REUTERS, Photographer VINCENZO PINTO
VATICAN, St. Peter's Square. Ceremony of the canonization of sister Faustina Kowalska
On April 30, 2000 in the Vatican, Pope John Paul II proclaimed Sister Faustina a saint and established the Divine Mercy Feast for the entire Church. A fragment of the homily of John Paul II delivered on the day of canonization:
(...) 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. Help us to experience him personally and boldly give testimony about him among people. 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 towards the unfortunate, erring and sinners - who want to change their lives.
“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).
|Saint Faustina Kowalska
“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.
“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. (...) 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.
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).
"As a result of his efforts, a new light will shine
in the Church of God for the consolation of souls" (Diary, 1390).
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.
"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).
“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 Michael Sopoćko
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).
In his more than two hundred scientific publications, numerous press publications and delivered conferences, Father Dr. Michal Sopocko developed theological foundations for new forms of the worship of 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 composed and published prayers to the Divine Mercy based on the texts of Sister Faustina, with whom he remained in touch until the end of her life. After the death of Sister Faustina consistently tried to perform the tasks indicated in the apparitions.
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”.
Divine Mercy Sanctuary where the sarcophagus with the mortal remains
of the Blessed Father Michael Sopoćko is located.
Białystok, 1 the Blessed Father Michael Sopoćko Square.
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”.
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All rights reserved: © Text compilation – Urszula Grzegorczyk
Consultation – Sister Maria Kalinowska, The Congregation of the Sisters of Merciful Jesus.
The texts may be copied only on the condition that the full name of the source
© Translation: Ewa Olszowa, Copyediting: Matthew Vinall