Feast

 

Fatima and Divine Mercy Devotion

By Fr. John Harris

Celebrating Divine Mercy Sunday this year, during the centenary year of the Apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima had a different feeling than other years. Usually on this great Feast of Mercy we ask for mercy for ourselves and we rejoice in God’s mercy in our lives, but the message of Fatima asks us to do penance for others, not to focus only on ourselves and our need for mercy, but to be mindful of others too. 

Time and again Our Blessed Lady asked the three little children to do penance for others and to pray for the conversion of sinners. It was with this in mind that we celebrates Divine Mercy Sunday during 2017. We asked for mercy, not just for ourselves, but for others also. During our praying of the Chaplet we constantly pray: “Have mercy on us and on the whole world”.

In her Diary St. Faustina records an incident in her life. She wrote, “At four o’clock when I came for adoration, I saw one of our wards offending God greatly by sins of impure thoughts. I also saw a certain person who was the cause of her sin. My soul was pierced with fear and I asked God, for the sake of Jesus’ pain, to snatch her from this terrible misery. Jesus answered that He would grant her that favour, not for her sake, but for the sake of my request. Now I understood how much we ought to pray for sinners, and especially for our wards. (Diary 349-350).

This incident reassures us as devotees of Divine Mercy that prayer works, not simply for ourselves but also for others. One of the most important ways that we show love for others in charity is to pray for them and to pray for God to have mercy on them. This is true charity, motivated by love of the other person with a desire for their personal salvation. There is no greater love possible than praying and hoping for their eternal happiness. Charity teaches us to love the other person as ourselves, for themselves and their well-being without any thought of feeling for ourselves. There can be no greater love therefore of another than to wish and pray for their soul’s eternal redemption. 

This doesn’t come from a feeling of superiority or of our being more holy than the other. It is motivated by true love. When St. Faustina was made aware of the young lady’s struggle in the moral life, she was not judging her, but out of concern and fear for her eternal salvation, she turned to prayer. There is no sign that the young lady ever knew of the sorrow in St. Faustina’s heart or that the holy nun said anything to her. But, in her heart, St. Faustina felt the pain. This reminds us of the Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and of how the Blessed Virgin showed herself to Sr. Lucy. The Immaculate Virgin showed her heart, surrounded by a crown of thorns and bleeding. This was how the heart of St. Faustina felt as she saw the young girl wallowing in her bad thoughts. 

It is a feeling we all have shared in our hearts when we see friends or members of our own families living in sin and even at times taking pride in such sinfulness. Our hearts are pierced with sadness and fear for their eternal salvation and added to this deep sorrow, we can feel powerless. But we know from the message of Fatima and the incident in the life of St. Faustina that we are not helpless in these situations. We can offer our penances and sufferings for the grace of conversion for others.

The silent prayer offered up, the praying of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy for someone you see to be in peril, reminds us of the saying of Our Blessed Lord in the Gospels, “And when you pray, do not imitate the hypocrites; they love to say their prayers standing up in the synagogues and at the street corners for people to see them; Amen I say to you they have had their reward. But when you pray, go to your private room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your father who is in that secret place, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:5-6).

The silent prayer offered up, the secret act of penance is far more powerful for the other person’s good than any display of outrage or indignation. Also St. Faustina says that she understood from this incident how much we ought to pray for sinners, and especially for those we have in our care and with whom we share our lives. Our prayer for mercy is not simply some prayer asked in a general way but it can also be focused on the prayer for mercy for a particular person in a particular situation. Indeed when it is so focused it can be more powerful, for it is offered with a depth of love and suffering that makes our prayer more real and alive. 

When we offer up our prayer “for our sins and those of the whole world” or we pray “Have mercy on us and on the whole world”, as we do in the Chaplet, these prayers can become repetitious and they may seem too general to have any meaning. But when we say these prayers with someone we love in mind, or a group of people in mind, it can help us to be more conscious of what it is we are asking for.This special year, during the centenary of Fatima, as you pray the Lord to send His Mercy into the world, let us be moved by love of others and for their eternal salvation. Let us be aware of what Jesus answered St. Faustina. He said that He would grant her prayer for the other girl, not for the sake of the other person, but for the sake of the request that St. Faustina was making. Let us be aware of the grave need there is to pray for those we know and love and the grave need that we pray for Divine Mercy.

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Click this link to view: Our Lady Untier of Knots Prayer Book