Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: Divine Mercy and Saint Thérèse 1


1 John 4:11-19Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another. 12No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us.

13This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us, that he has given us of his Spirit. 14Moreover, we have seen and testify that the Father sent his Son as savior of the world. 15Whoever acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains in him and he in God. 16We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us.

God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him. 17In this is love brought to perfection among us, that we have confidence on the day of judgment because as he is, so are we in this world 8There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love. 19We love because he first loved us.

In Thirty-three Days to Merciful Love, Father Gaitley talks about St.Thérèse as the great prophet of merciful love. Her approach of confidence in God’s goodness revolutionized Catholic spirituality in light of the errors of the Jansenistic teachings of her time. She breathed fresh air into what it means to live the faith.   Father Gaitley points out that God always gives us saints who are suited for our times, who speak and teach the gospel to history in a way that is relevant and in a way that we need to hear it, as St. Thérèse did. Drawing from Romans 5:20, Father Gaitley explains that in times of great evil, God gives even greater graces.

Similarly, Pope Francis says: “Listen to the voice of the spirit that speaks to the whole Church in this our time, now, today, which in fact is a time of Mercy. I am certain of this. It is the time of Mercy in the whole church.”

Later on Father Gaitley points out that God wants to work some of his greatest miracles in the whole history of the church right now. God wants to take some of the littlest of souls and make them into some of the greatest of saints. He is echoing the prophecy of St Louis de Montforte, who says something similar in True Devotion to Mary. This is really happening.

We also see the fulfillment of Mercy in Padre Pio, a saint who is truly magnanimous and unprecedented in the history of the church. He is the first priest to have carried the stigmata and he did so for fifty years. More than that, Jesus was truly alive in him; Jesus’ gift through him to the whole Church really brought back to life again the power of the apostles and through this human being, we see what took place in the Acts of the Apostles – in our postmodern day world.

In Padre Pio, not only do we see a great example of the fulfillment of prophecy but also proof that God’s Mercy is meant to extend to every one of us in our own ways, in the place we are planted, where we are meant to bloom in our vocation in love.

We all have a vocation. We are all called to bear specific fruit and are meant to make a difference.   This difference may not be recorded in history but it’s a difference that may very well be recorded in the history of someone’s heart. That is what matters. The Lord has a plan for us that involves other people. Our purpose revolves around who we become in relationship with others in this vocation of Love.

Father Gaitley says that “by consecrating ourselves to Divine Mercy we are letting ourselves be carried into a greater work of the spirit that is going on in our day.” He puts the focus where it needs to be, not on us but on trusting Him, the One who died and was resurrected for us.

The first letter of St. John, Chapter 4 speaks of God in a fresh expression of the gospel, putting the focus of redemption on God and on His initiative. He first loved us and He has chosen us to know His love and be filled with it. That love is the focus of our faith, it sets us free, and it gives us refreshment to our lives.

To paraphrase St Thérèse: when we focus too much on ourselves we suffocate the Holy Spirit.   She says: “I never felt more free than when I forgot myself”. That is part of her humility. Living in the truth that sets us free is to allow our lives to be taken in by Him, to be taken possession of, to allow our attention to be on Him rather than on ourselves.

That takes faith because we do not see Him.   We have to see him with the eyes of the heart. It is trust that unleashes the power of His Mercy. Jesus says this most loudly through his Secretary of Divine Mercy, St. Faustina: It is trust that unleashes the power of mercy, the power of his spirit upon the world through the church.

The Lord inspires St Faustina with those most important words in the image which He Himself inspired and dictated to be painted. He himself specifically requested that   the words transcribed at the bottom would be: Jesus, I trust in you.

So Jesus wants to work the great miracle of forming the littlest of souls into the greatest of saints but He needs our trust in order to do it.

This is what Father Gaitley points out in drawing from St Thérèse. Her teachings desire for us what happened to her, that is to set us full sail on the waves of love and confidence, to go in the way of the Holy Spirit’s love and confidence.

SOURCE: San Rafael Carmel Retreat 2016, Transcribed by Linda Dorian

Copyright 2017, Father Robert Barcelos, OCD

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