GREENVILLE—Gaining a deeper understanding of one’s faith and what is in store for the faithful in 2017 were among the topics discussed during the 2016 Marian Eucharistic Conference.
The conference, held annually in the Upstate, drew a range of speakers, including Fathers Bill Casey and Larry Richards, Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone, and Tom Peterson, president and founder of Catholics Come Home and VirtueMedia.
Father Casey began by calling attention to St. Faustina Kowalska, and noting that the value of her teachings on mercy are largely overlooked today.
The communications of St. Faustina, Father Casey said, are a message for the entire world, yet, “even now, I find many good Catholics, practicing Catholics, who still don’t know it, know little or nothing of it. Good Catholics who know nothing about our Lord’s message in the revelation of St. Faustina, nothing about her diary, nothing about the Feast of the Divine Mercy on the Sunday after Easter … and all the promises that are attached to that,” he said.
“They don’t know the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy. And this is the most vitally important, pressing issue and message of our time. And as we come to the close of this Year of Mercy … we’ve got to do that,” he continued.
Father Casey urged attendees to consider carefully these messages as they move into 2017.
“As we come to the end of this extraordinary Year of Grace, the Jubilee Year of Mercy, I hope that all of you would have a clear understanding of what it is, what it has been about, how providential it truly is for the world. It is not by chance that our Holy Father, Pope Francis, designated this year as the year of Mercy in the Church,” he said.
Looking forward, Father Casey noted that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said 2017 will be a “very significant year for the Church and for the world.”
Father Casey also noted that Pope Benedict “didn’t say exactly what significance” the year would have, but he urged attendees to consider the importance of three events, each of which will occur in October: the 100th anniversary of the final apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima; the 100th anniversary of Red October and the beginning of the Communist Revolution in Russia; and the 500th anniversary of the beginning of Protestantism.
He said that Satan told Pope Leo XIII in a vision that he would destroy the church in 100 years, leaving theologians to wonder when the 100 years would begin.
“When did this century-long all-out final assault on the Church begin?” he asked the audience. “Well, I don’t know, but if I had to bet on it, in my opinion, and I could be wrong — you can take this or leave it: that 100 years began in October, 1917. If I’m right, something is coming. The Devil is raging because he knows his time is short. We need the mercy of God.”
As evidence of Satan’s war against the Church, Father Casey said “we live in an age when Christianity is under worldwide attack.”
“Christians are now once again the most-persecuted minority in the world,” he added.
He also warned of faith being “rejected, abandoned and denied by practitioners of a new paganism, … the exaltation of self over God.”
To better understand and battle this threat to the Church, Father Casey suggested attendees study the following entries from “The Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska: Divine Mercy in My Soul”: 848; 429; 83; 1,146; 965; 1,588; 1,160; 1,732; and 635.
Set against the backdrop of Satan’s battle against the Church, Father Casey talked about the importance of God’s mercy.
“The source of our peace is the sure knowledge that God loves us,” he said. “God offers the gift of His mercy … and we have to keep our souls in grace. We need the mercy of God.”
Father Richards, who also addressed the gathering Saturday morning, talked about his experiences hearing confession, and the role that the sacrament of reconciliation plays in receiving God’s mercy.
“We don’t [go to confession] because we don’t want to go to hell,” he told the attentive audience. “We do it because, ‘Jesus, I hurt you and I’m sorry.’ ‘Jesus, I hurt that person, and I’m sorry.’ ‘Jesus, I hurt myself created in your image, and I’m sorry.’ Not because, ‘I don’t want to go to hell for all eternity.’ … He died on the cross for your sins. What should that make you? Not guilty but grateful,” he said.
During a break, attendee Warren Wolfe said he felt the conference was helping him gain a better understanding of Catholicism.
“We haven’t attended many conferences,” he said. “We’re converts, and we’re learning. I’ve really enjoyed this conference — it’s been educational and uplifting. You get to meet a lot of people. There’s a lot of evil in the world that needs to be combated, and this is the best way to do it.”
This year’s conference was held Nov. 4-5 at the Hilton Greenville.
By John C. Stevenson | Special to The Miscellany
Top photo: Miscellany/John C. Stevenson: Father Bill Casey, of the Congregation of the Fathers of Mercy, speaks about St. Faustina Kowalska and the value of her teachings on mercy during the 2016 Marian Eucharistic Conference held Nov. 4-5 in Greenville.