Excerpts from the homily John Paul II delivered in the day of the canonization of Sister Faustina:
(...) Sister Faustina’s canonization has a particular eloquence: by this act I intend today to pass this Message of Mercy on to the new millennium. I pass it on to all people, so that they will learn to know ever better the true face of God and the true face of their brethren.
(...) Faustina, a gift of God to our epoch, a gift from the land of Poland to the whole Church, obtain for us an awareness of the depth of Divine Mercy.
(...) May your message of light and hope spread throughout the world, spurring sinners to conversion, calming rivalries and hatred and opening individuals and nations to the practice of brotherhood.
THE MESSAGE OF DIVINE MERCY
The Lord Jesus gave Saint Faustina, a Polish nun from the Congregation of Our Lady of Mercy having an immense trust in God, an enormous mission – the Message of Mercy addressed to the whole world. Her mission was to deliver new prayers and forms of devotions to the Divine Mercy, which are to remind us about the forgotten truth of faith: the merciful love of God for every person. In His message, the merciful God manifests Himself in Jesus Christ, the Savior, as a Father of love and mercy, especially for the unfortunate, the errant, and sinners.
Saint Sister Maria Faustina Kowalska
“You are the secretary of My mercy. I have chosen you
for that office in this life and the next life” (Diary, 1605).
“Your task is to write down everything that I make known
to you about My mercy, for the benefit of those who by reading
these things will be comforted in their souls and will have
the courage to approach Me” (Diary, 1693).
“Today I am sending you with My mercy to the people of the whole world. I do not want to punish aching mankind, but I desire to heal it, hugging it to My Merciful Heart (...) before the Day of Justice I am sending the Day of Mercy” (Diary, 1588).
The Saviour wishes the whole world to learn about Divine Mercy, for each person to turn to it with trust, to discover the beauty and richness of graces of Christian mercy. New forms of devotion to the Divine Mercy and the promises related to them are to achieve this purpose.
“The graces of My mercy are drawn by means of one vessel only, and that is - trust. The more a soul trusts, the more it will receive” (Diary, 1578).
The essence of the devotion to the Divine Mercy is the attitude of trust toward God, a desire to fulfil his will, and practising works of mercy toward our neighbours, untrusting them to God’s boundless love and mercy. This is also a condition for the fulfilment of the promises which the Lord Jesus associated with new forms of venerating the Divine Mercy.
“I have opened My Heart as a living fountain of mercy. Let all souls draw life from it. Let them approach this sea of mercy with great trust. Sinners will attain justification, and the just will be strengthened in goodness” (Diary, 1520).
“Conversion, as well as perseverance, is a grace of My mercy” (Diary, 1577).
NEW FORMS OF DEVOTION TO THE DIVINE MERCY
THE IMAGE OF MERCIFUL JESUS
On February 22, 1931, Jesus revealed himself to Sister Faustina in a cell in the convent in Plock (Poland) and ordered her to paint an image, showing her the pattern of the image in a vision.
“Paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the signature: Jesus, I trust in You. I desire that this image be venerated, first in your chapel, and then throughout the whole world. I promise that the soul that venerates this image will not perish. I also promise victory over its enemies already here on Earth, especially at the hour of death. (...) I want this image, which you will paint with a brush, to be solemnly blessed on the first Sunday after Easter; that Sunday is to be the Feast of Mercy. I desire that priests proclaim this great mercy of Mine towards the souls of sinners” (Diary, 47-49).
“By means of this Image I shall be granting many graces, so let every soul have access to it” (Diary, 570).
THE FEAST OF DIVINE MERCY
“I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners (...). I pour out an ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that accepts the sacrament of reconciliation and receives the Eucharist shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and avoid punishment; on that day all the divine floodgates through which grace flow will be opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet” (Diary, 699).
“Even if a soul is like a decaying corpse, so that, from a human standpoint, there would be no hope of restoration and everything would already be lost - it is not so with God. The miracle of Divine Mercy restores that soul in full” (Diary, 1448).
THE CHAPLET OF DIVINE MERCY
Lord Jesus dictated the Chaplet of Divine Mercy to Sister Faustina in Vilnius (Lithuania) on September 13-14, 1935 as a prayer for God’s grace of mercy toward sinners.
“Through the chaplet you will obtain everything, if what you ask for is compatible with My will” (Diary, 1731).
“Say unceasingly the chaplet that I have taught you. Whoever recites it will receive great mercy at the hour of death. Priests will recommend it to sinners as their last hope of salvation. Even the most hardened sinner, if he recites this chaplet only once, will receive the grace of My infinite mercy” (Diary, 687).
