Highway To Heaven? The Divine Mercy Devotion

Last Sunday was, well, Dominica in albis. You might have noticed in the past that I don't like this Divine Mercy thing much.

I accept the fact that the first translations might have been particularly bad. I accept the fact that St Faustina Kowalska was a saintly nun. But being saintly does not make one infallible, and even saintly people may be wrong. In the same way as the canonisation of Bernadette does not oblige anyone to believe in the Lourdes apparitions, I as a Catholic am not obliged in the least to believe in the Divine Mercy ones.

Much has been written on the subject. What makes me instinctively and immediately sceptical is this idea of fast and easy paradise. Apparently, the followers of the apparition believe that it is very easy to go to paradise on the express lane; not only ourselves, which would be wrong enough, but even people who have a lot to be purged from in purgatory. Come on, this can't be right.

For centuries we have been warned of a long and painful permanence in Purgatory. Countless generations of very holy men and women have prayed and done penance for decades on end in the hope of shortening theirs and their beloved ones' stay there. I pray for my loved ones – and can't imagine any serious Catholic who did not do it in ages past – decades after their death. This is how it has always been.

Why this should be changed is beyond me. God can't change, so it cannot be that Our Lord suddenly decides to appear to a Polish nun and to say to her: “you know what? Let's do it differently now! Big Paradise Sale! Until life lasts!”

Browse on the Internet and you will read the most outlandish conclusions from the alleged revelations: “straight ticket to heaven”, “floodgates of mercy are open”, 1000 souls released from purgatory for a short prayer, and the like. Please.

The practical implications are devastating. It is impossible to believe in such a fast lane to heaven without losing a good portion of the fear of the Lord of our forefathers; when this happens, it becomes very difficult to reconcile an extremely easy paradise with the terrible reality of the danger of hell. If Paradise is so easy hell can't be a real danger, either.

If we look at the past centuries, we can clearly see that in the ages in which faith was strongest purgatory was feared the most, and the great season of theological reflections on purgatory came exactly because of the great importance it had in pious people's lives.

I also wonder why an omniscient God would not only change His rules, but He would also do so in an age of widespread licence, rampant heathenism, and endemic loss of faith. Who in his right mind can think that this wholesale elimination of punishment actually does anything for Catholicism? When has the child, upon being told that pretty much whatever he does he will meet only an extremely mild punishment, been encouraged to be a better child? Those who think this way are far more likely raise thieves, sluts, and drug addicts.

Beware of those who tell you the way is so easy. We are supposed to work on our salvation with fear and trembling, and I can't see how there can be any fear, much less trembling, when the Big Paradise Sale is ongoing.

Also note a general trend: that the more faithless the time become, the more we are surrounded by talk of mercy. Visit any V II parish for a while and tell me whether there is no underlying atmosphere of something for nothing, of result without effort, of salvation without sacrifice. In the end, it all boils down to the same concept: relax, unless you are Stalin there isn't much to worry about.

I for myself will follow a simple rule: if it would have seemed “off” to my grand-grandmas, it is “off” to me.

Simple, really.

And so Catholic.




Posted on April 6, 2016, in Catholicism, Conservative Catholicism, Traditional Catholicism and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 28 Comments.

  1. Why is it that we always agree. 🙂

  2. St. Faustina’s diary for the birthdate of Pope Francis (Dec 17 1936) – “.. I have suffered more today than ever before, both interiorly and exteriorly. I did not know that it was possible to suffer so much in one day… my spirit had the taste of the bitterness of Gethsemane.”

  3. Its a devotion that to me always seemed off. I could quite put my finger on it. To me it’s the image where the heart is not shown nor I understand the wounds on Christ hands

  4. Express lane 10 sins or less, have your Divine Mercy coupon ready.

  5. The Divine Mercy Devotion was condemned by popes in the past and put on the prohibited index. The main problem with it is that there is no requirement of penance or reparation of sins to achieve God’s mercy. Sound familiar? Just like Francis’ big mercy push, there’s no focus on confession, penance and intention not to commit the sin again.

    Sister Faustina could have been a saintly nun, but she could have been mistaken about whose voice and image she experienced. “And no wonder: for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” 2 Cor 11:14. When the devil finds something that leads souls off of the right path, he keeps repeating it. This may be why belief in private apparitions is not a requirement for our salvation. I do believe in Fatima, Lourdes, and many others, but this one has always been questionable for me.

    • I had read somewhere that the aspects you mention were the fruit of bad translation from the Polish. I would have the same reservation concerning this devotion if the problems you mention were not present.

  6. I can only speak for myself, but I recite the Divine Mercy devotion and I have never looked at it as a “fast track” to heaven. I look at it as another devotional in my overall prayer life. I guess people can look at it that way, but that is something they need to work out for themselves, rather than a flaw with the devotion. I participated in the Divine Mercy devotional at the Fathers of Mercy chapel in Kentucky this past weekend. During the homily (which was 1 hour) the priest never gave the impression of any fast track. Anyways, just my two cents.

    • I suggest that you, in this case, consider ditching this devotion not because it causes a heterodox praxis in you, but because it could cause it on others.

      I confirm that also here in the UK I have never seen this devotion abused by a priest in a questionable sense. But again, it’s everywhere on the Internet, where the faithful will go sooner or later.

  7. “I also wonder why an omniscient God would not only change His rules, but He would also do so in an age of widespread licence, rampant heathenism, and endemic loss of faith. Who in his right mind can think that this wholesale elimination of punishment actually does anything for Catholicism? When has the child, upon being told that pretty much whatever he does he will meet only an extremely mild punishment, been encouraged to be a better child? Those who think this way are far more likely raise thieves, sluts, and drug addicts.”

