Skip to comments.Tender Mercies: The Story of St. Faustina Kowalska and Divine Mercy Sunday
Posted on 03/28/2008 10:30:24 AM PDT by NYer
Jesus said to Sister Faustina, "Encourage souls to place great trust in My fathomless mercy. Let the weak, sinful soul have no fear to approach Me, for even if it had more sins than there are grains of sand in the world, all would be drowned in the unmeasurable depths of My mercy" (Diary, 55-56).
"In the end, even the 'yes' to love is a source of suffering, because love always requires expropriations of my 'I,' in which I allow myself to be pruned and wounded. Love simply cannot exist without this painful renunciation of myself, for otherwise it becomes pure selfishness and thereby ceases to be love" (Spe Salvi, 38).
I drove for nearly an hour to reach an old stone church I had chosen primarily for my anonymity. Covering my head, I went inside and found the confessional in the deserted sanctuary. I was about to be married, and I knew I could not enter the sacrament until I had cleared my conscience. As I took a deep breath and slipped inside the little closet, already I could feel the tears begin to flow.
The grill slid open. "Bless me Father, for I have sinned ..." Slowly, pausing frequently to take deep breaths to steady my voice, I told the story of a teenager who had been violated — twice — by older men. I told him of the car accident a few years later that had left me unable to bear children, and of a young Catholic man who had been a singular source of comfort and healing. Miraculously, he did not turn away from me when I told him — I had never told anyone — why I was no longer a virgin. Instead he proposed marriage.
Stupidly, I refused him. I had been raised to believe Catholics aren't "real" Christians, and warned that allowing myself to become "unequally yoked" with an unbeliever would endanger my soul.
I told the priest of years of anger and grief that followed when, years later, I realized just how futile my sacrifice had been. Of how I had tried, over and over, to fill the void with unworthy "friendships" that left me feeling emptier than ever before. Finally, ironically, I found peace in the arms of Jesus through His Church.
There was no sound on the other side of the partition, and for a moment I wondered if the elderly priest had died of shock. So I quickly wrapped it up, explaining that God had led me to start over in a new place and, in time, with a different man who had grown to love me as God had always intended I should be loved. "I'm marrying him next week, Father. But I didn't want to get married while these regrets still linger on my heart."
Still the elderly priest did not respond for several seconds. Then, just as I was about to leave, a gentle voice murmured, "Oh, my daughter. What a burden you have carried all these years!"
That did it. The floodgates burst, and I put my head down and cried until no more tears were left. There may have been others waiting to speak with Father who could hear my outburst, but I didn't care. I had not expected mercy. I was prepared to receive a harsh censure — or at the least a weary command to go and do penance. Instead the old priest told me to go and meditate on the "Our Father," and ponder each line until I could hear in my own heart the voice of the Father who loved me more than any human could.
The next week I married Craig with a heart overflowing with gratitude.
Mercy Deeper Than Hell Itself
In the summer of 1992, I led a small group of evangelical American and charismatic Polish college students on a musical outreach across southern Poland. The day after our concert in Krakow, we stopped at Auschwitz, the infamous Nazi death camp. We walked under the ironwork gates that proclaimed in German "Work makes freedom." We lingered in long hallways filled with countless photographs of those who had perished in the gas chambers, past glass-walled rooms full of discarded shoes and suitcases and human hair. Finally, in the courtyard, we saw the gallows upon which Rudolph Hoess, the death camp's notorious Commandant, was executed in 1947 after confessing to his war crimes at Nuremburg.
I remember looking at the gallows and pondering what God would say to such a man, who had offended the dignity and taken the lives of so many people. I could not forget the words of Dutch evangelist and camp survivor Corrie ten Boom (d.1983), whose father had taught her, "Hell has no pit so deep that God's love is not deeper still." Or the urgings of Maximillian Kolbe, who died at Auschwitz: "Let us pray for the Nazis, because no conversion is impossible!"
In at least one case, his words may have proven prophetic.
Two years after returning from Poland, as a Catholic I became familiar with two great souls from the city of Krakow. The first was St. Faustina Kowalska, the Sister of Our Lady of Mercy whose notebooks were the seeds of the Divine Mercy devotion. The second, was Pope John Paul the Great, formerly Archbishop Karol Wojtyla of Krakow, who was elevated to the Chair of St. Peter in 1978, and who canonized Faustina in 2000.
Had it not been for the Holy Father's efforts on her behalf, Faustina and her notebooks may well have disappeared into obscurity. Initially branded "hysterical" and "deceived" by local clergy, in 1938 she died of tuberculosis at the age of thirty-three. However, God had not finished the work He had begun with Sister Faustina, nor did the men who had silenced her foil His plans.
Soon after his appointment, Archbishop Wojtyla approached Jesuit theologian Ignatius Rozycki and asked him to review Sister Faustina's writings. Initially skeptical, Fr. Rozycki spent ten years in an exhaustive study of the Sister and her notebooks, which the Vatican had condemned in 1958. Father Rozycki's findings were published and the prohibition lifted in 1978. Beatified in 1992, St. Faustina was canonized in the year 2000; on the latter occasion Pope John Paul II declared the first Sunday after Easter "Divine Mercy Sunday."
A few weeks ago I came upon a thought-provoking homily by Father Matthew Kelty, O.C.S.O., which was given on Divine Mercy Sunday, 2006. It seems that during the former Commandant's solitary confinement in Krakow, where he awaited execution for his war crimes, Rudolph Hoess heard the bells of the local Carmel and was reminded of the Faith he had observed as a child but had long since rejected. He called for a German-speaking priest.
