Divine Mercy Lenten Day of Reflection explores redemptive suffering, hope

Sister Faustina Thomas, OP, one the speakers at the Divine Mercy Lenten Day of Reflection, catches up with (from left) Peggy Shane, Jessica Shane and Pat Franzoni of St. Jude in Peoria, during a break. She offered a reflection on Divine Mercy. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

Suffering is not something we seek, but it offers an invitation to surrender to God and trust in his infinite love for us, Father John Verrier told more than 200 people who gathered at the Spalding Pastoral Center in Peoria for a Divine Mercy Lenten Day of Reflection.

“The cross and suffering is the way Jesus transforms us,” said Father Verrier, spiritual director of the Eucharistic Disciples of Divine Mercy, Peoria Cenacle, that sponsored the day.

In addition to the talks about “Redemptive Suffering” and “The Hope of Heaven,” the Divine Mercy Lenten Day of Recollection included eucharistic adoration, Benediction and an opportunity for confession. The Mass was celebrated by Father John Verrier, one of the speakers and spiritual director of the Eucharistic Apostles of Divine Mercy, Peoria Cenacle, which sponsored the day. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

“Jesus is inviting you and me to live his life in him and through him and with him. We are not passive spectators of Jesus’ redemption,” he explained. “We, through human suffering, are offered to participate in the salvation of souls.”

The theme for the day was “Redemptive Suffering and the Hope of Heaven” and Father Verrier, pastor of St. Joseph in Brimfield and St. James in Williamsfield, focused on “Redemptive Suffering.” Father Daniel McShane, parochial vicar at St. Jude in Peoria, explored “The Hope of Heaven.”

The third speaker was Sister Faustina Thomas, OP, a middle school religion teacher at St. Jude School, who offered a reflection on Divine Mercy.

In addition, there was Mass, an opportunity to go to confession, eucharistic adoration and Benediction. The day ended with the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

The Eucharistic Apostles of Divine Mercy is a worldwide apostolate of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception and seeks, among other things, to bring the Divine Mercy message and devotion to a hurting world.

JOY IN SUFFERING

Is it possible for there to be joy in suffering, Father Verrier asked.

“Yes,” he said simply.

“The Christian attitude is there is joy in suffering because love is suffering with someone we love. That’s compassion,” he told his listeners. “When we love someone we want to suffer with them and we unite our suffering with them.”

Joy also comes from accepting God’s way of the cross, Father Verrier said, and trust is the vessel by which God brings us grace.

“Trust — that is what Jesus told St. Faustina. Trust in God, without any questions, without any reservations. We learn to say, ‘OK, God, you got this,’” he said. “God knows what he’s about.”

Marietta Foellner of Holy Family in Danville and Marie Selk of St. Mary in Delavan stand for the opening prayer at Mass for the Divine Mercy Lenten Day of Recollection on March 19. The conference drew 225 people to the Spalding Pastoral Center in Peoria. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

Father Verrier challenged participants to spend one hour contemplating the crucifix in front of the Blessed Sacrament.

“Don’t have any agenda. Look at the crucifix. Look at love, and let Jesus change your life forever,” he said.

WE DON’T SUFFER ALONE

Father McShane encouraged those before him to remember that they are never alone in their suffering because God is always with them. Hope comes from remembering encounters with Jesus and leaning on those glimpses of God’s glory, he said.

Prayer is another sure way to be in God’s presence, he reminded them.

“Hope is not just positive thinking,” Father McShane explained. “Hope isn’t just optimism.”

The hopeful person isn’t the one who says the glass is half full, he said, but the person who says there’s a glass that holds everything, knowing that the one who holds all the contents of our lives is the Lord.

He added that Christian hope is profoundly different than worldly hope because it reminds us that eternity awaits us.

“We were made for heaven,” Father McShane said.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Videos of the talks have been posted to the Peoria Divine Mercy YouTube page. For more information on the Eucharistic Apostles of Divine Mercy, send email to DMCenacle-Peoria@outlook.com.

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