Tuesday, April 9, 2013

On Divine Mercy

Well, I did something really dumb. It's called the Divine Mercy novena. It is based on a vision that St. Faustina had of Jesus where He implored her to spread the truth of His great mercy. This all sound really great when seeking mercy. Unfortunately, praying the words "Have mercy on us and the whole world." starts to take root in one's heart, and before you know it there is a confrontation between what you are praying for and the times in your life where you are not merciful.

It starts great. Images of Jesus' love and forgiveness pouring out upon you invade your imagination. You feel God's forgiveness, you embrace it, you are grateful and excited to share it with the world.

A few days in you see the Aurora theater murderer's face on TV and you immediately recognize that he was an infant once. God made him, loves him, and wants him back. Out of compassion for God you pray for him even though it makes your stomach turn. Later, you might read an argument about marriage on Facebook, and regardless of your views you acknowledge the ugliness and disgust on both sides is unacceptable, so you pray for healing. You feel so loving and merciful. You foolishly pray that God increase your ability to love mercifully.

Later in the novena the real tragedy occurs. That Person (we all have at least one) shows up. You get the fiftieth email "inviting" you to volunteer -with the implied "for once". He brags about his boat and berates you that you also need to get a boat. You run into her and are held hostage by the list of fabulous things at which her children are excelling. You are confronted by someone who wants to give you family planning advice because you mistakenly said that your husband wants to name a baby after the pope. (Nothing gets a girl to ovulate like the words, "Don't you dare let him get you pregnant!")*

You get the point. That Person is the reason Jesus had to say the words, "Love your neighbor." Anyone can love their enemy if they never have to see the person face-to-face. Anyone can theoretically love -and forgive- Pontious Pilate. But can you forgive your brother-in-law for his insistence on talking exclusively about his toe nail fungus? Can you refrain from gossiping about the PTA president and her stupid idea that everyone has 60 hrs a week to "donate" to the school? Can you be cheerful to the old neighbor who comes over when you are working in the yard, starts a conversation with "Hot/Cold/Rainy enough for ya?" and then gives you a list of the HOA rules your kids are breaking by using sidewalk chalk? Can you? Can I? Can anyone?

For me, and it seems a lot of parents of children with disabilities, That Person is usually someone well meaning, yet insensitive. Comment after comment is made about how "functional" Mae might be, while I try to keep from making a snarky comment that we'll manage to love her despite her dysfunction. Comment after comment is made on the hope that she'll be skinny or pretty or tall. Comment after comment is made on how heroic we are for loving her. All of it making me want to explode, because, dear God this is my baby! Nothing she does or doesn't do, is or isn't will change the fact that I love her. I love all of her. She matters! She'll always matter, as is the case with each of my children. So. Shut. UP!

But a small, forceful voice pulls me back from that. The knowledge that I want what I am not willing to give in those moments hits like a Mac Truck.


How many people have had to forgive my insensitivity? How acquainted am I with the taste of my own foot? How can I ask for mercy when I just want to sooth my indignation with fiery words and nasty looks?

Yes, I started this chaplet seeking mercy and forgiveness and to be more fully in communion with Christ. He showed me that I have to be merciful to achieve that communion. God help me, I'm going to try. In the mean time, be merciful Oh Lord, I am a jerk.

* Ugh, yes, this did in fact happen. I just. can't. even. Truthfully, I blacked out and have no idea how I responded. This person is not even someone I know, she only knew I have 5 and Mariana has Down syndrome. The forgiveness angle on this one is killing me!


  1. You're awesome Barbara! Not because you have 5 kids AND a dog...but because you can make me laugh, cry, and feel your pain in this blog! You have the gift of words, my dear! xxxxxx

    1. I forgot to add, and I feel your LOVE! For your life, your husband, and your children!