The local Jesuit provincial, Fr. Ladislav Lohn, S.J., went to the convent of Sister Faustina and asked the Sisters to pray earnestly while he went to hear the prisoner's confession. In the end Hoess was reconciled with the Church and received Holy Communion. Later Hoess wrote his wife and five children, expressed sorrow for his crimes, and begged forgiveness of the people of Poland. Hoess was executed April 16, 1947.
In his homily, Father Kelty contends that, though he may rightly spend an eternity in Purgatory, by the mercy of God even a man like Rudolph Hoess could be saved. This is an uncomfortable truth for some, even offensive to those whose sense of justice could be satisfied with nothing less than eternal damnation for such a "monster."
However, our justice is not God's justice. His mercy is infinite, as is His love. In Titus chapter three we read:
For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, deluded, slaves to various desires and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful ourselves and hating one another. But when the kindness and generous love of God our savior appeared, not because of any righteous deeds we had done but because of his mercy, he saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the holy Spirit, whom he richly poured out on us through Jesus Christ our savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life.
Gather at the Mercy Seat
It was overwhelming for me to experience this mercy in the confessional; I'll always remember that moment as my wedding present from God. Sadly, I've spoken with women who have gone to unburden themselves and left the confessional feeling no different than when they went in. Sometimes the priest was less than understanding; other times, even after receiving absolution, these women find it difficult to forgive themselves.
Even in these situations, the mercy of God does not fail. Our hope is not to be found in our own feelings, but in the promises of God. In the words of St. Faustina herself:
Life on this earth is but an agony,
As my heart feels it is created for the heights.
For it is the lowlands of this life [that] hold no interest,
For my homeland is in heaven — this I firmly believe. (Diary 1585)
Do you have a burden you've been carrying, from which you seek release? Do you find it difficult to accept that God could ever forgive the terrible things you've done? The Catechism tells us, "There are two kinds of presumption. Either man presumes upon his own capacities, (hoping to be able to save himself without help from on high), or he presumes upon God's almighty power or his mercy (hoping to obtain his forgiveness without conversion and glory without merit)" (CCC 2092).
Do not refuse the graces God is holding out to you. Instead, join Catholics all over the world, praying with us the words inscribed beneath the Divine Mercy image: "Jesus, I Trust in You!"
|SOLEMN MASS OF ST. DIVINE MERCY PREVIEW SHOW 1 hr
This preparation for the celebration of Divine Mercy, hosted by the Marians of the Immaculate Conception, from the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy in Stockbride, MA, kicks off the events of the great Feast of Divine Mercy.
Sun 3/30 12:00 PM ET & 9:00 AM PT LIVE
Sun 3/30 9:00 PM ET & 6:00 PM PT
SOLEMN MASS AND CELEBRATION OF DIVINE MERCY LIVE 2 1/2 hrs.
The Mass of the Feast of the Divine Mercy live from the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy in Stockbride, MA, hosted by the Marians of the Immaculate Conception; the event also includes the Divine Mercy Chaplet and other devotional activities.
Sun 3/30 1PM ET & 10:00 AM PT LIVE
Sun 3/30 10:00 PM ET & 7:00 PM PT
DIVINE MERCY HOLY HOUR (HANCEVILLE) LIVE
Sun 3/30 4:00 PM ET & 1 PM PT
Mon 3/31 1:00 AM ET & 10 PM (Sun)
Tue 4/01 1:00 PM ET & 10 PT
very nice article, NYer. God bless
I attached these graphics because
one is a picture of the original in Poland
one I like
and one has the chaplet of Divine Mercy attached to it.
I tried very hard to work with the one with the chaplet -- I wanted to change the picture -- but with or without Paint Shop Pro I still don't do well with graphics. I thought that someone else would like the chaplet (readable at 100%) and picture together.
This is a very real and powerful devotion!!
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 world. I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish. I also promise victory over enemies already here on earth, especially at the hour of death. I myself will defend it as My own glory. (47-8)
Once when I was visiting the artist who was painting the image, and saw that it was not as beautiful as Jesus is, I felt very sad about it, but I hid this deep in my heart. When we had left the artist's house....I went ...to the chapel and wept a good deal. I said to the Lord, "Who will paint You as beautiful as You are?" Then I heard these words: Not in the beauty of the colour, nor of the brush lies the greatness of this image, but in My grace." (313)
The image bears a strong resemblance to that of the Sacred Heart. Recent studies have also shown the image resembles that on the Shroud of Turin.
Here is one web site I treasure. Enjoy!
Here is one web site I treasure. Ejoy!
Divine Mercy Inspirational Quotes
The person at Divine Mercy Inspirational Quotes sure did a lot of work!! Thank you.
“In his homily, Father Kelty contends that, though he may rightly spend an eternity in Purgatory, by the mercy of God even a man like Rudolph Hoess could be saved. This is an uncomfortable truth for some, even offensive to those whose sense of justice could be satisfied with nothing less than eternal damnation for such a “monster.”
My youngest sister once went ballistic when I told her Ted Bundy could be forgiven by God and reach Paradise. I believe the argument finally reached the parable of the Prodigal Son (where the legalistic elder brother, with whom I have frequently stood and I freely admit it, stands for all those who cheered Bundy’s reception in Hades after he was “fried”) but I think it was likely another ten years before she sorted it out for herself.