MOMM's flagship presentation: This film brings the... Read more
By Felix Carroll (Mar 15, 2010)
How does a curious, thoughtful, spiritual seeker evolve into an apostle of The Divine Mercy message and devotion?
Maybe, at first, you gingerly take steps on the path blazed by St. Faustina, whose revelations in the 1930s have helped millions draw closer to Christ. Maybe those steps are made with increasing confidence. Maybe, soon after, you find yourself praying the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy each day, a prayer given to St. Faustina by Christ.
Then, maybe you find yourself face to face with your pastor requesting a special celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday. Then, maybe you open up the Diary of St. Faustina and are bowled over by our Lord's love for us until you suddenly find yourself trusting in Jesus and engaging in works of mercy done out of love for Him.
Certainly, life becomes more meaningful, crosses become easier to bear, and you want to do more to spread Divine Mercy, a healing balm for a broken world.
Case in point: Edith and Tim Ryan of Wilmington, Del.
"This was all out of the norm for me," Edith says, referring to her embrace of Divine Mercy and the subsequent assertive steps she's taken to spread it.
Here's how it happened:
She was introduced to the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy while on a pilgrimage in 2006. When she retuned home, she began praying the chaplet and the Divine Mercy Novena each day at 3 p.m., the Hour of Great Mercy. She started tuning in to EWTN's airing of the chaplet from the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Mass.
"During this time, I began to experience a renewed enthusiasm for my Catholic faith," Edith says. "I started attending daily Mass and had, on many occasions, the experience of feeling like my heart would burst open with joy after receiving Holy Communion. I felt drawn to learn everything I could about Divine Mercy."
Next came a great desire to promote the celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday in her own parish, St. Elizabeth's, which will celebrate its third Divine Mercy Sunday this April 11.
"I call it 'Clean Slate Sunday," Edith says. "I was totally enthralled when I learned of the graces that can be obtained on that day."
Indeed, referring to Divine Mercy Sunday, Jesus told St. Faustina, "I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain the complete forgiveness of sins and punishment" (Diary of St. Faustina, 699).
Edith has since begun placing Divine Mercy materials in church racks. The materials are published by the Marian Fathers of The Immaculate Conception, the official promoters of The Divine Mercy message and devotion since 1941.
Next, Edith began focusing more attention to reading St. Faustina's Diary.
"Wow!" she says. "I read about how much St. Faustina loved Jesus. It made me want to love Jesus in the same way."
What particularly touched Edith was how St. Faustina gives thanks for all the crosses she is given to bear, outlined best in an astounding passage from Diary entry 343:
True love is measured by the thermometer of suffering. Jesus, I thank You for the little daily crosses, for opposition to my endeavors, for the hardships of communal life, for the misinterpretation of my intentions, for humiliations at the hands of others, for the harsh way in which we are treated, for false suspicions, for poor health and loss of strength, for self-denial, for dying to myself, for lack of recognition in everything, for the upsetting of all my plans.
"That blew me away," Edith says. "I didn't think to thank Jesus for difficult things, only things that went my way. And things didn't always go my way, so you can see how challenging it was to cultivate a grateful heart with that thinking."
Each step toward embracing The Divine Mercy message and devotion bore fruit.
"Now, when I enter a church that displays the image of The Divine Mercy, I'd find myself saying 'Oh, look there's my friend, Jesus.'
"This devotion has meant a transformation in the way I think about people and situations, about my Catholic faith," she continues. "Now that I have the 'thinking' part down, I'm trying, with the grace of God, to work on the 'acting' part. Thankfully, the corporal and spiritual works of mercy are there to provide the roadmap."
Along the way, Edith and Tim have become part of the Marian family. They are seminarian benefactors and Friends of Mercy. They celebrate their wedding anniversary each year by making a pilgrimage to the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy.
"Every Marian we've met has just been so wonderful and inspirational," Edith says.
They are also supporters of the Marians' new Shrine of the Holy Innocents, on Eden Hill, which honors the memory of the souls of all children whose lives have been lost.
"We have purchased three tiles for our three miscarried children," Edith says. "That cross has been difficult, and when I feel the 'poor me' syndrome coming on, I read Diary entry 1033, which helps me put things in the right perspective."
Saint Faustina writes:
When I see that the burden is beyond my strength, I do not consider or analyze it or probe into it, but I run like a child to the Heart of Jesus and say only one word to Him: "You can do all things." And then I keep silent, because I know that Jesus Himself will intervene in the matter, and as for me, instead of tormenting myself, I use that time to love Him.
Edith and Tim have also turned to the Marians for guidance in a project to promote Divine Mercy through use of a pilgrim statue of The Divine Mercy commissioned by a friend. They also contributed financially to advertising the North American Congress on Mercy, held last November in Washington, D.C.
"What does Divine Mercy mean to me?" says Edith. "Hope! I think it is so hopeful to know that Jesus' mercy is for everyone, no matter what.
She notes that Jesus told St. Faustina, "The greater the sinner, the greater the right he has to My mercy" (Diary, 723).
"There's nothing that we've done that Jesus won't forgive," she says. "In fact, He already knows what we've done. He just wants us to come to Him to be healed. He is the Divine Physician waiting to heal us with the medicine of His Mercy."
How else do you know you're a Divine Mercy devotee?
Here's a hint:
"I don't feel I'm doing enough," says Edith. "I keep thinking, 'Come on God, let me do more.'"