Friday, December 11, 2009

Book Review: Divine Mercy - A Guide from Genesis to Benedict XVI

Divine Mercy: A Guide from Genesis to Benedict XVI
by Robert Stackpole, STD
Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, 2009 (Revised edition. Original edition published 2008)

Robert Stackpole, STD has done an incredible job of tracing the "theological history" of Divine Mercy in "Divine Mercy: A Guide from Genesis to Benedict XVI." In his introduction, Stackpole asks a very important question. "Why has the message of Divine Mercy been revealed over time? If the message is so important, why didn't God reveal the whole thing to human beings right from the start?" Due to sin, humanity couldn't take it all in at once. "As century followed century, God progressively revealed Himself more and more." Stackpole explores that revelation through the words of the Old and New Testament, the lives of various saints, and the words of our current Pope and his immediate predecessor.

Stackpole defines Divine Mercy as "God's Love reaching down to meet the needs and overcome the miseries of His creatures." From the days of Adam and Eve, God has shown his mercy to his people. Even in the midst of God's punishments, there is always an element of mercy. Cain kills Abel, yet he goes forth with God's protection. In the midst of the flood, Noah and his family are saved. God did not abandon the Chosen People in the desert. The ones who were unfaithful would not get to enter the promised land, but their children still would. Even in chastisement, His mercy serves to encourage a "return to faithfulness to the convenant He had graciously made with them and so that they might enjoy all its blessings." God's discipline and his mercy are always for the greatest good.

The New Testament offers the ultimate act of God's mercy - His sending His son to save us. "If the Son of God Himself is overflowing with merciful love, it is no wonder that the New Testament encourages everyone to place all their trust in Him and in His heavenly Father." Also, God is not just waiting for us to turn back. Like the Good Shepherd, he seeks out the lost sheep. He searches us out and welcomes us back.

Several saints have also added to the message of Divine Mercy. Stackpole explores the teachings of Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Catherine of Siena, Francis of Assisi, and Maria Faustina Kowalska among others. The work of each builds on and complements the others as God has chosen to reveal different elements of His mercy to each one, and through them, to us. Lastly, Stackpole focuses on Pope John Paul II, the Mercy Pope, and our current pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI.

"Divine Mercy: A Guide from Genesis to Benedict XVI" is a must-read for anyone interested in how God has revealed his mercy through the ages. "Divine Mercy is the center of the Gospel message, manifested through the Sacraments and works of mercy done by the Church. It is the only source of true peace for every human heart and every human community."

Reviewed by Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur

This review was written as part of the Catholic book Reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Divine Mercy - A Guide from Genesis to Benedict XVI.

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