"Today the concept of truth is viewed with suspicion, because truth is identified with violence. Over history there have, unfortunately, been episodes when people sought to defend the truth with violence. But they are two contrasting realities. Truth cannot be imposed with means other than itself! Truth can only come with its own light. Yet, we need truth. ... Without truth we are blind in the world, we have no path to follow. The great gift of Christ was that He enabled us to see the face of God".Pope Benedict xvi, February 24th, 2012

The Church is ecumenical, catholic, God-human, ageless, and it is therefore a blasphemy—an unpardonable blasphemy against Christ and against the Holy Ghost—to turn the Church into a national institution, to narrow her down to petty, transient, time-bound aspirations and ways of doing things. Her purpose is beyond nationality, ecumenical, all-embracing: to unite all men in Christ, all without exception to nation or race or social strata. - St Justin Popovitch

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Sunday, 30 August 2015

THE DIVINE MERCY from the Philokalia, from Pope Francis, and from St Isaac the Syrian

The  original image according to the
description of Sister Faustina

Interpretation of the Prayer - Lord, have Mercy!
An Excerpt from The Philokalia, Vol. 5
On the importance of awareness and understanding in prayer
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me! And more concisely: Lord, have mercy! These prayers have been bequeathed to Christians from the time of the Apostles and it was decreed that they should constantly use these invocations, as also they do. However, while doing so very few now know the meaning of: Lord, have mercy! Therefore they invoke fruitlessly. They cry: Lord, have mercy! but do not receive mercy from the Lord because they themselves do not know what they are seeking.

And so we must know: What kind of mercy from the Lord Jesus is this? What Kind? Every kind: all that is needed by us in our present fallen state is in His right hand. For He, from the time when He was incarnated and became man, and endured such sufferings, and by the shedding of His most holy blood redeemed man from the hands of the devil - from that time HE has become in some special way the Lord and Sovereign of human nature. Thus everything of ours is now in his hands.

The Lord was even before his incarnation, from the beginning, Lord of all, seen and unseen, as their Creator and Maker. According to their being so it is and will be, but not according to the free activity of reasonable creatures. Devils and, after them, men, did not want of their own accord, to have Him as their Lord and Sovereign, and they detached themselves from Him who was the Ruler of all. For the All-gracious God, having created men and Angels independent and endowed them win reason, does not want to destroy this independence of their and rule over them by force, against their will. Therefore those of them who wish to be under the power and rule of God, over them He rules and those he defends, but those who do not wish it, those He leaves to do their own will as independent. That is why Adam too when, seduced by the apostate devil, himself became an apostate from God and did not wish to obey His commandments, He left him to his free-will, not wishing to rule over him domineeringly. But the envious devil, having seduced him in the beginning, did not cease to seduce him further, until he had made him by his irrationality like senseless cattle and until he began to live like unreasoning animals.

Then the most merciful God took pity on him and bowed the heavens and came down to earth and became man for man's sake, and having redeemed him by His most pure blood, He provided a saving way of life for him, showed him in the holy Gospel how to please God, regenerated and recreated him by divine baptism, instituted heavenly nourishment for him in the most pure mysteries and, to speak briefly, with the sublimest wisdom found means how He could be inseparably with man and man with Him so that the devil should have no more place in man. But even after this He nevertheless forces no one but leaves all free to accept the salvation that is offered to them or to perish. And so it goes: Some are saved; but others are negligent about salvation, some of whom do not believe the Gospel at all, while others believe but do not live according to the Gospel.

Those who are now Christians, after so many gifts of grace, after so many divine benefits, have again been seduced by the devil and by the action of the world and the flesh have been separated from God and have fallen under the yoke of slavery to sin and the devil, doing his will, but have not yet become quite insensible so as not to feel the evil that they have suffered, and understand their mistake and acknowledge the slavery into which they have fallen, but they do not see in themselves the power to be delivered from it - those have recourse to God and cry: Lord, have mercy, that the most merciful Lord may pity them and have mercy on them and accept them as the prodigal son and again grant them His divine grace and deliver them from slavery to sin, banish the devils from them and restore their freedom that in this way they may be able to live the rest of their life in a manner pleasing to God and keep the Divine commandments.

And so those Christians who with such an aim cry, Lord, have mercy! are certainly granted the Divine mercy and receive grace to be delivered from slavery to sin and be saved. But those who have not at all the above thoughts and do not recognise the misery of their position and their slavery to the will of the flesh and worldly habits, and have not even time to think about their slavery, but without any such aim, simply from habit cry, Lord have mercy! - how can these receive the Divine mercy: and especially such amazing and infinite mercy? It is better for such people not to receive it than to receive it and lose it again, for then there would be a double sin.

