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Fountain of Mercy

By Barbara Kralis

©Barbara Kralis 2004

What does the Church mean when she uses this theological phrase, ‘Fons Misericordiae’ or ‘Fountain of Mercy’?

Let us first look at the Church’s definition of mercy: "A moral virtue that prompts its owner to have compassion for and to succour those in spiritual or temporal want."

Mercy is the one distinctive virtue of being a Christian – to be a Christian is to be merciful.

Furthermore, Clemency (mercy) together with charity is a requirement to perform the necessary Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy.  Without works, our faith is dead. [1]

The theology of the Sacrament of the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Confession as a ‘fountain of mercy’ is found often in Church teaching. [2] 

In the ‘Catechism of the Council of Trent,’ pastors are instructed to teach and compare  "…the Eucharist to a fountain, the other Sacraments to rivulets" (n.2).

St. Bernard writes on the ‘Fountains of the Savior,’ as ‘waters of pardon from the Fountain of Mercy to wash away our sins.’[3]

The Byzantines pray in the ‘Kontakion of the Protection – Tone 3’ to the ‘Fountain of Mercy,’ the Mother of God, "We believe and profess that you are truly the Mother of God, and that in your deep love for us, you are a Fountain of Mercy…"

Moreover, the Church teaches that of the Seven Sacraments, the other six Sacraments draw souls to the Sacrament of the Eucharist.  "The Church of the new Advent…must be the Church of the Eucharist and of Penance."[4]

Jesus is Divine Mercy.  He loved the sinful world enough to suffer and die for our redemption – ‘debitum amoris.’[5]

He made it possible for sinners to be restored through the Sacrament of Confession to their former righteousness. [6]

Since Confession is the only way for sinners to attain salvation, the successors of St. Peter have made it their chief concern to summon all men to this ‘Fountain of Mercy’ by encouraging sinners by every means to seek remission.[7]

Most everyone is familiar with the writing of Saint Faustina[8] in her Diary, ‘Divine Mercy.’  Saint Faustina writes of seeing Jesus in a miraculous apparition in the year 1931 A.D.

As a young Polish nun, Sister Faustina saw Jesus dressed in white garments with red and white rays radiating from the Eucharistic host placed on His heart.[9]  Faustina said that Jesus said to her: "The Blessed Sacrament is the Throne of Mercy."

Jesus told Sister Faustina:

"Paint an image according to the pattern you see with the signature:  ‘Jesus I trust in you.’  I promise that the soul that venerates this image will not perish…I am offering people a vessel with which they are to keep coming for graces to the Fountain of Mercy."

Recorded three times in the Diary of Saint Faustina, Jesus told Sister Faustina about the Sacraments of Confession and Holy Communion:  "I want to grant a complete pardon to the souls that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion on the Feast of My Mercy." [10] 

Is not our Lord emphasizing the infinite value of receiving Holy Communion, the Fountain of Mercy, worthily?

We, too, should see in every Holy Communion worthily received the merciful Savior pouring His Blood out as a ‘Fountain of Mercy’ for us.

Here is a beautiful preparation to recite before receiving Holy Communion, the Fountain of Mercy:

"Oratio Sancti Abrosii ante Missam"

(Prayer of St. Ambrose, Bishop and Doctor of the Church)[11]

Lord Jesus Christ, I approach Thy banquet table in fear and trembling, for I am a sinner and dare not rely on my own worth but only on ...

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1 - 1 of 1 Comments

  1. Simon McMullen
    1 year ago

    I am engaged in talking with a young friend: young but very mature for her years (she's 19). She has asked me an interesting question - to what extent are charity and mercy necessary components of civility, of civil discourse? as part of this conversation I would like to be able to present her with a clear, simple, definition of Misericordia. I'm having trouble finding one.

    As I understand it, Misericordia is a far more extensive concept than that commonly conveyed by current usage of the word 'charity' - which amounts to very little more than an inclination to give people 'stuff'.

    I'm having trouble conveying this greater extent without resorting to purely theological argumentation. My friend is not a Catholic and, like many young people today, is averse to the language of religious faith. I have no wish to appear to her as a 'bible-thumping' proselytizer.

    If fruit is to be borne, then a seed must be planted. All I'm trying to do is plant a seed.

    Any thoughts on how to proceed would be most welcome.

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