As a single mom of five boys, I pretty much know what I’m doing in the next five minutes or so. Beyond that is anyone’s guess, so it should come as no surprise that I didn’t realize that the Feast of Divine Mercy is the Sunday after Easter. As Good Friday’s Tenebrae service came to an end, an announcement was made inviting anyone interested to stay for a few extra minutes to pray the first day of Novena Before the Feast of Divine Mercy together and I accepted the invitation.
I admit I didn’t know much about this particular Novena. A lot of this “Catholic stuff” is still new to me despite my being raised Catholic. I opened the pamphlet and read a bit about the Novena, about Jesus appearing to Saint Faustina and telling her that our prayers can bring souls to Him.
The first paragraph of the opening explanation states, “He (Jesus) gave St. Faustina an intention to pray for on each day of the Novena, saving the last day for the most difficult intention of all, the lukewarm and indifferent of whom He said,
These souls cause Me more suffering than any others; it was from such souls that My soul felt the most revulsion in the Garden of Olives. It was on their account that I said: My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass Me by.” The last hope for them of salvation for them is to flee to My Mercy.
The quote struck me with its intensity and I thought of how often I too have been lukewarm and indifferent in my faith, in the way I live my life. Another part of the Novena struck me as well; I was struck by the power given to us by Jesus Christ.
I thought of all of that we associate with power: a big house, a fancy car, a high paying job, land ownership, money, education, even control over families and friends. I tried to think of all the ways those things could provide happiness, but it turned out that, “all those ways,” were really quite limited. Sure, those things could provide some measure of comfort and security, but there would be a constant battle to hold onto that “power,” and they would never be quite enough. I recently heard a statistic stating that in order to live comfortably, most people, no matter what their income level, said they would need a bit more than they were currently earning. This, “need for more,” shows the constant pressure to attain more, a continual feeling of want and a lack of satisfaction despite the power acquired.
So if material things do not bring true power or true comfort or true satisfaction, I began to wonder whether abstract concepts might be prove more powerful than the tangible. Would spending time with loved ones make one more powerful after all? Those who have loving relationships are, in many ways, more powerful than those without. Sure, adversity can make a few rise to the top, but they often must harden their hearts to do so. To be raised in a loving home and to be surrounded by loving relationships gives one more confidence and power in most instances.
But what happens when those relationships end. Human relationships are fragile, and it takes just one person to break a vow or turn a back to make them fall apart. What happens to one’s power then? In the case of divorce or death, we often see a significant loss of income, the loss of the family home, the loss of a lifestyle to which we have become accustomed. More importantly, we see the loss of time as both parents are forced to work and children are left on their own more often. We see a loss of opportunity as older children are forced to care for younger ones and a loss in the younger ones as time once spent with a loving parent is now spent with a tv or computer as a babysitter. Knowing this, do we dare put our power in the hands of another human being?
Our human concept of power is so arbitrary, so fleeting. We are often left grasping for more without even realizing it. We are often left working for our power instead of having our power work for us. What if instead of grasping for the human definition of power, we enjoy the power given to us by God, power that has eternal and lasting value even beyond the human relationships?
The Novena Before the Feast of Divine Mercy gives us a glimpse into the kind of true power we yield. Jesus said to Saint Faustina,
On each day of the novena you will bring to My heart a different group of souls and you will immerse them in an ocean of My mercy.
Only Jesus has the power to forgive completely, but He has given us the power to lead souls to Him. He has given us the power of prayer from the Lord’s Prayer to the Divine Mercy Chaplet. The power of prayer has eternal value. It fills one with peace in any circumstances. It allows one to find joy even when material goods are lost and loving relationships dissolve, and it brings souls, even those that might otherwise suffer an eternity of damnation, to the open, forgiving, loving arms of Jesus Christ. This power of prayer is not reliant on our wealth or social standing or the relationships of those around us. It is God-given and cannot be destroyed. Is there anything more powerful than prayer which leads souls to the Lord? What is the purpose we share today? Is it truly to acquire more power as defined by mankind or is it to find power in the Lord?
Many will scoff. Many will not understand. Many will say they get it but lack the willpower to live it out. Many will be those lukewarm and indifferent souls who caused Jesus such suffering.
Jesus saw each of us and our sins as He stood dying on that Cross. He saw our our lukewarm hearts and our indifferent souls. Will you pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet and seek the power given to us by our Lord to bring souls to the arms of Jesus Christ? There truly is no greater power we can achieve.