Divine Mercy: The Heart of the Gospel
Essays from the first American Symposium of the John Paul II Institute of Divine mercy
Robert Stackpole, Editor.
Copyright © 1999 Marians of the Immaculate Conception
All rights reserved.
I Saint Luke: The Gospel of Divine Mercy
The essays that make up this volume come from the first North American scholarly symposium exclusively devoted to the theology of the Divine Mercy, held in Washington, D.C., January 28-31, 1999, and sponsored by the John Paul II Institute of Divine Mercy. The Institute was created in 1996 with the blessing of the Holy Father to promote “formation and research in the Divine Mercy Message and Devotion as revealed in Sacred Scripture, the Church’s Tradition, and the writings of Blessed Faustina Kowaiska, the Great Apostle of Divine Mercy in our time.” Thus, in one respect this book represents the “first fruits,” of the work of the John Paul II Institute of Divine Mercy.
More importantly, however, this collection of essays exhibits the excellent work presently being done in North America on the theology of the Mercy of God, and it makes some of that work available for the first time to the general public. Of course, the study of the Divine Mercy is as old as the Scriptures themselves, since the Bible tells us that everything God does is an expression of His merciful love (Ps. 24:10, 144:9). Ever since the extraordinary revelations given in the 1930’s to Saint Faustina in Poland, there has been a renewed emphasis on the Mercy of God, and upon the special forms for celebrating and encouraging trust in The Divine Mercy. The new devotion encourages everyone to turn to Jesus, The Divine Mercy, and to trust in Him.
Gradually, as the popular devotion to The Divine Mercy has spread around the world, there has been a growing desire on the part of many people for deeper explorations into the theme of Divine Mercy, its importance in Scripture and Tradition, in the ascetical life, and for the sanctification of the world. This volume represents an attempt by some of those working in this field to begin to take deeper “soundings” in the hope that others will use what is written here to plunge deeper into these matters in the years to come.
In chapter one, Rick Torretto finds the theme of the Mercy of God absolutely central to the message of the Gospel according to St. Luke. Rick has been a spokesman for the Divine Mercy at conferences throughout North America for many years, and holds a masters degree in Biblical Spirituality from Saint Mary University in San Antonio, Texas.
In chapter two, Fr. George W. Kosicki, C.S.B., shows us how the life and writings of Pope John Paul II have been permeated with the proclamation of God’s Mercy. Fr. Kosicki is one of the leading authors on the message and devotion flowing from Blessed Faustina. His many books include, Now is the Time for Mercy, Special Urgency of Mercy, Tell My Priests, and Study Guide to the Diary of Blessed Faustina Kowaiska.
Robert Stackpole, STD, the Research Director of the John Paul II Institute of Divine Mercy, traces in chapter three the theological and devotional compatibility between the new forms of devotion to The Divine Mercy stemming from Saint Faustina, and the traditional devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He shows how these devotions, although distinct, are not only compatible, but, in fact, inseparable, given that the primary characteristic of the Heart of Jesus is that it is the source of merciful love for us.
Fr. Raymond Gawronski, S.J., assistant professor of Theology at Marquette University, has graciously allowed us to print the full text of his essay which appeared in the journal Communio p. 24, winter issue, 1997: “My name is sacrifice’: the Mission of Blessed Faustina Kowalska”. At the symposium he delivered an abridged version of this essay. Fr. Gawronski has devoted much of his work to the study of the theology of Hans Urs Von Balthasar, and its implications for dialogue with the spirituality of the Far East. In this essay he shows how a proper understanding of vicarious suffering, as expounded by Von Balthasar, can be a key that unlocks for us the mystery of Saint Faustina’s own vocation as an apostle of Divine Mercy.
My own work on the theology of the Divine Mercy has centered upon the issues surrounding the proposed Feast of Divine Mercy for the Octave Day of Easter. In order to help us appreciate the liturgical importance of an octave day — and in particular, the Octave Day of Easter — we include here the text of my own offering to the symposium entitled “A Contribution to the Discussion on the Feast of The Divine Mercy.”
In chapter six, Fr. John Horgan, STL draws upon his own work as a hospital chaplain and medical ethicist in the Archdiocese of Vancouver, British Columbia, to show how the theme of mercy toward the sick and the suffering is vital to the medical profession, and well illustrated in the Diary of Saint Faustina herself.
In chapter seven, Dr. Mark Miravalle, STD, from Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, offers some reflections on the theme of the Blessed Virgin Mary as “Mediatrix of Mercy,” a phrase used by Pope John Paul II, but which has not before received in-depth theological treatment. Dr. Miravalle is a leading Mariologist, also well known for his international advocacy of a new papal definition of Mary as “Mediatrix, Advocate, and Co-Redemptrix.”
Finally, in chapter eight, we print the text of the homily prepared for the symposium by The Most Reverend Rosendo Huesca Pacheco, Archbishop of Puebla, Mexico. The Archbishop has been one of the most prominent and persistent spokesmen for the importance of the Divine Mercy message and devotion to the future of the Americas, and his contribution to our symposium also shows how the study and spread of this devotion continues to be nurtured and guided by the hierarchy of the Church. In this we have been especially blessed by divine providence.
In short, all the offerings to this volume are united by a single theme: that in one way or another, God’s Mercy truly is “the Heart of the Gospel,” and as such, a source of refreshment and grace for anyone who comes thirsting to this fountain of life. We hope and pray that this book will enlighten the minds and move the hearts of all who read it so that they might plunge ever deeper into the whole “ocean of Mercy” revealed by Christ to Saint Faustina (Diary, 718).
Rev. Seraphim Michalenko, M.I.C.
Director of the John Paul II Institute of Divine Mercy
Rector of the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Massachusetts
Vice-Postulator of the Cause for the Canonization of Blessed Faustina Kowalska
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