While for many Traditionalists dismissing St. Faustina’s Devotion to the Divine Mercy seems in vogue, this article by Kasey Moerbeek examines the arguments against the Divine Mercy devotion and concludes that the devotion is praiseworthy, orthodox, and in sync with traditional Catholic piety. Attacks against it are based more on guilt by association, hearsay, and double-standards than on an actual critical analysis of the text of the Diary itself. While mercy is emphasized by St. Faustina, it is by no means at the expense of justice, and in that vein the Divine Mercy is in keeping with the messages of Fatima and other revelations that call for penance and prayer as a condition of mercy. This article reminds us that attaining heaven is a matter of holiness and working with God’s grace, not necessarily of being against anything “new.”
PART I: RESPONDING TO FR. SCOTT
This last Pentecost my husband and I were at a BBQ with fellow traditional Catholics and, come to find out, some tended to be more “anti-anything-new,” persons who viewed holiness as being in direct relation to how against “anything-new” they were. While I hate the accusation toward us trads that we’re being “pharisees”, many of us can come across that way. We love to imitate St. Paul when he said “But when Cephas was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed” (1) but ignore that the same Holy Ghost said through him “And if I should prophecy and should know all mysteries, and all knowledge, and if I should have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.” (2) We emphasize the importance of reverence at the Sacrifice of the Mass, but gossip about our “ignorant” neighbors. We use our opportunities to pray for the pope and our bishops as a gossip/condemnation-fest, much like the story of the Pharisee and publican. We may be more pure in doctrine than many bishops, but our pride and lack of true charity makes us, to use the word of God Himself, nothing. On judgment day it will not matter how traditional and faithful we were if we were full of pride and hate for the fathers (pope and bishops) that God gave us, regardless of their faithfulness.
One view that expressed was an intense disgust for the Divine Mercy devotions of St. Faustina, even though none of these people had read more than a few select verses from her Diary. They were doing what many anti-Catholic Protestants do: rely on hearsay, ignore the context of the actual source, and guilt by association. This prompted me to write a defense of the devotion against those who claim it is false. In the first section, we will deal with the objections raised by Fr. Peter Scott, SSPX.
Fr. Scott has a lengthy attack on the Divine Mercy devotion published online. In this attack, he states that the devotions was “condemned by the Holy Office.” (3) Maybe I’m dense, but why does it matter if the Holy Office first it when that same Holy Office approved it after investigation? Yes, her Diary was put on the Catholic No-No Reading List, but the reasons have been clarified since: bad translations and doctrinal misunderstandings, both of which have since been corrected and understood. How do we know? Cardinal Ottaviani— a Cardinal instrumental in getting the Diary on the Index—encouraged the reversal in 1965 (4). It would be like attacking the devotion to Our Lady of Guadaluple because Bishop Zumarraga was at first skeptical, ignoring the fact that he later endorsed it enthusiastically.
Fr. Scott is of the opinion that the Diary was condemned because of the alleged over-emphasis on “God’s mercy as to exclude His justice.” This seems to be the opinion— unfounded, might I add—of those who have not read the Diary (or only parts) and rely on hearsay. Is mercy emphasized? The subject of the Diary is God’s mercy, so yes, the Diary focuses on mercy. The argument that the Diary promotes mercy with no justice is not substantiated by St. Faustina’s writings. One how makes such arguments should drop the theology books and pick up a dictionary. Mercy is desired when one wishes to avoid a just punishment. To request mercy from God is to admit that one has messed up badly and that one cannot bear the punishment rightfully due. This message is perfectly in line with the Christ of the Scriptures Who said to those He called hypocrites and vipers:
“Go then and learn what this means, ‘I will have mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I am not come to call the just, but sinners.” (5)
“Before the Day of Justice I am sending the Day of Mercy,” we read in the Diary. (6) I can hear the argument against this already: then was the time of mercy, now is the time of justice. Really? Have you been cast into Hell yet? As you’re reading this now, it would seem that God has given you another day to amend your life and grow in perfection, despite your faults and previous (and, God forbid, current) offenses. That is mercy, not justice.
Father Scott: “The true image of God’s mercy is the Sacred Heart of Jesus[…] The Sacred Heart calls for a devotion of reparation, as the popes have always requested. However, this is not the case with the Divine Mercy devotion.”
