Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Day of Divine Mercy


The door of St. Francis Friary in
Burlington, Wisconsin
Now that my daughter is a thriving teenager, mother/daughter moments aren't as frequent as they once had been.  Life is busy and full and beautiful for both of us, so I'm definitely grateful for any opportunity that we have to spend time together.

Nearly seven years ago, when Mary was just eight-years-old, she and I had just learned the Divine Mercy Chaplet while attending a Roses for Our Lady holy hour for vocations at St. Francis de Sales Seminary where the prayer is regularly chanted.  Mary was charmed by the chant and days later I would find her carrying our family crucifix around the living room and singing "For the sake of the sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world."  I thought that we could both use some practice praying this beautiful prayer that was new to us so we decided to have a special mother/daughter afternoon together searching for sea glass on Lake Michigan, praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet together, and topping the day off with a visit to an ice cream parlor, or as Mary said, "All things Catholic!"

Since the seminary is directly across the street from sea glass beach, we planned a walk through the seminary woods to the Marian grotto to pray the chaplet after sea glassing.  Mary had been walking in front of me and as we turned the corner to reach the grotto I heard Mary gasp with joy and then she started running to the grotto.  When I caught up to her I saw the reason for her happiness-our friend, Bishop Donald Hying, (then still Fr. Don) was sitting on a bench in the grotto praying the rosary.  He stayed and prayed the chaplet with us, making it an extra special prayer.  I wrote a poem about that special day here.

Earlier this month, when Divine Mercy Sunday came and I found that for the first time ever we didn't have other plans that kept us from celebrating this day, I wanted to do something special and was so grateful that Mary could join me in the celebration.  The weather was unusually warm and windy as we made the forty minute drive to the Franciscan Friary in Burlington.  We had never been there before but a friend of ours had told us that Bishop Hying, who is now the Bishop of Gary, Indiana, would be presiding at Mass there and since we hadn't seen our favorite bishop in quite a few months we thought this would be a beautiful opportunity to pray with him.  At the time I hadn't really considered the fact that he had been an important part of my daughter and I first learning the Divine Mercy Chaplet all those years ago.

The Friary grounds
We arrived at the beautiful Friary about ninety minutes before Mass would start and saw that the grounds were especially beautiful and could see an outdoor Stations of the Cross so we took a little prayerful walk before going to the Friary for the chaplet, confession and Mass.   Not only did the grounds boast the Stations of the Cross, but we also found a Portiuncula (small portion of land) of St. Francis that was open for exploring and prayer, as well as a magnificent Marian grotto, much larger than the one at St. Francis de Sales Seminary, that included all of the mysteries of the rosary embedded in the walls.  This grotto, however, was missing a Fr. Don sitting in prayer, but just the sight of it reminded me of that day so many years ago and  I realized how this Divine Mercy Sunday had brought my daughter and I full circle with all three elements-the two of us, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, and Bishop Hying-all together on the same day in the same place.

The day was perfect, rounded out with the kept promise of powerful prayer for some special priests as well as finding many good friends who had also made the trip to the Friary for the special afternoon.  How sweet is the mercy of the Lord, allowing moments of reminiscing and friendship to be a part of potent and jubilant prayer and bringing joy to the hearts of mothers and their daughters!

Jesus, I trust in you!

The Twelfth Station of the Cross-Jesus Dies on the Cross
The Marian Grotto
The First Glorious Mystery at the grotto-The Resurrection

The Portiuncula of St. Francis

St. Francis of Assisi in the Portiuncula


The beautiful altar inside the church-see St. Francis helping Jesus down from the cross?

Bishop Hying blesses the image of Divine Mercy

Our Lady Gate of Dawn icon inside the church-

From Wikipedia: The icon of Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn has become associated with the messages of Divine Mercy. Eight years after the icon was conferred the title of Mother of Mercy, the first exposition of the Divine Mercy image, painted by Eugene Kazimierowski under the direction of Saint Faustina Kowalska, took place at the chapel on April 1935.  In her Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul, she writes of a mystical experience involving the icon in the Gate of Dawn chapel. On 15 November 1935, Saint Faustina was at the Gate of Dawn chapel participating in the last day of the novena before the feast day of the icon, 16 November. She writes of seeing the icon taking on "a living appearance" and speaking to her, telling her "accept all that God asked of me like a little child, without questioning; otherwise it would not be pleasing to God.

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