Rejecting Divine Mercy?

Rejecting Divine Mercy?

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Taking the admonition in 1 Thessalonians 5 to “pray without ceasing” as inspiration, the author takes us on a “pilgrim’s journey.” The focus here is on deepening our personal faith in our busy and often faithless world, through Christian, contemplative prayer. Follow this link to purchase “Authentic Faith…” on Amazon

Not all Catholic Devotions are of God!

Why the International Catholic Confederation Rejects the Divine Mercy Devotion

One might be tempted to ask; “Why are you spending any time at all on a polemic against the teachings of another church, especially one that encourages pious devotion?” The truth is that the teachings of Rome still resound loudly in the ears of many faithful. When they are in error or contradicting their own teachings, it deserves attention.

One of the cornerstones of the Christian faith is the mercy of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. In this article, we are not rejecting the true “Divine Mercy” of our Lord, but the resurgence of an old heresy disguised in the name of mercy. 

As Catholics, we believe and teach that salvation or reconciliation with God is available to everyone who seeks God with a contrite heart. Many in our modern world simply believe that God’s mercy can be achieved without repentance. This is was the implication of Pope Francis, when he told a young person a while back, that he would see his atheist father would be “in heaven.”  This is indicative of the ancient heresy of Universalism. And, today, on what some call Divine Mercy Sunday, it is helpful to understand why my particular Church Jurisdiction rejects Sr. Faustina and Divine Mercy Devotion.

A while back I wrote a brief post on Facebook critical of the Charlatan known as Maria Divine Mercy, and the devotion to her writings. (posted at end of this article)  My brothers and sisters false teachings abound in the modern-day Catholic Church. And, as one bishop friend recently commented: “All modern error is but ancient error wearing a lounge suit and holding a smartphone.”

With today being celebrated as “Divine Mercy Sunday in many jurisdictions, I want to say a few words about this particular devotion. 

As a particular Catholic Jurisdiction with a focus on western orthodoxy, it is important that we also practice what we preach — orthopraxy.

Pope John Paul II., during his long pontificate he established a feast day in honor of this devotion. During his homily at the canonization of Sr. Faustina on April 30, 2000, he declared that the Second Sunday of Easter would henceforth be called Divine Mercy Sunday.

Consequently, every year on Sunday following Easter, which is traditionally called Low Sunday – in Latin it is called Dominica in Albis, Sunday in White. So, why am asked at times, why shouldn’t we celebrate the Divine Mercy Sunday, or practice Divine Mercy devotion?”

Now, for the International Catholic Confederation, the easy answer would be, “We don’t do it because it’s not in the traditional calendar.” But, then, we wouldn’t find the feast of Padre Pio objectionable, so why do we find  Divine Mercy Sunday objectionable? The simple answer is that Sr. Faustina makes some very questionable and prideful statements, Some of her teachings even fall into the category of false prophecy. Faustina also contradicts prophesy made by our Lady to Sr. Lucia at Fatima. Clarification to follow.

While there may be nothing out of sorts with the prayers of the Divine Mercy devotion, there is something wrong with what surrounds the basis of this relatively new devotion.

Certainly, there may be persons who have received graces from doing the Divine Mercy devotion. That is not an indication that the devotion itself is necessarily from Heaven.

Remember God always answers our prayers. You always receive some grace by your prayers. For example, let’s imagine you made a pilgrimage to visit the burial place of a saint. You made the pilgrimage and thought you were kneeling at the correct grave venerating that saint. In fact, however, he was not buried in that cemetery, but in a church nearby. Nonetheless, God gives you graces because of your effort and your desire to please Him and make reparation for your sins.

You made that pilgrimage; you will not leave it without grace. God does not take a position like, “Well, you’re at the wrong grave. Sorry, you traveled 6,000 miles for nothing and now you receive nothing.” No, God will always answer your prayers. So, please, remember when you hear people say, “Well, I have received graces from this devotion.” This in itself is not an indication that the devotion is from Heaven. Certainly, the graces are always from Heaven. But the devotion may not be.

What is wrong with the Divine Mercy devotion?

First, when this devotion fell under the attention of Pius XII, he was concerned not with the prayers of the devotion, but with the circumstances of the so-called apparitions to Sr. Faustino and their content. That is, he was concerned with what Our Lord supposedly told Sr. Faustina and what he told her to make public.

The Roman Catholic Church, under Pius XII, then, placed this devotion, including the apparitions and the writings of Sr. Faustina on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum (Index of Prohibited Books). That list no longer exists, since it was formally abolished on June 14, 1966, by Paul VI. On the one hand, it is unfortunate that it no longer exists. But, on the other hand, if that list were to exist today it would be so vast that it would fill this room. Practically everything that is written today has something objectionable to the Catholic Faith.