It seems Father is trying to say that there is only one image of God’s mercy, and that image is the Sacred Heart. Is not the Crucifixion an image of God’s mercy? The Sacred Heart is a devotional image, not a dogma of the Faith. It is a devotional image to convey the love of Christ for humanity. The Divine Mercy is a devotional image to convey the mercy of Christ for sinners. “The [Divine Mercy] image has no heart” says Fr. Scott. As much as I enjoy being the bearer of the obvious, I feel extra guilty when it’s with a priest. The crucifix has no exposed Heart either. Images of the Child Jesus do not have His exposed Heart, yet who loves and forgives more easily than a child? Did Christ come as the Sacred Heart when appearing during the miracle of the sun at Fatima? The Sacred Heart is a wonderful devotion that every Catholic should practice, but it is not the be all and end all of Catholic piety.
As for reparation, while Christ doesn’t tell St. Faustina to shout to the world “make acts of reparation”, He does make it very clear that reparation is part of the work of mercy:
“The love and sacrifice of these souls sustain the world in existence.” (7)
“win souls for Me by prayer and sacrifice, and by encouraging them to trust in My mercy.” (8)
Again, Father Scott: “This absence of the need for reparation for sins is manifest in the strange promise of freedom from all the temporal punishment due to sin for those who observe the 3:00 p.m. Low Sunday devotions. How could such a devotion be more powerful and better than a plenary indulgence, applying the extraordinary treasury of the merits of the saints?”
First of all, this statement is either deliberately dishonest or based on poor research. There is no removal of temporal punishment “for those who observe the 3:00 pm Low Sunday devotions” in the Diary. It is the Church that has granted a plenary indulgence for this, so his question “how could such a devotion be more powerful and better than a plenary indulgence” doesn’t work since it is a plenary indulgence. Fr. Scott seems unaware that this is not a promise of the Diary but an incentive established by the Church.
Being that it is a plenary indulgence, the removal of the temporal punishment due to sin that Father mentions is granted directly by God. As I recall, the Bridegroom has more authority and power than the Bride. I would like to ask back “how can applying the extraordinary treasury of the merits of the Saints be more efficacious than applying the Blood of God in obedience?” as the devotion of the Divine Mercy says. Trusting in the promise granted by Christ (and endorsed by the Church) is no different than trusting in the promises granted by the Virgin Mary to those who pray the Rosary, or the promises granted by Christ to those who practice the First Fridays devotion. All of these are valid means of obtaining grace and it is ridiculous to play them off against each other.
Father asks “How could it not require as a condition that we perform a penitential work of our own?”
What it requires, Father, is the Sacrament of Penance, and as we Catholics know, one can perform all the penances one likes, but if the Sacrament of Penance is avoided, one’s mortification mean nothing. Sacraments over-ride our good works, at least that was my understanding. We ought not play mortification off against penance.
As a follow-up, he also asks “How could it not require the detachment from even venial sin that is necessary to obtain a plenary indulgence?”
Well, why isn’t “the detachment from even venial sin” required for Baptism? The answer is from God Himself, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy; and I will shew mercy to whom I will shew mercy.” (9) “Is it not lawful for Me to do what I will? Is thy eye evil, because I am good?” (10) But again, we are talking about a plenary indulgence attached to the Low Sunday devotion established by the Church. Detachment from venial sin is required to obtain the indulgence. Again, Fr. Scott seems ignorant that the Low Sunday devotion is indulgenced by the Church.
Another accusation, this one against the Saint herself, is that she uses the words of Christ to praise herself.
First let us recall that true humility is admitting what you are, not lying for the sake of appearing holy and humble. If someone compliments me on a meal I cooked which was in fact very good, it would be dishonest (not virtuous) of me to say “No, it’s trash, not fit for human consumption.”
Second, Faustina is no braggart; she often refers to herself as a miserable and weak creature, which I will quote shortly.
Thirdly, why is she proud, but other Saints who’ve said similar things are not? “Real Saints don’t do that, and Christ doesn’t praise sinners because He doesn’t want them to become proud” you say? Really? Are you sure about that?
Christ appeared, with His Mother, to St. Gertrude and referred to the Saint as “My elect” (11) and that those who thanked Him for graces He bestowed on her would participate in her merits and obtain their petition if it be for their eternal welfare (12). Or how about His exact words recorded by St. Gertrude herself:
“If anyone, being oppressed by sorrow and grief, humbly and sincerely seeks consolation in thy words, he will not be deceived in his desires; for I, the God abiding in thee, urged by the liberality of My love and goodness, desire through thee to bestow much good on many.Whosoever commends himself with full confidence to thy prayers will obtain life eternal by thy mediation. Just as much as anyone hopes to receive from thee, so much will he surely obtain. Besides this, whatever thou shalt promise anyone in My Name, that I shall certainly grant him.” (13)
Or this, “Just as I have now drawn in My breath, so shall I in truth draw to Myself all who incline toward thee with love and devotion for My sake.” (14)
Moses says of himself, “Moses was a man exceeding meek above all men that dwelt upon earth” (15).
Our Blessed Mother says “My soul doth magnify the Lord. […]He hath regarded the humility of His handmaid; for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed, (16)
St. John the Divine constantly refers to himself as the “disciple whom Jesus loved” throughout his Gospel.
Why are these Saints to be imitated, their writings not condemned as “proud”, but St. Faustina and her writings not? Because she was highly regarded by Pope John Paul II is not a valid reason for dismissing her or her writings anymore than we should reject the writings of St. Peter are to be dismissed because his behavior required rebuke by his subordinate, St. Paul. Yes, John Paul II had problematic aspects of his pontificate. But he also loved Padre Pio; will you reject St. Pio as well?
Throughout the Diary, we see plenty examples ofSt. Faustina’s humility. “Going deeper into myself, I could find nothing but great misery.” (17) “I know very well what I am of myself, because for this purpose Jesus has opened the eyes of my soul; I am an abyss of misery, and hence I understand that whatever good there is in my soul consists solely of His holy grace.” (18) “O Jesus, eternal Truth, strengthen my feeble forces; You can do all things, Lord. I know that without You all my efforts are in vain. O Jesus, do not hide from me, for I cannot live without You. Listen to the cry of my soul. Your mercy has not been exhausted, Lord, so have pity on my misery.” (19) “My Jesus, despite Your graces, I see and feel all my misery.” (20) “I saw the postulants, in spirit, beautiful and pleasing to the Lord; and myself, an abyss of misery.” (21) “Without You, I am weakness itself. What am I without Your grace if not an abyss of my own misery? Misery is my possession.” (22) These are just a few examples, her Diary is laden with more.
People who dislike the Diary, devotion of the Divine Mercy, and St. Faustina do so not because it actually contains error, but because either 1) it’s the “trad” thing to do, or 2) they don’t like John Paul II—and if he liked her, it must be because she and her writings are heretical. Guilt by association. It is just as dishonest as when our opponents try to label all trads as schismatics because of Sedevacantists.
PART II: THE DIMOND BROTHERS
In Part II will be dealing with the objections made by Mr. (more commonly known as “Brother”) Peter Dimond, Sedevacantist. He seems to deliberately twist the facts of the Divine mercy so he can continue to add to the reasons that he hates John Paul II. That is quite a claim, but it is a claim that I intend to back up. We will also see that some of his objections are similar if not the same as those of Fr. Scott.
Before addressing his objections, I have to say that I think it’s sad that anyone would take seriously the “investigation” of someone like Brother Dimond, who (23) seems to have not read the diary himself; and admits that the “investigation” of a 600-page book consisted of a quick “flip through.”
Let’s tackle Brother Dimond’s objections one at a time.
“The fact is that in the 1950’s the Divine Mercy Devotion was suppressed and Sr. Faustina’s diary was on the index of forbidden books.”
What Br. Dimond doesn’t tell you is that Bl. Pius XII refused to put the Diary on the Index. The Pope who opened the Second Vatican Council—Bl. John XXIII, a Pope that Mr. Dimond does not acknowledge to be a valid Pope—is the one who did so. So, according to him, an anti-Pope put it on the list, and then after thorough investigation (as opposed to a “quick flip through of the Diary”) gave it approval. The last pre-Vatican II Pope did not condemn her, but the Pope who opened the Second Vatican Council did. This is not a strong argument coming from a Sedevacantist.
“In addition to that, something that concerned us was that it seemed to be popular among the Charismatic ‘Catholics,’”
Perhaps it is popular among them, but it is also popular among Catholics who are not charismatic. Reading the Bible is popular among Protestants, but that doesn’t mean it’s demonic. Guilt by association is a fallacy, Mr. Diamond. Divine Mercy is in no way a uniquely charismatic devotion, so the premise here isn’t even sound.
