“When they see this sign – this sign that Christ exists, that there are people of faith who are willing to be out there 24 hours a day – they identify with those people. It's feeding and nourishing that inner life of faith in them.”
“I think our culture is ready for Catholics to become more 'evangelical' – more demonstrative, taking the strength of our faith into the public square without compromise.”
He believes that the Divine Mercy image, which shows rays of blood and water flowing from Jesus' heart, is a striking means of evangelism – especially in a highly visual culture, where images can have more impact than words.
“I think our Lord knew that we were entering into this time of a highly visual culture,” Sullivan said. “We have no idea how many people are being touched just by driving by and seeing it. We're seeing police officers drive up and stop near it, and they have this look in their eyes. There's something that is happening to them.”
“We trust that the Lord will use this image as a means of touching souls – because he said he would.”
St. Faustina Kowalska, the 20th century Polish nun whose visions inspired the image, said that Jesus asked her to have it painted and displayed as a sign of God's love during the upheavals of modern history. Sullivan and his fellow vigil participants expect to pass out 20,000 cards bearing the image, along with a prayer and a passage from St. Faustina's diary.
While the Divine Mercy Project seeks to evangelize the public, it also has the goal of encouraging Catholics to perform the “corporal works of mercy” – acts such as feeding the hungry, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and sheltering the homeless. These acts, Sullivan noted, are an essential part of the message given to the world through St. Faustina.
“Jesus said that the strongest faith is of no avail without works,” he said. “Christ demands deeds of mercy.”
The Heralds of Divine Mercy are already getting requests from at least five other U.S. states, where devotees want to launch similar campaigns in the public square. Sullivan believes that the project has national potential, as long as Catholics are willing to step out and take the necessary risks.
“You can say 'Jesus, I trust in you' to your heart's content,” he said, “but if there's no risk involved in that trust, then where is the proof? As Catholics, we really have to put more on the line.”
“Our fears and anxieties keep the power of our faith locked up,” said Sullivan. “But when we lead with prayer, and take risks, God shows up.”
(Story continues below)
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