I shall now explain to you by examples also. Imagine to yourself a man poor and destitute who wishes to receive alms from some rich person. What does he say when he comes to the rich person? Something like: "Have mercy on me! Pity my poverty and set my life in order." Or someone has a debt and has nothing to pay it with. Wishing to be delivered from this burden he comes to the decision to ask his creditor to forgive him his debt. He approaches him and what does he say? Also simply: "Have mercy on me! Pity my poverty and forgive me the debt that I owe you." Similarly, when anyone is at fault in some matter before another and wishes to receive his forgiveness, what does he do? He comes to the person against whom he has sinned and says: "Have mercy of me! Forgive me for what I did against you."

All such people know what they are asking for and why they are asking, and they receive their petitions according to circumstances, and what they receive they turn to good account for themselves.

Now take on the other hand a sinner who is spiritually poor and in debt before God and has frequently offended Him. If he cries as if to God: Have mercy on Me! but meanwhile does not understand what he is saying and why he is speaking, and does not even know what that mercy consists of which he wishes to receive from God and the use of it to him, but simply from habit cries: Lord, have mercy! then how can God give him mercy when he cannot even recognise what he has received and therefore will not turn his attention to it and will make ill use of it or will augment still more that by which he became a sinner?

The mercy of God is nothing else but the grace of the Holy Spirit which we sinners must ask from God, unceasingly crying to Him: Have mercy on me! Show Thy mercy, my Lord, to me a sinner, in the pitiful state in which I am, and accept me again into Thy grace. Give me the Spirit of power that He may strengthen me in resisting the temptations of the devil and my sinful bad habits. Give me the Spirit of Counsel that I may become prudent and come to feeling and amend my life. Give me the Spirit of fear, that I may fear to offend Thee, and may fulfil Thy commandments. Give me the Spirit of peace, that I may guard the peace of my soul, and gather all my reasonings and be quiet and untroubled by thoughts. Give me the Spirit of purity, that He may keep me pure from all defilement. Give me the Spirit of meekness, that I may be gentle-minded in my relations with my Christian brethren and restrained from anger. Give me the Spirit of humility, that I may not think highly of myself and that I may not be proud.

Whoever knows and feels how necessary is all that has been said and, asking it of the most merciful God, cries: Lord, have mercy! will surely receive what he asks and be granted the mercy of God and His grace. But whoever knows nothing of what we have said and merely from habit cries: Lord, have mercy! for him it is not possible to receive any mercy from God. For he had already previously received many mercies from God but he was unaware of it and did not thank God who gave him them. He received the Divine mercy when he was created and became a man. He received mercy when he was recreated in baptism and became an Orthodox Christian. He receive mercy when he was delivered from so many perils of soul and body which he experience in life. He received the Divine mercy every time he was granted to partake of the most pure Mysteries. He receive the mercy of God every time he sinned before God and grieved Him by His sins, and was not destroyed and not punished as was due. He received the Divine mercy when so many different benefits were bestowed on him by God, but either he was not aware of it or he forgot. How can such a Christian receive further mercy from God when he does not know and does not feel that he has received so many mercies from Him? And now even if he cries: Lord, have mercy, he does not know what he is saying and pronounces these words without any thought or aim, but simply from habit.

The fifth volume of the Philokalia is not yet published. Origins of this excerpt are unknown. Posted on 10/9/2007.

+ + +

‘May the balm of mercy reach everyone’, says Francis as he proclaims Holy Year
Pope says Holy Year of Mercy is 'a time to offer everyone the way of forgiveness and reconciliation'

Pope says Holy Year of Mercy is 'a time to offer everyone the way of forgiveness and reconciliation'
Mercy is what makes God perfect and all-powerful, Pope Francis has said in his document officially proclaiming the Holy Year of Mercy.

“If God limited himself to only justice, he would cease to be God, and would instead be like human beings who ask merely that the law be respected,” the Pope wrote in Misericordiae Vultus (“The Face of Mercy”), which is the bull of indiction calling a Holy Year to begin on December 8.

Standing in front of the Holy Door of St Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis handed copies of the document to the archpriests of the major basilicas of Rome and to Vatican officials representing Catholics around the world.