“[…]and that it seemed to be used as a substitute for the Rosary.”
Mr. Dimond never substantiates this claim and only uses his opinion, possibly based on his personal experience. In my personal experience, the majority of those who pray the Divine Mercy are people who pray 5-15 decades of the Rosary, daily. Catholics who do not pray the Rosary do not pray the Divine Mercy chaplet either. Those who are disposed to Marian devotion via the Rosary are also disposed to practice the Divine Mercy devotion. But either way, the Diary does not support his claim, and thus one cannot blame it even if this were the fact, which it is not.
“the promotion of Communion in the hand”
The allegation that St. Faustina’s Diary promotes communion in the hand is particularly ludicrous, as there is no example of self-communication (Communion in the hand) in the Diary. Bro. Dimond cites two passages and, not surprisingly, takes them out of context. Some investigation is needed here.
When Christ said “I desired to rest in your hands, not only in your heart” (24) it was after St. Faustina had received—on the tongue from the hand of her priest—Holy Communion; a second Host had fallen into her hand by accident, which she gave back to the priest. What should she have done, move her hand out of the way and allow Our Lord to drop to the floor as though It were something disgusting?
Mr. Dimond also sites St. Faustina’s words “…and the host came out of the tabernacle and came to rest in my hands and I, with joy, placed it back in the tabernacle. This was repeated a second time, and I did the same thing. Despite this, it happened a third time…” (25) What Mr. Dimond fails to mention is that this was not during Mass or any sort of Communion service; this was likely nothing more than a vision. Christ was revealing to the saint His displeasure with things that were going on in the House, and that He wished to leave. He was making a point. What point, you ask? The power of intercessory prayer. She loved Him, she wanted Him to stay, and He stayed, but she would have to intercede on behalf of her Community. She then undertook “three days of adoration by way of reparation.” How many of us are willing to do the same for erring brethren?
Neither case establishes that either St. Faustina or the Diary support the practice of Communion in the hand.
“unnecessary praise heaped upon this sister.”
Does Christ heap a bit of praise on her? Yes. But as I addressed in Part I, Our Lord did this St. Gertrude the Great as well, yet I’ve never heard any traditional Catholic suggesting that her visions were demonic.
“Sr. Faustina is told that God’s spark – which will prepare the world for His Second Coming – comes out of Poland! This has been interpreted to mean that God’s chosen person was John Paul II,”
This is the most ridiculous objection I think I’ve ever heard. In essence “People interpreted this prophesy to mean X, therefore the prophesy is false.” I have to wonder if this is even a serious objection. Should we also get rid of the Holy Bible because of the interpretation of Protestants? There is no reference to “the spark” (Christ never said “My spark”, by the way) being a Pope, or a bishop, or a priest…that it is even a person at all. For all we know, it could be an event that will help prepare the world.
“Divine Mercy Devotion is centered around mercy at a time when mankind was coming closer and closer to having filled up the cup of divine justice.”
This same objection was also raised by Fr. Scott addressed it previously. As an emphasis I will say this: look at the times. Are we seeing God’s just judgment? The fact that God is being patient with all the evil in the world shows that we are living in an era of Mercy. Beside, it is good to remember that Mercy and Judgment go hand in hand. God never exercises judgment without also extending His mercy to those willing to listen.
“would God reveal a new devotion to be said on the beads of the Rosary shortly after His Mother came to Fatima to work a profound miracle to reveal, among other things, the necessity of the Rosary?”
The rosary beads make a chaplet used for praying the Rosary. Praying other prayers on it is not a sin, just as it is not a sin to pray the Rosary in a church where the Mass is said. I have prayed novenas to Saints and used the beads of the Rosary to help me keep track of where I was, but not as a replacement to the Rosary, and not in defiance of Our Lady’s request for the daily Rosary. The objection cannot stand anyway as there are chaplets now made specifically for the Divine Mercy devotion (not all the beads of the Rosary are used when praying this chaplet). Why did Christ tell her to pray it on the beads of the Rosary? There was no Divine Mercy chaplet. Now there is.
