Tag Archives: Divine Mercy

What Thomas reveals

My Lord and My God Ruberval MonteiroOn this Octave Day of Easter we hear the Gospel of Doubting Thomas. For a long time we’ve used the phrase “Doubting Thomas” to portray the Apostle’s lack of belief. But I wonder if it is accurate to say Thomas doubted. And his words are more than a “trust but verify” philosophy.

I think we need to recall the revolutionary action of the Divine Majesty in resurrecting someone from the dead. Certainly we can point to Lazarus’ coming back from clutches of death but with Jesus’ resurrection from the dead there is something new, something truly never seen before: a glorified body. His body totally transfigured in the way it was on Mount Tabor and his wounds still present as a keen memory of the love-act that the Passion is. However, the resurrection from the dead is the gift based on our availability, that is, our complete openness, our yes, to the infinite possibility (meaning, the willingness to consider that there might be another way than the way humans generally conceive of life) which demonstrates that the mind and heart of man and woman may be regenerated by God the Father.

Thomas reveals a depth of person who did not deny but used his reason to verify what the Lord proposed. In freedom, Thomas approaches Jesus, now the Christ, encounters Him in a totally and intimate manner. If you notice, all of the apostles, including Mary Magdalen, had a particular relationship with Christ. For me, therefore, the gospel pericope on Saint Thomas is less about doubt (a complete rejection) than about a recognition of what Jesus said of Himself: I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. A doubt is a question that is looking for certitude, for guidance, for true religion. Humans need the tangible to open the door to the mystical. Touching the Lord’s wounds is about the recognition. Here Thomas helps all others including the apostles. His mission is to tell the world about this new in-breaking into the world: God’s breaking death’s grip on humanity.

Pope Francis said today, “Jesus invites us to behold these wounds, to touch them as Thomas did, to heal our lack of belief. Above all, he invites us to enter into the mystery of these wounds, which is the mystery of his merciful love.”

From St. Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on John’s Gospel:

“As always, Christ has to be patient with Thomas when he said he would not believe and with the other disciples too when they thought they were seeing a ghost. Because of his desire to convince the whole world, he most willingly showed them the marks of the nails and the wound in his side; because he wished those who needed such signs as a support for their faith to have no possible reason for doubt, he even took food although he had no need for it.”

Praying for John Shankman

JShankman.jpghe friends and family are uniting prayer for Kim & Don Shankman’s son, John, a high school senior was injured in a car accident last week. John has been on a roller coaster ride regarding his health.

Kim is the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Benedictine College, Atchison, KS.
You may read about matter here.
We are praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Join us.
Go to Jesus with the help of Saint Faustina, Saint Richard Pampuri, Blessed John Paul and the Servant of God Father Luigi Giussani.

Examination of Conscience for priests

confession-6.jpgThe Congregation for Clergy published an examination of conscience entitled “The Priest, Minister of Divine Mercy: An Aid for Confessors and Spiritual Directors” which hopes to reinvigorate the priest’s spiritual paternity by a recovery of the sacrament of Confession by penitent and confessor. Here is yet another aspect of the new evangelization called for by Blessed John Paul II and now Pope Benedict: the renewal of priests and people through Reconciliation.

“The Priest, Minister of Divine Mercy” is the fruit of Pope Benedict’s Year for Priests. As Cardinal Piacenza notes, this “is a measure of authentic faith in the saving action of God which shows itself more clearly in the power of grace than in human strategic or pastoral initiatives which sometimes overlook this essential truth.” A sobering statement for one who works in a parish.

On the surface it seems that this text is exclusively for the clergy. Don’t be fooled into putting it aside.  I would recommend it to the laity as well. Be acquainted to the sacrament of Confession, the theology and practice of the Church and what the Church expects of her clergy. We have to help each other see Christ’s work among through concrete manifestation of Divine Mercy.

Consider the ideas found in the introduction (the link to the full text is at the end):

“It is necessary to return to the confessional as a place in which to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation, but also as a place in which “to dwell” more often, so that the faithful may  and compassion, advice and comfort, feel that they are loved and understood by God and experience the presence of Divine Mercy beside the Real Presence in the Eucharist”.

With these words, the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI addressed confessors during the recent Year for Priests, indicating to each one present the importance and therefore the apostolic urgency of rediscovering the Sacrament of Reconciliation, both from their viewpoint of penitents as well as that of ministers. Along with the daily celebration of the Eucharist, the availability of the priest to hear sacramental confessions, to welcome penitents, and to accompany them spiritually when they so request, is the real measure of a priest’s pastoral charity. By their availability, priests give joyful witness and in a certain sense take upon themselves their true identity, redefined in the Sacrament of Holy Orders and not reducible to a mere functionality. The priest is a minister, which is to say that he is at the same time both a servant and a prudent dispenser of Divine Mercy. To him is entrusted the serious responsibility “to forgive or to retain sins” (cf. John 20: 23).

Rembrandt The Return Of The Prodigal Son.jpg

Through him, and through the power of the Spirit who is the Lord and Giver of Life, the faithful are able to experience today in the Church the joy of the Prodigal Son, who after a life of sin returned to his father’s house in the manner of a servant but was welcomed with the dignity of a son. Whenever a confessor is available, sooner or later a penitent will arrive. And if the confessor continues to make himself available, even stubbornly so, sooner or later many penitents will arrive! Our rediscovery of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, both as penitents and as ministers, is a measure of authentic faith in the saving action of God which shows itself more clearly in the power of grace than in human strategic or pastoral initiatives which sometimes overlook this essential truth.

Responding to the appeal of the Holy Father and expressing his profound intent, this aid is intended as yet another fruit of the Year for Priests, to be a helpful instrument for the ongoing formation of the Clergy and an aid in rediscovering the indispensible value of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and of Spiritual Direction. The new evangelization and the ongoing renewal of the Church, semper reformanda, draw their life blood from the true sanctification of each member of the Church. It is clear that sanctifi cation must precede both evangelization and renewal, for it lays claim to and forms the necessary precondition for every effective apostolic effort, as well as for the reform of the Clergy.

In the generous celebration of the Sacrament of Divine Mercy, each priest is called to experience for himself the uniqueness and the indispensability of the ministry entrusted to him. Such an experience will help him to avoid the “ever-changing sense of identity” which so often marks the existence of some priests. Instead, his experience will cultivate within himself that sense of wonder which fi lls his heart, for through no merit of his own he is called by God, in the Church, to break the Eucharistic Bread and to forgive the sins of others.

Here’s “The Priest, Minister of Divine Mercy: An Aid for Confessors and spiritual Directors”: Examination of Conscience for confessors and spiritual directors.pdf

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.

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]yahoo.com.
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