At the beginning of Lent, I picked up my dusty copy of St. Faustina’s diary. This book transformed my spirituality when I was a college student. As I read the saint’s diary this morning, I was struck by Jesus’ words to her during Lent “Pray for souls that they be not afraid to approach the tribunal of My mercy.” (975)
As I read this sentence, I could not help but think of how broken our world is. Every soul is wounded from original sin, but our times have made sure that many, many, souls are broken because of personal sin. One can think of big sins such as abortion, contraception, sterilization, IVF, broken marriages, sexual abuse, adulterous relationships, etc… For many people, these are not theoretical but real parts of their personal life. One can also think of what seems to be more ordinary sin, such as gossip, resentment, pride. I say ordinary not because these sins are not evil but because we commit them so often that we do not pause to consider their consequences.
The process of conversion is one in which the soul must face all of her sinful choices without making excuses. The soul must recognize that what she did was wrong and then ask forgiveness from the Creator of the universe who is Love itself. If this is intimidating for school children when they make their first confession, how much more intimidating and painful is this for a mother who must acknowledge that she killed her own child? Or for the parents who used IVF and must recognize that the action that gave them a child they deeply love was immoral and may have killed many other children? Or for the politicians that must acknowledge that the policies they legalized cost millions their lives? Or for the friend that encouraged another to sin gravely?
Jesus’ words to St. Faustina are for our times.
As Catholics, we often pray for the conversion of sinners. But until now, I had not realized the importance of praying that they not be afraid to approach the One who wants only to lavish them with joy and wholeness, the One who has never stopped loving them. Shame is the constant companion of sin. How many souls remain morally wounded and obstinate in sin because they are too afraid to recognize that they have sinned, too ashamed to approach the God that is Mercy?
At the same time that Jesus tells St. Faustina “Do not grow weary of praying for sinners,” He tells her to relieve His deathly sorrow by dispensing His Mercy. (975) Christ does not only want us to forgive those that have harmed us, He also calls us to proclaim the vastness of His Mercy. In order for souls to be converted, they need to stop being afraid of approaching the unfathomable fount of Divine mercy. And for this to happen, we must pray for them. Instead of pointing fingers when others sin, we must pray for them and tell them not just what the Church believes and why she believes it, but that God still yearns for their love and is patiently and ardently waiting to shower them with mercy.
May the upcoming feast of Divine Mercy, on the Sunday after Easter, be one filled with grace for you.

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