Years ago I was given a vision of Niagara Falls as a symbol of Jesus’ Divine Mercy. The vision started up in the hill country of Western New York, in the creeks and streams. My eyes were drawn along the gathering waters, through small towns, past industrial sights, the waters working their way to Lake Erie. I sensed that the water represented the events of our lives, but most importantly, our sins. Where Erie flows into the Niagara River, the waters got rough. The speed increased; the waters dashed against the rocks. Eventually all of these trickles and flows lead to the Mighty Falls. Each individual drop goes over, unheard in the deafening collective roar.
The flow continues down the Gorge, carved out by millennia of movement. Through whirls and swirls, a calmer, deep green area is met, near where Stella Niagara Monastery and Our Lady of Fatima Shrine are. It’s as if Blessed Mother turns us around, after all that chaos and hurt, to finally look and see. She says, “Find your sins. Look for the drops of your sins in my Son’s Mercy.” Of course, we cannot find them. When we throw ourselves into His Mercy, our sins are forgiven, they are gone, forever. When blood and water gushed forth from His Sacred Heart, a Niagara Falls of Mercy began. It continues to flow, needed more than ever in our time. We look at the Falls from the Gorge and we see the power, the majesty, but not the individual drops. Blessed Mother always turns us towards her Son and His Mercy. In the deep green calm, she smiles and turns us to His Love.
Niagara Falls has always been a sacred place. As such it attracts all kinds of people and all kinds of spirits. What should be a holy, inspiring place is surrounded by gambling and prostitution and your garden variety of human degradation. But, to St. Faustina, Jesus said that the greatest sinners have more right to His Mercy. Jesus also said that one day He will return and separate the sheep from the goats. What is the island that separates the two main cataracts of Niagara? Yup, Goat Island. One can imagine a flock of goats scrambling up onto the island just seconds before going over to their demise. Pray for the goats in your life. Pray that they scramble up before they are dashed against the rocks.
In St. Faustina’s vision she was shown the now very familiar image of Our Lord with one red and one white ray coming forth from Jesus’ Sacred Heart. “Oh blood and water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus, I Trust in You!” The morning after I had this vision, I opened the “Buffalo News” to the picture page, and there, half a page large, was a photo of the Falls, one lit up red, the other white. It was in honor of our fallen soldiers for Memorial Day, but it was a confirmation for me. A confirmation of Jesus’ Love and Mercy.
So what does this have to do with Nick Wallenda? Well, I must admit, when I first heard of Mr. Wallenda’s desire to cross the Falls on a wire, in the long tradition of his family (some 16 whom have died in this unusual profession, if I’m not mistaken), I thought it was foolish and irresponsible. He is a husband and father; how could he even consider this? Throughout his weeks of preparation I noted his Christian t-shirts, his ever present cross necklace and most of all his gentlemanly manners. Then he submitted to the harness and I really wondered what he was about. Still not really being my “thing” I didn’t pay too much attention, until the big day. Then I started thinking about how the whole world was going to be focusing their attention on Niagara Falls, or as I think of it, Mercy Falls. And so I watched. Nick Wallenda, diligently prepared and humbly smiling, got up and walked. Then it happened! He started praising Jesus and giving thanks to his Heavenly Father. The whole world was watching and He was giving Jesus praise. How powerful! Various newscasters and even his father tried to get him to stop, but Mr. Wallenda kept giving God praise. Awesome. What is noteworthy is that when the mist was thickest, the swirling winds heaviest, that is the moment when he was praying the Holy Name and giving praise the most. “I will praise You in the storm!”
Afterwards, when asked by Canadian Customs officials what the purpose of his visit was, Mr. Wallenda said, “To inspire people worldwide!” Indeed he did. We Christians especially should be mindful of his lesson to Praise Jesus in the midst of the storms. Praise is a powerful weapon and should be wielded liberally!
Although Nick Wallenda is not a Catholic and probably did not know it, the date he walked was June 15th, which this year was the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. As Catholics we are taught that we can make “reparation” to Jesus’ Heart by our good works. This means that when Jesus’ Heart is wounded by the sins of the world, we can comfort Him! One very real, but almost disregarded way in which Our Lord’s Sacred Heart is wounded is by using His Sacred Name in ugly ways. It’s against the 2nd Commandment, and no, that did not change when “everybody” started doing it. HOW BEAUTIFUL that, on the Feast of the Sacred Heart, Nick Wallenda, made worldwide reparation for this particular sin, by praising and speaking Jesus Holy Name with love and reverence.
Nick Wallenda showed himself to be a complete gentleman, and a good steward of the gifts and talents God gave him. God bless him and his beautiful family. May the Sacred Heart of Jesus always be their grateful abode.