Jesus, Mercy Incarnate
Copyright © 2000 Robert Stackpole
All rights reserved.
I. Saint Faustina and Devotion to the Christ Child 17
1. The Church Fathers and the Incarnation 21
2. Blessings Brought to us by the Christ Child... 23
3. The Infancy of Christ and the Struggle Against Sin 28
4. The Divine Child in the Holy Eucharist 29
II. Saint Faustina and Devotion to the Passion of Jesus
1. Theological Lessons from the Passion of Jesus Christ 43
(a) A Superabundant Satisfaction for Sin 45
(b) Jesus Died for Each and Every One of Us 46
2. Devotional Lessons from the Passion of Jesus Christ 48
3. Ascetical Lessons of Christ’s Passion 57
(a) Trust 58
(b) Consoling the Heart of Jesus 60
(c) The Co-Redemptive Value of Suffering. 65
4. Sanctification Along the Way of the Cross 70
(a) Rising Above Human Suffering 70
(b) Abandonment to Divine Providence 73
(c) Pure self-forgetful Love 76
(d) Human Frailty along the Way of the Cross 77
(a) The Works of Mercy 80
(b) Easter Hope 84
III. The Sacred Heart and The Divine Mercy 101
1. The Sacred Heart and The Divine Mercy are Inseparable 108
2. The Sacred Heart overflows with Merciful Love for Us 110
3. The Devotion to the Sacred Heart easily blends with the Devotion to The Divine Mercy 113
(a) Veneration of the Images 114
(b) The Liturgical Feasts 119
(c) Holy Hours, First Friday Communions, Novenas, and Chaplets 121
(d) Daily Devotions 123
Postscript on the Sacred Heart and The Divine Mercy.. 131
This book is a masterpiece of the Divine Mercy message and devotion.
First of all, Robert Stackpole is a master of distinctions. Throughout the three parts of this work, he uses his master’s touch in making distinctions in a clear and facinating way. He points out differences that illuminate the unity of the “Mystery of Mercy” and makes precise his point for us.
Knowing Robert personally, I read in the text his knowledge, love and wisdom of the saints as well as of theologians, combined with his own personal commitment and love of the Lord and His Church. As a result, he is a master of the “kneeling and sitting theology” described by Hans Urs Von Balthasar.
The product of this two-fold approach of prayer and study is a masterful mosaic of the spiritual life, presenting a practical treasure of “How to live in union with the Lord” from a kaleidoscopic cross-section of Scripture, saints, mystics, theologians, popes and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. From the “sitting” theology we find illuminating distinctions, definitions and descriptions of the Mercy of God. From the “kneeling” theology we find inspiration and the fire of God’s merciful love for us.
In Jesus, Mercy Incarnate, Robert Stackpole has done very special service to the Church, both to the faithful and to theologians. It is an anthology and compendium of the merciful love of God for us and how to live in that love.
The postscript conclusion of Part III on the Sacred Heart and the Divine Mercy is an example of the master’s touch: They are theologically inseparable and complementary and yet not identical, but they are closely related. Each has a different emphasis but both spring from the same source: the Sacred Heart of Jesus overflowing with merciful love for us.
Rev. George W. Kosicki, C.S.B.
This book of essays on devotion to Jesus Christ brings together the texts of several public lectures delivered at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Massachusetts in 1998 and 1999, as part of the work of the John Paul H Institute of Divine Mercy. Thus, each one of these essays is a complete unit in itself, and the three together make a “triptych” of meditations — on the Infancy, on the Passion, and on the Sacred Heart of Jesus — as viewed from the perspective of the teachings of St. Faustina Kowalska, whom Pope John Paul II has called “the great apostle of Divine Mercy in our time.”
The common thread that unites these essays is the conviction that each of the mysteries of Jesus Christ clearly manifests God’s merciful love for the human race, and that if we listen deeply to the way St. Faustina and the saints understood and responded to these mysteries, then we shall be better able to do so ourselves.
However, it is important to be clear from the outset that this book is not about St. Faustina exclusively. My purpose in writing is not only to exhibit St. Faustina’s devotion to Jesus Christ, but to show how her teachings both renew and amplify the teachings of some of the greatest saints and doctors of the Church, down through the ages.
