Friday, February 5, 2010

Book Review – Divine Mercy by Robert Stackpole, STD

Dr. Stackpole has written an invaluable book about the mercy of God in Divine Mercy, A Guide from Genesis to Benedict XVI.  
I’ve been reading this book a small portion at a time in order to really grasp the abundance of wisdom it contains.  In chapter one the author begins the book by talking about our “normal” definition of mercy: an act of pardon, and the cancellation of punishment.  Divine Mercy is that, but so much more too.  “Divine Mercy is God’s love reaching down to meet the needs and overcome the miseries of His creatures.” (p. 19).  It’s an active role that God plays in showing us mercy… like the shepherd who went looking for the lost sheep in order to bring him back to safety.
Part one of the book includes the characteristics of God’s Divine Mercy and helps the reader to understand, in down-to-earth terms, how much we are loved by God.  Stackpole talks about two Hebrew words used in the Old Testament to describe God’s mercy.  The first is hesed, a love that is steadfast and always giving.  A love that gives over and over again, regardless of anything the loved one does.  The second is rachamim, which is a tender and compassionate love.  The author uses the illustration of a mother who loves her child and pities him if he is hurt, and in that pity does anything and everything she can to help him and to relieve his pain, even if it was his own disobedience that brought him to it.  This really struck a chord with me, and probably will with all mothers.  I love my child that way, and to know that God loves me that much… well, it’s humbling and awe-inspiring to say the least.
Part two of the book goes through the writings of several theologians and saints and develops their viewpoints of Divine Mercy.  This was a very deep section of the book and I will be going over it a second time (and most likely a third time too) in order to get a more full sense of what these men and women contributed to the understanding of Divine Mercy.
Part three discusses how the understanding of Divine Mercy continues to deepen and grow in modern times, as well as the world’s great need to hear about, understand, and place its trust in the great mercy of God.
This is an excellent book and I highly recommend it.  It includes thoughtful study questions and discussion starters at the end of each chapter and would be a great book to study as a group.
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 XV.

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