Saints Day: October 5
When she was seventeen years old, she recognized her destiny: she wanted to sacrifice her life for service for God in a convent. As a young girl, she preferred to spend all her free time at the Blessed Sacrament instead of with her friends. Being on service, she reserved for herself a possibility to attend in Holy Mass every day and to visit the persons who were sick or dying.
On 1st August 1925, Helena Kowalska entered the Congregation of Our Blessed Lady of Mercy in Warsaw, at 3/9 Żytnia Street. This Congregation was founded in Poland by Teresa Potacka in 1862, for breeding the girls and women who needed deep moral change. In an atmosphere of separation from influences of the world, through prayer and work, the Sisters’ foster-children were rebuilding a sensation of own dignity, they studied a profession in order they could come back to life in the society and to earn money for their maintenance in dignified manner.
In 1926, during the ceremony of the taking of the veil, Helena Kowalska received the name: Sister Maria Faustina, and now she is known in the whole world under this name. In 1928 she took her first vows: of chastity, poverty and obedience, which she repeated during 5 years in order to take perpetual vows in the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy.
Sister Faustina worked in several different homes of the convent, doing jobs such as a kitchen-help, a gardener and a porter. Outwardly she did not differ from her fellow nuns, she was faithful to the rule of the religious order, in which she saw the will of God, she was full of trust to God and an active love of a neighbour. Under commonness, an intense religious life was hidden that impressed many people. Her contact with the supernatural world – meetings with the Lord Jesus, the Holy Mother, the angels, Saints, the souls who were in purgatory – was such real, simply and ordinary as the world perceived by senses. Already, during her firsts weeks in the Congregation, she had a vision of purgatory, then a vision of Heaven and hell. She received many, extraordinary graces, like apparitions, a gift of the ability of the reading in souls of other people, bi-location (it is an ability to be in two places at the same time), hidden stigmata, or so called mystical engagement and marriage with Jesus. The theologians include her into a circle of the most distinguished mystics in the history of the Church. In her spiritual “Diary”, which she wrote on the order of the Lord Jesus, on order of the priests-confessors and because the superiors agreed, she described not only extraordinary meetings with supernatural reality, but also her grey commonplaceness, which became beautiful and rich because of the fact that it was experienced with union with God.
The God picked out her as a secretary and apostle of the Divine Mercy. Through her, He delivered to the Church and the world, great message about the merciful love of God to every person. This great prophetic mission of Saint Faustina started in Plock, Poland on the 22nd February 1931. “When I was in my cell in the evening – she wrote in “Diary” - I saw Jesus dressed in a white robe. A hand was raised up to blessing, and the second hand touched His robe at the level of His heart. From His robe, which was slightly opened, two beautiful rays of light were visible, one was red and the other pale. Silently, I looked at THE LORD. My soul was afraid and yet full of joy. After a very short time, Our Saviour said to me: “Make a statue of Me, exactly as you see Me now, and under this statue you should place the words: 'Jesus, I trust You!' I want this statue to be worshipped, firstly in your chapel and then throughout the world. I promise that a soul who worships this picture, will not die. I promise also that already here, on the Earth the victory over enemies, and especially during the hour of death. I, personally will protect her as My glory” (Diary 47). Sister Faustina said about this to her confessor and he let her to paint this picture in her soul. But when she was going away from a confessional, the Lord Jesus said: “My picture is already in your soul. I desire that a feast of the Mercy will be. I want that this picture which you will paint by brush, was solemnly consecrated during the first Sunday after the Easter, this Sunday will be the feast of Divine Mercy.” (Diary 49). Sister Faustina did not know to paint, other sisters also did not, so a painting of the picture was delaying. And the Lord Jesus assured Sister Faustina that it was very important matter. “You need to know about it – said to her - that if you neglect the matter of painting this picture and the whole work of mercy, you will answer for a large number of souls during the day of the Judgment” (Diary 154).
In such situation Sister Faustina asked God for help. At first, she asked for it that a priest in the name of the Church confirmed that requests which she had heard from Jesus, were really from the God, and they were not any illusion. Such confirmation she received during retreats in 1932, and then a promise of a priest who would help her to fulfil the wishes of the Lord Jesus. The name of the priest was Michal Sopocko, whom Saint Faustina met in Wilno (Vilnius). He after examination that the matter came from God, engaged himself in an realisation of the mission, which mission the Lord Jesus delivered to Saint Faustina. At first, he arranged to do a painting of Merciful Jesus, by painter Eugeniusz Kazimirowski, who lived in the same tenement-house. Sister Faustina gave advices to the painter and asked the Lord Jesus for explanations concerning meaning of some elements of the picture, which her confessor did not understand. The Lord Jesus said at this moment that His glance from this picture was like His glance from the cross, that in inscription on the picture should be: “Jesus, I trust You” and the rays: pale and red mean water and blood. “These two rays – explained the Lord Jesus – mean blood and water. The pale ray means water, which clears souls; the red ray means blood, which is the life of souls. These two rays went out from the entrails of My mercy at that time, when My dying heart was opened by a spear on the cross. These rays protect souls from My Father’s angry. Happy is the person, who will live in their shadow, because the just God’s hand will not reach him. I desire that the first Sunday after the Easter, be the feast of Mercy”. (Diary 299).
