Friends of Mercy Newsletter April 2021

A p r i l 202 1 Friends of Mercy † A fter Maria Cecilia Escobedo of Diamondhead, Mississippi, gave birth to her fifth child in 2016, she felt tired, overwhelmed, and unhealthy. But 2016 was the extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, and Maria Cecilia took advantage of the special graces while she could. “I had a profound Divine Mercy experi- ence during the last week of the Year of Mercy,” she said. When Pope Francis inaugurated the extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, he requested that dioceses around the world designate “Holy Doors” at vari- ous pilgrimage locations throughout the year. “The Holy Door will become a Door of Mercy through which anyone who enters will experience the love of God who consoles, pardons, and instills hope,” the Pope said. After consecrating herself to the Divine Mercy through 33 Days to Merciful Love by Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC, Maria decided she needed to walk through the Holy Doors herself before the end of the Jubilee Year. At 3 p.m. on the last Friday of the extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, Maria and her family took a pilgrimage to New Orleans to do just that. “It’s hard to explain, but when I walked through those doors, I felt this profound presence. It was just me and God right there,” she said. In those moments, she encountered the mercy of God as she had never experi- enced it before. “I realized that in order to show this merciful love to others, I needed to start with myself. I was an overweight, tired momwho didn’t have much joy. I was just getting by. I didn’t feel like I was living my vocation in the right way. But God spoke to me. He said, ‘I need you to have that merciful love for yourself.’ I realized I needed to love Himwith all my heart, mind, and soul, and to love myself and others in the same way.” After that profound experience of God’s mercy, Maria’s attitude changed. Her habits changed, too. She lost weight and felt better about her state in life. “Saint Faustina found me. Divine Mercy really penetrated my heart,” she said. Since her experience passing through the Holy Doors, she had felt God calling her to spread the message of Divine Mercy to others. She followed this call by starting a blog named “Cath- olic Fit Moms for Life.” “Sometimes, mothers feel alone and out of touch with the world, but seeing the beauty of His mercy changes things,” she said. Maria’s blog describes itself as “a community of mothers of all walks of life, seeking God’s mercy in self-care, while answering the call to be intentional disciples of the true Church starting with self so that we can share in His mercy in our homes and our communities.” Maria offers accountability, workout classes, and opportu- nities to pray together. She leads women through 33 Days to Merciful Love by Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC, and invites them to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet with her every morning. She also offers one-on-one coaching, helping women achieve their goals. “The task to become holy can be so overwhelming, but I say let’s take it day by day, a little bit at a time, and then will we see that transformation into who God calls us to be.” Maria’s online community has about 900 members. She believes she’s found her calling. “We have this idea sometimes that sainthood is meant for someone else, but He’s calling us to invite Him into our lives in all we do, whether we’re cleaning, homeschooling, or doing laundry. “I like to help women understand that mercy is for them. Even when we fall, God wants us to receive His love. The more you embrace God’s mercy, the more you start to see yourself in His eyes. Then you can’t help allowing that love and mercy to flow through you to your children or your husband or to whomever you come in contact with.” s C atholic F it M oms for L ife Praying the Chaplet I first heard about St. Faustina more than 30 years ago. It struck me as a very interesting name. I started praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and it has been part of my daily prayer routine for many years. Years ago, my uncle (who had been away from the Church and living a worldly lifestyle) was diagnosed with cancer around Christmas time. He died in February. Toward the end of his life, I remember I was at the library, and I happened to notice that it was the Hour of Great Mercy. Something promptedme to pray simply, “Lord, have mercy on him.” Later, my brother toldme that my uncle had died that day around 3 p.m. Other times, when I know someone is in trouble or about to die, I make a point to pray the Chaplet for them. When my father and mother died, I prayed the Chaplet at their bedside. About 30 years ago, on Halloween night, something happened around midnight. I got back fromwork, and I was closing up the house. There were paramedics at a neighbor’s house. They were dragging out a young man, who was about 19 years old. He looked as limp as a dishrag, and it seemed to me like he had at- tempted suicide. I realized that I had known him. He was a baptized Catholic, but fathered a child out of wedlock. So he married his girlfriend, but three months later they were separated, and he moved back home with his parents. I thought to myself, “Oh, what should I do?” I called the rectory of his church because I figured he could use a priest, but I couldn’t get ahold of anybody. Something inside me said, “You haven’t done much praying for this young man. Now is the crucial moment. Say the Divine Mercy Chaplet for him.” So I said the Chaplet for him and left him in the Lord’s hands. Sure enough, in the following days, I read the obituary. He had died later that night from an overdose. Initially, they thought they might revive him, but by the time he got to the hospital, he was too far gone. I found out later that a priest had been there and was able to give him Last Rites. Peter Cole Geneva, NewYork By Marc Massery Members’ corner