At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children(Matthew 11:25).”
Among the chosen souls to whom Our Lord has deigned to disclose the abundance of His Goodness was a young, uneducated Polish nun named Sr. Faustina Kowalska in the 1930’s. From her childhood, Helena Kowalska was a well-balanced, obedient, and pious young lady. She was the third child in a family of ten – a child accustomed to both the arduous labor and poverty of farm life. Helena was only able to attend formal schooling for three winters, as her help was needed on the family farm. From the age of fourteen she worked as a domestic servant, caring for the children of wealthier families in the nearby cities of Aleksandrow and Lodz. It was to this humble servant that Our Lord would reveal the magnitude of His Divine Mercy.
From the tender age of 7, Our Lord had given Helena the grace to understand she was called to religious life. Since Helena’s family rejected her desire to become a nun, she attempted to stifle the call, willingly accepted her position as a domestic servant, and developed friendships among her peers. One day during a dance Helena attended with her sister, Our Lord revealed himself to Helena in a vision. He was suffering in agony, and cried out to Helena saying: “How long shall I put up with you and how long will you keep putting me off (9, p. 7– Divine Mercy in My Soul, Congregation of Marians, 1987)?”
With her entrance into the convent of the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, on August 1, 1925, Helena Kowalska became Sr. Maria Faustina of the Most Blessed Sacrament. As soon as the veil was put on Sr. Faustina’s head, Our Lord immediately enlightened her soul regarding what she would have to suffer. Sr. Maria Faustina remained a member of the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy until her death – a mere 13 years later – at the age of 33, on October 5, 1938.
Throughout those next 13 years, Our Lord shaped and modeled St. Faustina’s soul to closely resemble His own. He stated: “Your life is to be modeled on Mine, from the crib to My death on the cross (438, p. 193 – Divine Mercy in My Soul, Congregation of Marians, 1987).”
This simple, pious sister, who was the gardener, cook and porter for the community, was also Our Lord’s chosen Apostle and Secretary of Mercy. Though possessing no more than three winters of formal education, St. Faustina would pen a 600+ page diary containing some of the most profound insights regarding Our Lord’s Divine Mercy ever written. The life of St. Faustina seems to reflect our Lord’s words in Luke 10:21:
At that same time Jesus was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit, and he said, “I give You praise Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although You have hidden these things from the wise and the learned You have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father such has been Your gracious Will (Luke 10:21).
One of the scholars who would later study and champion St. Faustina’s work, was a Polish kinsman, a certain Cardinal Karol Wojtyla. In 1981, Pope St. John Paul II published an encyclical, Dives Misericordia – Rich in Mercy, in which the Holy Father drew from the theme of Divine Mercy present in St. Faustina’s Diary- Divine Mercy in My Soul. On April 18, 1993, Pope St. John Paul II beatified Sr. Faustina; and seven years later -on Mercy Sunday, April 30, 2000 – Pope St. John Paul II canonized St. Faustina as the first saint of that Jubilee year. This Sunday, April 27, all the world will celebrate the canonizations of both Pope St. John Paul II and Pope St. John XXIII- truly this Divine Mercy Sunday will be a blessed and historic moment in time.
St. Faustina’s entire mission was to convey to the world the unfathomable Mercy of Christ. Over the years, Our Lord revealed much to her.
On one occasion He stated: “My mercy is greater than your sins and the sins of the whole world. . . . I never reject a contrite heart (1485, p. 524 – Divine Mercy in My Soul, Congregation of Marians, 1987).”
On another: “Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet (699, p. 286 – Divine Mercy in My Soul, Congregation of Marians, 1987).”
Likewise He stated: “My mercy is greater than your sins, and those of the whole world (1485, p. 438 – Divine Mercy in My Soul, Congregation of Marians, 1987).”
Our Lord made it clear that mercy was His gift to an aching humanity, but that this gift must recognized, accepted, and acted upon. We must return mercy for the mercy that has been granted to us. Jesus states: “If a soul does not exercise mercy in some way it will not obtain My mercy on the day of judgment (1317, p. 473 – Divine Mercy in My Soul, Congregation of Marians, 1987).”
Our Savior cautions: “My hand is reluctant to take hold of the sword of justice. Before the Day of Justice I am sending the Day of Mercy (1588, p. 564 – Divine Mercy in My Soul, Congregation of Marians, 1987).”
Jesus also warns: “He who refuses to pass through the door of My mercy must pass through the door of My justice (1146, p. 420 – Divine Mercy in My Soul, Congregation of Marians, 1987).”
As we prepare to celebrate the great Feast of Divine Mercy, initiated by Our Lord, and instituted by Blessed Pope John Paul the Great, let us continue with the eighth day of the Novena of Chaplets. For complete instructions please visit the Divine Mercy website run by the Marians of the Immaculate Conception: http://thedivinemercy.org/message/devotions/praythechaplet.php.
Today we also continue with the eighth day of the preparatory novena dictated by Our Lord to St. Faustina. Each day He instructed Sr. Faustina to bring a certain group of souls into the abyss of His mercy by means of prayer, and likewise to intercede for them before the throne of God the Father.
On the eighth day of the novena, Jesus requested of St. Faustina:
“Today bring Me souls who are in the prison of Purgatory and immerse them into the abyss of My mercy. Let the torrents of My Blood cool down their scorching flames. All these souls are greatly loved by Me. They are making retribution to My justice. It is in your power to bring them relief. Draw all the indulgences from the treasury of My Church and offer them on their behalf. Oh if you only knew the torments they suffer, you would continually offer for them the alms of the spirit and pay off their debt to My justice (1226, p. 441 – Divine Mercy in My Soul, Congregation of Marians, 1987).”
The novena for the eighth day is as follows:
Most Merciful Jesus, You Yourself have said that You desire mercy; so I bring into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls in Purgatory, souls who are very dear to You , and yet, must make retribution to Your justice. May the streams of Blood and Water which gushed forth from Your Heart put out the flames of Purgatory, that there, too the power of Your mercy may be celebrated.
Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls suffering in Purgatory, who are enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. I beg You by the sorrowful Passion of Jesus Your Son and by all the bitterness with which His most sacred Soul was flooded: Manifest Your Mercy to the souls who are under Your just scrutiny. Look upon them in no other way but through the Wounds of Jesus, Your dearly beloved Son; for we firmly believe there is no limit to Your goodness and compassion. Amen. (Divine Mercy Novena and Chaplet Pamphlet [LFMCN], 2012 Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception of the B.V.M.)
One of the greatest ways we can share the Mercy of Christ with others is to pray for them. Thus, praying for those souls who are yet journeying from physical death to Paradise, and being purified of the stain of sins committed in this life, is itself a worthy act of mercy. Together with St. Maria Faustina let us immerse the suffering souls in the abyss of God’s mercy, and beg Our Heavenly Father to look upon them in no other way, but through the wounds of Jesus.
May the Risen Christ bless you and yours abundantly,
Praise the Lord for He is Risen!
Indeed, He is Truly Risen, Alleluia!
Ad Jesum per Mariam