Jesus was betrayed by the kiss of a friend.
Through this same gesture, our prayers seek to reconcile souls to the Father,
one little kiss at a time.
As we look forward to the celebrate of the Feast of Divine Mercy this Sunday, in the Jubilee Year of Mercy, I thought I would take time to introduce you all to a prayer apostolate started by a friend of mine, Helen Syski. It goes by the beautiful and unassuming name: Kiss of Mercy. She sent an email to many of us a couple of weeks ago, asking her to join in this new apostolate. You may have seen it picked up by 40 Days for Life in Boston as well.
The apostolate specifically draws on the spirituality of the “Little Way” of St. Therese of Lisieux, where seemingly small actions that are offered up to God are transformed into magnificent vehicles for mercy and grace. In this particular case, the mercy asked is for all who have been separated from God or harmed by the sin of abortion. Here is the simple text of the devotion:
Kiss of Mercy Prayer
(To be recited while kissing a baby, child or image of the Baby Jesus)
Jesus I trust in You.
With my kiss, convert, heal and reconcile to
the Father one soul wounded by abortion.
Helen, who started this apostolate with another friend of hers, Mary Burton, was gracious enough to grant me a little interview about their work. I share it with you and ask that you visit their website and prayerfully consider joining (and spreading!) this beautiful Kiss of Mercy prayer.
Interview with Helen Syski, Co-Foundress of Kiss of Mercy Apostolate
CV: Your website says you were inspired to this apostolate through Fulton Sheen. Can you describe that experience?
HS: I am a part of a women’s group at my parish, and for Lent we watched a series of Ven. Fulton Sheen’s talks. His one on confession emphasizes the effect of guilt and sin on our souls. When we do not acknowledge our sins and repent, they twist us. Our ability to choose good and even to recognize what is true, good and beautiful is damaged. He made the comment “Just think how many mentally disturbed women we are going to have in the United States … when the guilt of abortion begins to attack the mind and soul… Years from now, the guilt will come out in a peculiar way, though at present there may not be any.” I was struck deeply by his comment.
CV: From that experience, how did you come to this particular prayer? And your many wonderful patrons?
HS: We all feel so small in the face of such a Gordian knot, but of course God can do anything. Here God worked quickly! He placed this need for mercy also on the heart of a friend in the group, Mary Burton, and our subsequent conversations made it clear that He desired this apostolate of mercy. We were consistently coming up with the same ideas or complementary ideas in prayer. The idea is that with the simplicity and Holy Daring of St. Therese of Lisieux, we would use a simple kiss of love to ask for something extravagant–the salvation of a soul. Knowing that Pope Francis has called a Jubilee Year of Mercy gave us added assurance that God yearns for this type of prayer.
We wanted spiritual direction from a priest to again ask confirmation of God’s will, and went to Fr. Gregory Staab, OMV. We went to visit him, shared our story and desire, and asked his advice. After more discussion and time for reflection and prayer, he agreed that it was God’s will and would console the Heart of Jesus. Prior to going, I had spoken to my mother-in-law about our idea, and she recalled how St. Faustina had asked Jesus to save a soul for every stitch as she was crocheting. Fr. Greg then brought up the same passage! St. Faustina wanted in on this, as is only appropriate for the messenger of Divine Mercy.
Fr. Greg raised the need for a prayer to accompany the Kiss. We chose to use “Jesus, I trust in You” to begin, stating our confidence in our Lord, as St. Faustina taught us. Then we ask Him for the conversion, healing and reconciliation of one soul, and pray a Hail Mary. Mary is after all the Mother of Mercy, and what a powerful prayer to accompany our little Kiss!
While we were with Fr. Greg we also came to a decision to invoke our Lady under the title Undoer of Knots; if there ever was a Gordian knot, it is abortion, and we know she can untie it.
All of this took place within one week’s time; we then waited for the Feast of St. Joseph to begin the apostolate because he is the protector of families and the unborn. We also brought Louis and Zelie Martin on board as Patron Saints; they were truly models of the spiritual and corporal works of mercy, and were the parents of St. Therese of Lisieux, whose Little Way is so central to this apostolate.
HS: Look at all the evils in our world today, especially with regard to the family. How many of these are because of the unacknowledged sins of abortion? An end to abortion isn’t enough to save our world, especially just a legal end! There are millions upon millions of women, men, doctors, nurses, and families crying out under the burden of the guilt of abortion. Until they are converted and healed, our world cannot know peace. And the grace necessary for such a conversion–unimaginable! It takes such courage and fortitude to face what you have done; to face it without despair takes the grace of God.
CV: Zelie is part of my religious name, so I’m very excited to see her on your list of patrons. I know that you also have a personal relationship with her. What is the importance of having the Martins (a married couple) and St. Joseph be some of your patrons, when abortion is seen primarily as a “women’s issue”?
HS: And Fulton Sheen! Defending the defenseless is an issue for all of humanity; imagine only asking 50% of humans to take part? Parents and men are the very people who should most want to and are most qualified to help women.
CV: This beautiful prayer is not only efficacious, we trust, for the people for whom we are praying, but getting in the habit of prayer changes us as well and has the power to change the world! In addition to reconciling sinners to the Father, what effects (if any) do you wish this apostolate will have for individuals, for the Church and for the world?
HS: I’m sure God has many in mind, but the two that I have already seen are these:
1. Hope for those who are overwhelmed by the evil they see in the world. Now we can act, have Faith, and help to heal the world.
2. Hearts turned to mercy for those who do evil. We must have a heart of love and enter into their misery, for miserable are the souls that are separated from God. The word for mercy in Latin is misericordia; opening one’s heart to the misery of another. “Mankind will not have peace until it turns with Trust to My Mercy.” Diary of Saint Faustina 300
CV: I know you probably kiss your babies with this prayer, but do you have a favorite image of the infant Christ?
HS: “Kissing the Face of God” by Morgan Weistling. Absolutely stunning.