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Photo: Felix Carroll
Nothing on TV, you say? You're wrong. How does this sound: Seven people sitting in a semicircle talking about God's mercy and what it means in their lives?
Following up on the success of the TV show Cenacle of The Divine Mercy, Series I, "Series II" debuts this month on EWTN's global Catholic network.
The new 13-part series, filmed last spring at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Mass., follows the prayer cenacle group format of Eucharistic Apostles of The Divine Mercy (EADM), an apostolate of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception.
The half-hour shows are now airing weekly on EWTN on Mondays at 2:30 p.m. (EST) and Saturdays at 6:30 a.m. (EST).
Dr. Bryan Thatcher, Director of Eucharistic Apostles of The Divine Mercy, and Fr. Joe Roesch, MIC, return as co-hosts of the new series. Interacting with their cenacle members, Bryan and Fr. Joe tackle such themes as love, hope, purity, obedience, humility, spiritual poverty, St. Faustina and the Holy Spirit, and St. Faustina and the way of the cross.
As he did with "Series I," Bryan has written a companion guide to "Series II." The guide goes into more depth, helping viewers apply the material in each show. Marian Press plans to release the guide and a DVD set of "Series II" in May. The set will follow the format for Divine Mercy cenacles and will be perfect for small group use.
The goal of the series — indeed, the goal of the thousands of cenacles of The Divine Mercy that have formed worldwide — is to delve deeply into the mystery of God's mercy, to increase the awareness that the message of Divine Mercy is one that needs to be lived daily, and to call on all to be Christlike.
"The first series was very successful and well received," said Dr. Thatcher, the founder of EADM. "EWTN has aired it seven times because of the great response. I've received calls and correspondence from as far away as the Sudan from people who watched it and were moved to begin cenacles in their own parishes. It's been really powerful."
The new series again features Fr. Joseph, a veteran of Divine Mercy Sunday telecasts on EWTN, who leads the cenacle along with Dr. Thatcher. Brother Jason Lewis, MIC, is a new face on this series, along with Siaosi Talitimu, a Samoan native who now lives in Colorado; Lily Torres of Brandon, Fla.; Marie Romagnano, RN, founder of Nurses and Doctors for Divine Mercy; and Thelma Orias, the director of The Divine Mercy Eucharistic Society in California.
"I think people are really going to be touched by this new series because of the beautiful stories that the cenacle members shared," said Fr. Joseph. "The personal witnesses have just been fantastic."
A Sneak Preview
For example, on Wednesday, April 18, the cast and crew filmed episode 8, titled, "Eucharistic Adoration and Divine Mercy." The setting was prayerful. Even John Kuklinski Jr., field production manager for EWTN, held a rosary in his hand during the filming. ("It was my First Communion rosary," he explained later on, "and my father's First Communion rosary.")
Father Joseph began the episode by commenting on how St. Faustina, known as the "Apostle of Divine Mercy," centered her life around the Eucharist and how she would visit the Blessed Sacrament whenever she could. "At times, the very same rays she saw coming from Jesus when He came to her, she also saw them coming from the Monstrance," said Fr. Joseph. "And it makes sense because our Lord is present in the Eucharist."
Mr. Talitimu, who helps EADM form cenacles, spoke of a common problem many Christians experience. He said that years ago he couldn't sense the Lord's presence in the Eucharist. Still, he made an effort. Once, he brought a rose with him and placed it before the Blessed Sacrament. At first, he said, he felt like a "silly little boy" for doing so. But he kept coming back and kept bringing roses. Eventually, he said, "I fell in love. The Lord revealed Himself to me through the Eucharist."
Dr. Thatcher said that when you experience that powerful presence of Christ, you wish to share it with others. "The Eucharist is like the filet mignon of dinner," he said, "yet so many people don't understand the Real Presence and the great gift of the Eucharist."
One way to begin raising such awareness, said Ms. Torres, is to start with children — to help them to grow in respect and appreciation for Eucharistic Adoration and to "teach them the meaning and beauty of spending time with Jesus."
Like Mr. Talitimu, Ms. Orias said she had difficulty feeling the Lord's presence in her life. But her persistence in Eucharistic Adoration paid off. One day, she was moved to tell Jesus in prayer, "I want to serve you. Let me be your servant on Earth."
"That's why I'm here," she said, during a break in the filming. "I've been touch by the message of Divine Mercy, and how could I not share it with the world?"
"In all our conversations," said Br. Jason, "the verse that keeps coming to mind is John 1:14: 'And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.' "
"God wishes to dwell in our presence and give us life," Br. Jason said. "Most especially, He dwells with us in the Eucharist so that we can receive Him, because God so desires to unite Himself with us, to become one with us."
Following the filming, Ms. Torres explained why she agreed to take part in the series. "I feel we're living in very troubled times, and we're in dire need of Christ's mercy," she said, "and if I can be a part of spreading that, then praise be to God."
Father Joseph hopes the series will encourage people to form cenacles of The Divine Mercy in their own parishes.
"God didn't mean for us to be alone," he said. "He wants us to be gathered, as He gathered the apostles and disciples. He wants us to share our faith and talk to each other."
Learn how you can start a cenacle.
Also, view the lesson plans as the series continues.