Your in the wind,
the flame, the light.
Our souls ignite.
Set us ablaze,
With your own love,
Decend on us,
O Holy Dove.
More than ever,
We choose anew.
In these dark times,
To trust in you.
The theme of forgiveness has been on my heart after hearing the parable of the unmerciful servant ( Matthew 18:21-35) a few days ago in the Gospel. 🥜 Nutshell version: A servant owes money to his master, begs for forgiveness and is forgiven. However, the servant does not forgive his own servant’s debts. The master gets word of this, calls the first servant back, and punishes him for not extending the mercy he received.
The theme of forgiveness is not new to most Christians. We’ve been learning about what it means to forgive since we were in primary school!
But that’s just it. There’s a difference in learning about it, and living it. I guess it sorta hit me this week. Forgiveness has the power to change our lives, if we let the Lord help us! It’s one of the hardest things to do; especially when we have been wounded unjustly. But I’m starting to see how crucial forgiveness is, if we want to grow in holiness.
What makes the saints so special? That’s a loaded question! It’s a combination of factors….But in my opinion, what separates them from the rest, is their radical mercy! Think of saint John Paul II, St. Bakhita, St. Kateri… so many of the saints had a pivotal moment in their lives where they could bear a grudge for the unjust treatment they received, or forgive. They had every reason, according to the world, to get angry, resent and retaliate. But they didn’t. They chose the higher way. They chose to forgive.
I don’t know about you, but that inspires me! I want to start living this mercy more and more radically. I want to mirror what the saints did, following the ultimate model of Christ on the cross. What joy and freedom the Lord wants to offer us through the power of forgiveness. For many of us, this is a hard and rocky road.. but we have the intercession of the saints, and our Saviour Jesus Christ to teach, guide and strengthen us!
There is a line in that Joni Mitchell song, “Big Yellow Taxi” that says: ” don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone…”. (aaaand now I’m singing along to the rest of the song.. “they take paradise and put up a parking lot!“)
It’s not everyday you find solid lyrics… but I think this line is pretty accurate. We often say we wished we would have appreciated that (insert person, place, thing, season, emotion) more. It’s usually after the removal of something from our lives, that we “snap into it” and realize just how important it really was.S
The other day, I found myself in a situation where I felt my freedom was being “attacked” (okay maybe thats a bit too dramatic- but bear with me a moment). I am the kind of person who was raised with a lot of freedom, independence and room to “breathe”. Growing up my dad came from a religious community that was extremely restrictive and controlling. These two characteristics were exactly what my dad (and mom) did NOT do while I was growing up. They had an incredible gift for letting us kids be free, in a responsible way. I never felt that my choices were taken from me unjustly, that I had no say in my own life decisions, or that I was under the constant and oppressive watch of my parents. I felt valued, seen and heard.
In this situation I mentioned earlier, I felt so confronted with the reality that many people don’t function this way. For one reason or another, they have taken on controlling behaviour. Trying to speak for the others, always making their opinion the “best way”, and over focusing on certain people/topics. They don’t leave room for others to have a plan, an opinion, or a new idea. They are always “one step ahead” and feel a false sense of authority to advise others how to act.
I honestly don’t think people completely realize they are doing this. I mean, to one extent or another, we have all probably done this. But I am talking about those people who are pushing the limits on control, and making others uncomfortable. At one point, I literally felt a sort of claustrophobia. I felt like I had to constantly justify myself, or fight for my own opinion. I felt as if I was fighting against a force that always tried to be stronger. This is something I don’t think we should ever have to do.
This whole situation brought me to the theme of freedom. Sadly, so many people don’t have freedom of ; speech, religion, movement, thought, expression, life… the list goes on. In the grand scheme of life, my “oppressed freedom” is like a grain of sand, compared to so many other men and women in this world. And yet- it hurt my heart nonetheless. The feeling that my freedom was being tampered with, made me realize how much I take freedom for granted.
I then had to think about the freedom that is of God. God is the one person who would have the most right to be controlling. He is all knowing, all perfect, all love, all justice, all mercy. He could completely put us “into check” at any moment.
But he doesn’t.
He gives us our freedom.
How radical is this reality! God, who has every right to control, chooses the greater gift which is LOVE. This is why God’s ways are so far above ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). He let’s us freely choose him, or freely reject him. He has no agenda in forcing something upon us. Although his ways are truly the best path to happiness, holiness, and peace ( and he sorrows so deeply when we do not come to him) he values your and my freedom even more. This is hard to wrap our heads around. He will, out of pure love, let us reject him who is love. All because he wants us to be free. To have the freedom to come to him without coercion or deception.
So the act of control, manipulation, obsession, guilt… these are not a way to love. These are actually doing exactly the opposite of what God does. So it makes sense that when our freedom is being attacked, in little moments, or big, our hearts are wounded by this. We are created for a freedom that should lead us to our Father. He will be there waiting for us, with outstretched arms, ready to bring us home. And on that day, we can rejoice, because this journey to him was out of love, it was out of a holy pursuit, and it was done freely.
Yesterday was Divine Mercy Sunday, so I would like to write about why this image and devotion is so wonderful and important!! At one time though, I found this representation of Jesus a little cheesy (especially the image of Divine Mercy with a blue background). It wasn’t until I had a profound experience in Vilnius Lithuania in the convent of St. Faustina, that things changed… Here is a quick list of why this image is so important, and how I came to love it:
- Jesus revealed himself to St. Faustina (a polish nun) in 1931 and this image (see photo below) is the painted representation of his appearance. The image of Divine Mercy was not painted by St. Faustina herself, but she directed a painter to record each and every detail of what she had seen and experienced.
- This image is powerful. So many people, including myself, have had an encounter with Jesus through this image. In the convent house in Vilnius where St. Faustina received this image of Jesus and the Chaplet of Mercy (will explain soon), I had the blessing of saying my first chaplet. I wasn’t familiar with this devotion, but I felt a strong urge to pray the chaplet (using my little pamphlet with the prayers) in front of the image (not original) . I cannot express the power and beauty of that moment, but I truly felt the gaze and presence of Jesus Christ in that room. It still brings tears to my eyes to write about the moment, which has touched me forever. I knew in that moment that Jesus is alive. I could not even look at the image, for the presence of Jesus was so strong. In an instant, I knew that this prayer can work miracles, and Jesus wants to encounter his people through this image.
- The Divine Mercy Chaplet is profound prayer that can be said on the beads of a rosary and is quite quick to pray. Given the fact that this prayer does not require a long time, I find it easy to stay focused on the words and their meaning. For more information about the chaplet please visit thedivinemercy.org
- In the image, Jesus has his hand outstretched to bless us. His left foot is one step ahead, showing us that he comes to meet us, wherever we are. The contrast of his bright and merciful heart against the pitch black background, indicates his victory over sin and death. The blue/white rays from his heart are the waters of Baptism that wash us clean from sin. The red rays are the blood that was poured out for us on the Cross, and the Body and Blood of Christ that we receive in the Eucharist. This image is packed with profound symbols of how Christ redeemed us on the Cross and how we can encounter the Risen, Merciful Christ- especially in the sacraments of the Church and through the Eucharist.
Just writing about this image makes my heart happy! I hope that these little bits of information have helped you understand more about the image of Divine Mercy and the Chaplet. If you have other stories or facts to share, please do! There is waaaay more to be said about this devotion, but I wanted to keep things short ish. I hope and sincerely pray that you (through this devotion or another) come closer to Jesus and his merciful heart. It is burning for you. It is burning for all of mankind. He wants to come to us today, and remind us that his love for us is real. It can change our lives and heal our hearts.
Jesus I Trust In You