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A Most Fitting Phrase: 'Ocean of Mercy'

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By Melanie Williams (Jun 30, 2016)
Each year tens of thousands of pilgrims visit the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy on Eden Hill in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Who are they, and what draws them here? The following is the latest in our "Pilgrims Progress" series. Meet Jessica Wallace:

"Mercy is radical — a complete and utter gift, a radical love."

You don't hear that from many young people in our world today, but for Jessica Wallace, mercy is the center of her life.

Having been a "cradle Catholic," Jessica fell away from the faith and stopped going to Mass in middle school, but in high school, through the intercession of her grandmother enrolling her in a Confirmation program, Jessica made her way back into the full practice of the faith, more devoted than ever.

Receiving the Eucharist again moved her heart and drew her to the Lord in a way she never knew before. The Sacrament of Confession brought her alive again her senior year when she was able to make a "breakthrough Confession." Everything that she had been holding onto for so long, but could never bring to the Lord in Confession, she now wanted to give to Jesus at the foot of the Cross.

"Encountering our Lord's mercy in Confession is one of the deepest ways I really feel His mercy and His love. The moment the priest says, 'I absolve you from your sins,' I just imagine when Jesus breathes His last breath on the Cross, and He dies for my sins again and wipes them away at that moment."

A few years ago Jessica enrolled in a Catechetical certification class through St. John's Seminary in Boston. In one of her classes, a professor showed the class pictures of the life-size Stations of the Cross at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy. They struck Jessica to the heart, and she knew she needed to go see them and pray the Way of the Cross, and needed God's mercy.

This summer she visited the Shrine with her family, and she walked and prayed the outdoor Stations of the Cross. The stillness and beauty of Eden Hill helped Jessica enter into deep meditation. She entered into the depth of the Lord's mercy in a profound way. The anguish on the face of Jesus at each of the Stations blew her away. Mercy found her.

She said, "I realized that the Lord knew everything I was going to do. He knew every moment of my life before He went to the Cross, and He did it anyway, all out of love. It washed over me, it crashed over me, like an ocean!"

"The ocean of His mercy," is the exact phrase St. Faustina uses in her Diary (see 1142 and 1319).

Jessica said, "Mercy not always a peaceful thing, where you just sit and rest in it, but it's like an ocean — where you're just tousled and thrown around and shaken up, but also immersed in it."

This extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy has deepened Jessica's experience of mercy, as she has felt the Lord tugging her closer and closer to Him, which is not always easy! Oftentimes we can fall into extremes, either by being scrupulous — erroneously believing we are guilty of mortal sin when, in fact, we might not be — or not believing that Jesus can forgive our sins. Many of us can relate to that. Sometimes we fall into thinking that the Lord is not merciful — "Maybe to others, but not to me!" How this wounds the heart of Jesus! (Diary, 379) We all can fall into the lies and traps of the enemy, who wishes us to despair of God's mercy. Know that you're not alone. It is very common, but the hope is that we are called to TRUST in His Mercy!

Jessica shared that the Jubilee Year of Mercy has helped her battle this lie of the enemy. The graces of the Jubilee Year have helped her surrender and know that God is so much bigger than any of her problems or sins. These graces are for the whole world. As there are so many crazy and heinous things going on in the world today, the need for the Lord's mercy is greater than ever. As with St. Faustina, it's our responsibility to pray for the whole world (see Diary 482, 531, 570). This is the time of mercy.

Come make a pilgrimage to the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy. Visit our website for more information.

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Alex - Jun 30, 2016

Was this written especially for me? Very moving. I relate so much to the insight that Our Lord already knew my failings,yet in His love and mercy still wants to give me gifts. And the thoughts of despair, yeh that's copied and pasted straight out my mind.It is by chance I happened to read this story.Thanks.

Sonia - Jun 30, 2016

Wow! I never thought of mercy like that before, but that makes so much sense. Thank you so much for sharing this. This continues to fuel my hope for my young adult children, and the whole world!