“It pleases Me to grant everything souls ask of Me by saying the chaplet. When hardened sinners say it, I will fill their souls with peace, and the hour of their death will be a happy one. Write this for the benefit of distressed souls; when a soul sees and realizes the gravity of its sins, when the whole abyss of the misery into which it immersed itself is displayed before its eyes, let it not despair, but with trust let it throw itself into the arms of My mercy, as a child into the arms of its beloved mother (...). Tell them no soul that has called upon My mercy has been disappointed or brought to shame. I delight particularly in a soul that has placed its trust in My goodness. Write that when they say this chaplet in the presence of the dying, I will stand between My Father and the dying person, not as the just Judge but as the Merciful Saviour” (Diary, 1541).
“At the hour of their death, I defend as My own glory every soul that will say this chaplet; or when others say it for a dying person, the indulgence is the same. When this chaplet is said by the bedside of a dying person, God’s anger is placated and his unfathomable mercy envelops the soul”
The Chaplet is to be recited on Rosary beads. Begin with:
“Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. Amen.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
I Believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell, on the third day He arose again from the dead. He ascended into Heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting. Amen.
On the large beads (once):
Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood,
Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son,
our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.
On the small beads (10 times):
For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.
In conclusion (3 times):
Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One,
have mercy on us and on the whole world” (Diary, 476).
THE HOUR OF MERCY
In October 1937, in Cracow (Poland), Lord Jesus instructed Sister Faustina to venerate the hour of His death and to connect with Him in prayer referring to the value and merits of His Passion.
“I desire that you know more profoundly the love that burns in My Heart for souls, and you will understand this when you meditate upon My Passion. Call upon My mercy on behalf of sinners; I desire their salvation. When you say this prayer, with a contrite heart and with faith on behalf of a sinner, I will give him the grace of conversion. This is the prayer: O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fount of Mercy for us, I trust in You” (Diary 187).
“At three o’clock, implore My mercy, especially for sinners; and, if only for a brief moment, immerse yourself in My Passion, particularly in My abandonment at the moment of agony. This is the hour of great mercy for the whole world. I will allow you to enter into My mortal sorrow. In this hour, I will refuse nothing to the soul that makes a request of Me in virtue of My Passion…” (Diary, 1320).
“...as often as you hear the clock strike the third hour, immerse yourself completely in My mercy, adoring and glorifying it; invoking its omnipotence for the whole world (...). In this hour you can obtain everything for yourself and for others simply by asking; it was the hour of grace for the whole world - mercy triumphed over justice
(...) try your best to meditate on the Stations of the Cross in this hour, provided that your duties permit it; and if you are not able to say the Stations of the Cross, then at least step into the chapel for a moment and adore the Blessed Sacrament, My Heart, which is full of mercy; and should you be unable to step in to the chapel, immerse yourself in prayer wherever you happen to be, if only for a very brief instant. I claim veneration for My mercy from every creature” (Diary, 1572).
“On the Cross, the fountain of My mercy was opened wide by the lance for all souls - no one have I excluded!” (Diary, 1182).
SPREADING THE DIVINE MERCY DEVOTION – WORKS OF MERCY
“...do whatever is within your power to spread devotion to My mercy.
I will make up for what you lack. Tell aching mankind to embrace My Merciful Heart, and I will fill it with peace (...) When a soul approaches Me with trust, I fill it with such an abundance of graces that it cannot contain them within itself, but must radiate them to other souls. Souls who spread the honour of My mercy I shield throughout their entire lives as a tender mother shields her infant...” (Diary, 1074-75).
“To priests who proclaim and extol My mercy, I will give wondrous power; I will anoint their words and touch the hearts of those to whom they speak” (Diary, 1521).
“You are to show mercy to your neighbours always and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to excuse or abstain from it. I am giving you three ways of exercising mercy toward your neighbour: first - by deed, second - by word, third - by prayer. In these three acts is contained the fullness of mercy, and it is an unquestionable demonstration of love for Me. By this means a soul glorifies and pays reverence to My mercy” (Diary, 742).
THE NEW CONGREGATION
Sister Faustina tried to discern God’s plan to originate a new religious Congregation. For this intention, she offered to God numerous prayers and sufferings. In June 1935 in Vilnius, she wrote:
“God demands that there be a Congregation which will proclaim the mercy of God to the world and, by its prayers, obtain it for the world” (Diary, 436).
