This past weekend did you find yourself once again wishing you could find the time to dive deep into Divine Mercy Sunday? Want to get to know the devotion and make it a way of life, but the kids don’t stop long enough for you to get a shower, never mind a crash course on St. Faustina and her 730-or-so-page journal? That’s where Divine Mercy for Moms: Sharing the Lessons of St. Faustina by Michele Faehnle and Emily Jamient from Ave Maria Press comes in. The Ohio mothers, who run www.divinemercyformoms.com and are responsible for the Columbus Catholic Women’s Conference, talk about the book, the devotion and the life.
Kathryn Jean Lopez: Is Divine Mercy for mothers radically different from Divine Mercy for anyone else?
Michele Faehnle: God has called everyone into his ocean of great mercy, but we as moms have a special calling, or as Fr. Michael E. Gaitley, MIC, writes in the forward, we are “special ops” in the great mission of transforming the world through divine mercy one motherly task at a time.
How/why has this Polish Divine Mercy devotion gone Church universal? We already have the Bible. Many pray the rosary. Do we need this?
Faehnle: We need mercy! Pope Francis can’t say it enough. This devotion reinforces that the central message of the Gospel is mercy. His mercy is a great gift from God that so many refuse. This devotion is simple and transforming but very doable for the busy family. Our kids love it!
Why would you have your children draw their own Divine Mercy image?
Jaminet: We can learn so much from our children. Their sweet and innocent hearts show us so much about God. By inviting them to share how they see this beautiful picture of Jesus in their minds can make a lasting effect on both children and parents. Often times we show our children Christ crucified, but we also want to show them this image of the risen Christ, stepping towards them and embracing them for who they are. Our prayer is that they always see Christ in this way and know they can always return to his merciful heart.
How can Sr. Faustina get a mom through a day? She was a nun, not a mom.
Faehnle: St. Faustina was in an order that placed the sisters in two choirs, one for the educated sisters and the other for those who were not educated. St. Faustina, in the second choir, spent her life caring for the other sisters in her order and all the women they ministered to. She did jobs like cooking, cleaning, gardening, and answering the door to those asking for continual needs. She also was a domestic helper before entering the convent and a fantastic nanny. She did many of the jobs we as moms do and did them with joy! We know she tapped us on the shoulder to write this book and she wants to help all moms trust in Jesus and be living images of Divine Mercy.
How can getting to know her – and letting other people know about her – change a life?
Jaminet: The Church gives us the gift of the saints to help inspire us to live lives of heroic virtue. St. Faustina was a modern-day saint who died in the 1930s, a time of great turbulence in Poland. She grew up in poverty in a large family that she helped support at a young age, yet she grew in holiness despite all these obstacles. It was her great desire to spread the devotion to Divine Mercy and save souls. By reading about how this simple, uneducated sister was able to spread the message of mercy to millions (especially before the age of the Internet) and preparing the people of Poland for the great suffering of World War II, you can’t help but be inspired and know God wants to use you in this way too!
How do you keep “charity, clarity and kindness” in mind always? In the hectic-ness and lack of cooperation that you can encounter at home and elsewhere?
Jaminet: It’s easy to turn into the “frowny face yelly mom!” This devotion has helped us pause and pray. When you feel your blood boiling, repeating “Jesus, I trust in you” or the words of the chaplet can really help calm you and invite Jesus into your heart.
How can “Attending a wake, funeral, and burial … be a very touching act of mercy”? Why is this so important? And even for people you don’t necessarily know well.
Faehnle: My mother always told me that you don’t go to a funeral or wake for the person who passed but to comfort the family members. Attending a funeral, wake or burial covers three of the works of mercy — bury the dead, comfort the sorrowful and pray for the living and the dead. Those who have grieved the loss of a loved one know how comforting it is to have the Christian community supporting them. It is also very important to pray for the family and the soul of the person who passed, so by attending the funeral and praying for the family, you are giving them a great gift.
Practically speaking, how can you “Be a person of hope”?
Jaminet: Hope begins with our attitude. We can’t despair and allow fear to guide our lives. We must cling to the words “Jesus, I trust in you.” Divine Mercy provides us with a pathway to this hope that comes when you place your hope Christ. He is the source of our hope.
The Divine Mercy chaplet can be super practical at 3 in the afternoon?
Faehnle: Whether you are finishing up a work day or picking up the kids from school, 3 p.m. can be a tough time for us as moms. Just when you feel like it’s time for a nap, the day is about to pick up again. Taking just a moment to pause and pray can reset the day and give your family the grace to continue the day. We recommend setting a reminder on your phone to pray the chaplet — and you can even use the official Divine Mercy app to help you! We always tell moms that if they forget and 3 p.m. passes by, you can still say the chaplet, because as a bumper sticker we once saw said, “It’s three o’clock somewhere — pray the chaplet.”
How would you go about sharing “one aspect of the Divine Mercy devotion with a family member or friend”? Especially if that might seem odd or out of place?
Jaminet: We have found that sharing the image of Divine Mercy has been very well received. We’ve given it as a gift for baptisms, First Communions, to the hospital when people are sick or dying and even given as a bereavement gift. This beautiful image of Jesus is so inviting and peaceful and also comes with great promises. The idea is to inspire others. Often it becomes an invitation to grow in their faith.
“[O]ne of the biggest mercies for a mom is an evening out with friends!” Can that be an act of mercy — husbands and family and neighbors who help make that possible?
Jaminet: Absolutely! Moms need a break to refresh and recharge. They also need support. Inviting a new mom over for coffee may not seem like a big deal to you, but I’ve seen it really pick up someone’s day!
Kathryn Jean Lopezis senior fellow at the National Review Institute and editor-at-large of National Review Online. She is co-author of the new revised and updated edition of How to Defend the Faith Without Raising Your Voice (available from Our Sunday Visitor and Amazon.com).