Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska

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25 Years Ago

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By Bryan Thatcher, MD (Jun 16, 2017)
This article first appeared in the Summer issue of Marian Helper magazine. Receive a free copy.

It's been 25 years since a friend handed me a copy of the Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska. I was a mess at the time. I was not living a holy life, my priorities were out of order, and I was not a model husband and father.

I took the Diary home and started reading it. A quote jumped out that wound up changing everything for me. It's the passage from entry 723 where Jesus tells St. Faustina, "The greater the sinner, the greater the right he has to My mercy."

For the first time, I truly understood God's love and mercy for me, the greatest of sinners. And for the first time, I felt the call to holiness.

My wife and I soon started what we called a "Divine Mercy prayer cenacle" in our home parish in Florida, integrating the Diary with Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. And so began Eucharistic Apostles of The Divine Mercy (EADM), dedicated to
living the Divine Mercy message through word and deed.

I soon left my career as a medical doctor treating physical suffering to become an apostle of Divine Mercy using the great resources of the Church to treat people's spiritual suffering.

The Marians welcomed us as one of their lay apostolates in 1998, viewing this as a great opportunity to help fulfill the call of the Marians' Renovator, Blessed George Matulaitis (1871-1927), who wrote in his spiritual Journal, "One of the most pressing needs of our times is, it seems to me, to involve larger groups of people from every segment of society in a more active apostolate for the faith and the growth and defense of the Church. ... [F]ired with holy zeal, [lay men and women] could then be organized into groups and actively involved in the task of spreading the faith. They could bring Christ into those places where we priests do not have access."

Blessed George must be smiling in Heaven because today, there are 3,500 Divine Mercy cenacles in the United States and countless others in more than 40 countries.

In addition to studying Scripture, the Catechism, and St. Faustina's Diary, EADM cenacles commit to Eucharistic Adoration; praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet for the sick and dying; and engaging in other works of mercy. We frequently send shipments of medical and educational materials to the poor worldwide. Many cenacles also engage in prison ministries.

Just to give you a taste of the sort of "active apostolate" Blessed George visualized, I want to share with you some of the great work of two EADM cenacles: one in St. Paul, Minnesota, and the second in Brentwood, California.

The cenacle based at the Cathedral of Saint Paul started in 2007. Members have shared incredible experiences of how the Divine Mercy message has improved their lives.

"I believe in Jesus' words and promises more completely than ever before," says JoAnn F. "Divine Mercy has taught me to want to learn more about my Savior and what it means to offer my actions and suffering to console His Sacred Heart."

"The Divine Mercy Image and message helped me to enter the Catholic Church and also to deal with the deaths of my parents," said Mary H.

"I've learned to believe fully in the words 'Jesus, I trust In You' and offer my daily life to Him in trust and mercy," said Jeanne E.

Among the cenacle's works of mercy, it distributes Divine Mercy books, pamphlets, and prayercards at the cathedral; it assembles and distributes to the needy "evangelization packets" that include prayercards, a rosary, and a Miraculous Medal; it travels to parishes throughout the Archdiocese to give Divine Mercy presentations and to provide guidance on how to start cenacles; and it promotes the Hearts Afire Parish-based Programs of Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC.

In Brentwood, Elizabeth Gomez began a mission to the Divine Mercy in 2010 at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, under the leadership of Fr. Carl Arcosa. It's now a diocesan-wide ministry with 150 members and 11 Spanish-speaking cenacles.

The ministry hosts Divine Mercy conferences twice a year,
gives parish missions, and helps start new cenacles.
Its works of mercy include visiting families weekly with Divine Mercy Images and praying the Chaplet for the needs of the families. All the while, cenacle members have witnessed physical and spiritual healings, including conversions.

Elizabeth herself now gives talks on Divine Mercy both inside and outside of the United States. She helped EADM get started in the Diocese of Sacramento, California, as well as in Mexico and Guatemala.

This is what can happen when you combine the brokenness of the world with the hope of the Divine Mercy message.

These past 25 years have been incredible. I thank God. I thank my family. I thank the Marian Fathers. I thank the thousands of new friends I've made around the world who, like me, have become "fired with holy zeal," who have found in the Diary a blueprint for how to live, and who believe Jesus' words to St. Faustina that "Mankind will not have peace until it turns with trust to My Mercy" (300).

Learn how you can get involved with EADM. Visit TheDivineMercy.org/EADM or call 1-877-380-0727.


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friend - Jun 20, 2017

hey, idea: even if it wouldn't start as an official Cenacle from the get-go... i wonder if it would be helpful for someone to ask among the before or after-Mass Chaplet praying group, "does anyone have a copy of the Diary of St. Faustina: Divine Mercy in my Soul"? Then they could bring it to the prayer group, and they could start meditating on selected or random quotes from the Diary for each decade or the whole rosary loop... what do ya think? Maybe that's one way to start a Cenacle by seeing who'd be interested... like having Diary quotes with the Chaplet, and Scripture quotes with the Rosary ... those are the 2 reading elements correct? That may be a way to pray to get it started? :D Or be like an auxiliary version of one at least? :)