As such, this is also a highly personal book. No one could be qualified to compare the teachings of St. Faustina with those of all of the great spiritual masters of the Catholic tradition. Such a task would take many lifetimes! The writers I chose to draw upon in this study, therefore, could only be those with whom I am most familiar myself, and to whom I am most indebted in my own struggle to follow Jesus Christ In particular, the reader will find that in addition to St. Faustina, I have leaned heavily upon the writings of St. Alphonsus Liguori and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, as well as upon Sacred Heart mystics such as Bl. Dina Bélanger and Sr. Josefa Menendez. At times, I have also drawn upon the guidance of a few of the Franciscan, Dominican, and Jesuit masters of the spiritual life (e.g. St. Francis of Assisi, St. Bonaventure, St. Catherine of Siena, Fr. Gerald Vann, OP., and Fr. Jean-Pierre De Caussade, S.J.). Again, this is inevitably a personal selection. Someone more familiar with the monastic traditions (Benedictine, Cistercian, Carthusian, and Carmelite), and especially with the writings of St. Theresa of Avila and St John of the Cross, might have written a very different book on this topic. I hope someone will do so soon. If this book can inspire someone to undertake such a project, it will have achieved part of its purpose.
Also, this is not just a book of “meditations” or “devotions?’ Rather, it springs from the concern, expressed in classic fashion by Hans Urs Von Balthasar, that ever since the High Middle Ages there has been a regrettable tendency to divide “kneeling” from “sitting” theology. In other words, the tendency is to create a divorce between theology born of prayer, penance, mortification, and humble obedience to the magisterium on the one hand, and theology born of human skill in mastering certain intellectual “sciences” on the other hand, such as history, the social sciences, rational philosophy and theological “systems?’ Doing theology in this latter way alone (i.e., in the scholastic — ”sitting” position) often leads to the kind of sterile, analytical, reductionist, and modernist theologies which are so much in vogue today. Doing theology solely in the former way, however (i.e., in the prayerful — ”kneeling” position) can sometimes lead to theologies which are needlessly obscure, excessively “otherworldly” or pietistic, or carelessly “fundamentalist?’ Surely, the mysteries of the love of Jesus Christ can only begin to be fathomed if we are willing to listen to the hard questions posed (and given provisional answers) at the universities, and at the same time, if we are willing to listen humbly to the revealed doctrines proclaimed to us by the magisterium, and intuited and lived in a unique way in the monasteries, convents, and friaries, and by the faithful and devout in every generation. The best theology always involves both sitting and kneeling, both learning and prayer.
For this reason, I have come to believe that there is no better way to approach the mysteries of Jesus Christ than with the help of the saints and doctors of the Church. These are people who not only knew about our Lord, to the best of their ability, but also knew Him personally, through prayer, the sacraments, and their daily struggle to follow Him.
The attempt to understand Christ based primarily upon modem historical-rational analysis of the Bible, and the use of the modern social sciences, will not get us very far. “Without me:’ Jesus said, “you can do nothing” (Jn.15:5). But the attempt to try to understand the person and work of Christ solely through a blend of piety and personal scriptural meditation is also too narrow. We can only understand the truth about Christ when we are “in Christ,” which means being in and with His Body, the Church: “The ground and pillar of the truth” (I Tim.3:15). It is from within the Church’s life and tradition that our eyes are opened and able to see Jesus more clearly. In particular, this means we need the guidance of the saints — the “best friends” of Jesus and the most loyal sons and daughters of His Church — to help us understand as fully as we can our Savior’s love for us, and the Way to which He calls us.
This book can be read on two levels. First, the text of the essays can be read on their own, as a source of meditations on devotion to Jesus Christ. Secondly, since these meditations inevitably give rise to further questions, and touch upon some of the most controversial topics in Christology, I have provided a number of extended footnotes which may be of help to students of Theology.
My thanks go especially to Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, M.I.C., the Director of the John Paul II Institute, for his guidance with this project, and to my wife Katherine for patiently accomplishing all the computer work needed to produce the final manuscript.
Finally, I would ask any reader who finds this book helpful to remember my family and the Institute in their prayers, so that all of us may come to love and trust the Merciful Heart of Jesus more and more, after the example of St. Faustina, our patron and heavenly friend in Christ.
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