On October 5 a feast day on the Church calendar should also direct our attention to the message of mercy. This day we celebrate St. Faustina, the saint whose entire life was devoted to the message of Divine Mercy. She was born Helena Kowalska in a small village near Lodz, Poland on August 25, 1905. She was from a poor peasant family who were very religious. She had experienced a call to religious life at the age of seven while praying before the Blessed Sacrament, but it took her until she was twenty years of age before she could finally enter religious life after having worked as a housekeeper to assist her parents financially. She entered the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy and took the name of Sr. Maria Faustina of the Blessed Sacrament. Given the experience she had when she was young, it is not surprising that she had a great devotion to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, reflected in her choice of religious name.
Though St. Faustina died of tuberculosis in 1938 at age 33, her short life was packed with revelation. Her Diary is very detailed, but the continuous message is that in Jesus is found an “ocean of mercy” into which He desires to immerse every one of us. In one of the visions Jesus said: “Write this: before I come as the just Judge, I am coming first as the King of Mercy.” (Diary, 83) As Pope Francis said, Jesus is the living face of the mercy of the Father. God wants us to have His mercy and nothing less. Therefore it is imperative that we understand this: Jesus desires to offer us mercy rather than judgment. And it is also important that we become people of mercy, offering the same mercy which we have received to those whom we encounter.
If we allow mercy to touch our souls deeply, as it did St. Faustina, we can then become disciples of mercy. I think this is what the Year of Mercy is really meant to be: that we would become truer disciples of Jesus, the King of Mercy, bringing His mercy into our prayer and into our actions. The gospels are truly annals of mercy. Everything Jesus did was about giving mercy to the poor, sick, marginalized, criminal, pagan, sinner, and alien. His mercy was extended to unbelievers, detractors, enemies, and those who put Him to death. His mercy was given to His friends who failed Him so overwhelmingly during His arrest and subsequent death. Every word of His teaching has to do with living love, especially through receiving and giving the gift of mercy and compassion to everyone we meet, especially our detractors. But the gospels are more than annals; they are a living message, containing truths about mercy and love. Having a year in which we dedicate our lives to working on the virtue of mercy could not be more important or timelier. We must become like Jesus, the One whom we follow: we must reflect the living face of the mercy of the Father.
May we truly come to trust in the mercy of Jesus! May we be inspired by St. Faustina to become disciples of Divine Mercy, to live and share in the mercy of Jesus! May we live the Corporal Works of Mercy! May we learn that doing small works of mercy with great love can change the world! May we give ourselves to Jesus, accepting His mercy and sharing it with others! And may we embrace the Year of Mercy as a beginning of renewed love for Jesus, with gratitude for His gift of mercy to us and to the whole world! Let us continue to meet in the Merciful Heart of Jesus! Peace!
©Michele L. Catanese
* Here is where the quote came from. The article was from when Pope Francis announced the Year of Mercy. http://ncronline.org/news/vatican/francis-announces-new-global-jubilee-holy-year-mercy
Here are some links to more information on St. Faustina:
All the photos are mine. The first was taken in Salzburg, Austria.
Next is an icon painted by Fr. William Hart McNichols called St. Faustina Kowalska Apostle of Divine Mercy. It wonderfully brings together St. Faustina and the image she saw, so it is a great way to meditate upon Divine Mercy. If you are interested in purchasing a copy it can be found at http://fineartamerica.com/featured/st-faustina-kowalska-apostle-of-divine-mercy-094-william-hart-mcnichols.html
Next are two of my photos: a cactus flower, taken at Big Bend National Park, TX. I chose it because the flower appears to be fragile, yet bold amidst the thorns of the cactus plant, just as mercy may appear fragile but is in fact bold. The second is of the Atlantic Ocean taken at Westhampton Beach, Long Island. I chose it to remind us of the oceans of mercy found in Jesus.
Finally is the original image, as guided by St. Faustina, of Jesus as King of Divine Mercy .