I really felt Divine Mercy Sunday this past week.

Because the teachings and encouragement of John Paul II (who was beatified on Divine Mercy Sunday:) were the major force behind my conversion of faith in college.

Because many of John Paul II's writings have been a continuous source of inspiration and guidance for me and my husband in our relationship.

Because God taught me some lessons this Lent about how generous His mercy is—and how much I need it.

And because I have challenging situations in my life right now that the message of Divine Mercy Sunday speaks to my heart about.

One particular quote from St. Faustina, the Polish nun to whom God the message of the Divine Mercy, really articulates a part of my own spirituality in relation to mercy:

O my Jesus, each of Your saints reflects one of Your virtues; I desire to reflect Your compassionate heart, full of mercy; I want to glorify it. Let Your Mercy, O Jesus, be impressed upon my heart and soul like a seal, and this will be my badge in this and the future life (Diary 1242).

The reason I love this prayer and desire of St. Faustina is that I feel so strongly that mercy is missing from our culture. I can feel it and see the need for it everywhere, especially in our personal relationships, and especially in our families.

Every minute spent in traffic, every misunderstanding, every personal attack, oppression or challenge we face in our everyday lives and relationships--that's when we've got to have mercy.

On one another.

The word "mercy" sounds a little antiquated and vague, I know. So here's how I translate being a merciful personal to my everyday life.

  • Be slow to anger and quick to forgive.
  • Pray for right judgment before you speak or act.
  • Be humble of heart. Pray daily to grow in humility.
  • Pray daily for wisdom.
    • Pray daily that God would reveal to you those things in your heart and life that need to change. Ask him to take out of your heart every thought, belief, feeling or opinion that is not of Him.
    • Let your first reaction in adversity be compassion and trust in God's guidance. Those who hurt you probably have something tough going on in their lives. The very fact that they're not acting Christ-like reveals they need God. They need prayers.
    • Don't indulge in negative speech that we so can easily fall into in conversations. Don't crack jokes at others' expense. Catch yourself before participating in conversations—by word or silence--that "roast" politicians, coworkers, or even friends and family.

Yes, many people make bad choices or hurt us and our loved ones. Sometimes over and over again. But rather than our grudges and anger, they need a Heavenly wakeup call inspired by prayer.

My husband Michael and I actually prayed through the awesome Divine Mercy Novena this year, and it's been amazing to see how God has worked in our lives over those nine days leading up to Divine Mercy Sunday (Not to mention what he has done in our lives since we finished it)!

I think that one of the most important lessons I took away from this Lent was how much I need God’s mercy. I was struck over and over by how many of our everyday prayers and parts of the mass ask God for mercy. I was also struck by several instances in which God showed me my own weaknesses and faults.

How vast and deep must his compassionate heart be to be so merciful to us, who too often reacting with everything but mercy toward others. We have a lot to learn as a culture about mercy, but thankfully we have so many shining examples in the saints--such as St. Faustina--of compassion and mercy. And our Savior is anything but the least of them.

Copyright 2011 Erin Franco