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  • Writer's pictureAbigail Foard

Merciful Refuge

Updated: May 3, 2021

“O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the heart of Jesus as a fount of mercy for us, I trust in you!”

– Chaplet of Divine Mercy

A week after Easter in 2018, Andrew and I were ministering in Vilnius, Lithuania--home to the original painting inspired by an obscure Polish nun, Maria Faustina Kowalska (now St. Faustina). She met Jesus in that flow--a vision of the blood and water surging from His side. Jesus’ words gripped her: “Let all mankind recognize My unfathomable mercy…let them profit from the Blood and Water which gushed forth for them” (Diary 848).

Andrew and I were present during Divine Mercy Sunday, a Feast Day which always bookends Easter Sunday; it represents the fruit of Jesus’ Resurrection in great drafts of mercy aimed at the whole world! What began as a messy flow of blood and water becomes through Holy Spirit the transformation of every tribe and tongue.

That Sunday in Vilnius I remember feeling particularly gripped with my need for mercy. I confessed to Andrew the pull of codependency--ways I try to get needs met by positioning myself in dependent relationships with others. I saw afresh that my hunger for connection and communion is vulnerable to going sideways!

But it also revealed roots of a deeper struggle--my challenge to find a rich community in a church home in Kansas City. I value the Church, and have always longed for a solid, holy refuge. Jesus had saved me through His Church! I knew rich community through my Lutheran foundations and in beautiful charismatic church communities. But in Kansas City, there seemed to be a gap for me. I couldn’t fully “land” and my frustration (and confusion!) was mounting.

Saints like Faustina became friends for me. I had been drawn to mystics in the historic Church. Now I was beginning to see the value of their Catholic Tradition. They knew Jesus in the midst of liturgical prayers, the Eucharist, His community.

Having been blessed by my Catholic brothers and sisters all over the world, I began to enjoy the daily readings. I felt grounded. Inspired that millions of people through the globe were reading the same, I sensed the Holy Spirit in and through these unifying traditions. I began to crave the Eucharist, hungering to “touch” Jesus afresh today. Not only through the Holy Spirit or His members, but Himself--His body and blood given for me.

Mercy surprised me. I wasn’t expecting Jesus’ invitation to bring my charismatic/ evangelical self into the Catholic Church. Yet her solid foundation has grounded me. And I feel free to offer my gift there!

My road to Catholicism in no way negates the ecumenism of Living Waters. We come from a variety of spiritual communities, but we encounter the same blood and water flow. We delight in our corporate immersion. Divine Mercy unites every Christian!

On this “Divine Mercy” Sunday, for the sake of His suffering and merciful surge, let us cry out for what He desires to give: “mercy on us and on the whole world!”


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