Tag Archives: divine mercy

33 Days to Merciful Love

Fr. Michael E. Gaitley, MIC
Marian Press, 2016
124 pages, paperback $14.95

In this stirring sequel to the best-selling 33 Days to Morning Glory, Fr. Gaitley uses the same 33-day format. Subtitled A Do-It-Yourself Retreat in Preparation for Consecration to Divine Mercy, his new book takes readers on a journey with one of the most beloved saints of our day — St. Therese of Lisieux — and concludes with a consecration to The Divine Mercy.

During the Jubilee Year of Mercy, there’s no better time to deepen your prayer life by consecration to Our Lord’s Divine Mercy, led by the Little Flower herself.

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7 Secrets of Divine Mercy

Vinny Flynn
Ignatius Press, 2015
200 pages, paperback $14.95

There will be many new books during the Jubilee Year of Mercy, but none as important as Flynn’s latest. A longtime student of St. Faustina Kowalska, Flynn unpacks the essential elements of Divine Mercy and how it applies to the world we live in today.

The three popes — from John Paul to Francis — have made it abundantly clear that Divine Mercy is a major part of the Christian faith, and now this powerful new book reveals why. 7 Secrets really is a must read for priests and lay people who want to understand where the Holy Spirit is leading the Body of Christ in our time.

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The Time of Mercy

Pope Francis will open the Jubilee Year of Mercy on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

When Pope Francis opens the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica on Dec. 8 for the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, he will be offering God’s most powerful message to a world in desperate need.

“Precisely because there’s so much darkness in our world, God is graciously giving us a time of mercy,” said Fr. Michael Gaitley, whose latest book, The Second Greatest Story Ever Told, explains Pope St. John Paul II’s embrace of the Divine Mercy message and its connection to Marian consecration.

“In times of great evil,” Fr. Gaitley said, “God gives even greater grace and mercy. I say that because of what we read in Romans 5:20: ‘Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.’ That’s what he is doing today, and Pope Francis — following the lead of Vatican II and Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI — is confirming this good news of God’s word.”


Year of pilgrimage

Bishop Martin Holley

Bishop Martin Holley

Bishop Martin Holley, auxiliary bishop of Washington, said he believes Pope Francis’ comment to a reporter, “I am a sinner,” may have set the template for the introduction to the upcoming Year of Mercy.

“He seems to realize that the best cure for our human brokenness is Divine Mercy,” Bishop Holley said.

When people hear the message of God’s mercy — often through the Divine Mercy devotion received by St. Faustina Kowalska and advanced by John Paul II — “they really seem to get it,” said Fr. Gaitley, a priest of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception. “They realize we’re not dealing with some fringe or fanatical preoccupation with the miraculous, nor some quaint devotional practice for the overly pious.

“Instead, we’re dealing with the most important message for our time, a message that has been repeated over and over at the highest levels of the Church, a message that, as Pope Francis put it, comes from ‘the voice of the Spirit that speaks to the whole Church in this our time, which is in fact, the time of mercy.’”

Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC

Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC

In Misericordiae Vultus, the bull of indiction announcing the jubilee year, Pope Francis urges Catholics to live mercy as a program of life. To begin, he said, they must listen to and meditate on God’s word,rediscovering the value of silence and contemplating God’s mercy. The Holy Year will run from Dec. 8 to Nov. 20, 2016.

Father Gaitley said it’s fitting that Pope Francis opens the document by calling Catholics to contemplate and gaze upon the mystery of God’s mercy.

“After all, before everything else, before talking about mercy, before deeds of mercy, we really should first allow ourselves to encounter God’s mercy profoundly,” he said.

Pope Francis has also proposed that each Catholic, according to ability, make a pilgrimage to cross the threshold of one of the Holy Doors that will be opened during the jubilee year.

“The great aspect of a pilgrimage is that one does not have to go outside their own diocese or the United States,” Bishop Holley said, “because each will have a Holy Door for the jubilee year.”

Among the Pope’s other directives for the Year of Mercy are to rediscover the corporal and spiritual works of mercy — including feeding the hungry and forgiving offenses — and to reach out to other religious traditions in a spirit of dialogue and respect.

The sacrament of mercy

The Holy Father is also asking Catholics to focus on the sacrament of Penance “in such a way that it will enable people to touch the grandeur of God’s mercy with their own hands” and be a “source of true interior peace” for every penitent.

Vinny Flynn

Vinny Flynn

Vinny Flynn, who has been involved in a “ministry of mercy” for the last 40 years through teaching, writing, counseling, music and prayer, said he sees the sacrament of Penance as the most essential of the Holy Father’s instructions for the jubilee year.

“Pope Francis has stressed over and over again the importance of Confession,” said Flynn, who wrote the best-selling 7 Secrets of Confession. “This sacrament brings us healing. It’s not just about forgiveness.”

Flynn — whose new book, 7 Secrets of Divine Mercy, is being released to coincide with the start of the jubilee year — said the sacraments are key to growth in holiness, which can only be achieved by God’s grace.

“Through grace, especially through the grace of the sacraments of Eucharist and Confession, we take in the holiness of God himself,” he explained. “The more we take that in, the more we can live with His holiness in us. Eucharist and Reconciliation are emphasized when Christ wants to open the floodgates of his mercy. God wants us to understand the gifts he has given us in these two sacraments.”

Bishop Michael Burbidge

Bishop Michael Burbidge

In the Diocese of Raleigh, N.C., Bishop Michael Burbidge said he will be encouraging priests to talk and preach more about the sacrament of Penance and why it’s essential — urging them to seek new and creative ways to make the sacrament available.

He also will be asking each Catholic in his diocese to commit to bringing one person back to the Church — and to be instruments of reconciliation in fractured relationships with family members, friends, co-workers or those they consider enemies by asking for the grace to forgive.

“We have to pray for that gift,” he explained, “for an extraordinary, amazing grace to be able to do that. Yet I do believe that in this year, God will be acting miraculously in our lives.”

Among the challenges of the jubilee year, Bishop Burbidge said, will be to embrace its message so that it’s more than an event — and to convey that mercy must be accompanied by a desire to repent, begin anew and sin no more.

Then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio washes the feet of patients at a shelter for drug users during a Holy Thursday Mass in Buenos Aires on March 20, 2008 (REUTERS/Enrique Garcia Medina photo)

Then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio washes the
feet of patients at a shelter for drug users during a
Holy Thursday Mass in Buenos Aires on March 20,
2008 (REUTERS/Enrique Garcia Medina photo)

To be a recipient of that grace, one has to acknowledge the sin that was committed and then express sorrow for it,” he explained. “Then, as we celebrate the beautiful gift of God’s mercy, it’s in light of the Lord’s command that upon forgiving sins, we would say: ‘Go and sin no more.’”

Father Gaitley said that, although some may hear the message of mercy and not understand the need for repentance, he believes Pope Francis sees as a bigger problem: those who feel they need to earn God’s mercy.

“I think he’s concerned that too many avoid the Lord and haven’t encountered his goodness because they don’t realize the good news that Jesus came, not for the righteous, but for sinners.”

JUDY ROBERTS  is a Legatus magazine staff writer.

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Finding our purpose in Christ

You’ve probably heard this old adage before: Each of us is created with a purpose. This saying had stuck around for centuries because it has rung true for people through the ages. And when we cooperate with God’s plan for our lives, marvelous things will happen.

Patrick Novecosky

Patrick Novecosky

There was a time in my life, however, when I didn’t know what my purpose was — or even how to go about discerning that purpose. Little did I know that all I had to do was ask (in prayer) and wait for the Lord to reveal it. After all, life is a journey not a destination.

My career path was quite clear to me ever since I was in high school writing for the student newspaper. My purpose, however, was not so clear — and I wasn’t much of a discerner in my teens and 20s. Now, as a 40-something husband and father of five, God has made my purpose very clear.

Part of that clarity came from five years of working for the Association of Marian Helpers and the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy. “Jesus I trust in you” is embedded in my DNA. A little more than 10 years ago, on the very day that St. John Paul II was laid to rest, my boss (at a small, secular company) called me into his office and gave me my walking papers. My wife was eight months pregnant with our second child and we were a single-income family.

My first thought was: Jesus I trust in you!

Prayer and persistence paid off when, two months later, a call came from Legatus headquarters. You see, I had dropped my resume at Legatus four years earlier but didn’t get a call back. This time, they came looking for me. After a few interviews, I became the new editor of Legatus magazine and happily relocated from Ann Arbor to Southwest Florida.

Our October magazine marks my 100th issue as editor. It’s been a remarkable journey, allowing me the great honor to tell the stories of hundreds of Legatus members. That’s a lot of paper and ink, and if God wills it, perhaps a few hundred more issues are ahead of me.

The truth is, though, that my real purpose is to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. That’s where it all begins. It all flows from the power of God working in our lives for the good of His Kingdom.

Legatus is a remarkable vehicle for the Holy Spirit to reach men and women of influence, and if they have found their purpose in Him, amazing things will continue to happen in the Church and in the world.

PATRICK NOVECOSKY is Legatus magazine’s editor-in-chief.

The lost sacrament

Sabrina Arena Ferrisi explores how the faithful are coming back to Confession . . .

Talk about being in the right place at the right time. During the 2000 Jubilee in Rome, Pope John Paul II made an unannounced visit to St. Peter’s Basilica on Good Friday. He entered through a side door and — after waving to a group of shocked pilgrims — stepped into a confessional. When a papal aide asked if anyone wanted to confess to the Holy Father, pandemonium erupted. People jumped, shouted and begged to be chosen.

Digital approach

The scene in St. Peter’s Basilica stands in sharp contrast to a typical Saturday afternoon in the confession line at most American parishes. There are no clamoring crowds. Often there isn’t anyone at all.

A 2008 Boston College study reported that a typical New York City parish in 1896 had seven priests on staff who listened to 1,500 confessions per week. Today, most American priests are hearing 20 or fewer per week.

Bishop Kevin Rhoades

Bishop Kevin Rhoades of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Ind., believes the plummeting use of the sacrament has to do with a loss of a sense of sin.

“People’s admission of the reality of sin requires honesty and repentance,” he told Legatus Magazine. “We need to do a better job in catechesis so people realize the beauty, liberation and joy that come from a great confession and absolution.”

Patrick Leinen, cofounder of Little i Apps, a company which specializes in Catholic mobile application development, believes that most Americans are intimidated by Confession.

“There also seems to be a disconnect between practicing the faith and partaking in all the sacraments,” he said.

Leinen, his brother Chip, and their friend Ryan Kreager, decided last year to use their computer skills at the service of the Church. They founded their company and produced an iPhone app to help Catholics return to Confession. Aptly called “Confession: A Roman Catholic App,” their $1.99 download came out in February and caused a media firestorm.

“We got calls from all over the world,” said Leinen, a Franciscan University graduate. “When it was released, the Catholic press immediately understood it. The secular press did not. They thought it was digital Confession. In fact, the Vatican even made a statement explaining that you can’t go to Confession with this.”

The Confession application — available for iPad, iPhone and Android — asks each user to type in their age, gender and vocation. It provides a password-protected profile and a step-by-step guide to the sacrament. The app produces an examination of conscience tailored for each individual. For example, the examination of conscience for a young mother of small children is different from that of an older, single man.

“There is already stuff out there like prayer books online, but this is interactive and you can bring it in with you to Confession,” said Leinen.

In fact, when Bishop Rhoades was asked to give an imprimatur — meaning that nothing contrary to faith or morals has been discovered in the work — he realized this was new territory. The app has the first imprimatur of any electronic application.

“I had no idea that it would generate so much publicity,” said Bishop Rhoades. “I was delighted. It has brought many people back to Confession.”

Leinen concedes that the public’s response far surpassed anything he could have imagined. The app has been downloaded more than 50,000 times since its launch. More importantly, people of all ages are now rediscovering the power of the sacrament.

“We got responses from people who were away from the Church for five, 10, 20 and 30 years,” he said. “It’s been overwhelming. Teenagers have written to tell us that they had been scared of Confession. The London diocese in Canada gave out 500 of our apps for free to get people back to Confession this Lent.”

Media outreach

One of the main excuses people give for neglecting the sacrament is that they have trouble fitting it into their busy schedules.

“For a lot of people, the problem is that Confession is only offered for one hour on Saturday,” said Fr. Donald Calloway, U.S. vocation director for the Marians of the Immaculate Conception. “And if you call to make an appointment, you reveal your identity, making people less inclined to do it. If a parish has confession on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday night, people will show up.”

To address this problem, some dioceses hold special penance services during Lent. The dioceses of New York, Brooklyn and Rockville Center teamed up on April 18 to hold six hours of confession in every parish. They’ve also sponsored a video contest for young people to promote Confession. The campaign — online at i-confess.com — solicited videos between 30-60 seconds. The top prize winner received $25,000.

Equally compelling is a somewhat quirky website inspired by Sham Wow commercials. Developed by the dioceses of Brooklyn and Rockville Center, the video’s “Father Vic” encourages people to get “clean from the inside out” by visiting SoulWow.com. The priest invites people to Confession, and the website provides links for Catholics from both dioceses.

Radical mercy

Another major problem seems to be a lack of catechesis with regard to the sacrament of Confession. To this end, several U.S. bishops — from New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan to Archbishop José Gómez of Los Angeles — issued pastoral letters during Lent this year explaining the need for Confession.

St. Faustina KowalskaThose who follow the Divine Mercy devotion already have a particular appreciation for the sacrament because of the revelations given to St. Faustina Kowalska. In her diary, Faustina writes about her multiple visions and conversations with Christ.

“Jesus said to St. Faustina that souls are to run to his ‘tribunals of mercy’ to experience his unfathomable mercy. He is so passionate and loving in these revelations,” Fr. Calloway explained. “In the diary, Jesus is described as being in tears, begging people to come back to Confession.”

Father Calloway’s order operates the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy and works to spread the message and devotion to Jesus Christ as The Divine Mercy. Father Calloway speaks not only as a priest but also as one who had a radical conversion because of Christ’s mercy. Before his conversion to Catholicism, he was a high school dropout, deported from a foreign country, institutionalized twice and jailed multiple times. Confession was crucial to his personal transformation.

“Why is Confession so important? Because it’s the guaranteed way that Jesus set up so that we could be forgiven,” he said. “It’s 100% reliable, and without it we’re not living Christianity as He set it up to be. We’re just winging it.”

For those who are tired of “winging it,” there’s no time like the present to seek Christ’s radical mercy in the sacrament of Confession.

Sabrina Arena Ferrisi is a Legatus Magazine staff writer.







No Turning Back: A Witness to Mercy

Father Calloway’s inspiring story demonstrates the depths of God’s mercy . . .

callowayNo Turning Back: A Witness to Mercy
Marian Press, 2010. 262 pages, $19.00 paperback

One of the most talked about new Catholic books of the year, Fr. Calloway’s memoir tells how he went from being a drug-addicted teen wanted by the authorities in Japan to a young on-fire Catholic priest. He was a high school dropout who was institutionalized twice and thrown in jail multiple times.

Through the intercession of Our Lady, Divine Mercy touched his life, leading to a profound conversion which unfolds like a Hollywood blockbuster.

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Divine Mercy and health care

Health-care professionals bring the Divine Mercy devotion to the sick and dying . . .

At 3 o’clock every afternoon, residents, staff and family members at the Town and Country Nursing Center in Lowell, Mass., gather in the community room to ask for God’s mercy for themselves and the whole world.

It is the “hour of mercy” when Jesus instructed a Polish saint to implore his mercy, promising, according to the diary she kept, that “in this hour, I will refuse nothing to the soul that makes a request of me in virtue of my passion.”

Growing trend

Deacon Steven Marcus

Deacon Steven Marcus

Christ gave the Divine Mercy Chaplet to St. Faustina Kowalska in 1933 with instructions to pray it unceasingly. Legatus member and Maronite Deacon Steven Marcus is president and CEO of New England Geriatrics, which operates Town and Country. He introduced the devotion at the facility after learning about it last year.Marcus also placed the Divine Mercy image, which depicts rays representing blood and water coming from Christ’s heart, in the home’s chapel.

Marcus is part of a wave of health-care professionals who have been drawn to the Divine Mercy devotion and its message as part of their work with the sick, aged and dying.

In Massachusetts, Marie Romagnano, a criticalcare nurse who was inspired by the events of 9/11 to start a group called Nurses for Divine Mercy, has seen the organization expand into the 3,000-member Health Care Professionals for Divine Mercy. Romagnano’s book, Nursing with the Hands of Jesus: A Guide to Nurses for Divine Mercy, has sold 40,000 copies. Health Care Professionals for Divine Mercy now holds an annual conference attracting up to 350 people.

Dr. John Bruchalski

Dr. John Bruchalski

After developing a love for the Divine Mercy devotion on a trip to Medjugorje in 1989, Dr. John Bruchalski began to bring his obstetrics/gynecology practice into conformity with Catholic teaching. In 1994, he and his wife, Carolyn, a nurse, founded the Tepeyac Family Center in Fairfax, Va., which has since grown into Divine Mercy Care, a nonprofit company that also oversees the DMC Pharmacy and a perinatal hospice program. Future plans include family practice, home health care, pediatrics and mental health services.

In 1996, Dr. Bryan Thatcher, a Florida physician who discovered the Divine Mercy message by reading St. Faustina’s diary, founded Eucharistic Apostles of the Divine Mercy, which promotes praying the chaplet for the sick and dying and sends shipments of medical materials to the poor around the world.

“As you pray, you begin to see the power of this chaplet,” said Divine Mercy Care’s Bruchalski. “You’re drawn to do something — to do an act of mercy.”

Bruchalski said he believes the Divine Mercy devotion is gaining in popularity because “it’s a message for our time in a world that’s gone off the deep end.”

Hospice ministry

The chaplet is especially suited to those who work with the dying because of God’s promise to St. Faustina that whoever recites it will receive great mercy at the hour of death.

“What a perfect time in life to hear about God’s great mercy — that no matter what they’ve done, his mercy is greater than their greatest sin,” said Thatcher of the Eucharistic Apostles. He added that Christ also told St. Faustina to pray the chaplet at the bedside of the dying, saying he would be there for the person as a merciful savior and not a just judge.

If someone cannot pray at the bedside, Thatcher explained, the chaplet is still effective. “With God there is no space or time.”

Greg Patterson

Greg Patterson

Legatus member Greg Patterson, a hospice consultant and former hospice owner, prays the chaplet with his wife, Lee, and their five daughters. “We pray for the intentions of our patients, those who have passed and those current patients as well.” The family also prays for the hospices Patterson consults.

Romagnano said she had been praying the chaplet for her patients, especially those who were dying, since the early 1980s, but that she wasn’t moved to spread the message more widely until the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

As she was preparing to take a team of trauma nurses to New York to assist victims, she got a call telling them they weren’t needed. “They said, ‘We think everybody was killed,’” Romagnano recalled. She suggested the nurses pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet, but none of them knew what she meant. “I just assumed everybody knew about it and would know to pray the chaplet in the middle of a disaster.”

Shortly afterward, Romagnano began teaching a class for nurses in spiritual care. Forty showed up the first week. Monthly classes followed. Her ministry grew to include her book and the annual conferences.

Once people learn how merciful God is and understand the Divine Mercy devotion, Romagnano said, they see how God can help when no more physical help is possible. “With the Divine Mercy message, you realize that you not only make the most critical intervention to save a person’s life, but you make a spiritual intervention based on the promise of Jesus. The Lord says he actually depends on us to intercede for these people. He said that by your prayers you are responsible for many souls.”

As a critical care nurse and case manager, Romagnano said she has worked with many families whose loved ones are hanging on a thread between life and death. She often gives them the Divine Mercy image and tells them about God’s mercy. “Nobody has ever said, ‘I don’t want that.’ I don’t care what religion they are — Jewish, Muslim, Protestant.”

Through her work with Health Care Professionals for Divine Mercy, Romagnano has heard from medical personnel who knelt on the floor and prayed the chaplet when a patient was dying. She often prays the chaplet with her patients’ family members at the bedside. “The Divine Mercy message brings hope where there is no hope, and that’s what health care needs.”

Judy Roberts is a Legatus Magazine staff writer.

Pope Benedict’s Divine Mercy Mandate

The Holy Father has wholeheartedly embraced the Divine Mercy message so dear to JPII . . .

divine-mercy-mandatePope Benedict’s Divine Mercy mandate
Marian Press, 2009. 88 pages, $6.95 paperback

Pope John Paul II became known as the Mercy Pope for his encyclical on God’s mercy, forgiving his would-be assassin, canonizing St. Faustina and establishing Divine Mercy Sunday. Now, four years into his papacy, Pope Benedict XVI has become known as a Pope of Mercy in his own right.

Discover the Holy Father’s “Divine Mercy mandate” in this concise, fact-packed book. Learn of the Pope’s insights on God’s mercy and his reflection on how Judas’ betrayal of Christ reveals God’s mercy.

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