Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Divine Mercy, the limit to evil in the world and in our own hearts

Our celebration of the saints continues today with the Memorial of St. Faustina Kowalska, to whom our Lord appeared and delivered, again, His message of Divine Mercy.

It is easy to get bogged down when we look at the world and even in our own hearts and see darkness. We become like modern day psalmists, lamenting that the wicked seem to prosper while the righteous seem relegated to suffering. Sometimes this even seems true in our own experience: when I behave like everyone else I seem to get ahead, but when I really seek to live for Christ things seem to take a turn for the worse. This is not foreign to anyone who seeks to follow Christ in an intentional way. This forces us to ask, by what criteria do I judge reality, my own experience? All too often according to Freud's pain/pleasure principle. To paraphrase Bl. Teresa of Calcutta- worldly success is not a Gospel category. A cursory look at the even the lives of the Little Flower and St. Faustina, both of whom lived in cloisters, will show us this! In the very beautiful first part of his book Memory and Identity: Conversations at the Dawn of a Millennium, Pope John Paul II, who, like St. Faustina, was a Pole, writes about the "limit imposed upon evil."


He observes that one cannot "think of the limit placed by God himself upon the various forms of evil without reference to the mystery of Redemption." He goes on to ask, "Could the mystery of Redemption be the response to that historical evil which, in different forms, continually recurs in human affairs?" All too easily we can come to see "the evil of concentration camps, of gas chambers, of police cruelty, of total war, and of oppressive regimes - evil which, among other things, systematically contradicts the message of the Cross - it can seem...that such evil is more powerful than any good." But if we pay close attention to history "we discover that this is precisely where the victorious presence of Christ's Cross is most clearly revealed." Against a dark background the light shines forth more brightly. For "those subjected to systematic evil, there remains only Christ and his Cross as a source of spiritual self-defense, as a promise of victory."

If the Cross of Christ "marks the divine limit placed upon evil, it is for this reason only: because thereby evil is radically overcome by good, hate by love, death by resurrection." Hence, our taking up our Cross daily and laying our lives down in loving service to others for "the sake of His sorrowful passion" is the only way to experience resurrection, that is, life, in the words of St. Augustine to the widow Proba, that is truly life! This is what I call the inverse property of redemption: no Easter without Good Friday and Good Friday makes no sense apart from Easter morning.

Divine mercy is the limit placed on human evil. So, the more often I acknowledge my own need, which is also my deepest desire, the more God's mercy given me in Christ Jesus sanctifies me, helps me first to resist and then overcome evil by grace. Devotion to Divine Mercy, just like devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, is so much more than a conglomeration of a bunch of self-absorbed pious acts and half-mumbled prayers. It is a way to live the Gospel fully, which is nothing other than participating fully in the mystery of Redemption.

St. Faustina, pray for us.

"For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world."

2 comments:

  1. Hello Deacon Scott,
    Do you know who wrote the Divine Mercy icon and/or did you source ii from?
    Thank you & God Bless,
    Teresa

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  2. Dear Teresa:

    I am sorry, but I don't who wrote this striking icon. As one who has long been devoted to Divine Mercy, when I saw it I was very struck.

    Dcn Scott

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