of the prophecy.
At appropriate times in our history, God sends us prophets to communicate messages about our human failings and the imperative to reform. We should see the Mercy movement in this light. When a later prophet, say Jeremiah, begins to decry the corruption of Israel and deliver the Lord’s message of retribution, edged with a future hope, should his hearers say: “What is all the fuss about, Isaiah has said all this?”
The question states that the mercy of God can be found throughout the Bible and observes that it is the very reason for the saving work of Jesus Christ. It also observes that many others including the Pope have said beautiful things about God’s mercy, and adds: Sr Faustina’s message is nothing new. So why all the fuss?
The mercy of God is “God’s love reaching out for us,” the Pope writes in one of his books in which the subject is discussed. “(God’s) tender mercies are over all his works” (Ps 244:9) is a powerful message of Scripture. This tells us that in fact the only way God has been left to love us is in mercy, because we betray God and mar
P our beautiful reflection of God’s image. But love us he does with all his infinite being.
God has caused a “fuss” through Jesus’ appearances to Blessed Faustina, precisely because there was no fuss (or personal enthusiasm) as clearly there ought to have been Ð even though others had spoken eloquently on the subject.
The success of this wonderful devotion, is not because of St Faustina’s qualities, but because God has imbued the devotion with a great outpouring of grace. St Faustina is naturally backstaged in the movement, because whenever we consider the subject, we naturally think primarily of “The Divine Mercy”, rather than her. Surely no sound Catholic will doubt the authenticity of the message given that it was the main focus of Faustina’s life involving great suffering for her and given she has been canonised – and that in a relatively short time after her death.
The Pope who has “written some beautiful things” on the mercy of God, as the question states, had championed her cause before he became Pope, effectively bringing about the Church’s acceptance. If then God wills to enthuse us about his mercy, why do some teachers wish to dampen our response. The fact that there are always some who display imbalance in such movements, is not an excuse to vent personal distaste.
I like the selected Stations of the Cross at St Stephen’s Cathedral and pray them after Mass. But while I do not personally relate to the art work, I would not facetiously cast suspicion on the stations. If you are already enthusiastically aware of the central part played by God’s mercy, why be so suspicious and cold about this movement, which enthuses others.
The Catholic Leader is an Australian award-winning Catholic newspaper that has been published by the Archdiocese of Brisbane since 1929. Our journalism seeks to provide a full, accurate and balanced Catholic perspective of local, national and international news while upholding the dignity of the human person.
The Catholic Leader acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the First Peoples of this country and especially acknowledge the traditional owners on whose lands we live and work throughout the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane.