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33 Days to Merciful Love: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat in Preparation for Consecration to Divine Mercy Paperback – February 15, 2016
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According to Fr. Gaitley, “You don’t have to read '33 Days to Morning Glory' before reading this book – but I strongly recommend that you do. I say that because the essence of Marian consecration is to allow Mary to bring us to the pierced side of Jesus, which is the Fountain of Mercy . . .
“This book, on the other hand, is about drinking from the Fountain of Mercy. And while we can get to that fountain without making a Marian consecration, such a consecration enables us to drink from it so much more deeply and easily.” This is the Year of Mercy, however, so if you want to make this consecration to Divine Mercy, I encourage you to do so.
Unlike "33 Days to Morning Glory," this book does not focus on four different saints. Instead, it focuses on St. Therese of the Child Jesus, a Doctor of the Church and one of the most-loved saints of modern times, and her spiritual teaching. As one would expect in a book on Divine Mercy, some of the insights and teachings of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska are also included.
Week one of "33 Days to Merciful Love" focuses on backstory: the Garden of Eden, Abraham, and Mary, the Mother of God. Week two explores St. Therese’s Little Way. Week three examines the Offering to Merciful Love, and the final week looks at the mystery of darkness in St. Therese’s life and in our own lives. The final five days provide a review of all that has been covered.
Today is Divine Mercy Sunday. I made Fr. Gaitley's "Prayer of Consecration to Merciful Love" on pages 134 and 135 and renewed my "Offering to Merciful Love" in the words of the Little Flower, on pages 135 and 136, which I first made on June 9, 1995, the 100th anniversary of Therese first making the Consecration. This book can best be summarized by some words on pages 55-57:
"[T]he Little Way is all about the heart of the Gospel: Divine Mercy. It's all about remaining little and then arriving at the heights of holiness through the descending mercy of Jesus. ... It's about accepting that we are to put up with ourselves - with all the darkness of our weakness, brokenness, and sin, - without getting discouraged. It's recognizing, without giving up, that some struggles are chronic. It's realizing, without despairing, that they may be with us till our dying day. But it's also about realizing that this does not prevent us from becoming saints."
I particularly liked and lingered on days 2 thru 7, which are about the importance of faith (trust) and the great faith and trust of our Mother in Faith, Mary, and our Father in Faith, Abraham. They believed God's promises would be fulfilled despite how humanly impossible those promises seemed. However little Faith one has had, however greatly one has sinned, one should never despair of God's Merciful Love as St. Therese tells us:
"[E]ven though I had on my conscience all the sins that can be committed, I would go, my heart broken with sorrow, and throw myself into Jesus' arms, for I know how much He loves the prodigal child who returns to Him." (PP. 54,55)
And St. Faustina:
"Let our judgment of souls cease, for God's mercy upon them is extraordinary. ... Oh, how beyond comprehension is God's mercy! ... God's mercy sometimes touches the sinner at the last moment in a wondrous and mysterious way." (PP. 192, 193)