“Unceasingly, they will intercede for Divine Mercy for themselves and for the whole world. And every act of mercy will flow from God’s love, that love with which they will be filled to overflowing. They will strive to make their own this great attribute of God, and to live by it and to bring others to know it and to trust in the goodness of the Lord” (Diary, 664).
“I saw the convent of the new Congregation. It was a large and spacious building. I went from room to room, observing everything. I saw that God’s Providence had provided for all that was necessary.
(...) During Mass, I received a clear and profound understanding concerning this whole work, and not a shadow of a doubt remained in my soul. The Lord gave me knowledge of His will under three aspects, so to speak, but it all comes down to one.
The first is that souls separated from the world will burn as an offering before God’s throne and beg for mercy for the whole world... and through their efforts they will obtain blessings for priests, and through their prayers prepare the world for the final coming of Jesus.
The second is prayer together with the act of mercy. In particular, they will defend the souls of children against the spirit of evil. Prayer and merciful deeds are all that will be required of these souls (...). And in this egoistic world they will try to rouse love - the mercy of Jesus.
The third is prayer and deeds of mercy, without any obligation of taking vows. By doing this, these people will have a share in all the merits and privileges of the whole [congregation]. Everyone in the world can belong to this group.
A member of this group ought to perform at least one act of mercy a day; at least one, but there can be many more, for such deeds can easily be carried out by anyone, even the very poorest.
For there are three ways of performing an act of mercy:
first, the merciful word, by forgiving and by comforting;
second, if you can offer no word, then pray - that too is mercy;
and third, through deeds of mercy. And when the Last Day comes, we shall be judged from this, and on this basis we shall receive the eternal verdict” (Diary, 1154-1158).
“This is the visible help for you on Earth.
He will help you to carry out My will on Earth” (Diary, 53).
“His thought is closely united with Mine,
so be at peace about what concerns My work.
I will not let him make a mistake,
and you should do nothing without his permission” (Diary, 1408).
BLESSED FATHER MICHAEL SOPOĆKO
In Saint Sister Faustina’s mission, Divine Providence entrusted a special role to her confessor and spiritual advisor - Father Michael Sopoćko. He was of crucial assistance to Sister Faustina during her stay in Vilnius (then in Poland) during the period of 1933-1936, helping her to understand her inner experiences and visions. At his request she wrote the Diary, which is a document of Catholic mysticism of extraordinary value. The Diary also presents the sanctity of Michael Sopoćko’s priestly life and his contribution to fulfilling the desires of the Lord Jesus.
Blessed Father Michael Sopoćko
"He is a priest after My own Heart; his efforts are pleasing to Me
(...) Through him it pleases Me to proclaim
the worship of My mercy" (Diary, 1256).
"As a result of his efforts, a new light will shine
in the Church of God for the consolation of souls" (Diary, 1390).
Painting the image of the Merciful Jesus and its exposition for public worship, spreading the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy, initiating the efforts to establish the Feast of the Divine Mercy, and establishing a new religious Congregation - all of this was accomplished in Vilnius thanks to the efforts of Father Michael Sopoćko. Since then, the joint efforts paid for through prayer and sufferings have been emanating throughout the whole world.
“Seeing Father Sopoćko’s sacrifice and effort in his work, I admired his patience and humility. This all cost a great deal, not only in terms of toil and various troubles, but also money; and Father Sopoćko was taking care of all the expenses. I can see that Divine Providence had prepared him to carry out this work of mercy before I had asked God for this. Oh, how mysterious are Your ways, O God! And how happy are the souls that follow the call of Divine Grace!” (Diary, 422).
“O my Jesus, You see how very grateful I am to Father Sopoćko, who has advanced Your work so much. That soul, so humble, has had to endure all the storms. He has not allowed himself to become discouraged by adversities, but has faithfully responded to the call of God” (Diary, 1586).
“That beautiful soul who is spreading this work of Divine Mercy throughout the world is, by his deep humility, very pleasing to God” (Diary, 1083).
“Once as I was talking with my spiritual director, I had an interior vision, of his soul in great suffering, in such agony that God touches very few souls with such fire. The suffering arises from this work. There will come a time when this work, which God is demanding so very much, will be as though utterly undone.
And then God will act with great power, which will give evidence of its authenticity. It will be a new splendour for the Church, although it has been dormant in it from long ago. That God is infinitely merciful, no one can deny. He desires everyone to know this before He comes again as Judge. He wants souls to come to know Him first as King of Mercy. When this triumph comes, we shall already have entered the new life in which there is no suffering. But before this, your soul (of the spiritual director) will be surfeited with bitterness at the sight of the destruction of your efforts. However, this will only appear to be so, because what God has once decided upon, He does not change. But although this destruction will be such only in outward appearance, the suffering will be real. When will this happen? I do not know. How long will it last? I do not know” (Diary, 378).