When the painting was painted, Sister Faustina cried, because Jesus on this picture was not so beautiful as she had seen Him. But Jesus answered that not in the beauty of paint is power of this picture, but in His grace.
In the first Sunday after the Easter, in the planned feast of Mercy, the picture of Merciful Jesus was for the first time shown publicly in the Sanctuary of the Holy Mother of Mercy in Ostra Brama. Priest Michal Sopocko preached about Divine Mercy and Sister Faustina saw how many people received graces. When she came back from this feast to the convent, she wrote: “The whole multitude of devils blocked my way, who threatened me with terrible tortures – and it could be heard voices: She took away from us everything, what we worked during so many years. – When I asked them: From where there are such multitude of you? – These malicious shapes answered to me: From hearts of people, do not torment us. Seeing their terrible hatred for me, in this moment I asked the Guardian Angel for help. – And in one moment a bright and radiant shape of the Guardian Angel stood, who said to me: Do not be afraid, My Lord’s betrothed, these ghosts will not do anything wrong to you without His permission. These wrong ghosts disappeared immediately and the faithful Guardian Angel accompanied me in visible way to home.” (Diary 418-419).
The basic way of proclaiming the messages of Mercy and the whole devotion to Divine Mercy is the attitude of trust in God, it means- fulfilling His will contained in the ten commandments, the duties of the position, the advices and blessings said in the Gospels or the recognized inspirations of Holy Spirit and an active love of a neighbour. “If I demand through you from people an adoration of Divine Mercy – the Lord Jesus was saying to Sister Faustina – it is you who first should be characterised by trust in My mercy. I demand from you the acts of mercy which originate from love to Me. You need to show mercy always and everywhere to the neighbours, you can not retire from it nor excuse yourself from it, nor exculpate. I am telling you three ways of making mercy to the neighbours: the first – acts, the second – word, the third – prayer; in these three steps, the fullness of mercy is concluded and it is the irrefutable proof of love of Me”. (Diary 742). The next way of proclaiming the messages of Mercy is an act, then a word and prayer. The task of proclaiming the messages of Mercy was gifted a great promise by the Lord Jesus. “souls who propagate the worship of My mercy – He said – I protect them through the whole life, as a tender mother her new-born baby and during the hour of death I will not be a Judge for them, but I will be the merciful Redeemer.” (Diary 1075). The Lord Jesus gave a special promise to the priests, as He said that when they would say about the merciful God’s love to a person, He would cause that the souls of the obdurate sinners would crush under their words, coming back to life in friendship with Him.
The Hour of Mercy – 15.00. In 1936 Sister Faustina came back to Krakow to spend there the last years of her life. The Lord Jesus appeared to her a next new form of worship of Divine Mercy, which we call the Hour of Mercy. It does not mean that we need to pray during the whole hour, but we need to honour the moment of the Lord Jesus’ death on the cross. The Lord Jesus said to Saint Faustina: “I remind you, My daughter that how many times you will hear as a clock repeats the third hour, dip the whole yourself in My mercy, admiring and praising it; call its omnipotence for the whole world, and especially for the poor sinners, because in this moment mercy is opened broadly for every soul. During this hour you will obtain by prayer everything for yourself and for others; at this hour, the grace for the whole world happened – mercy won justice. My daughter, try to do the way of cross, if your duty will allow you to do it; if you can not do the way of cross, go at least to a chapel for a few minutes and worship My heart, which is full of mercy in the Most Holy Sacrament; and if you can not go to the chapel, sunk in prayer there where you are through few minutes”. (Diary 1572). Prayer at that time (15.00) should be directed to the Lord Jesus and in implorations we need to appeal to the value and merits of His sorrowful Passion. It is the privileged time of each day, during which, by connecting with the Lord Jesus dying on the cross, we can obtain by prayer everything if it is concordant with God’s will and if we ask for it with trust, attaching to prayer the acts of mercy done for our neighbours.
