Divine mercy cenacles help members ‘grow in holiness’ spiritually and tangibly

| April 8, 2015 | 0 Comments

DivineMercyA diary written nearly 90 years ago is the source of spiritual guidance for hundreds in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and thousands around the world.

The writings of St. Faustina, with the study of sacred Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, help people in divine mercy cenacles learn to be virtuous, especially in difficult situations, said Vivian Rogers, a parishioner of Mary, Mother of the Church in Burnsville.

St. Faustina was a young, uneducated nun in Krakow, Poland, during the 1930s when she began receiving revelations from Jesus, who asked her to record his message of divine mercy — that his mercy is greater than human sin. What came from her notebook compilations was the “Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska.” With her canonization on April 30, 2000, St. Pope John Paul II proclaimed Divine Mercy Sunday, celebrated April 12 this year.

“St. Faustina screwed up a lot, and she got cranky with people,” Rogers said. “You can really relate to her because she shares those things. She gets it. But what did she do, how did she react?”

For Rogers, being in a divine mercy cenacle has taught her how to recognize God’s love and help others through works of mercy.

“There are people who can really make you hurt and angry,” she said. “When [I] look at that person, I can see beyond that, and I can see there is a wound that’s driving that. And I can treat them with love and kindness and mercy.”

More than a devotion

Cenacles are considered lay outreach ministries where members, known as eucharistic apostles, live the divine mercy mission, promote the real presence of Jesus in the blessed Sacrament, and pray for vocations and life issues. Rogers joined a cenacle that fellow parishioner Peggy Schmitz started in her home about 10 years ago. Because of its growth, the group now meets at the parish and is one of its ministries.

Schmitz said their meetings include praise and thanksgiving, a lesson from the diary, intentions, praying the Divine Mercy chaplet and socializing. It takes about four years to go through the entire diary with study aids provided by the Congregation of Marians of the Immaculate Conception of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary of Stockbridge, Massachusetts, which promotes the cenacles as part of its outreach. After completion, review materials help members deepen their understanding and become group facilitators.

“I think sometimes people think it’s another devotion, or it’s a culty thing for those ‘really religious people,’” Rogers said. “But it’s not. It teaches how to get through relationships with joy and kindness, and get through things that hit us.

“If people truly want to love God and be his hands and feet, they have to learn mercy,” she continued. “And you learn it in an intimate and easy-to-understand way.”

Schmitz knows of 10 parishes in the archdiocese that host divine mercy cenacles. Her parish has four groups at different stages. In addition to the prayer and study groups, divine mercy cenacles develop a service mission, Rogers added, such as devoting hours in the adoration chapel or doing service projects together.

“We don’t just sit in a cenacle group and pray. We reach out in works of mercy,” Rogers said, noting that her group hopes to start a prison ministry to pray for, mentor and provide materials for people incarcerated.

Rogers said in divine mercy cenacles, people develop an intimate relationship with Jesus and Mary, leading to growth in personal holiness. In order to do that, she said understanding mercy is essential.

“Mercy isn’t a word, it’s a process,” Rogers said. “For me, it’s three steps. First you suffer, and we all suffer in various ways. [Then] when you suffer, you learn compassion. If you learn compassion, it’s only then that you learn to extend mercy to someone.”

Schmitz said cenacles provide a “great support group of prayer warriors” and has become a way of life for her; she is more involved in her parish and with those who are suffering.

“It’s really an application,” she said. “You learn so many things, but this really touches your heart.”

To start a cenacle, Schmitz recommends contacting a parish, or emailing her at peggyzk@msn.com.

How to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy

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