So, Pius XII put the writings of Sr. Faustina on the Index of Prohibited Books. That meant that he considered that their content would lead Catholics astray or in the wrong direction.

Next, came other RCC prohibitions made by Pope John XXIII. Twice in his pontificate, the Holy Office issued condemnations of the Divine Mercy writings.

Today the Holy Office is called Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. But before it was called the Holy Office of the Inquisition. Its name has changed over several years.

This Roman Catholic Office – placed under the direct control of the Pope – is responsible for maintaining the purity of the doctrine and, therefore, it watches over the dissemination of different documents in their Church.

If the Pope wants to correct the faithful on a particular topic, he usually does this through the Holy Office. So, the proclamations, declarations, and documents issued by the Holy Office may be seen as coming from the Pope himself.

Not once, but twice under Pope John XXIII, this particular devotion was condemned through the Holy Office. The first condemnation was in a plenary meeting held on November 19, 1958. The declaration from the Holy Office issued these three statements about this devotion:

  1. “There is no evidence of the supernatural origin of these revelations.” This means that the members of the Holy Office examined the content and decided that there was nothing there to indicate the apparitions were supernatural. In an authentic apparition – Our Lady of Lourdes or Our Lady of Fatima, for example – you can look at the content and affirm it cannot be definitively said they are of divine origin, but there is enough evidence to say that it is possibly so. On the other hand, in the Divine Mercy apparitions, they said definitively that there is no evidence whatsoever that they are supernatural. This translates, “We do not think that these apparitions come from God,’ )and neither does the ICC teach such).
  2. ” No feast of Divine Mercy should be instituted.” Why? Because if it is based on apparitions that are not clearly coming from God, then it would be rash and temerarious to institute a feast in the Church based on something that is a false apparition.
  3. “It is forbidden to disseminate writings propagating this devotion under the form received by Sr. Faustina, as well as the image typically associated with the devotion” So, it was forbidden to even publish the image of Our Lord as the Divine Mercy.

Now, you have all seen the Divine Mercy image, even if in passing, and you would know and recognize it. It shows a strange picture of Jesus that makes me uneasy. I cannot really tell you why. I do not like it. I don’t like the face, I don’t like the gesture, I don’t like the posture, I don’t like anything. This was my first impression of this image. I don’t want it around because it is, for lack of a better term, creepy to me when I look at it.

The image shows multicolored rays, I think they are red, white and blue, coming from His chest region – no heart, just these rays. You have all seen this. Well, that was the image that was forbidden to be published or spread.

On March 6, 1959, the Holy Office issued a second decree on the order of Pope John XXIII. It forbade, once again, spreading the images of Divine Mercy and the writings of Sr. Faustina propagating this devotion. It also stated that it was up to the bishops to decide how they were going to remove the images that had already been displayed for public honor.

Two Popes strongly warned the faithful of danger in this devotion. Pius XII put it on the Index; John XXIII issued two condemnations through the Holy Office about the spiritual danger this devotion presented to the faithful. Not much more needs to be said on that.

Principal error: It presents unconditional mercy (universal salvation)

The “Sacred Heart image presents a majestic Jesus with the halo of divinity and a well-defined Sacred Heart gives a clear blessing; While the Divine Mercy image has Jesus without the proper halo or a heart makes a gesture more like a “hello” than a blessing

Consider the true image of Christ Our Savior. Probably the most symbolically rich and accurate representation of Him, besides the Crucifix, is the image of the Sacred Heart, because the image of Our Lord with the Sacred Heart summarizes the whole theology of Redemption.

They pierced His Hands, His Feet and His Sacred Heart; the crown of thorns encircles the Heart, which burns with love for man. This was the price He paid, the sacrifice He made for our redemption. He offered Himself because of His burning love for us despite the fact we are ungrateful creatures who rebelled against our Creator. Think about it. He created us and then we nailed Him to a cross even though He was God and completely innocent of any guilt. So, the Sacred Heart encapsulates all this.

In the images of the Sacred Heart, He points to this symbolic font of love and mercy for us. The devotions to the Sacred Heart always suppose reparation for our sins. We are sinners, we must make reparation. Despite the promises from Our Lord and the fact that He paid an infinite price for our Redemption, we must make reparation. We should always do penance for our sins and make various kinds of reparation.

Now, consider the image of Our Lord representing the Divine Mercy. It is an imitation of the Sacred Heart without the heart. When you pay attention, you notice that in the image there is no heart. There are simply rays coming out of a point above His waist. This symbolizes the error of the Divine Mercy devotion. It preaches that we can expect unconditional mercy with no price to be paid whatsoever, with no obligations whatsoever. This is not the message of Christ.

