“I am offering people a vessel with which they are to keep coming for graces to the fountain of mercy. That vessel is this image with the signature: ‘Jesus, I trust in You.’" (Jesus to St. Faustina, recorded in her Diary, entry number 327)
“The graces of My mercy are drawn by means of one vessel only, and that is — trust. The more a soul trusts, the more it will receive.” (Jesus to St. Faustina, recorded in her Diary, entry number 1578)
As we anticipate the start of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy beginning December 8th, I can’t help thinking about two images I have had in mind since I first learned about the Divine Mercy Devotion twenty-five years ago.
The first image is the Divine Mercy Image, the “picture” of Jesus, which the Lord refers to in His message to St. Faustina, recorded in her Diary, entry 327. Surely, when we think of Jesus as the Merciful Savior, that 20C. Divine Mercy image—and/or the Crucifix or the Stations of the Cross, readily come to mind.
From attending Divine Mercy conferences, I understand that bringing to mind or looking at an image of the Merciful Jesus, particularly the most recent one He has gifted us through St. Faustina, is a good first step in receiving His Mercy. Looking at or recalling an image of Jesus is a means, but not an end. What Jesus asks for is a response to His Being Mercy; as He told St. Faustina, “I am Love and Mercy itself.” (Diary, 1074). And the response He asks for, as He told St. Faustina, is trust. That desired response explains why the image of Him coming toward us with a blessing and reference to His Blood and Water is signed with the desired response, “Jesus, I trust in You.”
The second image I have in mind relates to the sense of “vessel” that the Lord spoke of in the second message quoted above. Yes, in the first instance (Diary, 327), He said that the Divine Mercy Image, itself, is a vessel, but in the second instance (Diary, 1578), He said that trust is the only vessel.
Contradictory? Confusing? …If the Lord said it, it cannot be contradictory, but given our limited capacities to process or to understand, it might, on the surface, seem contradictory and therefore confusing. So, how can we align those two messages? Here’s what I’m thinking. (In the Comments section, I’d love to know what you’re thinking about a mercy vessel for this Extraordinary Jubilee—and always.)
Trust is the key. Trust is the vessel. How we inspire, motivate, or activate in ourselves to come to the Lord with the greatest degree or amount of trust, I think, helps reconcile those two quotes, as well as opens up other image-possibilities for the vessel of trust.
Seeing the Merciful Savior Himself imaged with our pledge to trust (“Jesus, I trust in You.”) has to conjure up in our souls a response of trust. That trust becomes the vessel into which Jesus fills us with mercy. How much mercy we receive, Jesus explains in the second quote(Diary,1578), is proportionate to our receptivity resultant from our trust. The more we trust, the more mercy we can and do receive.
Here, then, with that notion of trust as a vessel in which the more trust/larger the vessel we present to the Lord, the more mercy we receive, I begin to have other mental trust-vessel images. I “see” trust-vessels as receptacles of varying sizes. If I come to the Lord with a thimble-sized receptacle/trust-vessel in hand, I will provide the Lord with less “space”/willingness within which to fill me with His Mercy than if I come with a humongous bucket in hand. I imagine this, too. What if I come dragging a water tank or reservoir behind me!
Didn’t the Lord Himself model for us filling as large a vessel as possible—and not just one vessel, but multiple vessels--when He used six huge water jars to turn water into wine at His Mother’s request during the Wedding Feast at Cana? (John 2:1-10)
Since the Lord knows that we are visual, as well as auditory, and kinesthetic learners, I don’t think He minds if we use mental and physical trust-vessel aids to remind ourselves to come to Him with expansive trust. Because the Lord refers to His Heart as a “living fountain of mercy” (Diary, 1520) and invites us to come to the “fountain of His mercy” (Diary, 327), I think that having a bucket-type trust-vessel image is okay with Him, particularly because it hearkens back to His New Testament encounter with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well, and His conversation about “Living Water.” (John 4:10-15)
Additionally, since a vessel can be a ship, and since Jesus since referred to His “sea of mercy” (Diary, 1520) and the Church is referred to as the Bark of St. Peter, I think it’s okay to imagine myself coming to the Lord as a passenger aboard the Catholic ship trust-vessel. In this trust-vessel sense, the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, itself, is a trust-vessel. Think of how many opportunities the Church will offer us to obtain special graces, and the Lord will respond with grace in proportion to our trust-vessel. When we reach His Merciful Harbor, especially on Divine Mercy Sunday, let us drop into the deep an anchor of trust to receive His Graces from His “whole ocean of graces” (Diary, 699) that He promised would be available each year on that day!
Likewise, since physiologically, a vessel can refer to our circulatory system, let us use each Holy Communion as a sacred trust-vessel, realizing as did St. Faustina, that His Blood mingles with ours every time we receive Him worthily in Holy Communion. We have an amazing privilege to grow in trust when His Body and Blood builds up our physical and spiritual constitution.
Last, but certainly not least, I like to think that because a vessel also can be a conduit or pipeline for transporting or distributing mercy, there is no better conduit to build up our trust-vessel than to appropriate, with her consent, the trust-vessel of Jesus’ Mother, Mary, our Mother of Mercy. In the Litany of Loreto, we pray thrice to her as “vessel”:
Spiritual vessel, pray for us.
Vessel of honor, pray for us.
Singular vessel of devotion, pray for us.
Following the practice of St. John Paul II, St. Louis de Montfort, and other great saints: “to Jesus, through Mary,” why not see her as a trust-vessel? Why not go to Jesus through her? No other human being ever trusted Jesus more than did His Mother. No one who ever lived has a larger trust-vessel than does Mary.
Divine Mercy Image. Buckets and other receptacles. Bark of St. Peter. Circulatory system. Mother Mary. That’s it for me—at least for now. What about you? What trust-vessel(s) do you look forward to bringing to the Lord? The bigger, the better! His Mercies are Infinite, and our ongoing need for mercy, I think you would agree, is exceedingly great—and endless! Praise Jesus for His Merciful Heart that cannot be outdone in generosity. Our trust. His Graces.
With Jesus’ help, as well as His Mother’s, and the entire Church’s, may this Jubilee be an extraordinary source--for each one of us--of growth in trust and mercy. So that next November, at the end of the Jubilee, it will be true for all of us who used our trust-vessels: “For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.” (John 1:16) Amen. Alleluia!
And the Good News of Christ’s Mercy is not just for ourselves. As Jesus explained to St. Faustina, having been filled to overflowing, we become Apostles of Mercy:
“When a soul approaches Me with trust, I fill it with such an abundance of graces that it cannot contain them within itself, but radiates them to other souls.”(Diary, 1074)
Blessed are the merciful… With the right trust-vessels, not only will we receive mercy, but—imagine!—the Lord will use even us as trust-vessels of His Mercy!
…Perhaps this is what we sing about in the adaptation of the Peace Prayer attributed to St. Francis of Assisi when we pray:
Make me a channel of Your peace…. For what can bring more healing peace than God’s mercy?