Portions of the 9,300-word proclamation were read aloud before Pope Francis and his aides processed into St Peter’s Basilica to celebrate the first vespers of Divine Mercy Sunday.

In his homily at Vespers, the Pope said he proclaimed the Year of Mercy because “it is the favourable time to heal wounds, a time not to be weary of meeting all those who are waiting to see and touch with their hands the signs of the closeness of God, a time to offer everyone the way of forgiveness and reconciliation”.

The boundless nature of God’s mercy — his willingness always to forgive anything — has been a constant subject of Francis’s preaching and is explained in detail in the document, which outlines some of the specific projects the Pope has in mind for the year.

The Old Testament stories of how God repeatedly offered mercy to his unfaithful people and the New Testament stories of Jesus’ compassion, healing and mercy demonstrate, the Pope said, that “the mercy of God is not an abstract idea, but a concrete reality through which he reveals his love”, just like mothers and fathers love their children.

“How much I desire that the year to come will be steeped in mercy, so that we can go out to every man and woman, bringing the goodness and tenderness of God,” he wrote. “May the balm of mercy reach everyone, both believers and those far away, as a sign that the kingdom of God is already present in our midst.”

Nothing in the Church’s preaching or witness, he said, can be lacking in mercy.

Pope Francis asked that all dioceses around the world designate a “Door of Mercy” at their cathedral or another special church or shrine, and that every diocese implement the “24 Hours for the Lord” initiative on the Friday and Saturday before the fourth week of Lent. In Rome the last two years, the Pope has opened the celebration with a penance service in St Peter’s Basilica and churches around the city were open for the next 24 hours for Confessions and Eucharistic Adoration.

The Pope said he will designate and send out “Missionaries of Mercy” to preach about mercy. They will be given special authority, he said, “to pardon even those sins reserved to the Holy See”. Under Church law, those sins involve: a man who directly participated in an abortion and later wants to enter the priesthood; priests who have broken the seal of Confession; priests who have offered sacramental absolution to their own sexual partners; desecrating the Eucharist; and making an attempt on the life of the Pope. Usually, the Apostolic Penitentiary, a Vatican court, handles those cases.

Francis urged all Catholics to spend more time practicing what traditionally have been called the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. The corporal works are: feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick, visiting the imprisoned, giving drink to the thirsty and burying the dead. The spiritual works are: converting sinners, instructing the ignorant, advising the doubtful, comforting the sorrowful, bearing wrongs patiently, forgiving injuries and praying for the living and dead.

The date the Pope chose to open the year — December 8 — is the feast of the Immaculate Conception and the 50th anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council. Both dates, he wrote, are related to the Year of Mercy.

Mercy, he said, is “the bridge that connects God and man, opening our hearts to a hope of being loved forever despite our sins”. That bridge was made concrete when God chose Mary to be the mother of his son.

The Year of Mercy, Pope Francis wrote, is also a way to keep the Second Vatican Council alive. “The walls which too long had made the Church a kind of fortress were torn down and the time had come to proclaim the Gospel in a new way,” he said. The council recognised “a responsibility to be a living sign of the Father’s love in the world”.

The life and action of the Church, he said, “is authentic and credible only when she becomes a convincing herald of mercy”, a mercy that “knows no bounds and extends to everyone without exception.”

While some people try to argue that mercy, even God’s mercy, is limited by the demands of justice, Pope Francis said mercy and justice are “two dimensions of a single reality that unfolds progressively until it culminates in the fullness of love”.

Preaching mercy, he said, is not the same as ignoring sin or withholding correction. Instead, mercy invites repentance and conversion and ensures the sinner that once God forgives a sin, he forgets it.

The Pope addressed direct appeals in the document to members of the mafia and other criminal organisations as well as to officials and others involved in corruption. “For their own good, I beg them to change their lives,” he wrote. “I ask them this in the name of the Son of God who, though rejecting sin, never rejected the sinner.”

“Violence inflicted for the sake of amassing riches soaked in blood makes one neither powerful nor immortal,” he continued. “Everyone, sooner or later, will be subject to God’s judgment, from which no one can escape.”

At the same time, Pope Francis wrote, many of those who insist first on God’s justice are like the Pharisees who thought they could save themselves by following the letter of the law, but ended up simply placing “burdens on the shoulders of others and undermined the Father’s mercy”.

“God’s justice is his mercy,” the Pope said. “Mercy is not opposed to justice, but rather expresses God’s way of reaching out to the sinner, offering him a new chance to look at himself, convert and believe.”

Recognising that they have been treated with mercy by God, he said, Christians are obliged to treat others with mercy. In fact, the Gospel says that Christians will be judged by the mercy they show others.

“At times how hard it seems to forgive,” he said. “And yet pardon is the instrument placed into our fragile hands to attain serenity of heart. To let go of anger, wrath, violence and revenge are necessary conditions to living joyfully.”

Pope Francis also noted that God’s mercy is an important theme in Judaism and Islam, and he urged efforts during the Year of Mercy to increase inter-religious dialogue and mutual understanding with followers of both faiths.

Pope Francis said Tuesday that all priests will have the ability to forgive the sin of abortion during the Year of Mercy starting Dec. 8. 

The Vatican’s announcement Tuesday that all priests will have the authority to absolve Catholics of abortion is making big news in advance of the pope’s visit to the United States. But experts agree that while the move is not a deviation from Catholic doctrine, it is consistent with Pope Francis’ tenure as a pontiff who is trying to expand the inclusiveness of the church.

“While not changing the church's teaching on the immorality of abortion, Francis wants to communicate loudly and clearly that God's mercy is available to all, even for this sin, which the church has so stridently opposed,” said Vincent Miller, professor of Catholic theology at the University of Dayton in Ohio'

Pope Francis: SSPX priests shall "validly and licitly" absolve from sins during Year of Mercy, especially abortion. 

6:17 AM - 1 Sep 2015

The Roman Catholic Church considers abortion a “grave sin” -- one that automatically excommunicates the sinner from the church. Traditionally, only bishops have had the authority to absolve those who seek forgiveness for it. The new policy, however, allows all priests the ability to offer forgiveness to those who express contrition during the coming Jubilee Year of Mercy, which begins Dec. 8.

Curbing A Steep Decline

But the new policy -- which was announced only for the Year of Mercy but could become permanent, according to some Vatican experts -- is also a strategic move on the part of the pope, whose unofficial mandate has also been to stem the exodus of Catholics leaving the church, particularly in Latin America.

“This new policy is a combination of him being the Pope of Mercy and also being a master stategist of enacting policies that will return lapsed Catholics to the fold,” said Andrew Chesnut, chair in Catholic studies at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Latin America, which is home to 40 percent of the world’s Catholics but has been facing a steep decline in those affiliated with the church, also has the world’s highest rate of abortion. Chesnut said the Pope’s move is part of an effort to “build a more inclusive church and bring some of those lapsed Catholics back. Presumably there have been a lot of women, particularly in Latin America, who have been alienated by the church because of abortion.”

St Isaac the Syrian: Preaching the Astonishing Love of God
Posted on 16 March 2013 by Fr Aidan Kimel

Who among the Eastern Fathers has written more eloquently, more profoundly about the love of God Almighty than St Isaac the Syrian? “In Isaac’s understanding,” states Met Hilarion Alfeyev, “God is above all immeasurable love. The conviction that God is love dominates Isaac’s thought: it is the source of his theological opinions, ascetical recommendations and mystical thought” (The Spiritual World of Isaac the Syrian, pp. 35-36). Sadly this great doctor of the divine love remains relatively unknown in English-speaking Christendom. Only in recent decades have his discourses become available in translation. Yet despite Isaac’s relative obscurity, I believe that his writings are necessary reading for all Orthodox and Catholic preachers, pastors, and confessors. Why do I say this? Because having heard my fair share of Orthodox and Catholic sermons over the past eight years, I am convinced that most Orthodox and Catholic preachers simply do not understand what it means to speak the good news of Jesus Christ. They do not understand that preaching is, first and foremost, the proclamation of the God who is absolute love and mercy. The homilies I have heard may be characterized as exhortation. I have heard exhortations to good behavior. I have heard exhortations to imitate Christ in his care for the poor. I have heard exhortations to repentance and the acquisition of the virtues. I have heard exhortations to adhere to the dogmas and traditions of the Church. I have heard exhortations to prayer and ascetical discipline. But rarely, oh so rarely, have I heard the kerygmatic announcement of the surprising and unmerited mercy of God. Rarely have I heard the proclamation of the resurrection of Christ and the eschatological existence now freely given to us in the Church by the Spirit. Rarely have I heard of the God who leaves his flock in search for one lost sheep and upon finding it lays it on his shoulders and rejoicing takes it back to the flock. Orthodox and Catholic preachers prefer to exhort, urge, counsel, warn, and admonish their congregations; but this kind of preaching, whether moralistic or ascetical, cannot save. Only the proclamation of love communicates the abundant life that Christ came to bring us. Exhortation alone either drives away sinners or makes them into Pharisees. The prophet Amos declared, “‘Behold, the days are coming,’ declares the Lord God, ‘when I will send a famine on the land—not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD'” (Amos 8:11). In the Church today we are experiencing a famine of the gospel. We are told to act better, to pray better, to be better; but we are not given the only Word that can actually transform us and make us new. St Isaac the Syrian is the antidote to this woeful situation.