Christ is merciful. Time and time again, His mercy pardons our repeated sins in the Sacrament of Penance, always taking us back no matter how bad our sins are. And what happens in the Sacrament of Penance? The very name of the Sacrament tells us exactly what happens: to be effective the Sacrament supposes penance. Not only are you there at the Sacrament recognizing your full submission to the Church and your dependence on the Sacraments for forgiveness, but you walk out of the confessional with an imposed penance.

You are also often reminded from this pulpit that you must not only fulfill that penance, but you must continually do penance, your own penance. You don’t just say a decade of the Rosary and say, “Well, I’ve done my penance. Now, I can go merrily on my way.” You must always have the spirit of penance for your past sins; you must live with it.

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.

Unfortunately, this corresponds very much with what Pope John Paul II wrote in the Encyclical Dives in Misericordia. I do not recommend reading it to any of you, except the most prepared, because it has many misleading things. It re-echoes this mercy with no price, gifts from heaven with no requirements, God’s mercy with no mention of penance or reparation for sin whatsoever.

Anticipating that encyclical Pope John Paul II already in 1978, the very first year of his pontificate, set in motion the canonization of Sr. Faustina and the institution of a Divine Mercy Sunday feast. As I said before, both Sr. Faustina’s writings and the very idea of having a Divine Mercy feast day had been prohibited and condemned by two previous Popes.

The presumption in Sr. Faustina’s writings:

The writings of the Polish Sr. Faustina herself, published in English in 2007, pose cause for concern. The work has 640 pages and transcribes frequent supposed apparitions and messages from Our Lord.

This long thread of statements supposedly from Our Lord to Sr. Faustina has some things that would make a correct-thinking Catholic very uneasy, to say the least. I will exemplify by taking a few quotes from her writings.

On October 2, 1936, she states that the “Lord Jesus” appeared to her and said, “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.” (Divine Mercy in My Soul, The Diary of Sr. Faustina, Stockbridge, MA: Marian Press, 1987, p. 288)

How can we believe that Our Lord has united Himself more intimately with Sr. Faustina, than with the Blessed Virgin Mary, or all the other Saints? This affirmation smacks of pride in itself, let alone the assertion that it came from Heaven. This type of presumption is present in many other cases.

Our Lord supposedly addressed Sr. Faustina on May 23, 1937, with these words: “Beloved pearl of My Heart.” What bothers me about this is that it is pure saccharin. Look how Our Lady speaks to Sr. Lucia and also to St. Bernadette. It is not a “beloved pearl of My Heart.” It is impossible to imagine Our Lord stooping to saccharin language. Our Lord is Christ the King, Creator of the universe, and ruler of all that is. He does not say things like “beloved pearl of My Heart.”

Let me continue. Then, He said: “I see your love so pure; purer than that of the angels, and all the more so because you keep fighting. For your sake, I bless the world.” (ibid., p. 400) First of all, we are not free from original sin and, therefore, we are not capable of a love purer than the angels.

As for blessing the world, that might be fine. If we had one real saint in the world, then the Lord will give us blessings for that one real saint. This is not my objection.

A big part of our objection is that this revelation was in 1937; the world was on the verge of World War II, which Sr. Lucy had already been forewarned by Our Lady at Fatima: if Russia is not consecrated, and man does not convert, then this big disaster will befall mankind for their evil ways and their sins.

At that moment, we were about to see that disaster descend from Heaven, yet Our Lord tells Sr. Faustina, “For your sake, I am going to bless the world.” Was World War II a blessing on the world? Since her native Poland did not go unscathed by the German invasion, it does not seem likely that He actually blessed the world.

Another example: Sr. Faustina claimed that Our Lord told her that she was exempt from judgment, every judgment – particular judgment and the general judgment. On February 4, 1935, she already claimed to hear this voice in her soul, “From today on, do not fear God’s judgment, for you will not be judged.” (ibid., p. 168)

Now, nobody but the Blessed Virgin, as far as I know, is free from the general and particular judgment. St. Thomas Aquinas, according to the pious story, had to genuflect in Purgatory before going to Heaven. I don’t know if this is fact, but it is a lesson for us that nobody is exempt from any kind of judgment.

And add to these examples the preposterous affirmation that the Host jumped out of the Tabernacle three times and placed itself in her hands, so that she had to open up the Tabernacle and place it back herself: “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.” (ibid., p. 23) It makes it sound like a hamster that has gotten out of its cage. “Oh, no, here it is again. I have to go put this back now.”

How many times has the Church declared that the hands of a priest are consecrated to handle the Sacred Species, and what kind of lesson would you be giving to the world by this example of the Host leaping into her hands so that she had to place it back in the Tabernacle herself?

Our Lord does not contradict His Church by word or by gestures. And this would be a little bit by both. She related what happened, but the gesture itself would be Our Lord contradicting the Real Presence and everything it represents.

