Why Divine Mercy Matters
Initiating a bold outreach for the New Evangelization, the Congregation of Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, promoters of the Divine Mercy message and devotion, have teamed up with an independent Hollywood producer to create Divine Mercy Matters, a 14-part miniseries that launched last week across all media platforms, including divinemercymatters.org.
We spoke about the project with the host of the series, Fr. Chris Alar, MIC, the director of the Association of Marian Helpers.
Father Chris, the special website set up for the series, divinemercymatters.org, has a lot of information — videos, articles, and other resources. Where did all this come from?
Some of it was produced specifically for this series. Some of it we uncovered after a lot of digging. We had staff at the Marian Helpers Center in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, spend a few weeks looking through decades worth of materials, dating back to the 1940s, when the Marians first began spreading the Divine Mercy message and devotion.
Essentially, we are throwing open our archives in order to bring to the world the very best teaching about Divine Mercy as given through St. Faustina Kowalska, the secretary of Divine Mercy. As Pope Francis has said repeatedly, now is the time for mercy, and the legacy of St. Faustina is a providential gift for this moment of mercy.
The series covers a variety of topics, including the life of St. Faustina, the essential elements of the Divine Mercy devotion (feast, image, novena, chaplet, and hour of mercy), and the tremendous promises given by God to those who ask for His mercy. Having said that, why does Divine Mercy "matter"?
Our Lord makes it very clear to St. Faustina that this need to proclaim His message of mercy is urgent, because the world needs it as a preparation for His coming again. He says, "Speak to the world about My mercy; let all mankind recognize My unfathomable mercy. It is a sign for the end times; after it will come the day of justice. ... You will prepare the world for My final coming" (Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, 848 and 429). Elsewhere in her Diary he instructs St. Faustina, "[T]ell souls about this great mercy of Mine, because the awful day, the day of My justice, is near" (965).
Repeatedly, the Lord tells St. Faustina that He is offering sinners the last hope of salvation. No matter how great our sins, He wants us to come back to Him, but we must respond now, while it is still the time of mercy. He says, "Before the Day of Justice, I am sending the Day of Mercy" (1588). "I am prolonging the time of mercy for the sake of sinners. But woe to them if they do not recognize this time of My visitation" (1160).
As Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC, says, the mission the Lord gave St. Faustina "was not only to remind the world of the great mercy of God as revealed in Sacred Scripture, but also to teach us new forms of devotion to the Divine Mercy and to initiate a movement of apostles of the Divine Mercy who show a childlike trust in God and love of neighbor."
So, yes, this is why Divine Mercy matters!
As you mention in the series, the evangelization efforts of Pope Francis and his two predecessors are underscored with this message of Divine Mercy. Each has given great urgency to this message. And now here we are, in an extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy.
Yes, as St. John Paul II said in his second encyclical, Dives in Misericordia (Rich in Mercy), "The mystery of Christ ... obliges me to proclaim mercy as God's merciful love, revealed in that same mystery of Christ. It likewise obliges me to have recourse to that mercy and to beg for it at this difficult, critical phase of the history of the Church and of the world."
Pope Francis referenced this when he said this teaching is more pertinent than ever and deserves to be taken up once again in this extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, which means urgency was a major reason he declared the Year of Mercy to begin with. As he said in his encyclical, Misericordiae Vultus (The Face of the Father): "I present, therefore, this extraordinary Jubilee Year dedicated to living out in our daily lives the mercy which the Father constantly extends to all of us. In this Jubilee Year, let us allow God to surprise us. He never tires of throwing open the doors of his heart and repeats that he loves us and wants to share his love with us. The Church feels the urgent need to proclaim God's mercy."
As for Pope Benedict XVI, he was profoundly impacted by his predecessor's emphasis on the urgency of Divine Mercy for our time. Indeed, he not only took up where John Paul II had left off, you could even say he solidified Divine Mercy as the center point of the Church's pressing mission. He would refer to Divine Mercy as a "central message for our time." He also said that "only Divine Mercy is able to impose limitations on evil; only the almighty love of God can defeat the tyranny of the wicked and the destructive power of selfishness and hate."
Therefore, it is clear to anyone willing to listen that the recent Popes of the Catholic Church have underscored the critical importance of the message of mercy and its time in history.
The 14 episodes draw upon the teachings of some of the greatest experts on Divine Mercy — including these popes and including Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC, who served as vice-postulator for the cause of canonization of St. Faustina Kowalska.
Yes, we've uncovered some excellent historical footage of Fr. Seraphim and also Fr. George Kosicki, CSB — two titans in the world of Divine Mercy evangelization. Most people probably don't know that after the Vatican permitted the spread of the message and devotion in 1978, Fr. Seraphim successfully smuggled a copy of the manuscript of the Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska: Divine Mercy in My Soul out of Communist Poland, thus enabling it to be published and spread across the world. He was present for St. Faustina's approved beatification miracle and successfully documented both the beatification and the canonization miracles attributed to the intercession of St. Faustina, helping make her the first saint canonized in the new millennium.
As the Very Rev. Fr. Kazimierz Chwalek, MIC, the Marians' provincial superior, has said, the Divine Mercy message is "in the DNA" of the Marian congregation. Spiritually speaking, the Marians have passed this DNA on to generations of the faithful — and to great effect.
Yes — some have called Divine Mercy the greatest grassroots movement in the history of the Church, with ordinary Catholics helping to spread the Divine Mercy message and devotion across the world. The Marian Fathers have been one of the main sources of publications and resources for that movement since its inception. Divine Mercy Matters continues that tradition of sharing the Divine Mercy with the world.
We hope people will make use of these resources. The Lord calls upon all of us to continue working to spread this message that's so desperately needed today. He told St. Faustina, "Souls who spread the honor of My mercy I shield through their entire life as a tender mother her infant, and at the hour of death I will not be a Judge for them, but the Merciful Savior" (Diary, 1075).
Please visit divinemercymatters.org to view the episodes, sign up for webinars, and access other resources on living Divine Mercy.