    M, that definitely applies (more appropriately, in my view) to JPII’s arbitrary revisionism concerning capital punishment for murder.

  8. I have been skeptical also of the Divine Mercy messages of Sister Faustine but I didn’t know why. Thank you for clearing it up for me.

    I love the way your mind works.


  9. we had prayer group and they decided to follow the CD with the original divine mercy rosary from Poland.

    I was ok in the beginning, but somewhere in the middle I just couldn’t stand it. So much about feeeeelings. So many deals (do you want to add another $0,50?). I had to stop and start praying something else.

    I lost the little devotion I had left for it.

  10. Mundabor, Mundabor, the temporary punishment in purgatory we deserve because of the sins we commit while in this life can be shortened in various ways: by offering up to the Lord our sufferings and pains we constantly meet, by offering Masses for the faithful departed, by doing works of mercy, by taking advantage of the indulgences, by receiving Holy Communion and going to confession frequently. (I do not expect to publish my comment since you censored me last year) Have a great day my friend…..

    • Crusader, crusader, by comments like yours I always wonder whether the commenter made the effort of reading the blog post first…

    • I censor easily and harshly. This is not a democratic forum. However, if your message has appeared on my screen it means that you weren’t banned.
      I do that without much thought, too.
      I am merciful like that…

  11. On another blog, a religion teacher said the following:

    “Where I am all my students are from Latino families where the parents don’t typically know their faith really well, the parents bring the kids for 2 years because it’s the minimum to ‘get’ their sacraments then most don’t come back the following year. If the kids don’t hear about the basics of the Faith from me they are in some danger of never having it taught and explained to them. Today we learned about the Year of Mercy and what an indulgence is and walked through the Doors of Mercy, learned about St. Faustina and the Feast of Divine Mercy and saw the Divine Mercy image in the Church and learned what it means . . .”.

    This woman thinks the “basics of the Faith” are PF’s “Year of Mercy” and Faustina’s “Divine Mercy Devotion”. It makes me want to gag.

  12. First, there are many leaders within the Church who promote this false mercy without repentance. However, this is not in the diary of St. Faustina. She does state this is the time of God’s mercy, since after we die or at the second coming of Jesus Christ, it is too late and it will then be the time of God’s judgement. It is clearly stated in the book people will go to Hell who do not seek God’s mercy with repentance. For example, in paragraph 741 she describes the chasms of Hell. She states later in the paragraph, “Let the sinner know that he will tortured throughout eternity, in those senses which he mad use of to sin”. Also, in the same paragraph, “But I noticed on thing: that most of the souls there are those who disbelieved that there is a Hell”. Go check out the begining this paragraph and you will find the 7 tortures of Hell described by her.

    The Catholic establishment does not like to talk about these passages in the diary, and ignores them as they ignore the hard moral teachings in the Holy Bible as well. However, I would not denounce the true Divine Mercy of the diary which is nothing like, again, the Divine Mercy promoted by the Catholic Establishment.

    • But you see, is what you say not indictment enough? Which apparition has been abused – to the extent it is abused – after it has been considered worthy of belief, without casting a doubt on whether it is worthy of belief?

      The very same phrase you mention is theologically questionable, as it seem to imply that most non-Christian believers do avoid hell. This is, emphatically, not what the Church teaches.

      Furthermore, by tons of alleged statements it is not difficult to find those who can be used for the wrong purposes. It all points out to something “off” even without doubting the good faith of St Faustina.

  13. There seems to be some friction between the promoters of the Divine Mercy devotion and the plain decree from the Vatican, the latter of which can sort of be considered an authority for Catholics to follow on things like this.

    The Vatican statement is that a plenary indulgence is granted under the normal conditions of the plenary indulgence, including that fourth condition. This makes the Feast of Divine Mercy one of the many plenary indulgences available all throughout the year.

    The promoters say that you merely need to go to Confession, receive the Eucharist, and pray the Chaplet to receive the same effects of a plenary indulgence. Now I don’t think they have the authority to interpret the apparition and make such a declaration. The Holy See has officially decreed that it is a plenary indulgence and nothing other; as I see it, the parish must abide by that.

    • As I have stated, the problem is in the climate the devotion creates. A devout Catholic will easily put everything in the appropriate rails (though I wonder, then, what need he has of this devotion). A more simple Catholic, not so much.

  14. I prayed the chaplet occasionally in the past but without ‘subscribing’ to any organization. One day after Mass I heard an older person tell our very traditional priest about it, and that he was going to take up the devotion. ‘What do you think about it, Father?’ Father’s reply: ‘Do you say your rosary daily?’ ‘Well, no Father, not always.’ Father’s reply, ‘Until you’ve developed the habit of saying your morning and evening prayers and prayers before meals, and the daily rosary as our lady requested, you have no time to add other devotions.’

  15. I find it hard to believe that even in the dim dark past of the 40s there were no translators who could do a good rendition of Faustina’s stuff. Nonsense. The words were plain to see. This devotion was condemned for very good reasons. In my opinion JPII dragged it back from the brink because he was Polish and wanted to give his fellow countrymen something to hang onto. What the good priest said above is right on. The Rosary, Fatima, Lourdes, Akita, Quito – now there are devotions with meat on their bones. If Quito and Akita don’t work you are DEAD.

    • What could have happened is that the translators had the wrong intentions. However, you are right that this is another issue that gives food for thought.

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