On Oct. 2, St. Michael's parish in Cohoes will welcome Rev. Dan Cambra, MIC, for a presentation on the Divine Mercy.
The popular devotion sprung up in the 1930s, when a Polish nun, St. Faustina Kowalska, said she'd had a vision of Jesus in which He asked for devotions to divine mercy on the Sunday after Easter.
St. Faustina was canonized in 2000 by Pope John Paul II, who also instituted Divine Mercy Sunday a week after Easter. The National Shrine of the Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Mass., where Marian Father Cambra is based, draws Catholics from around the world.
Father Cambra spoke with The Evangelist via email about his upcoming visit to the Albany Diocese.
You plan to discuss the "ABCs" of the Divine Mercy. For readers who aren't familiar with this devotion, how would you explain it?
Father Cambra: Each Sunday, I explain to people the ABCs of mercy and then how they are reflected in that Sunday's readings. The scriptural readings and the words of the presider [at Mass] drip with God's mercy, His Love put into action. A stands for 'ask,' [as in] 'Ask and you shall receive' (Mt 7:7). God wants us to approach Him in petition constantly, repenting of our sins and seeking His mercy for ourselves and the whole world.
B stands for 'be,' [as in] 'Blessed are the merciful, they shall obtain mercy' (Mt 5:7). Be merciful toward others. God wants His mercy to flow through us toward others. He wants us to extend His love and forgiveness just as He does to us.
C stands for 'complete trust in Jesus.' God wants us to know that the graces of His mercy are dependent upon the degree of our trusting relationship with Him. [In talks,] I usually use the story of Adam and Eve to demonstrate this (Gen 1-12).
You'll be covering a lot of material in a brief time. Can you explain a few other aspects of Divine Mercy?
Father Cambra: The most important aspect of Divine Mercy that I cover is the importance of plenary indulgences as a tool toward spiritual maturity and the sanctification of the Church suffering by the Church militant. This comes up when I speak of the plenary indulgence offered by God on the feast of Divine Mercy, which is the first of the five devotions of Divine Mercy.
Many Catholics - including at primarily Polish parishes like St. Michael's - already have a strong devotion to the Divine Mercy and St. Faustina. In your travels, what differences have you seen in their lives?
Father Cambra: Everybody knows somebody who isn't practicing their faith fully, so I tell a personal story of a loved one who was renewed in his faithfulness. St. Faustina's diary mentions a prayer we should pray for the conversion of others - and I have witnessed this miracle many times.
You're a Marian priest. What connections do you see between the Blessed Mother and the Divine Mercy message?
Mary's immaculate conception is itself the greatest act of mercy that was given Mary. I always include mentioning that in my opening talk on the basics of Divine Mercy.