Niall’s work involves quite a bit of travel. Last week it took him to Vilnius in Lithuania. If you know the message of the Divine Mercy and the life of St. Faustina, you probably know that Vilnius is intimately connected with the visions that St. Faustina had of the Merciful Jesus. It was in Vilnius that Jesus asked her to have His image painted, an image of His pierced heart pouring out water and blood. And it was an artist from Vilnius that painted the image under the guidance of St. Faustina. The original painting, after a little restauration, has been on public view for veneration since 2004 in the Divine Mercy Chapel in the centre of Vilnius. Believers are invited to participate in perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament there, as well as in the three o’ clock prayer at the Hour of Great Mercy.
I don’t particularly like travelling and so I’m not usually so jealous of Niall with his trips. But this time it was different. Going to Vilnius! Being able to visit the Divine Mercy Chapel and to pray there before the image that Jesus Himself commissioned; and before the Blessed Sacrament! I thought that some people are really lucky!
“Don’t be jealous, I’ve practically no free time during these trips”, Niall told me by way of consolation. “But I’m going to do what I can to visit the chapel, of course!”
And so it happened that on Friday afternoon, Niall discovered that he had a couple of hours free before his return flight. His colleauges from work invited him out.
“Come on, let’s have a look round the shops and visit a couple of museums!”
But Niall answered them: “No thanks. I want to visit the Divine Mercy Chapel.”
“Never mind, its a special chapel with a special icon. I’ll catch you later at the airport.”
It wasn’t so easy to find the chapel. Nobody from the University in Vilnius who Niall asked knew it. And at the tourist office the young lady at the desk had to look for it on the map to discover what Niall was asking about. He was quite surprised. Shouldn’t the chapel be known immediately, at least to the locals from the city? After all, the cult of the Divine Mercy, with the help of St. John Paul II, is known around the world. And during the Jubliee Year of Mercy the messages of the Merciful Jesus were widely publicized.
Finally Niall arrived at the desired Chapel. Such emotion! Inside, the image of the Merciful Jesus seemed to embrace everything around it in love. And on the altar, in the monstrance, there was our Merciful Lord Jesus himself, exposed for adoration.
“Jesus is here!”, he told me in a text message, sharing also the good news that he had two hours of adoration ahead of him. Then at three o’ clock in Vilnius (that’s one o’ clock in Portugal), Niall wrote to me, “They’re going to start the Chaplet of Divine Mercy…”
Three o’ clock on Friday afternoon, the Hour of Great mercy. Jesus explained to Faustina that at that hour, on that day, heaven would be always open and that graces would pour down continually.
“I remind you, My daughter, that as often as you hear the clock strike the third hour, immerse yourself completely in My mercy, adoring and glorifying it; invoke its omnipotence for the whole world, and particularly for poor sinners; for at that moment mercy was opened wide for every soul.
In this hour you can obtain everything for yourself and for others for the asking; it was the hour of grace for the whole world – mercy triumphed over justice.” (Diary, 1572)
I thought about the blessing that Niall received by being able to spend two hours there, before Jesus, in that holy place. I asked him, through texts, to remember a list of intentions in his prayers, especially prayers for the Families of Cana, although he didn’t need much reminding. It was just my way of participating in his prayer.
And then I remembered that I too have the grace to spend time before Jesus, the same merciful Jesus, every day, in a Sanctuary that is also unknown to most christians in our country, and even in our region, the Mary Help of Christians National Sanctuary.
Jesus is present in every tabernacle and reveals His merciful love on every alter, whether it be in a Church in Fatima, Rome, Vilnius, Mogofores or the most forgotten christian village. He’s so close to each one of us, and yet so little known! What would happen if all the people in our towns and villages discovered that Jesus actually lives right there in their local parish church? As St. Padre Pio used to say, we’d probably need the traffic police at the door of every church!