Although St. Faustina Kowalska (1905-38) lived a short and obscure life, her story is known and celebrated today by millions of Catholics throughout the world. She grew up in poverty and endured much suffering, including a difficult death from tuberculosis. However, she was rich in virtue and the love of God and was His chosen instrument to spread the message of Divine Mercy and the Divine Mercy devotion.
Faustina was part of a peasant family in Poland, the third of 10 children. Her father was a carpenter. From age 7, when she participated in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, she decided she wanted to be a nun. She was distracted from this desire while a teen, but had a vision of a suffering Jesus at age 19, and refocused on her desire to enter the convent. After being rejected by multiple communities, she was finally accepted by the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy at age 20.
Her life, like Christ’s, became a sacrifice lived for others. She offered her sufferings in atonement for sins, but always remained cheerful and humble. She encouraged others to trust in God, and to prepare to meet Him in the next life. She was devoted to the Eucharist, the Blessed Mother and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
In 1931, Jesus appeared to her as the Divine Mercy image, wearing white with rays emanating from His heart, one red and one pale. His hand was raised in blessing. Jesus asked her to have the image painted with the words “Jesus, I trust in You” painted below it. It was Christ’s will that people venerate the image throughout the world, so that they might know of the mercy God extends to repentant sinners.
Sister Faustina undertook having the image painted with the assistance of her spiritual director, Blessed Fr. Michal Sopoćko (1888-1975), and Eugeniusz Kazimirowski, an artist who was Fr. Sopoćko’s neighbor. Sopoćko was initially suspicious of Sister Faustina and insisted she be evaluated by a psychiatrist, but over time became convinced of her authenticity. The image took six months to complete, with Sister Faustina insisting many changes be made along the way.
Decades after her death, Archbishop of Krakow Karol Wojtyla took an interest in her story. In 2000, now as Pope John Paul II, he canonized her. St. Faustina’s remains can today be found below a Divine Mercy image in the convent chapel in Cracow-Lagiewniki in Poland.
The Divine Mercy devotion comes from St. Faustina’s 600-page Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul, her record of private conversations she had with Christ over the last four years of her life. It details the revelations she received about God’s mercy. It has a variety of components, including devotion to the image of Divine Mercy itself, Divine Mercy Sunday (the Sunday after Easter), the Divine Mercy chaplet, the Divine Mercy novena and the Hour of Great Mercy.
The Diary makes for wonderful reading. It contains many promises from our Lord to St. Faustina such as “fear nothing; I am always with you” (586) “the greater the sinner, the greater the right he has to My mercy.” (723)
We learn in our prayer and study to always ask for His mercy and to be merciful to others and completely trust in Jesus. Jesus told St. Faustina, “Souls that make an appeal to My mercy delight Me. To such souls I grant even more graces than they ask. I cannot punish even the greatest sinner if he makes an appeal to My compassion. (1146) Be for mercy for the whole world. (570) No soul who has called upon My mercy has ever been disappointed.
We learn from the Diary that Our Lord spoke to St. Faustina about teaching about acts of mercy: “I demand from you deeds of mercy which are to arise out of love for Me. You are to show mercy to your neighbors always and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to excuse yourself from it…Even the strongest faith is of no avail without works.” (742) He also said, “If a soul does not exercise mercy in some way, it will not obtain My mercy on the day of judgment.” (1317)
We learn we are to be apostles and missionaries of mercy. “Proclaim to the whole world My unfathomable mercy.” (1142) “Souls who spread the honor of My mercy I shield through their entire lives as a tender mother her infant, and at the hour of death I will not be a Judge for them, but the merciful Savior.” (1075.) “Do whatever is within your power to spread devotion to My mercy. I will make up for what you lack. Tell aching mankind to snuggle close to My merciful Heart, and I will fill it with peace.” (1074)
The promises of the Diary of St. Faustina which the Lord Jesus Christ gave her are incredible. They are very comforting and greatly assist us in our prayer lives. They give us great hope, peace and joy. Here are more thoughts from the diary: Encourage souls to say the chaplet which I have given you. (1541) Whoever will recite it will receive great mercy at the hour of death. (687) 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 Savior. (1541) Even if there were a sinner most hardened, if he were to recite this chaplet only once, he would receive grace from My infinite mercy. (687) I desire to grant unimaginable graces to those souls who trust in My mercy. (687) Through the chaplet you will obtain everything, if what you ask for is compatible with My will. (1731)
SERIES OF THREE DREAMS
I received a series of three dreams in 2019 that led me to incorporate the message of Divine Mercy into the apostolate I founded in 2014 to engage in evangelism, Spirit Filled Hearts Ministry. In each dream Our Lord told me to spread His Divine Mercy throughout the world.
After the Lord gave me these dreams, I turned to prayer. The Lord came upon me and gave me these words, “Receive My agape and unconditional love. Forgive yourself and forgive others by turning to My mercy. Let My mercy fill your heart, soul and mind. In order to give others mercy, you must receive My mercy.”
So, in response to this request, in the period of less than a year, Spirit Filled Hearts Ministry held 22 seminars with an average of 130 people in attendance. The 2020-21 pandemic prevented us from holding in-person gatherings for a time, but we have since launched a new initiative, “Jesus Thirsts for America.” We’ve put on Catholic crusades in six communities, which include prayer, healing, teachings and a chance to receive the sacraments. Prominent in these presentations has been the message of Divine Mercy, of God’s love and His readiness to extend to us mercy and forgiveness.
BLESSED ARE THE MERCIFUL
We see God’s desire for mercy in the 5th beatitude in Matthew 5:7, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” The importance of mercy is seen in Luke 6:36, “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” In the Old Testament we see in Exodus 34:6, “God is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” The word mercy appears in Scripture 149 times.
One of the most powerful uses is in the beatitudes.
Matthew 5:7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”
This is similar to the words in the Lord’s Prayer: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” To the extent that we let mercy into our lives is the extent that God’s merciful grace will flow into us.
Mercy is at the core of forgiveness. To the extent we forgive is the extent we receive God’s mercy. We see God’s mercy in everything that He does for us. The Father is our role model.
Luke 6:36 “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”
In the Old Testament, we see: Exodus 34:6 “God [is] merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.”
So, let us be grateful to God for presenting the message of Divine Mercy through St. Faustina. Let us strive to be holy and to be set apart. The Divine Mercy devotion will help you do that and grow in your love of Jesus. It encourages us to consecrate our lives to Jesus and His mercy, holiness and forgiveness. We become instruments of His mercy and forgiveness.
What an act of love from Jesus to us and a great act of love, forgiveness and mercy when we become “Divine Mercy evangelists.” Tell people about the special grace available that Our Lord revealed to St. Faustina regarding Divine Mercy Sunday.
When we receive Holy Communion on Divine Mercy Sunday, go to confession within 20 days of Divine Mercy Sunday, pray for the pope’s intentions and have a public devotion to Divine Mercy on Mercy Sunday, we have the equivalent of a complete renewal of baptismal grace in the soul which is complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. This makes our soul “whiter than snow.”
And finally, take the time to read St. Faustina’s Diary. We find the words of Jesus to her saying, “It pleases Me to grant everything they ask of me by saying the chaplet.” Jesus tells her over and over that even the most hardened sinners will receive mercy when they say the chaplet. Saying the chaplet at the hour of death will bring great mercy and grace to the person dying “for the sake of the sorrowful passion of my Son.”