Some days – more than others – it can appear that the world we live in is a dark and fearsome place, filled with all manner of evil; that men of peace and goodwill are few and far between, grossly outnumbered by those who choose a path that we struggle to even contemplate. And on days such as those, it can be tempting to lose hope, to fall into a sense of despondency and begin to despair.
St Paul’s Letter to the Romans reminds us that ‘where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more’ – and he was right. Even in the midst of great evil, the Lord offers us His grace and His mercy; all we need to is accept it with trust. Good can come out of even the darkest moments of our history, as has so often been the case in the past. All that is required is that we trust.
This same thought is echoed in the Diary of St Faustina, where the Most Merciful Jesus tells her –
“Let the greatest sinners place their trust in My mercy. They have the right before others to trust in the abyss of My mercy.. I cannot punish even the greatest sinner if he makes an appeal to My compassion, but on the contrary, I will justify him in My unfathomable and inscrutable mercy.”
On those days when the world is more acutely touched by the evil of which men are capable, it is important to remember the words above – and to keep in our prayers not only those who are harmed by acts of evil, but also those who undertake such acts. The greater the sinner, the greater his claim to the Divine Mercy.
So what should we be praying for? Perhaps for the hearts of such people to be moved by the compassion which flows out of the Heart of Christ, that they may be softened and become more ready to accept the grace and the mercy of God. The vessel of Divine Mercy is trust – that means we need to truly believe that the Lord is always listening, always ready to offer His grace and mercy, and that His gifts are efficacious; if we do not so believe, then our prayers are hollow words. For us who offer such prayers, we, too, receive grace from the infinite merits of the Crucified and Risen Lord – the grace to rely on Him, rather than ourselves, for example, and also a deepening of our sense of trust in Him. Our trust is a movement of the heart and of the will toward He who first approaches us; it is a response to Him.
The Lord is not constrained in the distribution of His grace and mercy – He grants when, to whom and as He wills, even to the greatest of sinners. But in praying for others in this way, we assist Him by living the graces of our baptism, particularly through uniting our prayers and sacrifices to His. And in so doing, we are mindful of something else St Paul (in his letter to the Colossians) spoke of – ‘making up what is lacking in Christ’s sufferings, for the sake of His body, the Church’. United to the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus, our own sacrifices take on His infinite merits and are pleasing to the Heavenly Father.
There is one other voice worth mentioning here, that of the Mother of the Lord. In Her first appearance at Fatima, in 1917, She asked the children if they were wiling to bear the sacrifices God would send them, as an act of reparation for the conversion of sinners. She also promised that the grace of God would be their comfort. This theme of reparation on behalf of sinners continued throughout the appearances and, later, in those given to Sr Lucia in her later life.
“Pray, pray very much, and make sacrifices for sinners; for many souls go to hell, because there are none to sacrifice themselves and pray for them,” the Blessed Virgin told the children. And if words such as these could be addressed to mere children, how much more should we listen and adhere to the request?
The final voice must always be that of the Lord, who is Luke’s Gospel, tells us plainly – “I came to call sinners, not the righteous”.
Now, it is time for us to listen and attend to those words and to join St Faustina in the prayer to God –
Eternal Father, in Whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion inexhaustible; look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent but with great confidence, submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself.