April 18, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) ― LifeSiteNews is streaming a special Holy Hour prayer service for Catholics throughout the world Saturday at 6:00pm Eastern time in anticipation of Divine Mercy Sunday.
The aim of the Holy Hour is for Catholics to beg God for the conversion of sinners and for the graces of His Mercy. It includes the Divine Mercy Chaplet and meditations on several passages from the Diary of St. Faustina.
Fr. Anthony Pillari is leading the prayers and reflections on LifeSite’s Youtube channel at 6:00pm, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT). Fr. Pillari has been live streaming the Holy Rosary from Italy through LifeSiteNews over the past month.
The 6:00 pm release time allows the faithful in North America to join as a preparation for Divine Mercy Sunday while making it available in time for Australian viewers to tune in as part of their Divine Mercy Sunday celebrations. The video will continue to be available on LifeSite’s Youtube channel so Catholics throughout the world may join in on the feast, or later, as they choose.
Saint Faustina Kowalska, who was born in Głogowiec, Poland, lived from 1905 to 1938. In 1931, she experienced her first vision of the Divine Mercy: Our Lord Jesus with white and red rays emanating from his heart. She wrote in her diary that he instructed her to record him like this, saying “Paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the words ‘Jesus, I trust in You’. I desire that this image be venerated, first in your chapel, and then throughout the world. I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish.” Her visions persisted, and she spent the rest of her life promoting devotion to the Divine Mercy.
In reflecting on the importance of the Divine Mercy for sinners, Father Pillari told LifeSiteNews that St. Faustina had written about a vision of hell in which most souls there had something in common.
“‘I noticed… that most of the souls [in Hell] are those who disbelieved that there is a hell’ (Diary 741). With these words, St. Faustina concludes her sobering description of hell,” Pillari said via email.
“During this vision, she saw ‘… the tortures suffered by all the damned together, but that is not the end of the sufferings. There are special tortures destined for particular souls. These are the torments of the senses. Each soul undergoes terrible and indescribable sufferings, related to the manner in which it has sinned… I would have died at the very sight of these tortures if the omnipotence of God had not supported me. Let the sinner know that he will be tortured throughout all eternity, in those senses which he made use of to sin,” Pillari continued.
“With this sobering vision, God reminds us, through St. Faustina, of our great need of the Divine Mercy. In her diary, side by side with such stark visions (see also Diary 153 on the two roads [below]), there are constant invitations to conversion and to trust in God’s Mercy.”
As Divine Mercy Sunday is a relatively new celebration, having been instituted worldwide by St. John Paul II, some Catholics may wonder how the feast corresponds to the traditional celebration of Low, or Quasimodo, Sunday, the first Sunday following Easter Sunday. Fr. Pillari told LifeSiteNews that this Sunday has always had a special connection to God’s mercy.
“In the traditional liturgy, the Gospel for that Sunday has always been that of the appearance of the risen Lord to the Apostles and the conferral of the power to absolve sins,” he explained.
“Hence, that Sunday has always featured a special emphasis on God’s mercy. According to St. Thomas Aquinas, Mercy may be considered the greatest of God’s attributes (Summa Theologiae II-II, q. 30, a. 4),” he continued.
“A Sunday devoted to invoking God’s mercy upon the world, and to receiving His mercy, especially through the Sacraments of Confession and Holy Communion, is quite in harmony with the Church’s tradition.”
Devotion to the Divine Mercy is promoted around the world by the Marist Fathers. Marist Fr. Chris Alar is the Director of the Association of Marian Helpers at The National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, MA. Recently he encouraged Catholics to post copies of The Divine Mercy image to their doors as a sign of faith in God’s protection.
Preparatory Readings for Saturday’s Divine Mercy Holy Hour
The following passages are taken from the Diary of St. Faustina and they refer to her visions of Hell, Purgatory and Heaven.
Two Paths: “…I saw two roads. One was broad, covered with sand and flowers, full of joy, music and all sorts of pleasures. People walked along it, dancing and enjoying themselves. They reached the end without realizing it. And at the end of the road there was a horrible precipice; that is, the abyss of hell. The souls fell blindly into it; as they walked, so they fell. And their number was so great that it was impossible to count them.
“And I saw the other road, or rather, a path, for it was narrow and strewn with thorns and rocks; and the people who walked along it had tears in their eyes, and all kinds of suffering befell them. Some fell down upon the rocks, but stood up immediately and went on. At the end of the road there was a magnificent garden filled with all sorts of happiness and all these souls entered there. At the very first instant they forgot all their sufferings” (Diary, 153).
