The Divine Mercy Devotion

Here is the talk I gave for the Divine Mercy Devotion this past Sunday:

And Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden.
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is on those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm,
he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts,
he has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and exalted those of low degree;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent empty away.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his posterity forever.”


        Pope Francis began this year by opening the Holy Door at the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome on January 1st, the Feast of Mary, Mother of God.

        This Basilica, the first in the West dedicated to our Blessed Mother, was built in the early 5th century, following upon the Council of Ephesus in the year 425.  This Council declared Mary to be Mother of God.

This was not simply a bald declaration, though; rather, it follows upon the discernment by the Church that Jesus is a divine person, the eternal Son of God, God from God, light from light, true God from true God, begotten, not made consubstantial with the Father.

        The second Person of the Blessed Trinity did not cease being the Son of God by becoming man; rather he assumed full, human nature becoming man by giving his human body and soul existence by the eternal being which is the divine nature of God.

        Mary did not conceive, carry, and give birth to a human nature; rather, she conceived, carried, and gave birth to a divine person, the eternal Son of God. Because of this, Jesus Christ has a Father, God the Father and a mother, our Blessed Mother Mary. This divine motherhood of Mary allows us to call her Mother of God.

Because of this we can also call her Mother of everything that Jesus is. If Jesus is mercy then Mary is Mother of Mercy. Pope Francis, at the very beginning of his homily given on January 1st, said “Salve, Mater Misericordiae”, “Hail, Mother of Mercy.”

        The Holy Father explained this invocation:

It is most fitting that on this day we invoke the Blessed Virgin Mary above all as Mother of mercy.  The door we have opened is, in fact, a Door of Mercy.  Those who cross its threshold are called to enter into the merciful love of the Father with complete trust and freedom from fear; they can leave this Basilica knowing that Mary is ever at their side.  She is the Mother of mercy, because she bore in her womb the very Face of divine mercy, Jesus, Emmanuel, the Expectation of the nations, the “Prince of Peace” (Is 9:5). 

The Son of God, made incarnate for our salvation, has given us his Mother, who joins us on our pilgrimage through this life, so that we may never be left alone, especially at times of trouble and uncertainty.

Mary, as Mother of Mercy, also lived mercy in her own life. Mary’s sorrow at the foot of the cross is understandable as a mother seeing her son crucified. In this she would appear to be no different from any other mother in that sad situation. She would look no different than the mothers of the two thieves, assuming they were there witnessing their sons’ execution. But, Mary’s sorrow went much deeper. Her motherly love paralleled her Son’s love. Jesus loved those who were crucifying him. Mary’s love also extended to them and to all sinners for whom her Son was offering his life. She harbored no anger nor resentment toward those by whom or for whom her son was dying.

Being the Mother of Mercy did not mean that she did not possess mercy herself. The Holy Father goes on to explain:

Mary is the Mother of God who forgives, who bestows forgiveness, and so we can rightly call her Mother of forgiveness.  This word – “forgiveness” – so misunderstood in today’s world, points to the new and original fruit of Christian faith.  A person unable to forgive has not yet known the fullness of love.  Only one who truly loves is able to forgive and forget.  At the foot of the Cross, Mary sees her Son offer himself totally, showing us what it means to love as God loves.  At that moment she heard Jesus utter words which probably reflected what he had learned from her as a child: “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Lk 23:24).  At that moment, Mary became for all of us the Mother of forgiveness. 

Following Jesus’ example and by his grace, she herself could forgive those who killed her innocent Son.

Mary, as the model of the Church, shows the Church how to forgive.  The Holy Father goes on:

For us, Mary is an icon of how the Church must offer forgiveness to those who seek it.  The Mother of forgiveness teaches the Church that the forgiveness granted on Golgotha knows no limits.   Neither the law with its quibbles, nor the wisdom of this world with its distinctions, can hold it back.  The Church’s forgiveness must be every bit as broad as that offered by Jesus on the Cross and by Mary at his feet.  There is no other way.  It is for this purpose that the Holy Spirit made the Apostles the effective ministers of forgiveness, so what was obtained by the death of Jesus may reach all men and women in every age (cf. Jn 20:19-23).


The Church not only offers the Lord’s forgiveness but offers us the Lord. Just as Mary gave Jesus to the world, so the Church continues to bring Jesus to the world. Mary’s joy in her Son’s resurrection, the joy she had in being with her divine Son, is something she shares with us. Her mercy and her forgiveness allowed her to share fully in her Son’s joy in the salvation he won for us. Pope Francis brings this out when he says:

The gift that Mary bestows in offering us Jesus is the forgiveness which renews life, enables us once more to do God’s will and fills us with true happiness.  This grace frees the heart to look to the future with the joy born of hope. 

The Pope goes on:

The power of forgiveness is the true antidote to the sadness caused by resentment and vengeance.  Forgiveness leads to joy and serenity because it frees the heart from thoughts of death, whereas resentment and vengeance trouble the mind and wound the heart, robbing it of rest and peace.

Finally, Mary always leads us to Jesus. With great joy she gives us her divine son, with equal joy she leads us to him. Pope Francis draws this conclusion to his homily:

Let us, then, pass through the Holy Door of Mercy knowing that at our side is the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Holy Mother of God, who intercedes for us.  Let us allow her to lead us to the rediscovery of the beauty of an encounter with her Son Jesus.  Let us open wide the doors of our heart to the joy of forgiveness, conscious that we have been given new confidence and hope, and thus make our daily lives a humble instrument of God’s love.  


