My Dear Friends:
Happy Divine Mercy Sunday! What a beautiful Holy Week and Easter Week we have just had! We thank all of you for your prayerful participation in the most holy days of the year. Our church was full (really full) , our confession lines were long, the music was divine, and I kept getting comments on how beautiful everything was during the Triduum. Truth is, there are so many people who work behind the scenes from parish staff to volunteers who help make these last two weeks possible. They are too numerous to count much less list here for I fear of leaving someone out. They do not do it for the recognition or the thanks or praise. All the people who spent time away from their families during the Triduum did so because of their abiding love for the Lord and for their parish. We all owe them a debt of profound gratitude, and I ask you to keep them in your prayers for helping us have such an unforgettable Holy Week at Little Flower.
Today, we contemplate the Divine Mercy of our Lord. So many of us felt that mercy as we entered the confessional during Lent and Holy Week. It is God’s tender embrace that we felt healing us of our sins and helping us see the new life he wants us to live this Easter. St. John Paul II brought us this image from his native Poland from what was once a little-known nun known as St. Faustina. Because of these two saints, we gaze upon the image of Divine Mercy and confidently say, “Jesus, I Trust in You!” What else are we to do than to turn to Jesus? St. John Paul II once said, “There is nothing more man needs than Divine Mercy – that love which is benevolent, which is compassionate, which raises man above his weakness to the infinite heights to the holiness of God.” On this day, we hand over our weaknesses, anxieties, and fears to our Lord and humbly say, “Jesus, I Trust in You!”
There are so many testimonies of the power of Divine Mercy. I could pass around a microphone in church today and each one of you could give a witness to how God’s mercy has transformed your life. We hear in the gospel today how it transformed St. Thomas. There is one particular testimony that I want to highlight today that many of you may have heard about: it is the story of Father Stuart Long. There is a movie currently playing in movie theaters about his life. I did not know of his story until two months ago when I was invited with brother priests and seminarians to a screening hosted by the actor Mark Wahlberg who plays Father Stu in the movie and who financed the film himself because studios kept rejecting the telling of this remarkable story. Stuart Long was an amateur fighter from Montana who was an atheist, a womanizer, and not the kind of person who you would think would be a candidate for the priesthood. Yet, after moving to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career, he met a Catholic girl whom he tried to impress by going to Mass. It doesn’t matter if we have ulterior motives when we walk through the doors of a church, God will find a way to rescue a soul and use us to bring others to Him. Stuart was eventually baptized and after barely surviving a horrific motorcycle accident, he decided that God was calling him to the priesthood…that’s where I will end his story as I invite you to go to the movies to see the rest of the story in this remarkable film. A bit of warning though: to capture who Stuart was before his conversion, the movie has an excessive amount of vulgar language, but as the Diocese of Helena, Montana said in support of this movie: “raw and unfiltered, combative and grace-filled, witness to the truth that no one is ever beyond redemption.” Isn’t this what Divine Mercy is all about? I invite you to go see and support this film. It will move and inspire you as did all the priests and seminarians and faithful who have already seen it.
God bless you all,