The Divine Mercy movement and the ministry of the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy changed everything behind These Stone Walls and set us on course to freedom.
Most readers of these pages know that I cannot actually see this blog. I type my posts on an “old school” typewriter and then mail them to a volunteer, Father George David Byers in Andrews, North Carolina. He is the first line of editing and formatting, and usually reserves the first part of his day off on Tuesday for that Corporal Work of Mercy.
After Father Byers does preliminary formatting and adds the links I include in my text, he emails the post to Suzanne Sadler, TSW’s volunteer publisher near Sydney, Australia. Charlene Duline, a now-retired U.S. State Department official in Indiana, then mails me a printed copy of each post. So I am seeing it for the first time about five or six days after you do. A week or so later Mrs. Lavern West in Ohio sends me your comments.
Over the eight years that I have been writing from prison, a few of my posts became almost instant social media hits. One of them was “Finding Your Peace in Sorrow and Suffering” which was shared about 10,000 times in the week it was published. Another, “Five Years of Pope Francis in a Time of Heresy,” was shared 16,000 times within two days after it was posted. Someone commented on Facebook that as a blog post, “it was a lot to digest.”
I guess that’s true. Because of how and from where I must write, I can only manage one post per week. So I try to write something of substance, and I avoid writing of frivolous things.
You may have noticed that most of my posts are written in sections with graphics and subheadings dividing them. I do this because I know you are busy, and writing that way enables you to return from day to day to read the posts a section at a time if you want to. That’s an option, but one of the nicest compliments I have received about These Stone Walls was a note mailed by a reader:
“I opened your post this week and groaned when I saw its length. Then I started reading and couldn’t stop, and when I got to the end, I didn’t want it to end.”
MOST POPULAR v MOST IMPORTANT
I recount the above story because I know that, somewhere on the Home Page, These Stone Walls has a list entitled, “Most Popular Posts.” The shortlist is based on an algorithm that includes both the traffic visiting a post and its shares on social media. But there is no algorithm to measure “Most Important Posts.”
To remedy that, every few months I would like to list a few titles that I think are more important than others – at least, more important to the guy who wrote them. Those are rarely the ones that become Internet hits. That any of them do always catch me by surprise.
That’s a term I don’t want to use, but it showed up one day in a letter that a reader wrote to Pornchai Moontri. After Claire Dion’s guest post, “My Visit with Pornchai Maximilian Moontri,” he received a letter from a reader which began, “I’ve never written to an Internet Sensation before!” Dear reader, you know not what you have done. I have to share 60-square-feet of living space with this guy! Now there is little room left for me!
Anyway, I would like to begin this periodic list of “Most Important Posts” with this week’s post. It’s a good time to do so because Father George David Byers has been summoned to Rome for ten days, so I am tasked with keeping this one brief and sending it to him a few days earlier than usual.
I chided him that maybe he is being summoned to Rome to answer for my “Five Years of Pope Francis” post, but alas, that is not the reason. He has been summoned by Pope Francis in regard to the extension of his official status as a Missionary of Mercy. I hope we’ll get the scoop on that when he returns.
So my first such list includes posts that did not make the loudest noise or travel the farthest through cyberspace, but they are nonetheless the ones most dear to my own heart. And they all have something very important in common. They are all posts about the presence and the impact of Divine Mercy in my life, in Pornchai Moontri’s life, and in the life of this place that holds us captive.
For the first four years of the existence of These Stone Walls, I mentioned Divine Mercy only once in passing. Over the last four years, about thirty posts have had as their major topic the work and special grace of Divine Mercy behind these prison walls. I cannot explain how this happened, but I know it began with an invitation.
So now I extend this invitation to you. I selected my seven favorites among those thirty Divine Mercy posts. I invite you to pick the two or three that catch your eye and read them in preparation for, and in honor of, Divine Mercy Sunday. Here they are:
- Woman, Behold Your Son! 33 days to Morning Glory – Part 1
- Behold Your Mother! 33 Days to Morning Glory – Part 2
- Consecration to Divine Mercy: 33 Days to Merciful Love
- The Marian Missionaries of Divine Mercy
- Divine Mercy: The Second Greatest Story Ever Told
- Father Seraphim Michalenko on a Mission of Divine Mercy
- Knock and the Door Will Open: Divine Mercy in Bangkok Thailand