The themes spoken of by the Holy Father can also be found in Saint Faustina’s Diary. In paragraph 330 she writes:

Once, the confessor told me to pray for his intention, and I began a novena to the Mother of God. This novena consisted in the prayer, “Hail, Holy Queen,” recited nine times.  Toward the end of the novena I saw the Mother of God with the Infant Jesus in Her arms, and I also saw my confessor kneeling at Her feet and talking with Her. I did not understand what he was saying to Her, because I was busy talking with the Infant Jesus, who came down from His Mother’s arms and approached me. I could not stop wondering at His beauty. I heard a few of the words that the Mother of God spoke to him [i.e. my confessor] but not everything.  The words were:  I am not only the Queen of Heaven, but also the Mother of Mercy and your Mother. And at that moment She stretched out her right hand, in which She was clasping her mantle, and She covered the priest with it. At that moment, the vision vanished. 

In this vision we see Mary presenting Jesus to Faustina as she presented him to the world, as an infant. Mary affirms that she is our Mother and also Mother of Mercy.

The themes of Mary giving us Jesus and of the tremendous mercy of our Lord are found in another vision Faustina had on March 25th, the Feast of the Annunciation. This passage is found in paragraph 635 of her Diary:

In the morning, during meditation, God’s presence enveloped me in a special way, as I saw the immeasurable greatness of God and, at the same time, His condescension to His creatures. Then I saw the Mother of God, who said to me, Oh, how pleasing to God is the soul that follows faithfully the inspiration of His grace! I gave the Savior to the world; as for you, you have to speak to the world about His great mercy and prepare the world for the Second Coming of Him who will come, not as a merciful Savior, but as a just Judge.  Oh, how terrible is that day! Determined is the day of justice, the day of divine wrath.  The angels tremble before it.  Speak to souls about his great mercy while it is still the time for [granting] mercy. If you keep silent now, you will be answering for a great number of souls on that terrible day.  Fear nothing. Be faithful to the end. I sympathize with you. 

Mary shares with Faustina her mission of bringing the Lord’s mercy into the world. Faustina, in her way, shares in Mary’s fiat, “Let it be done to me as you say.” Faustina’s mission is to renew in the Church the Church’s mission of bringing God’s mercy to a sinful world. This is particularly needed in her, and our, time:  in between two world wars, on the verge of the second, and more horrifying of those wars, on the verge of the Cold War, of a growing loss of faith, and all the other effects of sin and death in our time that seem to be unprecedented in human history, God gave us the message of Divine Mercy. God’s remedy for sin and all the horrors of sin is not condemnation but a renewed announcement of his loving mercy. As long as there is life, there is hope. As long as we have breath we have the opportunity of turning to God in his mercy.

        The mercy of God opens us up to the joy of the Lord. Mary’s life of mercy was crowned by her Assumption into Heaven. After giving the Son of God to the world, after giving her son over to be crucified for our sins, Mary was rewarded with the crown of victory in Heaven. She was reunited forever with her Son, with St. Joseph, and, indeed, with all the saints and patriarchs. Her joy, though, was not only in being with her divine Son in the glory of the Father, her place in heaven allows her to love her children in a very special way. She can now pray for all her children; pray that they may open themselves to God’s mercy. She also prays that they be open to God’s will in their lives as she was in hers; that they may experience her joy and the joy of her Son. This is brought out in a vision Sr. Faustine had on August 15, 1937, the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary:

During meditation, God’s presence pervaded me keenly, and I was aware of the Virgin Mary’s joy at the moment of her Assumption. Towards the end of the ceremony carried out in honor of the Mother of God, I saw the Virgin Mary, and She said to me, Oh, how very pleased I am with the homage of your love! And at that moment She covered all the sisters of our Congregation with Her mantle. With Her right hand, She clasped Mother General Michael to herself, and with Her left hand She did so to me, while all the sisters were at Her feet, covered with Her mantle. The Mother of God said, “Everyone who perseveres zealously till death in My Congregation will be spared the fire of purgatory, and I desire that each one distinguish herself by the following virtues:  humility and meekness; chastity and love of God and neighbor; compassion and mercy.”  After these words, the whole Congregation disappeared from my sight, and I remained alone with the Most Holy Mother who instructed me about the will of God and how to apply it to my life, submitting completely to His most holy decrees. It is impossible for one to please God without obeying His holy will.  My daughter, I strongly recommend that you faithfully fulfill all God’s wishes, for that is most pleasing tin His holy eyes.  I very much desire that you distinguish yourself in this faithfulness in accomplishing God’s will.  Put the will of God before all sacrifices and holocausts.  While the heavenly Mother was talking to me, a deep understanding of this will of God entered my soul.

Sr. Faustina’s Congregation was the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. Like Mary, they are to bring God’s mercy into the world. When we recite the chaplet of Divine Mercy with humility and meekness, chastity and love of God and neighbor; compassion and mercy, we join in the mission of St. Faustina, her Congregation and, indeed, of our Blessed Mother herself. We adopt, too, our Lord’s remedy for sin, not anger and condemnation, but mercy. When we see those who crucify our Lord by their sins, we remember our Blessed Mother at the foot of the Cross. We pour out our hearts with greater love knowing that Jesus loves them to the end. May our invocation of Divine Mercy bring to this sinful world a renewal of grace, a sense of sin, and a holy desire to seek out the Mercy of our loving Savior.

Please join me in praying:

Hail, holy Queen, Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve: to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears. Turn then, most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus, O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary! Pray for us most holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

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