Last night, we celebrated the wedding of our cousin, Ryan.
Something really, really special happened out of no place, and my heart is still incredibly grateful.
Vince and I were taking a rest from the dance floor when I heard the beginning chords of "Can't Help Falling in Love With You" by Elvis.
I thought it'd be nice to scoop Vince into my arms for a slow dance. As we began rocking to the music, I felt John come up and put his arms around us.
Instantly, I had this inner yearning for him to be dancing with Myla. I was struck with missing her fiercely. I should be dancing with Vince, and he should be dancing with Myla.
Suddenly, as if on cue, our niece, Alliya, tugged on my dress and said, "Here you go."
She held in her hands a perfect, pink rose.
I took it from her and handed it to Vincent. Immediately he began kissing it over and over and over again.
Just when I began grieving being unable to physically hold her in my arms, Heaven sent me a rose in the vein of Myla's namesake, St. Therese, who is still known to shower these flowers to those who ask for her intercession.
I clutched Vincent to myself and felt the tears of gratitude spill. Vince kept that rose with him for the rest of the night. He fell asleep with it on the way home. When I finally tucked him away in bed, he wanted to make sure that "his flower" was safe in water. We put it in front of the Blessed Mother statue on his dresser.
What a blessed gift when I needed it so.
Thank you, God, for giving me these little kisses from my daughter. Myla Therese, you be extra sweet to Sister Therese for me, okay? One day I'll return all of these kisses a thousandfold. I love you, sweetie.
Color me incredibly disappointed.
Agitated might be a better word. Suspicious, even.
Yet again, there was no real celebration / veneration of Divine Mercy this past weekend. I specifically went to a parish that I thought stood the best chance of acknowledging this Feast, but I was again (third year in a row) discouraged by a complete lack of time dedicated to calling the faithful to take full advantage of this incredible once-a-year event.
The Feast of Divine Mercy occurs the Sunday after Easter. Why is this such a special event? Jesus promised that to those who venerate His Divine Mercy will be forgiven all of their sins and will be granted full remittance of the punishment due as a result of those sins.
That's a clean slate, folks. Clean as in pristine... a baptismally clean soul that is gift wrapped and handed to you simply because Jesus loves you THAT MUCH and wants you as close as possible to Him.
That is a MIND-BOGGLING GIFT. Should you die after reception of the Eucharist (having completed veneration and prayers), you would go RIGHT TO HEAVEN. No stopping in Purgatory, no fear of Hell... not even if you committed the worst, most heinous sins imaginable.
And yet for three years now, three different parishes that I've attended have basically ignored this! THREE!
Is this willful ignorance??? I mean, how in the world do you NOT discuss this with your parishioners??? How do you NOT admonish them to take full advantage of this feast???
Given the mess this world is in, wouldn't you want your people to take full advantage of armor such as this?
Everyone was so focused on the canonizations. I'm fully aware of how historic and cool it is to have such gems added to our Church Canon, but c'mon now. If St. John Paul II were physically standing here in front of the Church, I guarantee you he'd be smacking us lovingly with a stick and reminding us of the feast day he, himself, approved.
That was part of why they pushed to have his canonization coincide with Divine Mercy Sunday. His canonization, though, no matter HOW MUCH everyone loves him, should not have overshadowed Divine Mercy. I don't care if we were canonizing him and fifty billion others around the world. No amount of canonizations and no amount of holiness on the part of humans (even humans like JPII) can possibly outshine the dignity, grace and blessings of DIVINE MERCY.
I'm seriously so upset over this. So flippin' upset.
At the end of our Mass, Fr. John did mention it briefly in passing, but he said something along the lines of "For those of you with a Divine Mercy devotion, this is your Sunday. I wish you a blessed feast."
My mouth actually dropped open.
The 2nd Sunday of Easter is not strictly for devotees. It's for EVERYONE who wants to avail themselves of Christ's Mercy. He doesn't restrict it to those of us who happen to like that particular chaplet or happen to have this image up in our homes. It is for ALL SINNERS. To wave it off as a small devotion is such a disservice to the meaning behind this feast.
