By Joe (not his real name), a Courage member
“And fear nothing, dear soul, whoever you are; the greater the sinner, the greater his right to Your mercy, O Lord.” quotes from St. Faustina Kowalska in her diary.
Image from divinemercy.org website
On 30 April 2000, Pope John Paul II canonized Sr. Faustina Kowalska who had a devotion to the Divine Mercy. Divine Mercy Sunday is celebrated on the 2nd Sunday of Easter.
The primary focus of the Divine Mercy devotion is the merciful love of God and the desire to let that love and mercy flow through one’s own heart towards those in need of it.
After our yearly Lenten observance through fasting, almsgiving and abstinence that culminates in Christ’s Passion and glorious Resurrection at Easter, the celebration of a new life in Christ could not be more complete for us, knowing that despite our human weakness, Christ’s boundless mercy will always welcome us back into the loving arms of our shepherd. Like the Prodigal Son, the rays of light portrayed in the image of the Divine Mercy is like the father’s warm embrace to the wayward child who returns home.
My first experience with the Divine Mercy Devotion was through an extraordinary communion minister (ECM)who brought the Eucharist to my homebound grandparents. The ECM gave us a recording of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy for us to pray with my grandparents, who fervently listened and prayed along with us despite the language barrier. The words “Jesus, I trust in You” brought so much comfort and assurance as we continued praying the Chaplet with them until they returned to God.
Growing up as a cradle Catholic, I often struggled to reconcile the teachings of my faith which I hold so dear with my attraction to members of the same sex. Since young, I was taught that homosexuality is sinful and against the law of nature. The confusion and emotional struggles have led me many a time to resentment towards family and the church community, who often made condescending and hurtful remarks against anyone who did not behave according to the prescribed norm.
This Lent, I was blessed to have the opportunity to attend a weekend retreat with the Courage Community just before Holy Week. As we prayed and shared our thoughts and feelings on living authentic lives as Catholics, we also offered up our vulnerabilities to God, our brokenness and our sins to Him.
Fear crept up as I acknowledged my own vulnerabilities. As we meditated on the Way of the Cross as a community, I pondered what Jesus must have felt as he laid vulnerable to his tormentors and opened his arms to embrace his Passion and death on the cross. Even though innocent, he accepted his suffering and death in the most cruel form, yet he chose to forgive his tormentors and those who derided him.
As I offered up my own vulnerabilities and hurts to Jesus, I found comfort in the fact that my Saviour understands the struggles and pains that I’ve been through in my life. Although it still hurts sometimes, this comfort now helps me endeavour to forgive those who have hurt me because of my sexuality and the person I am.
Like the loving Father in the parable of the Prodigal Son, I felt God’s loving and warm embrace during the Sacrament of Reconciliation and especially during Mass, because I only need to tell him, “Jesus, I Trust in You.”
During the homily, we were also challenged to continue forgiving those who continue to discriminate against us.
Photo by Pixabay
The retreat has ended. I have returned to my daily life feeling assured and more confident to face the challenges ahead. I will strive to continue forgiving those who continually hurt and discriminate against the LGBTQ community. Instead of responding with hate, I will choose to respond with forgiveness and mercy. Like Christ who said on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” In the icon of the Divine Mercy, God’s mercy flows through the rays radiating from Jesus’s heart. In my interactions with other people, I will strive to let the rays of God’s mercy shine forth through my heart, for it is only by love that they will know we are Christians.
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Joe is a Courage member who enjoys spending time in nature where he finds peace of mind, serves in the outreach ministry at his parish and has a strong devotion to Our Blessed Mother.