Besides, the Divine Mercy Chaplet is not the first devotion prayed on the Rosary that is distinct from the Rosary. The Chaplet of the Seven Sorrows of Mary is another devotion prayed on the Rosary; it was approved by the Pope in 1817 and even has been indulgenced by three subsequent popes. We could also mention the Rosary of St. Joseph, in which events from the life of St. Joseph are substituted for events in the life of our Lord and Lady. The use of other prayers on the rosary is not unknown in the history of the Church.
Furthermore, the Diary recommends praying the chaplet but it does not recommend avoiding the Rosary. If we act as though the chaplet and Rosary are in competition, this is something we have imposed upon the Diary, not something deduced from it.
Like the charges against the devotion by Fr. Scott, the accusations of Br. Dimond fall away under scrutiny and a proper reading of the Diary in context.
PART III: MISCELLANEOUS POINTS AND MSGR. PEREZ
In this section we will address various attacks on the devotion, including the attacks of one Msgr. Patrick Perez, published by the website Tradition in Action.
One interesting objection to the devotion concerns its placement in the liturgical calendar, amounting to, “Why would God want us to think on His passion during Easter week, the time we’re to meditate and rejoice in His resurrection?”
Seems to make sense at first, right? Lent is over, let us rejoice. His agony is over, His suffering is over, now is the time of celebration. Yet, these people do not condemn the celebration of the Sacrifice of the Mass on Sunday, or any time during Easter Week. Why not? If the Mass is the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross renewed, why is the priest offering It (and we attending) during a time of celebration? Are they really saying that God doesn’t want us to pray for mercy for our neighbor, to invoke the Precious Blood of Christ for our neighbor, because it’s Easter week?
My husband pointed this out to some trads making this argument, and the response was “of course not, but God wouldn’t ask for a devotion like this during Easter week. It’s inappropriate.” Yes, the response was that stupid. It’s not appropriate to be practically naked either, yet that’s how Christ allowed Himself to hang when on the Cross. It’s not appropriate for a guilt-free man to die for the offenses of others, but Christ did it anyway.
Why would God ask us to do this? Why would the God who suffered incredible agony for the salvation of all want us to remember this in the time of our rejoicing in our salvation? Why would He not want us to remember our neighbors—who either don’t know of Him, or who have rejected Him and are thus in a state of damnation? Why would He not want us to remember what He just went through and beg His mercy for these people? Because His agony is over and He is risen? I’ve got news for everyone: His agony is not over. Sin is still in the world, and it seems to be getting worse. His agony is over on the calendar, and that is the only place it is over. Is it wrong to celebrate Easter? Absolutely not, but Easter is not a secular holiday in which we get to let loose, forget about responsibilities, and party on, just as a feast day is not justification for gluttony. We still have to be temperate. Easter is a holy day, a Christian holy day, a day reserved for God and what He wants, what He deserves. What does He desire? What does He deserve? He desires that the sinner be converted and live, and after the anguish in the garden, the scourging at the pillar, the crowning with thorns, the carrying of the Cross, and piercing of His hands and feet with nails (not to mention the mockery throughout—something we as trads can definitely relate to) for your sins, my sins, and the sins of our neighbors, He deserves these souls. It is a time of celebration on the liturgical calendar, but our responsibility to pray for our neighbor and invoke the blood of Christ for the salvation of mankind does not end because we moved into a different liturgical season.
Don’t judge the Divine Mercy devotion wrongly. It’s a private devotion, it’s not binding on the faithful. Offer your Rosary or a favorite chaplet for the conversion of sinners and mercy for the world, but don’t condemn a devotion not worthy of condemnation. I’m going to borrow the words of my own patroness, St. Joan of Arc, and use them in the person of St. Faustina (along with the devotion) “take care not to judge wrongly, lest you place yourself in great danger”(26). We’re not talking about a pious layperson, we are talking about a virgin spouse of God who has been raised to the altar by the Bride of Christ, the voice of God on earth.
The next objection came up in a trad forum. Basically, “I don’t feel comfortable with the idea of a layman offering the Body and Blood of Christ to God. That’s the job of the priest.”
Incorrect. It is the job of the priest to confect the Sacraments and offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which is different. The prayer this person was referring to is “Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Thy dearly beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.” The approved prayer of St. Gertrude that is very popular among trads is “Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory”. The approved prayer from the Angel at Fatima “I offer Thee the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ present in all the tabernaclesof the world […]”. As far as “offering prayers” go, I’m curious about what the difference is here.
Now onto the article by Msgr. Perez, published by Tradition in Action. (27) I will briefly counter what I’ve already addressed and go into more detail on what I haven’t. Quotes from the article will be in bold.
Msgr. Perez seems to imply that because the Index Librorum Prohibitorum was abolished in 1966—thus seeming to approve any writing, no matter how heretical—that her writings are approved with everything else that would have otherwise remained condemned. In other words, that her works are not approved in any formal sense, but only by the mere technicality of the Index having been abolished. But this is not the case. Her journal was removed from the list in 1965 at the request of the very Cardinal who initially opposed it. (28) Msgr. Perez seems to have no problem that St. Pio—canonized by the same pope who canonized St. Faustina—was also under censure by the Church for a while. Why support one pre-Vatican II Saint but not the other? Most traditional Catholics view St. Pio as a reliable source of Catholic doctrine and morality, and yet remain hostile to St. Faustina. Msgr. Perez writes, “I do not need to say much more about these declarations” referring to the condemnation of her journals. If you want to be dishonest, then no Monsignor, you don’t need to say anything more. Just like the Protestant doesn’t need to say much more about the heresy of “sola fide” because “the Bible says ‘you have been saved through faith’” (29). If it’s dishonest for a Protestant to do, it’s dishonest for a Catholic to do, whether priest, layman, traditional, or liberal.
Lest there be any further question on the matter, we see that the Church’s revision of its judgment on St. Faustina was not due to the mere accident of the Index being abolished. On the 15 April, 1978, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, signed by the Prefect and the Secretary of the Congregation, wrote the following [emphasis mine]:
This Sacred Congregation, in view of the many original documents that were unknown in 1959, giving consideration to the profoundly changed circumstances, and taking into account the view of many Polish ordinaries, declares no longer binding the prohibitions contained in the cited ‘notification’. (30)
Msgr. Perez’s next argument, if you can call it that, amounts to a gripe that the image is “creepy” to him. “I don’t like the face, I don’t like the gesture, I don’t like the posture, I don’t like anything.” The face shows emotional pain, depending upon the image you’re looking at. The posture is standing up straight (perhaps Msgr. Would prefer Christ slouching or lounging?). Christ is pointing to His heart and His right hand is held up in blessing. “I don’t want it around because it is, for lack of a better term, creepy to me when I look at it.”
I don’t know how to quantify whether an image is objectively “creepy” or whether it causes interior uneasiness. Even if so, is this bad? Protestants say that Catholic crucifixes are “creepy”; is this a judgment on the merit of crucifixes? Uneasiness can be bad, but people also feel interior uneasiness when they’re resisting truth, or when they are exposed to artistic interpetations they are unaccustomed to. Msgr. Perez provides no comment of value on the rays emanating from Christ’s heart, only mentions that the heart isn’t exposed (as if this were mandatory for images of Christ). Of the rays shown in the image coming forth from His Heart, Christ Himself says,
“the pale ray stands for the Water that makes souls righteous. The red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls…These two rays issued forth from the very depths of My tender mercy when my agonized Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross.” (31)
Msgr. Perez says the image “preaches that we can expect an unconditional mercy with no price to be paid whatsoever, with no obligations whatsoever. This is not the message of Christ.” What he said is partially right. “Unconditional mercy with no price to be paid whatsoever” is not the message of Christ. That being said, “unconditional mercy with no price to be paid” is not the message of the Divine Mercy, much less can this be implied from the image alone. If he had bothered to read the journal as opposed to relying on hearsay he would have known that. It is not what the Diary says, but the trad prejudice of what the Divine Mercy says.
We are disgusted and angered when the “visionaries” of Medjugorje put words in the Blessed Mother’s mouth, relaying false messages. Why are we not equally disgusted and angered when priests do the same with messages from Christ to this particular Saint?
If the priest finds the image of the Divine Mercy creepy…I don’t know what to say. Those who belong to the schismatic Orthodox religion can’t seem to understand that the Sacred Heart image is representative of the love of Christ for sinners, insisting it’s our creepy worship of Christ’s organ. Is that an argument against the Sacred Heart? Creepiness is incredibly subjective.
