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An Interview with Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC
Marian Press is pleased to announce the publication of a new book by Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC. The Second Greatest Story Ever Told reveals the heart of St. John Paul II's witness for our time, building on the prophetic voices of Saints Margaret Mary Alacoque, Thérèse of Lisieux, Maximilian Kolbe, and Faustina Kowalska,
Father Michael sat down to discuss his inspiration for the book and what makes this particular story so "great."
At what point in your life did you realize, "Whoa, the connection of Divine Mercy and John Paul II and its bearing on the world today is the second greatest story, and someone needs to tell it?"
It happened the day after the Pope's death. I was on the phone with my sister, and I was telling her that I was so disappointed that John Paul hadn't lasted one more day, that he had not gone home to the Father on Divine Mercy Sunday. That's when my sister told me that she had heard that the vigil Mass for Divine Mercy Sunday had been celebrated in John Paul's room the night he died and that he'd received Holy Communion. Hearing this, I realized that the Pope had died on Divine Mercy Sunday, because of the vigil. I thought to myself, "This is an amazing story. The Lord is trying to tell us something. This story has got to be told."
I didn't understand it at the time, but now I know that the Lord's message to us through this amazing story is that now is the time of mercy.
What is the time of mercy?
I think the key to understanding what it is comes from a passage from St. Paul's Letter to the Romans: "Where sin abounded, grace abounded all the more" (Rom 5:20). In other words, in a time of great evil, God wants to give us even greater graces. According to St. John Paul II, while the modern times in which we live certainly come with a lot of blessings, they're also times marked by unprecedented evil. In fact, evil has a reach in our day like never before. But for this very reason, God is giving even greater graces. He's making it easier than ever for us to become saints! And that is great news, especially for people who have gotten depressed or discouraged because of so much evil and corruption in the world, including our own personal sin, darkness, and wounds.
Doesn't another aspect of the time of mercy have to do with the Lord's second coming? The Diary of St. Faustina, for instance, has several passages that refer specifically to this.
Yes. Jesus told St. Faustina that she would prepare the world for the Lord's final coming (see Diary, 429). Also, Pope John Paul II, quoting the Diary, said that the message of Divine Mercy is the spark that will prepare the world for the Lord's final coming. Now, when some people hear that, they get nervous. Admittedly, "the end of the world" isn't exactly a light and cheery idea.
Two key points are in order here: (1) We don't know the day or the hour of the Lord's coming (see Mt 24:36); (2) if we read the Diary of St. Faustina, we realize that we prepare for the Lord's final coming, whenever it may be, not with fear and trembling, but with trust in His Divine Mercy.
All that is true, but isn't there a greater sense of urgency today? While we don't know the day or the Lord's final coming, didn't Jesus say to St. Faustina that the last day is "near"?
Yes, that is true. I think, though, that the only thing we can take away from this is that the message is urgent. We can't speculate about how long we have. Rather, we need to just take seriously an urgent message for our time: Now is the time of mercy. With this message in mind, we should make use of the great graces available to us!
How do we know the message is true? Doesn't the idea that now is the time of great and unprecedented mercy sounds a bit too-good-to-be-true?
Well, we know it's true because of the story itself. My main argument in the book is that God is giving the second greatest story in the history of the world — the first greatest story after the Bible, which is to say, the story of Jesus Christ — because we need it. In other words, the message is hard to believe. It does seem "too good to be true," but when you actually read the story, the truth of it becomes clear. The story really is the greatest story after the Bible. Simply put: The Lord confirms the greatness of this message for our time through the greatness of the story.
But haven't most people heard the story before? I mean, we've all probably read about John Paul II, Fatima, and St. Faustina. What makes this book different?
This book puts it all together unlike any other book I know of. Yes, most people have heard bits and pieces of the story, but The Second Greatest Story Ever Told draws out unheard of insights and connections that make people say, "Wow!" At least it made me say that. I mean, as I was doing the research for it, I myself kept being amazed at what I was finding. Even Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC, a great and seasoned expert on the message of Divine Mercy, said after reading the book, "Where did you find all those connections? What taught you all that?"
It's true. When you read this book, you get fired up. What do you recommend we do now?
Get the book! Read it. And then you'll realize that the second greatest story is also meant to be my story and your story. Just as the time of mercy is now, so also the second greatest story is still unfolding, right now. We're all being called to participate in it. It's a big deal and a blessing to make it our own. But we can't be part of it unless we know the story. So, again, my recommendation is to read the book!
What about your other books? This one is number five. Do you recommend reading this book before the others?
Well, this book is different from the others. Most of the other books are practical spiritual books, and The One Thing Is Three is a theology book. The Second Greatest Story Ever Told is a unique kind of history book, one that aims to unlock the mystery of our present time. That's the kind of history book that everyone can appreciate. As one person who read it said, "Now this is the kind of book I could give to my dad. And he doesn't usually read spiritual books!"
Along with 33 Days to Morning Glory, I think this is my most important book. It gives the background and context for the others. Anyone who is devoted to Divine Mercy and Mary will likely appreciate it.
Watch a video of Fr. Michael speaking on the Second Greatest Story at Franciscan University:
Visit our online catalog to pre-order The Second Greatest Story Ever Told. Books ship by February 27.