“Jesus, this is Your affair, so why are You acting this way toward him? It seems to me that You are making difficulties for him while at the same time ordering him to act.
Write that by day and by night My gaze is fixed upon him, and I permit these adversities in order to increase his merit. I do not reward for good results but for the patience and hardship undergone for My sake” (Diary, 86).
"There will be as many crowns to form his crown, as there will be souls saved by this work" (Diary, 90).
“God, in His unfathomable decrees, often allows it to be the case that those who have expended the most effort in accomplishing some work do not enjoy its fruits here on Earth; God reserves all their joy for eternity. But for all that, God sometimes lets them know how much their efforts please Him. And such moments strengthen them for further struggles and ordeals. These are the souls that bear closest resemblance to the Saviour who, in the work which He founded here on Earth, tasted nothing but bitterness” (Diary, 1402).
“Jesus allows me to know how everything is dependent on His will, thus giving me profound peace regarding the security of His work. Listen, My daughter, although all the works that come into being by My will are exposed to great sufferings, consider whether any of them has been subject to greater difficulties than that work which is directly Mine - the work of Redemption. You should not worry about adversities. The world is not as powerful as it seems to be; its strength is strictly limited” (Diary, 1643).
Father Sopoćko wrote in his Diary:
”There are truths that are known and often heard, but not understood. It applied to me with regard to the truth about the Divine Mercy. So many times I spoke about this truth in my preaching, thought about it during retreats, repeated it in church prayers - especially in psalms - but I neither understood its meaning nor buried myself in its essence - the highest attribute of God’s external activity. It was only the ordinary nun Sister Faustina from the Congregation of the Sisters of Mary Mother of Mercy (Magdalens), who, following her intuition, told me about this truth, repeating it briefly and often, activating me to research, study and think about it frequently.
(...) at first, I was not sure what it was, I listened, distrusted, contemplated, researched, sought advice from others - just a few years later I understood the significance of this work, the greatness of this idea, and I became convinced about the effectiveness of this old, but neglected, life-giving devotion calling for its renewal in the present world”. (...) Trusting in the Divine Mercy, spreading the devotion to this Mercy among others, and unconditionally devoting to it all my thoughts, words and works - will be the main principle of my further life, with the assistance of this immense Mercy.”
Father Michael Sopoćko was born in Nowosady in the Vilnius region. During the years 1910-1914, he studied theology at the university in Vilnius and then in Warsaw, where he also completed studies in the Institute of Pedagogy. After obtaining his doctorate in moral theology in 1926, he became a spiritual father in the seminary in Vilnius. He obtained his habilitation in 1934. He worked as a lecturer of pastoral theology in the Department of Theology of the Stefan Batory University in Vilnius and the Seminary in Białystok (1928-1962). During the years 1918-1932 he served as a chaplain for the Polish Army in Warsaw and in Vilnius.
Fr. Michael Sopocko - Biography)
In his published research works, Father Sopoćko laid down the theological basis for the new forms of the Divine Mercy devotion which he fervently promoted through his engagement in evangelization and social activities. He wrote formation letters and then drafted constitutions for the first congregation of sisters, which became the root of the established Congregation of the Sisters of Merciful Jesus, according to the thoughts and suggestions of Sister Faustina. He wrote and published the prayers to the Divine Mercy based on Sister Faustina’s texts. He kept in touch with Sister Faustina until her death and worked on the tasks assigned in the revelations thereafter.
Until his death, Father Michael Sopoćko engaged himself with a fervent priestly zeal by studying and spreading the mystery of the Divine Mercy. He died on February 15, 1975 in Białystok in the aura of sanctity, on the feast day of St. Faustin - the patron saint of Sister Faustina.
The house where Father Sopoćko spent the final years of his life presently belongs to the Congregation of the Sisters of Merciful Jesus. A memorial room to him was established in the apartment of Father Michael Sopoćko.
THE CONGREGATION OF THE SISTERS OF MERCIFUL JESUS
The house where Father Sopoćko spent the final years of his life and died is located
in Białystok, Poleska Street 42.
On September 26, 2008 by virtue of a papal bull, Pope Benedict XVI conferred upon Father Michael Sopoćko, the founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of Merciful Jesus, the title “Blessed”.
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The texts may be copied only on the condition that the full name of the source
and an active link to www.faustina-message.com is provided.
© Translation: Ewa Olszowa, Copyediting: Matthew Vinall