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The informal session was led by Dr. Stackpole, no greenhorn when it comes to addressing such questions. He's the weekly Q&A columnist for this website.

They Asked. They Received.

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By Felix Carroll (Oct 6, 2010)
Ask and you shall receive. That promise was fulfilled during the Marian Father's St. Faustina Day celebration on Saturday, Oct. 2, at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy.

Attendees were invited to write down Divine Mercy-related questions and place them in a "Q&A" box. The day-long celebration concluded with a question-and-answer session in which experts on the Divine Mercy message and devotion responded to those questions.

Why do so many priests not talk about the Sacrament of Reconciliation, much less offer it? Why do some parishes ignore Divine Mercy and St. Faustina? How do those unable to receive Holy Communion receive the graces of Divine Mercy Sunday?

These were just some of the questions posed to the panel, which included Dr. Robert Stackpole, STD, the director of the John Paul II Institute of Divine Mercy, an apostolate of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception; Dave and Joan Maroney, founders of Mother of Mercy Messengers, also an apostolate of the Marian Fathers; Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC, the vice-postulator for the canonization cause of St. Faustina; Maureen and Bob Digan (Maureen's miraculous healing through the intercession of St. Faustina served as the miracle that paved the way for Faustina's beatification); and Fr. Kazimierz "Kaz" Chwalek, MIC, the Marians' director of evangelization and development.

The informal session was led by Dr. Stackpole, no greenhorn when it comes to addressing such questions. He's the weekly Q&A columnist for this website.

Why would so many priests not talk about the Sacrament of Reconciliation much less offer it?

"Sadly," said Dr. Stackpole, "many of the priests serving now were trained during the 1960s." He mentioned the best-selling book whose title defined the movement of the times, The Power of Positive Thinking, by Norman Vincent Peale. He said the trend then in many Catholic seminaries was that "all that stuff about sin was a little 'too gloomy,' and we should focus instead on people's 'maladjustments and psychological problems.'"

"So for some priests, it wasn't their fault; it was a defect in their training," said Dr. Stackpole. He added that some priests also encounter "satanic attack," which may be reflected in their decisions to not make confession readily available.

Still, he said, priests have an obligation to teach the "full truth about sin and the goodness of forgiveness received through the Sacrament of Reconciliation."

He added, "Remember to pray for your priests. ... They are sinners like the rest of us, and we need to pray for them and love them out of it and express Divine Mercy to them, while praying that they offer the sacrament more often so we may receive that mercy more often."

Dave Maroney, whose travels with Mother of Mercy Messengers bring him to parishes all across the country, reported that "we are meeting more priests all the time who know about Divine Mercy and are on fire for it." He noted that the message of Divine Mercy stresses the Sacrament of Reconciliation as the most sure-fire and powerful means through which to receive Christ's mercy. More and more priests "know if they can get [Divine Mercy] to their parishioners it will be a great benefit to them, and of course confession is all wrapped into that," he said. "When the priest embraces the message, watch out, because the graces just comes down from heaven in great buckets."

Father Kaz added that an easy case can be made for why depression in our society has reached epidemic proportion. He said that many cases of depression are a direct consequence of sin. The remedy is that sin must be identified, admitted, and confessed so that forgiveness is fully experienced.

Why don't some churches mention Divine Mercy or St. Faustina?

"Remember," said Dr. Stackpole, "they have to mention Divine Mercy at every Mass: Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy. You can't avoid that."

With regard to St. Faustina not being made known by some parish priests, he noted that her feast day on Oct. 5 is not yet in the Church's Universal Calendar, "but it's getting there." Also, while Divine Mercy Sunday is now an official feast day of the Church, "it's not required to speak of Sr. Faustina or her revelations" on that day, Dr. Stackpole said.

He recommended that parishioners petition their priests so that St. Faustina and her revelations are included in parish teachings

"The Popes have, many times, spoken of what God did through her," Dr. Stackpole said, referring most notably to Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

Dr. Stackpole joked, "There's a spiritual gift the laity receives through pestering the hierarchy."

Is the vision of purgatory just visual or does St. Faustina talk with the souls there and reveal this in her Diary?

Indeed, St. Faustina speaks with souls in purgatory. At one point in her Diary she asks the souls in purgatory what their deepest suffering is. "And they answer that their deepest suffering was longing for God," said Dr. Stackpole. "This confirms what other saints have also said." He explained that once sin is fully taken away, the soul is healed and is received in heaven.

A question was posed to Maureen Digan: Maureen, how close are you to St. Faustina now and how do you pray to her?

"I'm very close to St. Faustina," said Maureen, whose miraculous healing from an incurable disease through the intercession of St. Faustina led to Faustina's beatification.

Maureen explained that when she prays to St. Faustina, she speaks to her "as a friend ... out of love. I have a personal relationship. Whenever I feel troubled or whenever I feel attacked, I turn to her. I call on her all the time."

A question was addressed to Fr. Seraphim: If a person is in prison, how can they receive the graces of Divine Mercy Sunday?

"It's true that not too many prisons allow the celebration of Mass or distribution of Holy Communion," Fr. Seraphim said. "In the case where it's impossible to receive the sacrament we have to understand what St. Thomas teaches us." That is, that when we have an earnest desire to be united with Jesus in the Holy Communion but cannot receive Communion for whatever circumstance, we can receive "spiritual communion," which "is very powerful."

The "real desire to be united with Jesus," said Fr. Seraphim, "is the true fruit of the sacrament."

He added that those who cannot receive Communion but who have an earnest desire to do so "actually suffer martyrdom, which is beneficial to them before God."

He said, "We should not despair for those who can not receive the sacrament, but know that many miracles can happen for earnestly desiring this sacrament when not being able to receive it."

If you have your own Divine Mercy-related questions, we invite you to visit our archives of Dr. Stackpole's Divine Mercy Q&A columns.

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Be a part of the discussion. Add a comment now!

Tom (Houston, tx) - Oct 11, 2010

To All:

Please remember things move slowly.

Just remenber we were instructed by Jesus, to Tell the whole world about His mercy, if we do that just one time a day, the understanding of the Divine Mercy will grow because people will see His mercy through our example.

One positive action is to put a Divine Mercy cards in all mail going out from you home or office(bills, letters, etc).

Make some small labels with
Jesus I Trust in you!

Put them on outside of all envelopes.

Lastly pray to St Faustina for her help in spreading this devotion.