Have you ever been tricked into a devotion? I have.

When I was in high school, my entire school celebrated Mass together every Friday afternoon. After Mass one day, my teacher encouraged me to stay behind to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy with a few other students. He said it was easy to learn and would only take 10 minutes. I thought, “Why not?”

The Chaplet was structured similarly to the Rosary, but instead of praying 10 Hail Mary’s, we asked God to have mercy on us and on the whole world. During this prayer, I contemplated my own sins but also prayed for people all over the world. It was comforting to remember that no matter how often we reject Jesus, He continually proves His love for us through His crucifixion.

After we finished, we prayed, “Jesus, I trust in you. Jesus, I trust in you. Jesus, I trust in you.”

Each week, my teacher asked me if I’d stay and each week, I’d stay. At first I only stayed because in my mind it would’ve been awkward to say no, but after a few weeks, meditating upon Divine Mercy became part of my prayer life. Before an exam, at the end of the day, whenever the world seemed to spin a little too fast… “Jesus, I trust in you. Jesus, I trust in you. Jesus, I trust in you.”

Mercy is Freely Given; Not Earned

Let’s get one thing straight: Mercy isn’t something we earn. Jesus is constantly being merciful towards us, but most of the time we aren’t receptive to it. We forget about his love for us. We forget that He chose to die on the cross for us. That choice — that outpouring of mercy — was permanent, and His love has flowed freely since.

As you’ve probably heard, Pope Francis hopes that the whole world will come to know God’s mercy and therefore declared this year to be a Jubilee Year of Mercy. The Year of Mercy ends November 20th, 2016.

I know that seems like a long way away, but in reality, Satan’s favorite lie is that you have plenty of time. He wants you to put off receiving God’s mercy for as long as possible. He’ll even try to convince you that God isn’t merciful; that He would never forgive you. And whenever you start to believe that lie, immediately look to the cross. There you’ll see Jesus with his arms stretched out, ready to embrace you, even at your worst.

A Whole Year Devoted to Mercy

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Now is the time to start taking advantage of the Year of Mercy. Leaning into Divine Mercy will make you aware of the Father’s infinite love for you, and allow Him to love others through you. There are many ways to do this:

  • Receive a plenary indulgence. A plenary indulgence completely eliminates the temporal punishment due to sin. The bishop of your diocese has designated multiple parishes near you to have “Holy Doors.” To receive this indulgence, walk through a Holy Door, go to Confession, receive the Eucharist, and pray for the intentions of the Pope.
  • Which reminds me, go to Confession and experience God’s mercy firsthand.
  • Practice the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
  • Learn about a saint who was committed to God’s message of mercy like St. Faustina or St. John Paul II.
  • Venerate the image of Divine Mercy. Tape it to your mirror, keep one in your car, or use it to mark your place in your weekly planner-anywhere you’ll see it often.
  • Be merciful as your Father is merciful. Pray for the grace to forgive someone who has hurt you.
  • Pray for mercy. Pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, the Litany to Divine Mercy (mind-blowing), the Stations of the Cross, or Pope Francis’ Year of Mercy prayer.

Mercy is for Everyone

I was so excited when I heard about the Year of Mercy because I thought, “This. This is my Church.” I suddenly felt like I was back in a little chapel in Small Town, Florida, praying that God would have mercy on me and on the whole world.

As Catholics, the Year of Mercy is exciting to us, not only because it reminds us how forgiving God is, but also because it’s a message the rest of the world desperately needs to hear.

During a time when the Church is misunderstood and accused of being an institution of hate and rules, we know the truth. We can confidently proclaim that our Church is a Church of Mercy, and do so with arms stretched wide like Jesus Christ on the cross, ready to receive others. The Year of Mercy starts with you and the disposition of your heart.

Jesus told St. Faustina, “I have opened My Heart as a living fountain of mercy. Let all souls draw life from it. Let them approach this sea of mercy with great trust. On the cross, the fountain of My mercy was opened wide by the lance for all souls – no one have I excluded!”

No one have I excluded. This means you and every person you’ll ever meet.

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For more reflections on the mercy of God, check out this little booklet, “Living Mercy” in the Life Teen Store.

About the Author

Patricia Moes

Basically, every day is a great day for Daily Mass and Chick-fil-a milkshakes. I have 7 older siblings who bring me a lot of joy and sometimes, a little sanctification. I love rhetorical strategies and St. Faustina always has my back. Some people call me Sassy Moes (I have no idea why), but when you tweet me/meet me (@pattymmoes), feel free to call me Patty! Go Noles and God Bless.

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