“It presents an unconditional mercy”. Msgr. Perez goes on to say why (after the Crucifix) the Sacred Heart image is most accurate depiction of Christ. First, that is a matter of opinion; I personally think the image of the Good Shepherd relays that message better. But let me offer another way to look at it: Let us first remember that one cannot even ask for mercy unless one is acknowledging guilt, something many who oppose the devotion of the Divine Mercy seem to forget or ignore. The government isn’t right in trying to redefine things, neither are Catholics right in doing the same. So let us not redefine mercy as if it excludes any concepts of guilty of justice. That’s not the truth and the Diary does not present it in this manner, as we have shown in Part I.
“The central error of the Divine Mercy is that it promises lots of spiritual rewards with no requirement of penance, no mention of reparation, no mention of any condition.” Please note that the Msgr provides no citations to back up this statement. That’s because the Diary never claims this.
But even if that were the case, would that make it false? Baptism has an incredible effect, requiring nothing from the receiver except the intention to be baptized. “Is it not lawful for Me to do what I will? Is thy eye evil, because I am good?” (32) Then there’s the Brown Scapular. To be safe from Hell, one has to die simply wearing the Brown Scapular, if you believe the Virgin Mary. That was her promise. “Whosoever dies wearing it shall not suffer eternal fire.” (I am not referring to the Sabbatine privilege, which has conditions.) “Is thy eye evil, because I am good?”
Msgr. Perez now quotes the Diary: “’Now, I know that it is not for the graces or gifts that you love Me, but because My Will is dearer to you than life. That is why I am uniting Myself with you so intimately as with no other creature.'[…] How can we believe that Our Lord has united Himself more intimately with Sr. Faustina than with the Blessed Virgin Mary?” I’m sure Msgr simply misread this. Christ did not say that Faustina has the most intimate relationship with Him than any another other creature who had ever existed. He said “That is why I am uniting Myself with you so intimately as with no other creature.” It is obvious that he’s comparing her relationship with Him to that of others on the earth at that time. I have an intimate relationship with my husband. I also have one with my children, and with my mother. I was in my mother’s womb, does it get more intimate than that. I carry my children inside me for the first 9 ½ months, is my relationship with them therefore more intimate than that with my mother? What about the intimacy shared with my husband, is that bigger than the other two?
St Anthony of the Desert made a statement about not fearing God. He relates, “I do not fear God because I love Him. For love casts out fear.” I am not going to conclude that St Anthony of the Desert lacked the Fear of the Lord which is a gift of the Holy Spirit, which he would certainly have had if he was in a state of grace.
Furthermore, if this apparition is authentic, then it is true that what Our Lord shared with her was unique. Nobody else received an encounter with Mary like the children at Fatima; that, too, was unique. St. Margaret Mary’s intimate encounter with Jesus was also utterly unique. The authenticity of an apparition implies its total uniqueness, but not in such a way to detract from the intensity of experiences or spiritual union that others may have.
Msgr. also attacks the Saint for the praise of Christ towards her that she records (“Beloved pearl of My Heart” as an example). If this is cause for concern, he better do a write up against St. Gertrude the Great, Moses, St. John the Divine, and the Blessed Mother herself. We have already covered this, so I will not dwell further upon it. Yes, Faustina records praise, but so have others saints—and like these others, she also records her personal criticisms.
Msgr. Perez critiques how Christ says He will bless the world because of her, yet there was World War II, her own country not being spared. I would expect this from a “health and wealth” preacher, not a Roman Catholic priest. Christ didn’t say He would spare her country or the world from war, disease, or anything. He said He would bless the world. Things could have been worse. The Jews at the time of Christ were not expecting a crucified Messiah, even the Apostles were confused. Was not St. Joan of Arc expecting a literal rescue from prison because of the message of her Voices? Yet Christ’s death saves us, and the fire sent St. Joan to Heaven. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts: nor your ways My ways, saith the Lord.” (33) Who says that blessings are always material?
He goes on to quote the Diary “’I see your love so pure; purer than that of the angels, and all the more so because you keep fighting.’ […] First of all, except for the Blessed Virgin Mary, we are not free from original sin and, therefore, we are not capable of a love purer than the angels.“
Actually, a human nature is capable, unless Monsignor wants to argue that the angels are more pure than the Blessed Mother. The Virgin Mary was pure because of her preservation from Original Sin (and remaining out of sin throughout her life). St. Faustina was made pure in Baptism, as we all are. Charity proceeds from Grace as a principle. Grace is a participation in the divine life and does not have to be proportionate to our natures. When we are forgiven our mortal and venial sins, we are once again pure in the sight of God. Christ died for us, not the angels. Christ offers forgiveness to us, not the angels. Christ took on human nature, not angelic. Angels serve us, not we them. (34) “Thou shalt wash me, and I shall be made whiter than snow.” (35) One last thought on purity of heart: Christ taught us how to love, and that love involves, at the least, the willingness to suffer. The angels cannot suffer, and with that the degree of their love can never surpass the potential love of a repentant sinner. Angels have only a single act of love and thus their grace and purity are equal with their nature, but a human is capable of many acts of love and as such the grace of a human can increase indefinitely; our Blessed Mother who is proof of this.
