Modern Day Saint
Saint Maria Faustina
Helena Kowalska was born the third of ten children on August 25, 1905 in Glogowiec, Poland. At the age of 19 she joined the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. The following year she received her religious habit and was given the name Sister Maria Faustina to which she added 'of the Most Blessed Sacrament'. This was permitted by her Congregation's custom.
In 1931, Our Lord appeared to Sister Faustina in a vision. She saw Jesus clothed in a white garment with His right hand raised in blessing. His left hand was touching his garment in the area of the heart, from where two large rays came forth, one red and the other pale. She gazed intently at the Lord in silence, her soul filled with awe, but also with great joy. Jesus said to her: Paint an image according to the pattern you see with the signature, 'Jesus I trust in You'. I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish. I also promise victory over its enemies already here on earth, especially at the hour of death. I Myself will defend it as My Glory..... I desire that this image be venerated, first in your chapel and then throughout the world.
At the request of her spiritual director, Sister Faustina asked the Lord about the meaning of the rays in the image. She heard these words in reply: The two rays denote Blood and Water. The pale ray stands for Water which makes souls righteous. The red ray stands for the Blood, which is the life of souls. These two rays issue forth from the depths of My tender mercy when My agonized heart was opened by a lance on the Cross.... By means of this image I shall grant many graces to souls. It is to be a reminder of the demands of My mercy, because even the strongest faith is of no avail without works.
Many different versions of this image have been painted, but Our Lord made it clear that the painting itself is not what is important. When Sister Faustina first saw the original image that was being painted under her direction, she wept in disappointment and complained to Jesus: "Who will paint you as beautiful as you are?" He answered: Not in the beauty of color, nor in the brush lies greatness of this image, but in my grace.
Sister Faustina was asked to become the apostle and secretary of God's mercy, a model for how to be merciful to others, and an instrument for reemphasizing God's plan of mercy for the world. Her entire life was to be a sacrifice - a life lived for others. At the Lord's request, she willingly offered her personal sufferings in union with Him to atone for the sins of others. By writing about God's mercy she encouraged others to trust in Him and thus prepare the world for his coming again.
Convinced of her own unworthiness, and terrified at the thought of trying to write anything, she nonetheless began keeping a diary in 1934. This was in obedience to the express wishes of her spiritual director, and then the Lord Himself. For four years she recorded divine revelations and mystical experiences, together with her own inmost thoughts, insights, and prayers. The result is a book of some 600 printed pages that, in simple language, repeats and clarifies the gospel story of God's love for His people. The book emphasized the need to trust in His loving action in all the aspects of our lives. It also reveals an extraordinary example of how to respond to God's mercy and manifest it to others.
Sister Faustina's spiritual life was based on deep humility and loving obedience to the will of God in imitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Her special devotion to Mary Immaculate and to the sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation gave her strength to bear all her sufferings as an offering to God on behalf of those in special need. She wrote and suffered in secret, with only her spiritual director and some other superiors aware of her great suffering from tuberculosis. She died from this illness October 5, 1938. Because she was always so cheerful and humble, even her closest associates were amazed as they later became aware of her great suffering and the deep mystical experiences that had been given this sister of theirs.
She had taken deeply into her heart God's gospel command to "be merciful even as your heavenly Father is merciful." Her confessor also directed her to always act in such a way that everyone who came in contact with her would go away joyful.
Blessed Faustina was beatified in Rome by Pope John Paul ll on April 18, 1993, the second Sunday of Easter, which the Lord had revealed to her as the "Feast of Divine Mercy". She was canonized on April 30, 2000, again the second Sunday of Easter by Pope John Paul ll at the Vatican.
The Divine Mercy Devotion
Devotion to The Divine Mercy involves a total commitment to God's mercy. It is a decision to trust completely in Him, to accept His mercy with thanksgiving, and to be merciful, as He is merciful. The devotional practices proposed in the Diary of Blessed Faustina are completely in accordance with the teachings of the Church and are firmly rooted in the Gospel message. Properly understood and implemented they will help us grow as genuine followers of Christ.
The Hour of Great Mercy
In His revelations to Sister Faustina, Our Lord asked for special prayer and meditation on his passion each afternoon at the three o'clock hour, the hour that recalls His death on the cross. This prayer and meditation can be anything from a short "Jesus, Mercy" to making the 'Stations of the Cross' during this hour.
The Chaplet of Divine Mercy
The Recitation of the Chaplet, given to Sister Faustina by Jesus provides great mercy at the hour of death for as Jesus said, "Even if there were a sinner most hardened, if he were to recite the chaplet only once, he would receive grace from My infinite mercy."
For copies of The Chaplet of Divine Mercy please write or e-mail The Defender.
We recommend the reading of the Diary of Sister M. Faustina Kowalska available from the Association of Marian Helpers, Stockbridge MA 01263. Telephone 1-800-462-7426.
James S. Fritz is one of the founders of Defenders of The Faith, Inc. and Chapter Leader for the Morgan County West Virginia Right to Life.
To contact Curtis, Fred, John or Jim please use our Website address www.TheDefender.org or write us at Defenders of The Faith, Inc., PO Box 1000, Berkeley Springs, West Virginia 25411.
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