It's now Wednesday and I'm still incredibly bummed about this. I can't imagine St. John Paul II being happy that a party for him and his buddy, Saint John the 23rd, completely overshadowed the most joyous feast that Christ, Himself, gifted to the world.
I just... wow. So sad about this. Please tell me there are those of you out there who had Masses that highlighted this feast.
I seriously went back and forth about posting tonight. So many people are already blogging up a storm about the canonization of our two beloved popes. I think that's great! I'm just not feeling very moved to write about it, likely because so many others are doing such a great job.
So if you're interested to learn more about the canonizations, I direct your attention to Father Robert Barron's Word From Rome.
Also, as a complete aside, did anyone know that this movie even existed? Cary Elwes and Jon Voight come together to tell the story of Pope (now Saint) John Paul II. Awesome!
Anyway, if you're up for hearing me talk about the image and feast of Divine Mercy, then grab some popecorn (see what I did there?) and stick around.
Saint Faustina was a humble, quiet nun who received visions of Christ and the Blessed Mother. She was ordered to keep a journal of these visions. Her journal, now known as the Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska: Divine Mercy in My Soul, was my reading material of choice during the time of my reversion.
I learned so much about true virtue while reading her conversations with Jesus, especially the value of obedience and humility (things I still struggle with today).
Anyway, this image has always been one of my favorites of Jesus. He said "My gaze from this image is like My gaze from the Cross."
Think for a moment. In the image above, Christ's Face is not one of anger or judgement; His Countenance is one of mercy. He is looking intently into your eyes, seeking your soul. He was suffering and dying FOR YOU. There is nothing but you and Christ when looking at this image. Nothing. His Sacred Heart issues forth Blood (red) and water (blue) - the same Blood and water that poured forth when His Heart was lanced by the centurion at the Crucifixion.
He gave us everything unto the very last drop of Himself so that we might regain our inheritance. That's mind-bogglingly insane. Yet that is our God. His love is, quite honestly, boundless. He loves us wholly and completely and will abandon Himself fully so that we can be come home.
In this image Jesus comes to us dressed as a servant. It is an alb, the same that priests wear under their chasuble. It was the same undergarment that Jesus wore at the Last Supper when He cleaned the feet of His apostles. It is the garment of a lowly servant - a slave. We don't recognize it as servant attire because we associate it so closely with religious life.
In order to understand the importance and depth of this image, though, we need to understand the importance and depth of this clothing choice. Christ, as Divine Mercy, is coming to us as a servant... a slave. This is GOD - the Creator of all - coming to us not as a king, not as a celebrity, not as a warrior. His unfathomable love incarnated Itself to become a slave to all of humanity. He bore the weight of our sins and accepted Divine Wrath (as payment for Divine Justice) so we would not have to. Thus, His Mercy comes to us in the form of a servant. Mercy does not seek to judge as a king, to seek glory as a celebrity nor to seek vengeance like a warrior. Instead, He extends forgiveness and love - always love.
How does He extend this love? While pointing to His Sacred Heart, the source of such incredible, self-consuming love, He pours out His very self. His Precious Blood is the essence of His Life; the water is the essence of His Holy Spirit, poured out as if to baptize the world unto Himself.
I love that the background is black - His Mercy comes when it looks like there is no other hope. Even in the black of night, the pits of despair, His rays of Mercy extend, lighting the way to reach Him.
His Hand is raised not in judgement, but in blessing.
The words "Jesus, I trust in You" are written in gold. This faith in His Mercy is like a priceless diamond to Him. How much Jesus wishes that we would call out to His Mercy!
He told to St. Faustina, "[Let] the greatest sinners place their trust in My mercy. They have the right before others to trust in the abyss of My mercy. My daughter, write about My mercy towards tormented souls. Souls that make an appeal to My mercy delight Me. To such souls I grant even more graces than they ask. I cannot punish even the greatest sinner if he makes an appeal to My compassion, but on the contrary, I justify him in My unfathomable and inscrutable mercy."
Just... wow, right?
So with that in mind, take a good long look at this image today. Take time to say some prayers of thanksgiving for God's gift of Mercy. Mercy that extended unto coming down from paradise to know misery, torture and death so that we may gain Heaven.
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