I think when we moved our clocks forward for Daylight’s Saving Time, we accidentally activated some sort of “warp speed” setting. Because, I don’t know about you, but it’s hard to believe that Easter is behind us already! Time is flying by!
And this Sunday, is Divine Mercy Sunday — the first Sunday after Easter when the Catholic church specifically honors our devotion to Jesus’ mericiful heart through His Passion and death, as depicted in the image of the Divine Mercy.
I have a very special attachment to the Divine Mercy. In a lot of ways, it helped save me from my anorexia in a very poignant and powerful way: one that could only be described as divine. I was telling this story to a friend at the 1:38 Women’s Conference the other weekend, and I was taken aback by how moved this woman was by the story, and so I thought I’d share it here, too.
*And just as a quick little note, I will be on Alyssa Bormes’ radio show, Catholic Kaleidoscope this Sunday at 2pm ET (on Divine Mercy Sunday), to talk about this exact topic. You can tune in online, here! She also spoke at the 1:38 Women’s Conference, and WOW she has a powerful story. I was moved to tears listening to her speak. What an incredible woman with a heart for God. (You can watch her talk here.) *
But okay – to really appreciate this story, we have to go back to 2007, when I was deeply enslaved to my anorexia. In the “danger zone,” for lack of a better term. And step into the shoes of my beautiful mother, as she held all of her worry and fear and anxiety in her heart.
Gosh. The pain I put this woman through. Even though I know she has forgiven me and loves me and we have moved on and healed together, my heart still sinks every time I remember this time: Seeing her daughter waste away to 78 pounds, with her hair having fallen out, and entrenched in disordered behavior that would often manifest in fits of rage…
I remember talking with her years later, and she said something to me that I think will haunt me for the rest of my life. She said, “I had to prepare myself that you may die.”
You see, I had led everyone to believe that I didn’t have an eating disorder, and that the weight loss was due to my Ulcerative Colitis. But my mother, trusting her mother’s intuition, she could see right through my deception. She knew it was anorexia. And she was the one who, without anyone’s knowledge, put me on the waiting list for the top eating disorder treatment facility in the country, that would eventually save my life.
But I was an 18 year old senior, and legally an adult, therefore my parents couldn’t force me to get help or go to inpatient. (Which is why they eventually staged an intervention).
But during this time, when she felt her hands were tied, and she couldn’t reach this shell of a person she barely recognized as her daughter…she never once gossiped about me. She didn’t talk about me to her friends, or put me on any public prayer request lists. No. She kept it to herself, because she knew it wasn’t her story to tell.
She instinctively knew that if, *God willing* I made it through that terrible eating disorder, if our relationship was ever to heal, I had to be able to trust her. Even though I was obliterating her trust in me, with my lies, deception, secret exercise, throwing away of food, etc…she knew that I had to trust her, if we were to ever be able to move forward and heal.
And so she took all the emotions and fears and worries to Jesus, and she would spend every night at church in the Adoration Chapel, praying for me. Pleading to God to save me and rescue me from the grips of the enemy.
But the one person she did confide in, was our parish priest. She sought his guidance on how to pray, as well as just having someone outside of our family to talk to and get perspective.
And during one of her confessions, he suggested to her that she adopt a devotion to the Divine Mercy. And he gave her a little prayer card and booklet about it.
He explained it to my mom as God’s mercy meeting our suffering and pain.
This image of Jesus was given to Saint Maria Faustina, depicting Christ’s mercy pouring from His heart in a red and white ray. And underneath the image is the phrase, “Jesus, I trust in You.”
So my mom, desperate to do anything she can to save me, decided to read more about it, and so she went to our local Christian bookstore to pick up a few books. And wouldn’t you know, that *right* as she arrived, they were unloading from this big truck, a beautiful, nearly life-size, framed painting of the image of the Divine Mercy.
It was the only one they had ordered, and my mom, recognizing this as a reassuring hug from God, bought the painting on the spot, and it has had a prominent place in our home ever since.
Jesus’ Divine Mercy is what got my mom through that horrific season. His mercy sustained her.
You see, the devotion to it, is all about the mercy of Jesus. And how we can completely trust in Him.
Saint Faustina heard these words from Jesus during the vision: “Paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the signature: Jesus, I trust in You. I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish…I am offering people a vessel with which they are to keep coming for graces to the fountain of mercy.”
I recently asked my mom about it, and here’s what she had to say…
I have one incredible mom.
And we have one incredible Savior.
The thing about this image that is so powerful, is that Jesus is literally stepping into our darkness. He’s our beacon of light. He’s entering into our suffering, and pain and fears, He’s saying: Place your trust in Me. Don’t give into fear or anxiety. Just look at Me. Focus on Me, because I love you, and I’m with you, and I will get you through this.
If that isn’t my story in a nutshell, I don’t know what is.
But then that’s the thing about the Divine Mercy: it is the hope of the Gospel, boiled down into one five-word phrase: Jesus I trust in You.
So tomorrow, as we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday, here – in 2021, in the midst of a global pandemic where suffering has abounded — may we all feel Jesus stepping into our darkness and personally inviting us to place our trust in Him.
“This is what the Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Ez 37:5
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