Do you ever feel like God is mad at you? That there’s nothing you can do to please Him?

I particularly struggled with thoughts like these. Especially after high school, the memory of God in my heart started to fade. Though my heart knew God was so loving, my head was very stuck. It was a bit of a battle. What do you mean that God is loving and will always forgive me? Who is God in the Bible?

This was my struggle for years. I often would (and can still) get stuck on my mistakes and would forget about His gentleness and His willingness to chase after me and search for me. Eventually, God led me to know more about His mercy and how this is who He really is. All the time.

Jansenism, Huh? 

Why don’t we always see God as merciful? This is because in the 17th century, there was a heresy that was particularly bad called Jansenism. This has negatively affected us to this day.

This heresy taught that God is condemning, angry, punishing, looking down His nose at us and that we must be perfect to approach God. It spread rampantly throughout Europe. Some scholars suggest that God sent St. Therese of Lisieux after this heresy, as well as the Divine Mercy message, as the heavenly prescription to this diabolical message.

Instead of seeing the Cross as Jesus’ loving sacrifice for us and fulfilling His great love for us, this view saw it as condemnation and punishment, something we will never achieve. It turned grace into earning and penance.

This is exactly what I was struggling with, and it was nice to give it a name. I was struggling with bridging the God of love who I had met before, and the ideas that somehow got into my head that God is constantly displeased with me and that I can never approach Him.

The secret against Jansenism is that it is not by our own efforts that we approach God. It is by trust and littleness. He does the rest. The deep wound in His heart and hand is the Cross, which shows us just how deep His love is. So when the world was struggling with approaching God and the Cross, God sent this message:

Be not afraid of your savior, O sinful soul. I make the first move to come to you, for I know that by yourself you are unable to lift yourself to Me. Child, do not run away from your Father; be willing to talk openly with your God of mercy who wants to speak words of pardon and lavish his graces on you. How dear your soul is to me! I have inscribed your name upon My hand; you are engraved as a deep wound in my heart.
(Diary of St. Faustina, 1074.)

What is Mercy?

So what is this heavenly remedy for these thoughts? Mercy! But, what is mercy? There are different words from which we get the word mercy. We often tend to use it sarcastically, “mercy!” But there is so much more to this word than meets the eye. “Hesed” is Hebrew for mercy and it means “steadfast, covenant love.” This means that someone will never let you down, one who keeps his promises, love that will never ever depart from you and is stronger and more powerful than sin.

Another word for mercy is “rachamim” which is also Hebrew, meaning “tender compassionate love, love that springs from pity…someone who feels for your plight and is moved with compassion to help you.” The root of this word means “a mother’s womb” displaying the intimacy of this kind of love and responsiveness. It comes from the depths of oneself. The essence of mercy is a relationship of love with another.

Okay, why does God want us to know so much about mercy? Mercy is God’s own special love for humanity which comes from the depths of His heart. His love pours from the Trinity into our own needy hearts.


At the heart of the message of Divine Mercy as taught by St. Faustina is the importance of trust. She encourages us to allow God to have mercy on us. God wants to be our friend, our best friend. He wants our trust and our love, especially after He proved it by coming to earth as a man, shedding every drop of blood that He had, and then defeating death for us. It is our greatest gift to God, believing in His mercy.

One of my professors put it this way: “Jesus actually likes us and doesn’t just put up with us and He even knows our truest selves.” God limits Himself, holding back the great ocean of His mercy if we want Him to.

But, if we say ‘yes,’ He will lavish His love upon us.

I pray that you and I, that we give God permission to show up on this weekend of Divine Mercy. I pray that you may encounter God who runs to you, lifts you up to Himself, and lavishes His love on you. May the one who has inscribed you on the palm of His hand, and of whom you are deeply engraved on His heart, fill you with His love.


Divine Mercy: A Guide from Genesis to Benedict XVI, Robert Stackpole.

The Diary of St. Faustina, Marian Press, 2005.

Consoling the Heart of Jesus, Fr. Michael Gaitley.

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