Isaac’s reflections on the divine love are scattered throughout his discourses–the First Part and the Second Part. I cannot point to a single homily or two in which Isaac expounds on the love of God at great length (though Homily 38 in the Second Part is a good place to begin). Fortunately Alfeyev has written a fine introduction to Isaac’s mystical thought, The Spiritual World of Isaac the Syrian, and it is readily available from Orthodox bookstores and internet booksellers. Every preacher should read and inwardly digest this book. I wish I had been acquainted with the discourses of St Isaac during my years of active ministry. Perhaps I would have been a better preacher. I know I would have been a better disciple of Jesus Christ.

For Isaac the world is a gift of the divine love. It begins in love and will be consummated in love. This love is unconquerable and irresistible, not because it coerces—God forbid!—but because of its intrinsic beauty, truth, and goodness:

What profundity of richness, what mind and exalted wisdom is God’s! What compassionate kindness and abundant goodness belongs to the Creator! With what purpose and with what love did He create this world and bring it into existence! What a mystery does the coming into being of this creation look towards! To what a state is our common nature invited! What love served to initiate the creation of the world! This same love which initiated the act of creation prepared beforehand by another dispensation the things appropriate to adorn the world’s majesty which sprung forth as a result of the might of His love.

In love did He bring the world into existence; in love does He guide it during this its temporal existence; in love is He going to bring it to that wondrous transformed state, and in love will the world be swallowed up in the great mystery of Him who has performed all these things; in love will the whole course of the governance of creation be finally comprised. And since in the New World the Creator’s love rules over all rational nature, the wonder at His mysteries that will be revealed then will captivate to itself the intellect of all rational beings whom He has created so that they might have delight in Him, whether they be evil or whether they be just. (II.38.1-2)

What a magnificent passage. God has created the world in love and for love. Angels and human beings alike have been brought into existence to delight in the divine mercy and to enjoy eternal communion with the God who is love. Everything that God has done, everything that he does in the present and will do in the future is an expression of love. “Among all his actions,” Isaac proclaims, “there is none which is not entirely a matter of mercy, love, and compassion: this constitutes the beginning and the end of his dealings with us” (II. 39.22). Here is the purpose of creation and the Incarnation, “to reveal his boundless love to the world” (quoted in Alfeyev, p. 36).

The love of God is indiscriminate, promiscuous, prodigal. It intends every rational creature. As Jesus teaches, the Father who is in heaven “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matt 5:45). There is no one “who is to the front of or to the back of God’s love. Rather, He has a single equal love which covers the whole extent of rational creation, all things whether visible or invisible: there is no first or last place with Him in this love for any single one of them” (II.38.2). There is no before or after, no greater or lesser. The divine love addresses and upholds all equally. St Isaac firmly rejects the Calvinist thesis that God has predestined some human beings for damnation. Such a thesis is unthinkable, indeed blasphemous. Every being created by God is loved by God. Our disobedience does not change the character of the Father; our sin does not diminish his love for us. “There is no hatred or resentment in His nature,” Isaac explains, “no greater or lesser place in His love, no before or after in His knowledge” (II.38.5). No matter how much disorder we cause in the world, no matter how grievous our sin, no matter how horrific the evil we commit, God’s salvific will for us does not change. He eternally wills our good, and in his wise providence he will accomplish this good. “There exists with Him a single love and compassion which is spread out over all creation, a love which is without alteration, timeless, and everlasting” (II.40.1).