A lack of Catholic spirit:

In short, the whole Divine Mercy devotion does not represent a Catholic spirit. The Catholic spirit is one of making constant reparation in penance for our sins, of praying for the graces of God, for the mercy of God in this life.

Let me close by saying that it is the background of this devotion that is questionable. You do not just institute a particular devotion with its own feast day based on something that has been condemned for very good reasons in the recent past.

When you look at the prayers of the Divine Mercy devotions, they are perfectly orthodox. There is nothing heretical or presumptuous in these prayers. But just remember the reason why it has been condemned and why we do not recognize Divine Mercy Sunday is because of its past, not because of the content of the prayers. 

The content of the Divine Mercy tradition is steeped in ancient heresy. It is very important to know this because it is one of many things that were brought back in modern times that were condemned in the past. And this is not a case of the Church changing her mind. It is a case of a representative of the Church doing something he should not be doing.

Similarly, the ICC admonishes our members to be careful of other modern devotions such as Maria Divine Mercy.

Against Maria Divine Mercy:
 “Evil hearts are experts at fooling others with their smooth speech and flattering words. But if you look at the fruit of their lives or the follow through of their words, you will find no real evidence of godly growth or change. It’s all smoke and mirrors.

I am a flesh and blood man. You see videos and pictures of me here online. If you’re interested, you could even visit with me Sunday mornings after Mass. I even accept criticism from well-meaning critics. Yes, Judge me by the truth of my words. Liberals will find my words challenging and conservatives will give witness to my veracity. You will find no false prophecies proclaimed or heterodoxy presented.

Can the same thing be said for Maria Divine Mercy (MDM)? She is anonymous and secretive. No one knows her personally, nor are they able to really judge her character. Is she really living a faith-filled life?
(Psalms 50:19; 52:2,3; 57:4; 59:7; 101:7; Proverbs 12:5; 26:23–26; 26:28; Job 20:12; Jeremiah 12:6; Matthew 26:59; Acts 6:11–13; Romans 16:17,18; 2 Corinthians 11:13,14; 2 Timothy 3:2–5; 3:13; Titus 1:10,16).”

 

From my perspective, the majority of American Catholics have been receiving a feel good, easy going, wall-to-wall message of “let’s just try hard to be nice people because nice people will all go to heaven when they die.” The name for this watered-down Christianity is sentimentalist universalism.
 
This kind of religions feels good, but it is too good to be true. There is another side to the Divine Mercy, and that is the truth that some people will reject mercy because they will not repent and turn from their pride and sin to God.
 
So they take the soft option of sentimentalist universalism. They relax into the nice idea that God is too much of a nice guy to send anyone to hell, and what they really mean that he wouldn’t send them to hell.
 
Built into sentimentalist universalism is an incredible assumption of self-righteousness. God would not surely send me to hell! At the very root of this belief is the overbearing conviction that I am a good person just as I am, and that fundamental misapprehension is surely the one sin, above all, that is unforgivable. 
 
It is unforgivable not because God cannot or will not forgive it, but because the guilty person cannot see that there is anything to forgive. He does not, and cannot know his need of God, and is therefore not only likely to be damned, but he is first in line.
 
The other dangerous thing about sentimentalist universalism is its tendency to reduce religious and moral judgments to questions of good manners and respectable behavior. 
 
The sentimental universalist finds it difficult to imagine God sending his golf buddy to hell because the fellow is such a nice chap, a member of the country club, supports the Rotary and goes to church every Sunday. Judgments are made on outward appearances, and the shallow universalist assumes that everyone, deep down, is just as nice and squeaky clean and wholesome as all those beautiful people in Coca Cola ads.
 
Sharp moral judgments, a keen-eyed sense of sin and a stern sentence—first of all against ourselves—is what is needed. I worry that in our soft and indulgent American society the Divine Mercy devotion may confirm all the wrong sentiments.
 
Maybe along with the Divine Mercy what our society needs most at this moment is a reminder that Jesus Christ is not only the Divine Mercy but also the Righteous Judge at the End of Days.

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About Me
About Me

Bishop Callahan

Michael Callahan is the Presiding Archbishop for the Catholic Church in America. He is dedicated to spreading the Word of God, in the spirit of love, throughout the world. Bishop Callahan is also the author of "Authentic Faith, Radical Transformation, and Contemplative Prayer," an eBook available on Amazon.com.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. The following passage from Faustina’s Diary is strikingly similar to theology taught in Protestant Universalist Churches:
    “As often as you hear the clock strike the third hour immerse yourself completely in My mercy, adoring and glorifying it, invoke its omnipotence for the whole world, and particularly for poor sinners, for at that moment mercy was opened wide for every soul.”

  2. It figures. I read these things late at night. Too late to be thinking, especially of something so serious. But I will.

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