Last August, Hurricane Harvey forced the Rojas family’s evacuation from Robstown, Texas. Reaching shelter after a three-hour drive, Jesse and Jennifer and their children watched helplessly as someone on Facebook livestreamed the Rojas home as it, along with Jesse’s mother’s and sister’s houses, was burning.
“All three burned down completely during the night of the hurricane,” Jesse said. “We prayed right away. My wife’s favorite prayer is the Divine Mercy Chaplet. We said a Divine Mercy Chaplet on our way being evacuated, and we were praying the Rosary, too. They were signs to us that we weren’t alone.”
Despite losing everything, the family’s faith remains unshaken in the midst of their suffering because of their continuing prayer, “Jesus, I trust in you” — what Jesus told St. Faustina was his “signature” when he gave her the image of Divine Mercy (St. Faustina’s diary, 327). The Church celebrates Divine Mercy Sunday on the Second Sunday of Easter. The Rojas family attest that they are indeed blessed: None of the family was lost.
Jesse Rojas said that before the hurricane nobody knew the Divine Mercy Chaplet was his wife’s favorite prayer, yet, surprisingly, a family called them from out of state wanting to make a donation. “They were calling from the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy.”
Other good has come from the turmoil, too. Before the storm, his business was really slow. Now, Jesse has steady work lined up for satellite communication services and installation. Then came another assurance. When he returned to a house to pick up a drill he had forgotten, the customer handed him a gift — a bottle of holy water and a Bible whose cover was embossed, “Jesus, I trust in you.”
The Mother of Mercy also had something special for the Rojas family.
“Everything was lost” at his mother’s house too, Jesse said, “except for a statue of the Blessed Mother.” The photo was shared by many in the wake of the storm.
As Jesse said: “The Divine Mercy and praying the Rosary really got us through that — and really believing in and trusting Jesus Christ himself.”
The Rojas family’s trust in Jesus is exactly what the message means, according to Father Chris Alar of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception, who says this prayer is all about “entrusting ourselves into God’s hands,” putting our belief and hope in the providence of God.
The two great commandments of love God and love of neighbor “roll up into the No. 1 thing — to do the will of God,” he said. And to do the will of God “cannot be done without trust. God is God, and we are not, so we have to entrust ourselves to the providence of God even when it looks difficult. We have to trust him in giving us what’s best for our eternal salvation.”
Dave and Joan Maroney of the Mother of Mercy Messengers (TheDivineMercy.org/momm), a Divine Mercy apostolate outreach of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception, are committed to explaining this blessed message to all they encounter.
“If you’re spiritually immature and say, ‘Jesus, I trust in you,’ you tend to think that means everything’s going to go my way; I’m not going to lose my job; my marriage isn’t going to fall apart; the doctor’s results will come back and I’ll be okay. ‘Jesus, I trust in you’ is not that things are always going to go our way,” Joan explained, adding that this powerful prayer really “means God knows us, loves us and has our best interests at heart. No matter what happens, we are in the palm of his hand. If this means we have a trial or difficulty to undergo, we trust in Jesus that he will sustain us.”
Joan Maroney sees this exemplified in the life Our Lady. She trusted God even amid Christ’s passion, believing that the Resurrection would follow: “She trusted this was part of God’s plan for a greater good.” Maroney uses the example of someone suffering with cancer or another trial. “Offering that up is going to lead to the conversion of sinners” and other blessed outcomes. “No matter what happens, you trust in him fully.”
Trials and tribulations can cause many people to get mad at God or lose hope, but they must continue to focus on Christ. The Maroneys have heard many stories of people who kept trusting God amid struggles and eventually said, “Because of that I met my husband.” “I found a better job.” “I got back to the Church.”
Father Alar stressed, “The end goal of the cross is the Resurrection. But we can’t get to the Resurrection without the cross. [But] the cross leads to the Resurrection.”
In 1997 at the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Lagiewniki, Poland, St. John Paul II affirmed the truth of the Divine Mercy message: “If this person responds with a sincere heart: ‘Jesus, I trust in you,’ he will find comfort in all his anxieties and fears.”
“Trusting in him is a grace from him, but also requires some effort from me,” Father Michael Freihofer of Granby, Colorado, explained. The priest promotes the Divine Mercy Chaplet in his five parishes, including St. Ann, St. Bernard, and Our Lady of Snow, with the bulletins carrying excerpts from St. Faustina’s diary.
“We say the Chaplet after Masses during Lent and a few other Sundays. We also give out Divine Mercy images and postcards. Several of our churches are in tourist locations, so we are able to promote the message of Divine Mercy to many people across the U.S.,” he explained.
Father Freihofer tells the story of a recent visitor who wanted to thank him for introducing her and her family to the Divine Mercy message during Mass on their Colorado visit five years earlier. Then she began praying the chaplet regularly and put pictures of the Divine Mercy image in the windows of their home.
This family also lost everything when their home burned down, but she told Father Freihofer because of the images of Divine Mercy in their home, they trust that Jesus will help them rebuild their lives.
The pastor, who is also the spiritual director for Word Apostolate of Fatima’s Denver division, is encouraged by such stories of trust in Jesus.
One parishioner told Father Freihofer her sister had not been a practicing Catholic for more than 45 years. Hit with an aggressive form of cancer, she refused to see a priest. All the while, Father Freihofer’s parishioner prayed for her sister’s medical and spiritual healing — with the Divine Mercy Chaplet as a frequent part of her prayer.
When it came time for her sister to enter hospice care, the parishioner asked her sister one more time, “Will you consent to having a priest come and anoint you?” She said, “Yes.” Soon, a priest arrived.
She died within days, said Father Freihofer, “on St. Faustina’s feast day, Oct. 5. Praise God for his Divine Mercy!”
“Get the [Divine Mercy] image out there,” Joan Maroney encouraged. “Trust what Jesus says about the 3 o’clock hour: ‘In this hour you can obtain everything for yourself and for others for the asking’ (diary, 1572).”
As Jesus assured St. Faustina, (diary, 1578): “The graces of my mercy are drawn by means of one vessel only, and that is trust. The more a soul trusts, the more it will receive. Souls that trust boundlessly are a great comfort to me, because I pour all the treasures of my graces into them. I rejoice that they ask for much, because it is my desire to give much, very much.”
Joseph Pronechen is a
Register staff writer.