The providence of love encompasses all material and spiritual dimensions:

Let us consider then how rich in its wealth is the ocean of His creative act, and how many created things belong to God, and how in His compassion He carries everything, acting providentially as He guides creation; and how with a love that cannot be measured He arrived at the establishment of the world and the beginning of creation; and how compassionate God is, and how patient; and how He loves creation, and how He carries it, gently enduring its importunity, the various sins and wickednesses, the terrible blasphemies of demons and evil men. Then, once someone has stood amazed, and filled his intellect with the majesty of God, amazed at all these things He has done and is doing, then he wonders in astonishment at His mercifulness, how, after all these things, God has prepared for them another world that has no end, whose glory is not even revealed to the angels, even though they are involved in His activities insofar as is possible in the life of the spirit, in accordance with the gift with which their nature has been endowed. That person wonders too at how excelling is that glory, and how exalted is the manner of existence at that time; and how insignificant is the present life compared to what is reserved for creation in the New Life; and how, in order that the soul’s life will not be deprived of that blessed state because of misusing the freewill it has received, He has devised in His mercifulness a second gift, which is repentance, so that by it the soul’s life might acquire renewal every day and thereby every time be put aright. (II.10.19)

The merciful God has provided a way for sinful creatures to avail themselves of the mercy of God—repentance. Nor is repentance something beyond our capabilities, says Isaac. God understands our weaknesses and limits. Repentance involves the whole person, mind, will, conscience, heart, “so that it might be easy for everyone to acquire benefit from it, both quickly and at any time” (II.10.19).

The infinite love of the Creator is dramatically displayed in the Incarnation of the Son. Why did God become man? Why did Jesus die on the cross? Certainly not to propitiate an angry deity. If God’s sole purpose were to achieve the remission of sins, he could have accomplished this end by another means. The cross is the perfect and compelling revelation of the divine mercy. Isaac understood that sinners would not and could not believe in the possibility of their reconciliation with their Maker without a revelation embodied in the terrible suffering and bloody death of God himself:

If zeal had been appropriate for putting humanity right, why did God the Word clothe himself in the body, using gentleness and humility in order to bring the world back to his Father? And why was he stretched out on the cross for the sake of sinners, handing over his sacred body to suffering on behalf of the world? I myself say that God did all this for no other reason than to make known to the world the love that he has, his aim being that we, as a result of our greater love arising from an awareness of this, might be captivated by his love when he provided the occasion of this manifestation of the kingdom of heaven’s mighty power—which consists in love—by means of the death of his Son. (Quoted in Alfeyev, p. 52)

God must die on the cross. Only thus can human hearts be pierced and turned away from self and sin; only thus can mankind apprehend the true identity and nature of their Creator and be converted to the path of salvation. It is the divine love, manifested in the humility and death of the Son, that transforms sinners and brings them everlasting life.

But the sum of all is that God the Lord surrendered His own Son to death on the Cross for the fervent love of creation. … This was not, however, because He could not have redeemed us in another way, but so that His surpassing love, manifested hereby, might be a teacher unto us. And by the death of His only-begotten Son He made us near to Himself. Yeah, if He had had anything more precious, He would have given it to us, so that by it our race might be His own. (I.71, p. 492)

St Isaac quotes the famous verse from the Gospel of John: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (Jn 3:16).

Why do we not hear this message of the astonishing love of God every Sunday, Sunday after Sunday, in our Churches? This is the gospel. There is no other gospel worth preaching. In a world filled with wickedness, suffering, despair, and death, we desperately need to hear the proclamation of the omnipotent power of God’s love and mercy. We need to know that he treasures us, that he has a plan for us, that his good will for us, and for the world, will triumph. Only thus does it become possible for us to cooperate with him in prayer and good works. In the words of the great Catholic theologian, Hans Urs von Balthasar: “Love alone is credible; nothing else can be believed, and nothing else ought to be believed. This is the achievement, the ‘work’ of faith: to recognize this absolute prius, which nothing else can surpass; to believe that there is such a thing as love, absolute love, and that there is nothing higher or greater than it; to believe against all the evidence of experience (‘credere contra fidem‘ like ‘spere contra spem‘), against every ‘rational’ concept of God, which thinks of him in terms of impassibility or, at best, totally pure goodness, but not in terms of this inconceivable and senseless act of love” (Love Alone is Credible, pp. 101-102). Without the preaching of the boundless love of God enfleshed in Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, the Church has no reason to exist; indeed it cannot exist, for it is the Word of love that creates the new life that is the Church. Without love, there is no theosis, no repentance, no sanctification, only Pharisaic zeal and deadly dogmatism.

(Go to “The Scandalous Injustice of God”)
Personally, I hope that Pope Francis will make St Isaac the Syrian a Doctor of the Church.   No One has expressed Pope Francis's understanding of salvation and God better than St Isaac the Syrian, and that includes Pope Francis.
This is an excellent video on Sister Faustina, 
Father Maximilian Kolbe, and Pope John Paul II

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