Throughout her Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul, Jesus told St. Faustina Kowalska that we, blessed souls, are now living in the Time of Mercy.
(My daughter) Speak to the world about My mercy; let all mankind recognize My unfathomable mercy. It is a sign for the end times; after it will come the day of justice. While there is still time, let them have recourse to the fount of My mercy; let them profit from the Blood and Water which gushed forth for them. (848)
In order for mercy to have its effect, it must be received, there must be a corresponding movement on the part of the sinner to both reject his or her sin and to receive Jesus’ mercy. It’s a simple but necessary movement of the sinner’s heart. Mercy and forgiveness imply repentance, turning away from sin.
In order to turn away from sin, we need to see our sin in the first place. We cannot turn away from what we do not even know exists. Jesus slowly prepares our hearts for repentance by wooing us in ways He knows our hearts will respond to. As a lover, He loves us just where we are. Then when He knows the time is right, when we have corresponded to His love in some way, and we have at least some sense of how much He loves us, He helps us to turn. He holds up a mirror to our sins and allows us to see the ways our sin has caused disfigurement of our true selves, created in the image of God. He shows us a little at a time, so as not to discourage us, but encourage us in this new-found love to repent. This process is done on an entirely individual basis but, as we are one Body, it can happen on a corporeal level as well.
In this Time of Mercy, God is revealing to us our corporeal sins. He is holding up a mirror to show us how disfigured we have become. Each new revelation, from sexual abuse to idol worship, from stealing and misusing Church funds to inviting schism through condemnation of our Holy Father, affects us all, the entire Body of Christ. What should our response be, given each of these new revelations? As part of the Body, when Christ holds up the mirror before us and shows us a new sin, we are to look into our own hearts, examine our own consciences and see if we have given in to the temptation to these sins in any way in our own lives. As one Body, the virus of sin travels throughout the bloodstream very quickly, whether we like it or not. Some parts will be more resistant to these viruses and some more vulnerable, but all will be affected.
With the recent hazy, confusing situation at the Amazon Synod of the worship of the Pachamama, or fertility goddess, or life-force, or earth mother, or whatever it actually represented which no one seems to be able to definitively proclaim, Christ held up a mirror. Initially my heart grieved, my stomach turned, to see a Franciscan bowing in an act which cannot be seen as anything but worship before these idols. Because the others present could have been Christian, or could have not been, it was the Franciscan’s actions that troubled me most. Even if the image had represented the Blessed Mother, which it doesn’t appear to have, we do not bow down in worship to an image of even she who is the pinnacle of God’s creation, but only to God Himself. This seemed to my lay eyes to clearly be a sin against the first commandment, done in the presence of the Holy Father.
The entire situation had a mark of the enemy of our souls: Confusion. But God, in His perfect, adorable and permissive will, allowed it. I believe He allowed it to hold up a mirror before the eyes of the Body of Christ. What is this particular mirror reflection saying to me? The big picture of strange gods being idolized in the Church causes me to pray and make acts of penance. But the small picture, the facet facing my own soul, what does it say? While I am not literally bowing down before idols and praying to strange gods or goddesses, do the actual uses of my time, talent and treasure betray my idolization of the ways of the world rather than the pursuit of the Kingdom of God? Yes, if I’m honest, they do.
The iPhone has a feature which shows how much time the user has spent on it per day, per week. This graphically displays my idolization of technology over the plan of life I might employ were I not so easily tempted and distracted by my phone. Yes, I mainly read articles about the faith on my phone and text with my friends about the daily readings and meditations. But I also read articles that cause my serenity to flee, my peace to evaporate, my judgmentalism to rise up and roar. I check out emails about sales and discounts that create a “need” for something which I in no way actually need. I read snide satire and watch cute kittens and order more books, when I already have a stack of unread books next to my bed. I seek satisfaction where none can ever be found. I idolize.
The Lord wants to free me from the idols and temptations of the world. He doesn’t want to deprive me of anything that is good, beautiful or true. He wants to liberate my soul to actually pursue those things. And so, He holds up a mirror to the Body of Christ and reveals to me Her sin. In one little corner of that mirror I see my own sin, my own idolatry, my own slavery to the things of the world. This is revelation; this is illumination of conscience; this is mercy. This is also but one small example. Jesus is about the business each and every day of revealing, illuminating, and holding up mirrors to that which enslaves us. He is beckoning us to His freedom, His love and His mercy, turning us from sin to His abundant life for us.