Hell: “Today I was led by an Angel to the chasms of hell. It is a place of great torture; how awesomely large and extensive it is! The kinds of tortures I saw: the first torture that constitutes hell is the loss of God; the second is perpetual remorse of conscience; the third is that one’s condition will never change; the fourth is the fire that will penetrate the soul without destroying it, a terrible suffering, since it is a purely spiritual fire, lit by God’s anger; the fifth torture is conditional darkness and a terrible suffocating smell, and despite the darkness, the devils and the souls of the damned see each other and all the evil, both of others and their own; the sixth torture is the constant company of satan, the seventh torture is horrible despair, hatred of God, vile words, curses and blasphemies.
“These are the tortures suffered by all the damned together, but that is not the end of the sufferings. There are special tortures destined for particular souls. These are the torments of the senses. Each soul undergoes terrible and indescribable sufferings, related to the manner in which it has sinned. There are caverns and pits of torture where one form of agony differs from another.
“I would have died at the very sight of these tortures if the omnipotence of God had not supported me. Let the sinner know that he will be tortured throughout all eternity, in those senses which he made use of to sin. I am writing this at the command of God, so that no soul may find an excuse by saying there is no hell, or that nobody has ever been there, and so no one can say what it is like.
“I, Sister Faustina, by the order of God, have visited the abysses of hell so that I might tell souls about it and testify to its existence. I cannot speak about it now; but I have received a command from God to leave it in writing. The devils were full of hatred for me, but they had to obey me at the command of God. What I have written is but a pale shadow of the things I saw. But I noticed one thing: that most of the souls there are those who disbelieved that there is a hell. When I came to, I could hardly recover from the fright. How terribly souls suffer there!
“Consequently, I pray even more fervently for the conversion of sinners. I incessantly plead God’s mercy upon them. O my Jesus, I would rather be in agony until the end of the world, amidst the greatest sufferings, then offend You by the least sin” (Diary, 741).
Purgatory: ” …I saw my Guardian Angel, who ordered me to follow him. In a moment I was in a misty place full of fire in which there was a great crowd of suffering souls. They were praying fervently, but to no avail, for themselves; only we can come to their aid. The flames, which were burning them, did not touch me at all. My Guardian Angel did not leave me for an instant. I asked these souls what their greatest suffering was. They answered me in one voice that their greatest torment was longing for God.
“I saw Our Lady visiting the souls in Purgatory. The souls call Her “The Star of the Sea”. She brings them refreshment. I wanted to talk with them some more, but my Guardian Angel beckoned me to leave. We went out of that prison of suffering. [I heard an interior voice which said] ‘My mercy does not want this, but justice demands it. Since that time, I am in closer communion with the suffering souls.’” (Diary, 20)
Heaven: “November 27, 1936. Today I was in heaven, in spirit, and I saw its inconceivable beauties and the happiness that awaits us after death. I saw how all creatures give ceaseless praise and glory to God. I saw how great is happiness in God, which spreads to all creatures, making them happy; and then all the glory and praise which springs from this happiness returns to its source; and they enter into the depths of God, contemplating the inner life of God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, whom they will never comprehend or fathom. This source of happiness is unchanging in its essence, but it is always new, gushing forth happiness for all creatures.
“Now I understand Saint Paul, who said, “Eye has not seen, nor has ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man what God has prepared for those who love him.” And God has given me to understand that there is but one thing that is of infinite value in His eyes, and that is love of God; love, love and once again, love; and nothing can compare with a single act of pure love of God.
“Oh, with what inconceivable favors God gifts a soul that loves Him sincerely! Oh, how happy is the soul who already here on earth enjoys His special favors! And of such are the little and humble souls. The sight of this great majesty of God, which I came to understand more profoundly and which is worshipped by the heavenly spirits according to their degree of grace and the hierarchies into which they are divided, did not cause my soul to be stricken with terror or fear; no, no, not at all! My soul was filled with peace and love, and the more I come to know the greatness of God, the more joyful I become that He is as He is. And I rejoice immensely in His greatness and am delighted that I am so little because, since I am little, He carries me in His arms and holds me close to His Heart.
“O my God, how I pity those people who do not believe in eternal life; how I pray for them that a ray of mercy would envelop them too, and that God would clasp them to His fatherly bosom… ” (Diary, 777).
“I desire trust from My creatures. Encourage souls to place great trust in My fathomless mercy. Let the weak, sinful soul have no fear to approach Me, for even if it had more sins than there are grains of sand in the world, and all would be drowned in the immeasurable depths of My mercy. (Diary, 1059)