Christ tells Faustina to not fear judgment, that she will not be judged. Msgr has a problem with this. But Christ said, “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you shall be forgiven.” (Luke 6:37) Msgr. Perez’s problem is with the message of Christ, not St. Faustina. Is this verse abused? Absolutely. Is it untrue because of the abuse? No. Christ our Lord did say in the Gospels that a person would does not judge will not be judged, so I don’t find it far fetched that he could say it again to St Faustina. I have read in more than one ascetical/mystical book that a soul by a special grace can know if they are going to be saved (the Fatima Children, St Catherine of Sienna come to mind). In fact Canon 16 of the Council of Trent states the following:
If any one shall say, that he will for certain, of an absolute and infallible certainty, have that great gift of perseverance unto the end, unless that he have learnt this by a special revelation; let him be anathema.
The Church has thus affirmed that a soul could have it revealed that through special revelation that they would be among the elect.
Msgr. then concludes his criticism with the claim that the Divine Mercy promotes Communion in the hand. I have, which we have already dispensed with above. Msgr. then offers the following closing statements:
“In short, the whole Divine Mercy devotion does not represent a Catholic spirit […] the prayers of the Divine Mercy devotions, they are perfectly orthodox. There is nothing heretical or presumptuous in these prayers.”
So the devotion, which consists of prayers, is not in line with Catholic teaching, but the prayers are? This makes little sense.
“But just remember the reason why it has been condemned and why we do not recognize Divine Mercy Sunday is because of its past […].”
Do you also not recognize July 22 as the feast of St. Mary Magdalene because of her past? Or St. Pio? To partially quote Msgr “But just remember ” that the same Church removed the condemnation based on information they did not have when the condemnation was made.
“Our Lord does not contradict His Church by word or by gesture.” “For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged: and with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again.” (36) The Church has not only lifted the ban and given approval, but has vigorously promoted this devotion to the benefit of souls and it has been accepted throughout the world by the faithful. It is my hope that one day the Msgr. Perez and all those of his persuasion will come to see that through attacks on this devotion they are in fact attacking the Church in her institutions, liturgy, mystical body and are injuring themselves. My Jesus Mercy.
1) Galatians 2:11
2) 1 Corinthians 13:2, italics mine
3) All quotes of Father Scott, unless otherwise noted: http://www.angelusonline.org/index.php?section=articles&subsection=show_article&article_id=2895
5) Matthew 9:13
6) Divine Mercy In My Soul, #1588
7) ibid. #367
8) ibid #1690
9) Romans 9:15
10) Matthew 20:15
11) St. Gertrude the Great: Herald of Divine Love pg. 42
12) ibid. pg 62
13) ibid. pg 24
14) ibid. pg 25
15) Numbers 12:3
16) Luke 1:46-48
17) Divine Mercy in my Soul, #23
18) ibid. #56
19) ibid. #69
20) ibid. #606
21) ibid. #1108
22) ibid. #1630
23). All quotes of Mr. Peter Dimond are taken from http://onetruecatholicfaith.com/Roman-Catholic-Articles.php?id=209&title=Divine+Mercy+Devotion+is+something+to+avoid&category=False+Apparitions&page=1
24) Divine Mercy In My Soul, entry #160
25) Ibid, entry #44
29) Ephesians 2:8
31) Divine Mercy Diary, 299
32) Matthew 20:15
33) Isaias 55:8
34) 1 Corinthians 6:3
35) Psalm 50:9
36) Matthew 7:2
Kasey Moerbeek, “Defense of the Divine Mercy Devotion, Part 1,” Unam Sanctam Catholicam, July 7, 2014. Available online at https://www.unamsanctamcatholicam.com/2023/02/defense-of-the-divine-mercy-devotion-part-1