The level of vitriol in our uncivil society grows by the day. Less than one year from now we will have another presidential election. A mirror is raised in front of our dear United States of America. What do we see? We see abortion, murder, addiction, enslavement, immorality and a total disintegration of all that made this country good:
God mend thine ev’ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law. (Katharine Lee Bates, “America the Beautiful”)
But we no longer see our liberty in law, in the keeping of the “basics” through the Commandments. Our fellow Americans increasingly see liberty in license to do whatever we please, whenever we please, to whomever we please, by whatever means we please. Self-control is anathema, is a lie. Only absolute ego expression at all times is truth, “iTruth,” and no other truth matters.
As we go from a slippery slope to a landslide of moral relativism, and as we imagine the possibility of socialized medicine morphing into socialism and communism, God holds up a mirror. How do I contribute to this corporeal malaise? What small or large change can I make in my own behavior to become a source of healing in my country? How do I need to repent and receive God’s mercy? I cannot change the course of a giant ship like the USA or the Church, but I can turn. When Jesus gives me the grace of holding up His mirror to something disfigured in my life, I can repent. By doing so I become a part of a hidden spiritual landslide of holiness that God will use for good. I may not see the results until heaven, but they will be more real than any illusory and temporary changes in the physical world.
No one knows the day nor the hour, not even the Son. No one knows if the worldwide societal, economic, governmental, moral and natural turmoil we are now witnessing will culminate in the final confrontation between good and evil and Christ’s return, or simply the end of this era and beginning of another. In a way it doesn’t matter. Each of us who is living now will see their life end in one way or another in the next 70 or so years.
What does matter is that the Lord is clearly about a monumental work of mercy and grace at this time. The year 2020 looms with the potential to be a powerful time of this mercy and grace if we are open to see it clearly and receive it for what it is. Twenty-twenty vision refers to a normal state of clarity and sharpness of vision. It doesn’t mean perfect vision, but “normal.” What cloudiness and distortions have entered our collective vision? What corrections need to be made? Is the Lord planning to heal the eyes of His Body, the Church, in this special time of mercy and grace? Will He use a confusing mixture of mud and spittle to do so? The closer we stay to Him in these strange times, the more our hearts will be able to discern His actions, His grace and His mercy.
Each “Cell,” Precious and Necessary
We may each be only one cell in the Body of Christ, but God has a plan and purpose for each of our lives within that Body, and within the world as a whole. Other cells are depending on our responses to mercy and grace, on our being who God created and calls us to be.
Each part vitally depends on the others. The smallest injury or pain affects the entire organism. (Francis Fernandez, In Conversation with God, volume 5, page 385)
Let us each and all respond to the mercy and grace Jesus pours out to us in these confusing and strange days. Let us look unflinchingly at the reflection before us when He holds up His mirror of truth. Let us turn away from our idols and sins and toward Jesus for healing and restoration. Then let us go out to share this healing and restoration with whomever God asks us to. In this way a strange and confusing time can be the instrument Jesus uses to spread His mercy to the whole world.
“Before the Day of Justice, I Am Sending the Day of Mercy”
Yes, we are living in the Time of Mercy, but it will be followed by the Day of Justice. In paragraph 1588 above Jesus tells this to St. Faustina, as in many other places throughout her Diary. This blessed Time of Mercy will not go on forever. The graces to see our corporeal and individual sins will not go on forever. It is up to each of us to respond to these graces, repent and in turn tell others of His mercy, of this time of grace, and the need to avail ourselves of both.
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 this great mercy while it is still the time for [granting] mercy. (The Blessed Mother to St. Faustina, Diary, 635)
As 2020 is upon us, perhaps it is time for each of us blessed believers, receivers of His mercy and grace, to take a good, hard look in Jesus’ mirror and turn. Turn from the world, back to the Kingdom, turn from idols back to our Loving Savior, turn from all that fails to satisfy, back to Jesus. As we do this, we will be given the grace to become what we were called to be for the glory of God and for the salvation of souls.
Mary, Mother of Mercy, please help us to courageously look into the mirror your Son holds up before us, see our disfigurement and turn to Jesus for healing and restoration. Help us to receive His mercy and grace and go out to the world and share it with whomever God places before us. Help us to be His agents of mercy in this strange and confusing time. Blessed Mother, Mirror of Justice, pray for us!