Bestselling author brings message of mercy to Austin
By Carla Luna Smith
Some people call them “God winks;” some call them “coincidences.” Best-selling author and renowned Catholic speaker Vinny Flynn describes them simply as God’s plan. He spoke about this and his book, “7 Secrets of Divine Mercy” at Austin’s San José Parish during the third annual “Turning Point” event. Benefiting The Frontline Faith Foundation and Mary’s Touch, the evening was filled with faith and fellowship all focused on God’s enduring mercy.
The goal of “Turning Point” is to help people, as Executive Director Susana Garza said, “have a true turning point and paradigm shift in their faith journey. Our hope is to turn them toward God and point them in the right direction.”
Following a welcome by Father Alberto Borruel, pastor of San José Parish, and an invocation by Auxiliary Bishop Daniel Garcia, a packed house listened to a brief question and answer session between Mary’s Touch co-host Father Jim Evans and Flynn before he began his presentation.
This “man who sings the Divine Mercy Chaplet on EWTN” took no time in sharing how “getting out of the way” allowed God’s plan to work in his life. Pope Francis commenced “The Jubilee of Mercy” on Dec. 8 of last year and one week later, Flynn’s book came out. Nothing about this was coincidental Flynn said confidently, “God knew the timing and his timing was perfect.”
Oddly enough, Flynn had been working on his Divine Mercy book for seven years and in conjunction with his “7 Secrets of Confession” manuscript. He also wrote the acclaimed “7 Secrets of the Eucharist,” which Cardinal George Pell calls “a must read for Catholics.”
What you might call “divine convergence” is that Dec. 8 is also the feast of the Immaculate Conception and that, as he opened the Holy Doors last Dec. 8, Pope Francis used the very words St. John XXIII spoke when he officially closed the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council 50 years ago to the day: “Now the Bride of Christ wishes to use the medicine of mercy rather than taking up arms of severity.”
December 8 is also Flynn’s birthday, a fact he both marvels at and humbly respects. While talking about confession and mercy, he reminded the crowd that during reconciliation we don’t necessarily ask for forgiveness, but instead healing. God forgave sinners on Good Friday and his “medicine of mercy” heals and restores.
One participant whispered, “For me, going to confession is like going to a hospital. I get healed.”
Flynn also noted that God loves us at least as much when we’re sinning as when we’re praying and that sin doesn’t change God, it changes us.
But why secrets? What do his books really reveal?
“In my studies I have found that sometimes even really strong Catholics don’t know the basics of our faith,” Flynn said. “These have always been the teachings of the church and the truths of what we believe. I am simply revealing them.”
The father of seven also touched upon repeated and urgent calls for justice worldwide. He noted, however, that justice and mercy are often confused. Justice, he said, is not just a matter of getting what we deserve or don’t deserve. It is recognizing the dignity of another person and helping them become just. Mercy, on the other hand, is the full flowering of justice, which is fulfilled by mercy. God’s mercy, he reminded us, goes beyond what is deserved. The same, he explained, can be said about “just” and “fair.”
“When someone says “that’s just not fair,” they may be mistaken,” Flynn said. “Fair basically means ‘the same’ so something can actually be just, but maybe not fair.”
When we get confused, frustrated or even disheartened, he recommends we find a way to let God be God.
“Give it all to him and he will do amazing things,” he instructed. “The results are none of our business. Our business is to give it to God.”
“It’s up to us to decide how his plan affects us in the here and now,” Flynn concluded. “Good enoughs aren’t good enough. We are called to holiness.”