Last Sunday while I was at a graduation party, I spent some time talking to one of Georgette’s cousins, Tim Siedlecki. Tim is in his mid 30’s. About 13 years ago, he moved from Peoria to St. Louis after accepting a job at the Boeing Corporation. Shortly after he moved, Tim bought a house in a residential area near the St. Louis airport.
One of the first things I asked Tim was whether the tornado that passed through St. Louis in April had any impact on his neighborhood. He said yes. The tornado followed a path that tore up parts of the airport and then proceeded to pass through the area where Tim lives. I asked him where he was when the tornado touched down and he said he was at Mass at St. Raymond’s Maronite Catholic Church (near downtown St. Louis). He heard about the tornado after Mass and listened to updates on his car radio while he drove home from the church.
As he approached his subdivision, the main street leading into the subdivision was blocked off, so he was prevented from driving to his house. He tried several different routes, all of which were blocked by local police. It was dark outside and a police officer stopped him and told him that because of the extensive damage in his neighborhood, he would be better off finding somewhere else to stay for the night.
Tim was anxious to see if the tornado damaged his house, so he found a place to park his car and then proceeded to walk home. As he was walking home, he passed several houses that were severely damaged or completely destroyed. There were also a number of trees that had been uprooted and had fallen onto the streets and onto several of the houses.
As Tim was telling me what happened, he hesitated and then told me about an experience he had when he was a teenager (over 20 years ago). He said that my mom gave a talk about devotion to the King of Divine Mercy (also known as the Divine Mercy) at a youth group meeting he attended at St. Sharbel Maronite Catholic Church in Peoria. At that time, the church was located on Bradley Avenue in Peoria, only a few blocks from where Tim lived.
My mom told the young Catholics who were in attendance at the meeting that during World War II, hundreds of buildings were destroyed in Poland as a result of bombing; however, there were two Catholic churches in two different cities that remained standing (while all of the buildings around them had been completely destroyed by bombs). In each of the two churches, there was a large Divine Mercy picture hanging on an interior wall. In a neighborhood that was near one of the churches, all of the houses were completely destroyed except for one house that had a Divine Mercy picture hanging inside on a wall.
Tim said that my mom encouraged all of the young Catholics at the meeting to develop a devotion to the King of Divine Mercy and told them that our Lord had promised that if they prayed to the Divine Mercy and displayed His picture on one of the walls in their homes, they and their homes would receive special protection.
After telling me about what my mom said at the youth group meeting, Tim went back to where he left off when he was telling me about the tornado. He said that as he was walking home, he kept thinking over and over again, “I’m sure everything is ok, because I have a picture of the Divine Mercy hanging in my house.”
He was right. When Tim got home, he surveyed the damage. There were some large trees limbs that had fallen onto the roof of his house and punctured some softball size holes through the roof. In addition to the holes, the shingles were damaged on various sections of the roof. There was no damage to the interior of his house. I asked Tim how old the shingles were on his roof and he told me they were “over 20 years old.” (If you know anything about shingles, you know that they ordinarily need to be replaced every 20 to 25 years.)
The next morning a contractor stopped by Tim’s house and offered to cover the entire roof with a tarp. Tim’s insurance company later agreed to pay for the repairs to the roof and to pay to have the entire roof re-shingled, something he would have had to do in the next few years anyway.
Tim said that the two houses located on either side of his house sustained significantly more damage than his house. The houses next to those houses didn’t fare so well. One of the houses was completely blown off of its foundation and was scattered throughout the neighborhood and the other house was so badly damaged that the city ended up condemning it.
Last month Georgette and a couple of my daughters painted the living room and hallways on the main floor of our house. The day they finished painting, I came home from work and noticed one picture hanging in the entrance hallway. It was the Divine Mercy picture that my mom gave us several years ago. The nine or ten other pictures that had been taken down from the walls didn’t get re-hung until a few days later when I helped Georgette hang them. I didn’t need to ask Georgette why she was so quick to hang the Divine Mercy picture. I knew why she did it. It was because of her respect for and devotion to the King of Divine Mercy.
The history of the Divine Mercy dates back to Sunday, February 22, 1931, when our Lord appeared to a Polish nun, Sr. Maria Faustina Kowalska. According to Sr. Faustina’s diary, our Lord was wearing a white garment and appeared to her as the “King of Divine Mercy.” There were rays of white and red light emanating from near his heart and He told her: “Paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the signature: ‘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.” Sr. Faustina later wrote, “I saw two rays coming out from the Host, as in the image, closely united but not intermingled…” (Diary, 344). She then quoted our Lord: “The two rays [in the image] denote blood and water. The pale ray stands for the water which makes souls righteous. The red ray stands for the blood that is the life of souls. These two rays issued forth from the very depths of My tender mercy when My agonized Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross.” (Diary, 299). She later provided guidance to an artist who painted what she saw in her vision.
Sr. Faustina died on October 5, 1938, at the age of 33. She was beatified on April 18, 1993, and canonized on April 30, 2000. St. Faustina was the first saint to be canonized in the 21st century, and is commonly referred to as The Apostle of Mercy.
According to St. Faustina’s diary, Jesus taught her how to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet and asked her to teach it to others. The purpose of the chaplet is threefold: (1) to obtain mercy; (2) to develop trust in Christ’s mercy; and (3) to learn how to show mercy to others. You can find more information about devotion to the King of Divine Mercy at: http://www.ewtn.com/devotionals/mercy/backgr.htm, and details about how to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet at: http://www.ewtn.com/devotionals/mercy/dmmap.htm.
For years my mom has given newly married couples a framed picture of the Divine Mercy to hang in their homes. In the dangerous and perilous times that we live in, what we need most is God’s mercy. Would you be willing to agree with me that now would be a good time to “decorate” your house with a newly framed picture of the King of Divine Mercy? I would suggest that you add this to the top of your “To Do” list.