By Genevieve Pollock
STOCKBRIDGE, Massachusetts, APRIL 20, 2011 (Zenit.org).- A free iPhone application, which was just released for Android phones as well, aims to spread hope worldwide by promoting the message and devotion of Divine Mercy.
ZENIT interviewed Father Michael Gaitley of the Congregation of Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, an order tasked with the official promotion of the Divine Mercy message.
Father Gaitley, director of the Association of Marian Helpers, author of “Consoling the Heart of Jesus” (Marian Press), and organizer of the application initiative, explained that this Smartphone program can be used to guide devotions such as the Divine Mercy novena, which begins on Good Friday.
In this interview, he underlined the importance of this devotion, particularly highlighted with the upcoming beatification of Pope John Paul II on the Feast of Divine Mercy, celebrated this year on May 1, and why the message is so important for the people of today’s world.
ZENIT: What do you see as the highlights of this new app for iPhone and Android phones? What elements were you most enthusiastic about?
Father Gaitley: As the official Divine Mercy app, it’s incredibly comprehensive, so it’s hard to highlight only a few things. Since there are three chapters to the app, I’ll just pick my favorite elements from each chapter.
In the first chapter, “The Message,” my favorite feature is the Diary of St. Faustina.
This feature contains hundreds of citations from the diary organized according to 37 themes such as confession, Holy Communion, humility, and trust. I went through the entire diary several times and painstakingly picked out the best citations for each theme.
As a priest, I use this feature almost on a daily basis to prepare homilies or for my personal prayer.
Two interactive features stand out in the second chapter, “The Devotion:” the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and Stations of the Cross.
The interactive chaplet allows you to pray the chaplet even when you can’t find your rosary beads. A swipe of the finger advances each bead, and the “audio only” option lets you pray the chaplet “hands free” when you’re in the car.
The Stations of the Cross offers you images for each station and the full text of the popular devotional “St. Faustina’s Way of the Cross.”
The third and final chapter, “Mercy Plus,” has a fantastic feature that will satisfy those who want to delve deeply into the message of Divine Mercy: articles. This feature contains more than 70 embedded Divine Mercy articles on frequently asked questions and fascinating relevant theology.
And for those who want even more, the app will download the recent Divine Mercy articles posted daily on our Web site www.thedivinemercy.org.
ZENIT: How can this app help people to prepare for the celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday?
Father Gaitley: Great question. Because Divine Mercy Sunday is so important, there’s an icon labeled “Feast of Mercy” under the chapter “The Devotion.”
Contained in this section are clear explanations of Divine Mercy Sunday’s most important aspects: the meaning of the day, veneration of the image, the extraordinary promise, the question of whether the promise is a plenary indulgence, and proper preparation.
Also, in this same chapter there is an icon labeled “Novena and Other Prayers.” This section provides access to all the prayers of the Novena to Divine Mercy, which Jesus asked St. Faustina to pray in preparation for Divine Mercy Sunday (The novena begins on Good Friday and ends on the day before Divine Mercy Sunday).
ZENIT: The Feast of Divine Mercy has received renewed attention with the upcoming beatification of John Paul II on that day this year. What was your response, and that of your congregation, when you heard the news about the beatification?
Father Gaitley: We were elated, especially when we read Pope Benedict XVI’s words, stating that the date of the beatification has a “special significance” because of the attention Pope John Paul II gave to the message of Divine Mercy.
John Paul didn’t just speak about it once or twice. It was a constant theme of his pontificate.
In fact, some might even say it was the most significant theme, and I count Pope Benedict XVI among such people.
I also count Pope Benedict XVI as another “Mercy Pope,” like Pope John Paul II — which brings me back to the app. Under the chapter, “The Message,” there’s an icon labeled “Mercy Popes” that presents the top ten mercy quotes from Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. I strongly encourage everyone to read these quotes.
People will be astonished at the importance the Mercy Popes have given to the message of Divine Mercy for our time.
ZENIT: Why do you think the message of Divine Mercy is so important for the people of today?
Father Gaitley: Simply put: It brings hope.
It brings hope at a time when we desperately need it and in a way that most people can understand it.
The message of Divine Mercy is not a lecture or a theory. It’s not an idea or another platitude. It’s concrete and personal. It’s a story — an amazingly beautiful and true story.
The full story can be gathered from the app in the chapter “The Message” under the icons labeled “St. Faustina” and “Timeline.”
Here’s a summary: In the bloodiest century in human history, in the land that saw some of the worst of it, God raised up a humble nun, Sister Faustina Kowalska, to give our broken modern world a powerful testimony to his infinite mercy. He appeared to Faustina, spoke to her, and told her to write down in a diary what she saw and heard.
Through her diary, the Lord wanted to offer humanity consoling words, concrete devotions, and specific promises about his mercy.
For instance, he gave an image of himself as the Merciful Savior, a chaplet of Divine Mercy, a novena, and extraordinary promises of grace at the 3:00 hour and especially on Divine Mercy Sunday.
Then, from the same land, the Lord raised up a great Mercy Pope who confirmed the prophetic testimony of St. Faustina and added his own witness to hers.
Finally, the Lord himself, as Pope Benedict XVI pointed out, confirmed this prophetic message by calling John Paul II home on the vigil of Divine Mercy Sunday in 2005.
ZENIT: How can Catholics grow deeper in this understanding of God’s mercy?
Father Gaitley: For starters, they can download this free app. It contains a wealth of information on the message of Divine Mercy.
Second, our Web site, and Facebook page, “Divine Mercy (official),” also provide an abundance of information.
Finally, I recommend our three most popular books on the message of Divine Mercy: “The Diary of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska,” “The Divine Mercy Message and Devotion,” and “Consoling the Heart of Jesus: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat Inspired by the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.”
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On the Net:
To download app: www.thedivinemercy.org
To order books: www.marian.org/catalog