In the Year of Mercy, at the Feast of Divine Mercy, it felt the right time to say a new prayer, a commitment to merciful love. I felt like I was taking a big step even though it could only be small as I was inspired by the Little Way of St. Thérèse. I am finding the more I become friends with her, the more she seems like the saint of opposites: young but wise, a little flower but with faith as strong as stone. And I know her way is little, and I have to keep trusting that Jesus is providing the wonderful, merciful, grace-filled big answers to the little steps I take.
During Thérèse’s life she offered herself to Merciful Love, just as I’ve tried to do. This offering is one of the main inspirations for Father Michael Gaitley’s 33 Days to Merciful Love: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat in Preparation for Consecration to Divine Mercy. A group of individuals at our church participated in this self-study retreat. So there I was on Divine Mercy Sunday at Mass saying my prayer.
I could ponder Fr. Gaitley’s book for 330 days. But for me, there are three things that I really love from the book after 33 days—plus one prayer experience I had that has guided me.
Perhaps you’ve seen the image of Divine Mercy shown to St. Faustina. Rays of white and red light shine out from the heart of Jesus. At the bottom is written, “Jesus, I trust in you.” It’s hard for me to do, since I tend to want to control my life. Early in the retreat, Fr. Gaitley speaks of asking a mentor, Fr. Seraphim Michaelenko, how he can live with trust.
You will love the simple answer of how to live with trust: “Praise and thank God in all things. That’s what the Lord said to St. Faustina.”
I thought that I had to go out and immediately do large works of mercy. Of course, I want to increase these. But I’ve found that thanking God for good weather, pretty flowers, and other small things throughout the day is increasing my trust.
Most importantly, I’ve started looking people in the eye and smiling—really thanking them by noticing their presence and their uniqueness. Every interaction becomes more of a chance to acknowledge that God is present in everyone and to thank God in a way for making that person unique.
In Thérèse’s offering to Merciful Love, she wants to console the sacred heart of Jesus. I want to find out more about this devotion, especially since June is coming up and is the month of the Sacred Heart!
Prayer to Want to Pray
Sometimes I don’t feel as faithful. I can’t find words to pray. Or I’m at Mass, and I find I’m just thinking about what I have to do next. Thérèse’s words can help me. At our weakest, we can just pray to want to pray.
My Inspirational Prayer Experience
During a faithful time, the prayer experience that set me on the way to the retreat happened on Holy Thursday during Adoration. While watching a young teen pray, I felt all the way through my fingertips, “There is an ocean of mercy without judgment, and hardly anyone knows.”
Whenever I doubt, I return and return to this space of prayer, this memory.
I'm Sherry Weaver Smith, author of The Wolf and the Shield: An Adventure with Saint Patrick. I like to have adventures in getting outside in nature, crafting, and cooking as I explore our Catholic faith with my daughter. We want to be inspired by the saints!