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Let's End the Year of Mercy with 33 Days to Merciful Love
The following first appeared in the Fall issue of Marian Helper magazine. Receive a free copy or read it online.
By Fr. Joseph, MIC
This may be the most important article I'll ever write. It's the culmination of nearly a year of articles I've dedicated to a common theme. It's the last of these articles — my one last word on the subject.
But before I get to that word, let's first review where we've been.
Where We've Been
I mentioned that this past year my articles have followed a common theme. That theme has been the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy. More specifically, it's been several calls to action to help us live this Year of Mercy to the full — and your response to those calls has been overwhelming.
In last year's Fall issue of Marian Helper magazine, I wrote a cover story entitled, "What's the answer in an age of darkness?" In it, I called on all our Marian Helpers to join me in making a Marian Consecration on Dec. 8, 2015, the beginning of the Jubilee Year of Mercy — and your response was amazing. So many of you took me up on my offer to receive Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC's preparation for Marian consecration, 33 Days to Morning Glory, by making any voluntary donation. More importantly, so many of you joined me as we prayerfully prepared with that book for 33 days and consecrated ourselves on Dec. 8.
Then, at the beginning of 2016, I wrote another cover story with a second call to action. The title was "Help Save the World," and the call to action was to join me in making a consecration to Divine Mercy on April 3, 2016 — Divine Mercy Sunday in the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
In that article, I shared the background of how Fr. Michael's new book on consecration to Divine Mercy, 33 Days to Merciful Love, came to be — how it spawned from a powerful experience I had at Mass about two years ago. Long story short: I was inspired by the Lord to ask Fr. Michael to write it. In a sudden stream of inspiration last November, he did — and once again I wanted everyone to have it, and so, through that cover story, we offered it to our Marian Helpers for any voluntary donation.
Now, so many of you responded to the "Help Save the World" cover story that I wrote another cover story for the last issue, titled, "There Is Hope." In that article, I shared how so many of you responded to my invitation to make the consecration to Divine Mercy on Divine Mercy Sunday that our phone lines shut down.
Well, there's something else that happened that I didn't share in that article, something I'd like to share now.
Where We're Going
After witnessing firsthand the incredible response you gave to joining me in making the consecration to Divine Mercy on Divine Mercy Sunday, I felt I received a big inspiration.
As most of you already know, Fr. Mike had put together a small group program for each one of his books — except the last one, 33 Days to Merciful Love. Well, I had the bright idea of asking him to put together another small group program for 33 Days to Merciful Love so our Marian Helpers could make the consecration to Divine Mercy in small groups to end the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
Father Mike said the only way he could do it in time would be if he skipped the canonization ceremony of our Founder in Rome. I said with a wink, "Well, what's more important, attending the canonization or helping thousands of our faithful Marian Helpers end the Year of Mercy with a bang?" He laughed and said, "Okay, I'll do it."
So Fr. Mike took one for the team. In other words, with a small team, he stayed back from the trip to Rome, wrote the talks for the videos, filmed it all, wrote up the study and leader guides, and got it all done in time for you and me to do the small group program, which is currently available.
Now, I myself have watched the videos and looked at the study guide, and I'm telling you, it's the best of all of Fr. Mike's small group programs. I feel like the Lord gave him some extra grace, not only because he was obedient to what I asked of him, but also because this is the great year of grace, the Jubilee Year of Mercy! And this small group program is the culminating gift that I'd now like to offer to you Marian Helpers in this greatest of years.
Alright, so what do we do?
What We Can Do
Here's what I'd like all our Marian Helpers to do: Reach out to your friends and family and invite them to do this small group program with you or ask your pastor if you can start a small group in your parish. Of course, that may take some courage. After all, many of you have probably never done something like this before. Well, just as I asked Fr. Mike to take one for the team, now I'm asking you to take one for the team. I mean, it's the Year of Mercy! Now is a time to get out of our comfort zones and to try something new. Now is a time to be courageous as we spread Divine Mercy!
To help you respond, I'm going to make it easier than ever. I'm giving you a step-by-step guide on how to get your group started. But before you look at that, let me conclude with some words of encouragement.
Some Final Words of Encouragement
First, if you're saying to yourself, "But I already did the consecration to Divine Mercy," that's great that you did it! But this consecration is not a "one and done" kind of thing. In other words, you can always go deeper, and the small group program will take you much deeper than you can imagine. Believe me. I've looked through all the materials — the DVDs, the Retreat Companion Guide, and the other components — and I'm blown away. Also, it's not just the materials. Doing a retreat on one's own is great. But all who do Fr. Mike's programs say their favorite part was doing the program in a group, where they met new friends and experienced Christian fellowship like never before.
Second, in the earlier cover stories I've written over the last year, I've offered you consecration books for any donation. Well, while I can't give away the small-group packages for any donation — they cost us a lot more to produce — here's what I can do: I'm going to give you the biggest discount I've ever given on any of Fr. Mike's small-group packets. (See next page for details.) Why? Because I want every one of our Marian Helpers to be able to end the Year of Mercy in the most powerful way possible — and I believe that is to consecrate yourself to Divine Mercy in a group.
Why are groups so important — and in this case, small groups? Because they can change the world. Jesus began with a small group of disciples, and they went on to set the world on fire with the Good News of salvation in Him. Your small group of friends can help change the world. Really! It's like this ...
I believe we got the process going of helping our country and our world with our Marian consecration to begin the Year of Mercy. Then, I believe we made a great impact on the world when we consecrated ourselves to Divine Mercy on Divine Mercy Sunday. But now we need an even deeper outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which comes down especially on small groups of people who want to love and serve the Lord. That's what happened during the first Pentecost (see Acts 2:1-4). That's what can happen again. And if it doesn't happen this year, this Jubilee Year of Mercy, then when else would it happen? This might very well be one of the greatest opportunities ever to bring about a new Pentecost!
The time of mercy is now — but the Year of Mercy is ending. So, let's get out there, invite our friends and family to join us, and end this Year of Mercy with some great graces. I say "great graces" because Jesus told St. Faustina, "I often wait with great graces until towards the end of prayer" (268). Well, I have a feeling He's waiting to give the greatest of graces at the end of this Year of Mercy. I have a feeling that we can get those graces by making the consecration to Divine Mercy in small groups. I have a feeling that, once again, your response will be overwhelming and that we'll help Jesus and Mary to change our hurting world for the better. Are you with me?
To order the 33 Days to Merciful Love Group Retreat, visit shopmercy.org. Order by Oct. 10 and save 25 percent.