Category Archives: Spiritual Life

Divine Mercy: known in peaceful embrace of sacramental forgiveness

Continuing for just a moment on the reality of Divine Mercy –given yesterday’s feast on the Second Sunday of Easter– there are few thoughts of Blessed John Paul II’s that I think are worth reflecting on when, in the canonization homily he delivered for Padre Pio’s canonization (16 June 2002), he stated:

“I am the Lord who acts with mercy” (Jeremiah 9,23)

Padre Pio hearing confessions.jpg

Pio was a generous dispenser of divine mercy, making himself available to all
by welcoming them, by spiritual direction and, especially, by the
administration of the sacrament of Penance
. I also had the privilege, during my
young years, of benefiting from his availability for penitents. The ministry of
the confessional
, which is one of the distinctive traits of his apostolate,
attracted great crowds of the faithful to the monastery of San Giovanni Rotondo.
Even when that unusual confessor treated pilgrims with apparent severity, the
latter, becoming conscious of the gravity of sins and sincerely repentant,
almost always came back for the peaceful embrace of sacramental forgiveness
May his example encourage priests to carry out with joy and zeal this ministry
which is so important today, as I wished to confirm this year in the Letter to
Priests on the occasion of Holy Thursday.

Perhaps priests –indeed, all of the faithful– ought to review the Holy Father’s Holy Thursday 2002 letter to priests. I once made a statement: Don’t trust a priest who doesn’t regularly sit in the confession box. I think it is reasonable advice. 

Divine Mercy: God’s love, God’s presence, God’s compassion

When John Paul beatified Mother Teresa of Calcutta in 2003, he said of her, in part:

Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta.jpg“As you did to one of the least of these my brethren,
you did it to me” (Mt 25: 40). This Gospel passage, so crucial in
understanding Mother Teresa’s service to the poor, was the basis of her
faith-filled conviction that in touching the broken bodies of the poor she was
touching the body of Christ. It was to Jesus himself, hidden under the
distressing disguise of the poorest of the poor, that her service was directed.
Mother Teresa highlights the deepest meaning of service – an act of love done
to the hungry, thirsty, strangers, naked, sick, prisoners (cf. Mt 25: 34-36)
is done to Jesus himself

Recognizing him, she ministered to him with
wholehearted devotion, expressing the delicacy of her spousal love. Thus, in
total gift of herself to God and neighbor, Mother Teresa found her greatest
fulfillment and lived the noblest qualities of her femininity. She wanted to be
a sign of “God’s love, God’s presence and God’s compassion,” and so remind all
of the value and dignity of each of God’s children, “created to love and be
loved.” Thus was Mother Teresa “bringing souls to God and God to souls” and
satiating Christ’s thirst, especially for those most in need, those whose
vision of God had been dimmed by suffering and pain.

Divine Mercy: Jesus bending over our humanity

Divine Mercy is a not a mere theological datum. It is another way of calling God, of meeting and loving God and living in relation to others. But is Divine Mercy? Blessed  John Paul II spoke of Divine Mercy in his canonization homily for Sister Maria Faustina Kowalska. She became a modern mirror for God’s tremendous love for all humanity. Saint Faustina reminds us that Mercy is crucial for everyone, just ask for the grace of Mercy. An excerpt:

St Faustina Kowalska.jpgWhat will the years ahead bring us? What will man’s
future on earth be like? We are not given to know. However, it is certain that
in addition to new progress there will unfortunately be no lack of painful
experiences. But the light of divine mercy, which the Lord in a way wished to
return to the world through Sr Faustina’s charism, will illumine the way for
the men and women of the third millennium.

However, as the Apostles once did,
today too humanity must welcome into the upper room of history the risen
Christ, who shows the wounds of his Crucifixion and repeats:  Peace be
with you! Humanity must let itself be touched and pervaded by the Spirit given
to it by the risen Christ
. It is the Spirit who heals the wounds of the heart,
pulls down the barriers that separate us from God and divide us from one
another, and at the same time, restores the joy of the Father’s love and of
fraternal unity.

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Preparing for (real) Christian life

Good question: how does one prepare one self for Christian living? I’d suggest 

  • look for ways to grow in virtue by practice and asking for the grace from Jesus;
  • reduce time sitting in front of the TV, vedging-out; drinking, and eating bad food;
  • be aware of the ways in which self-ish behavior is the norm and make changes;
  • spend time doing lectio divina, praying the rosary and praying for enemies one’s conversion;
  • seek ways to be generous, self-sacrificing by offer a sincere gift of self, self mastery relationship with the Lord.
Many come to a conversion of life from within marriage (and some through religious vows and priesthood) but how we live our life right now is the question; it is also a matter of formation that will bear fruit later in life. Ask for the grace to live a real Christian life.

Is the Pope’s Irish proposal reasonable?

Haven’t been thinking of the Pope’s letter to the Church in Ireland regarding the sexual abuse problems in a while? Let’s start thinking anew: the year of prayer that the Pope asked for is coming to an with Easter. I’d like to know what’s different.

No one I know takes issue with what the Pope has been doing with the sexual abuse matters. That may be a point of criticism of me and my friends, but I don’t have all the answers to such a complex issue such as pedodphilia and ephebophilia and I tend to lean toward diagnosing the problem not merely from psychological and sociological criteria but most importantly from spiritual criteria. What does one do with sin in one’s spiritual life? My experience with secular and religious clergy, religious sisters and brothers, and of course the laity, is that there is lots of mediocre spiritual lives in the Catholic; I might even argue for an acceptance that there are a lot of spiritually dead men of the cloth pastoring souls today. Since the Pope’s March letter to Ireland of a year ago I have been thinking and praying about the matter, as you have you some concrete initiatives to address the situation, in addition to a special investigation into the way certain dioceses took responsibility for the crimes.

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About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]
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