The Lord Jesus not only delivered the new forms of worship of Divine Mercy to Saint Faustina (a picture with inscription: Jesus, I trust You, the Feast of Mercy, Chaplet of Divine Mercy, the Hour of Mercy, a propagation of worship of Mercy) to which He attached the great promises, under the condition of solicitude for attitude of trust (performing the God’s will) and the active love of a neighbour, but also He allowed to know the depth of mystery of the Divine Mercy. Her “Diary” was called by Pope John Paul II: a “Gospel of mercy written in XX century”, as the message is such wonderful way shows the merciful love of God for a person during the whole perspective of the history of the world: since the moment of creating, through incarnation and birth of God’s Son, His life and teaching, Passion, death and Resurrection by the union of the Church, who is the Mystical Body of Christ and invitation to the Glory of Heaven. A cognition of the mystery of Divine Mercy, led Saint Faustina to a discovery of God in her own soul. That is why, she did not look for a God somewhere far, but in the depth of her heart, in order to experience together with Him her commonplaceness. She wrote that she went with Jesus to work, she took a rest with Him, she prayed with Him and suffered with Him. Jesus always kept her company and from a human soul He was driven out only by a mortal sin. “Diary” of Saint Faustina allows to know better the true face of the God and the true faith of a person, created from love and destined to the union of life with God already here on the Earth and through the whole eternity.
Sister Faustina was also a faithful daughter of the Holy Mother of Mercy. Mary was for her not only the Mother of God’s Son, but also her Mother and the Mistress of spiritual life. She taught her a contemplation of God in her own soul, an attitude of trust in relation to Him, it means- fulfilling His will in a perfect way, cherishing the cross, a love of a neighbour and also a practise of virtues which condition such attitude. A vision of the Holy Mother and Her instructions harmonized with the mission, which the Lord Jesus gave to Saint Faustina. The Most Holy Mother enlightened her, how a great role in God’s plans, the messages of Mercy will play, messages which she received from the Lord Jesus. Holy Mother strengthened her in fulfilling her mission. She said to Sister Faustina: “I gave the Redeemer for the world and you are to say to the world about His great mercy and to prepare the world for His repeated (91) coming, who will come not as the merciful Redeemer, but as just the Judge. O, this day is terrible. It is decided the day of justice, the day of God’s anger, the angels tremble before of this day. Say to souls about this great mercy, by the time of mercy; if you are silent now, you will answer during that terrible day for a great number of souls. Do not be afraid of anything, be faithful by the end, I sympathize with you”. (Diary 635).
In February 1938, several months before her death, Sister Faustina had a vision of The Blessed Virgin Mary: “In a great light, I saw the Holy Mother in white dress, with a golden belt, the stars, also golden ones were on the whole Her garment and the sleeves were covered with gold. The overcoat was sapphire, lightly flung, on the head She had flung a transparent veil, hair were flowing, beautifully arranged and a crown of gold, which had small crosses at the ends. On the left hand She held the Infant Jesus. Such Holy Mother I did not see yet. Suddenly, she looked at me graciously and said:
Sister Faustina in her life left to us the pattern of complete trust to God, about whom she talked that He was Love and Mercy. When she suffered very much, she came in a front of the tabernacle and said: “The Lord, even if you kill me, I will trust You”. In another place she wrote that even if the earth would disappeared under her foot, she will not stop trust Him, because she understood that He was only kindness. She admired of God’s merciful love so much that she wanted to change her life into mercy. During prayer she asked the Lord Jesus to change her eyes, ears, tongue, hands, legs and the first of all the heart in such way, as they could render Him love in other person. She wanted that Divine Mercy would pour out on the whole world, through her life. She prayed and did sacrifices not only for people who were around of her, but also for the whole world and especially for sinners, because they need mercy the most. On the request of the Lord Jesus she gave her life as sacrifice for them, that is she promised to receive all fears and torments which the sinners feel and to give them all her consolations which came from the close communion with God, in order to obtain for them a grace of conversion and to save for eternal life.
Sister Faustina, exhausted by illness (she was sick on tuberculosis), by sufferings which were connected to a prophetic mission of Mercy and the sacrifices done for the sinners, died in the convent in Krakow-Lagiewniki, on 5th October 1938, being only 33 years old. The informative process was started in Krakow Diocese by cardinal Karol Wojtylla in 1965. One year later, worldly remains of Sister Faustina were moved to a convent chapel. After the ending of process in diocese, the documents were sent to Rome and there since 1968 the process of beatification was continued. They investigated a heroism of virtues and miracle attributed to her intercession. On the first Sunday after Easter, on 18th April 1993, Pope John Paul II beatified Sister Faustina and on 30th April 2000 he canonised her and he proclaimed the first Sunday after Easter as the feast of Divine Mercy. At that time, the gift of messages of Mercy he gave to the Church for third millennium.