Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Hour of Great Mercy

Divine Mercy image that includes St. Pope John Paul II and Sister Faustina
The Divine Mercy Image, Saints John Paul II and Faustina Kowalska

With the Divine Mercy Novena well underway, and millions of Catholics around the world seeking to receive the plenary indulgence on April 3, this year's date for Divine Mercy Sunday, I thought it fitting to publish today's post on the Hour of Great Mercy.

The Hour of Great Mercy is privileged time, an opportunity to receive Jesus' mercy anew, every day at 3:00pm, the hour of His death on the Cross. This privilege was established by Jesus in the late 1930s through His chosen vessel, Sister Faustina, a young Polish Catholic nun who published a diary several hundred pages long documenting all that Jesus communicated to her. Here is what Jesus stated regarding the Hour of Great Mercy:
At three o'clock, implore My mercy, especially for sinners; and, if only for a brief moment, immerse yourself in My Passion, particularly in My abandonment at the moment of agony. This is the hour of great mercy ... In this hour I will refuse nothing to the soul that makes a request of Me in virtue of My Passion. (Diary 1320).
Jesus also requested that at the Hour of Great Mercy, we implore His mercy upon the whole world. With all the problems in the world today, we do not need much convincing of the necessity of His mercy: the Christian persecution and genocide in the Middle East, and other acts of terror and violence by Muslims in the name of Islam, abortion, contraception, death penalty, euthanasia and assisted suicide, pornography/pornovision; alcohol and other drug addictions; human exploitation and trafficking, the indoctrination of children with sexual immorality from inappropriate education curriculums, and the list goes on. Here is what Jesus instructed Sister Faustina regarding His mercy upon the whole world:
As often as you hear the clock strike the third hour immerse yourself completely in My mercy, adoring and glorifying it, invoke it's omnipotence for the whole world, and particularly for poor sinners, for at that moment mercy was opened wide for every soul. In this hour you can obtain everything for yourself and for others for the asking; it was the hour of grace for the whole world - mercy triumphed over justice. (Diary 1572)
Whatever problems may exist in our lives, we must never give into despair, depression, fear, disheartenment or discouragement of any kind, because available every day to each one of us is Jesus' mercy. Below is a note of hope and encouragement from Saint John Paul II on Jesus' Divine Mercy, from his homily on the canonization of Sister Mary Faustina Kowalska, Sunday, April 30, 2000:
Each person is precious in God's eyes; Christ gave his life for each one; to everyone the Father gives his Spirit and offers intimacy. (6)
This consoling message is addressed above all to those who, afflicted by a particularly harsh trial or crushed by the weight of the sins they committed, have lost all confidence in life and are tempted to give in to despair. To them the gentle face of Christ is offered; those rays from his heart touch them and shine upon them, warm them, show them the way and fill them with hope. How many souls have been consoled by the prayer "Jesus, I trust in you", which Providence intimated through Sr. Faustina! This simple act of abandonment to Jesus dispels the thickest clouds and lets a ray of light penetrate every life. Jezu, ufam tobie. (7)
Jesus did not dictate what the exact wording of prayer should be at 3:00pm, but He did provide some recommendations:
Try your best to make the Stations of the Cross in this hour, provided that your duties permit it; and if you are not able to make the Stations of the Cross, then at least step into the chapel for a moment and adore, in the Most Blessed Sacrament. My Heart, which is full of mercy: and should you be unable to step into chapel, immerse yourself in prayer there where you happen to be, if only for a very brief instant. (Diary 1572)
What is to be understood about prayer at the Hour of Great Mercy is that it should meet these specific conditions: that it be said at 3:00 pm to honour the moment of Jesus’ agony on the Cross; it should be addressed to Jesus directly, and not to God the Father, the Blessed Mother or Saint Faustina (not that we can not beg for mercy together with Mary standing beneath the Cross and together with Saint Faustina) because as Jesus stated, "I will refuse nothing to the soul that makes a request of Me..." (Diary 1320); and in its entreaties, the prayer should refer to the values and merits of His sorrowful passion. 

To clarify further, our prayer should be in the form of the following expression: "Through the merits of Your sorrowful Passion, we ask You, Lord..." It is important to note that our prayer should not include the intercession of the Blessed Mother or Saint Faustina because saying such a prayer we would refer to the values and merits of the Mother of God or saints. This is contrary to what Jesus wants; that is, we are to refer to the merits of His Passion. Our prayer intentions during the Hour of Great Mercy should be according with the will of God, which pertains to all prayers. The prayer itself should be trustful, and it should also be combined with deeds of mercy toward our neighbour, which is a fundamental condition for practicing true devotion to the Divine Mercy.

It is also important to understand the Hour of Great Mercy is a separate form of devotion to the Divine Mercy, in which Jesus associated a specific promise with it, and how it should be practicedSome may not understand this, and assume that other prayers from the Divine Mercy Devotion, such as the chaplet, should be recited at this Hour of Great Mercy. This was never the instruction of Jesus. Although the chaplet to the Divine Mercy can be recited afterwards, it should not be "the" prayer you recite at the Hour of Great Mercy. The reason being is that the chaplet is directed to God the Father (Eternal father, I offer you…), and the prayer at the Hour of Great Mercy is to be addressed to Jesus directly.

Taking time out at 3:00pm each day, no matter where you are, what you are doing, or who you are with, always affords you an opportunity to not only receive His great mercy, but to experience Divine Intimacy with Jesus. It is a time to meditate upon His mercy revealed in His passion, and to implore His mercy upon the whole world, yourself, and those you mention in prayer.

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