Sunday, November 3, 2013
St. Faustina, a well-known saint, is associated with the feast of the Divine Mercy, divine mercy chaplet and
3’oclock PM divine mercy prayer. Born Helena Kowalski in Lodz, Poland on Aug. 25, 1905, she was the 3rd of 10 children of peasants. An obedient, prayerful child, her formal schooling lasted only 3 years. Early on, she wanted to be a nun but was dissuaded by her mother who needed a helping hand.
At 16, she left home and worked in three cities at different times in various capacities as a housekeeper,
gardener or porter to support herself and help her parents. She was twenty when she joined the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, a congregation in Warsaw dedicated to the care and education of troubled young women. After a year, she was given her religious habit and the name Maria Faustina and, as allowed by her congregation, she added “of the blessed Sacrament.” When St. Faustina was transferred to Vilnius, she met Father Michael Sopocko who became her confessor.
In 1930, she began having visions of Jesus Christ. Our Lord asked her to spread His message of mercy to the whole world, to be his apostle and a model of mercy to others. She wrote all the messages and conversations in a diary as requested by the Lord and also by her confessor. These visions and conversations occurred all throughout her life but she never confided in anyone except some of her superiors and Fr. Sopocko. The diary was later published in the book, “the Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska: Divine Mercy in My Soul.”As requested by Jesus Christ, St. Faustina’s life became a sacrifice, a life for others. She was asked to imitate our Lord which she did willingly. Consequently, she suffered in silence and offered all her sufferings to atone for the sins of others, especially big sinners and the dying, in unison with Jesus. Always cheerful and humble, she brought a smile to everyone she dealt with. A doer of mercy, she brought peace and happiness to others even if she herself was stricken with the debilitating disease, TB that claimed her life in 1938.Both St. Faustina and Father Sopocho guided an artist to paint the first Divine Mercy image based on her visions.
The priest used the artist’s painting when he celebrated the first Mass on the first Sunday after Easter that we
know today as the Divine Mercy Sunday. St. Faustina’s feast day is Oct. 5. She was beatified and canonized by Pope John Paul II.
It’s heartening to know from St. Faustina’s writings that God is merciful and far from the uncompromising, rigid disciplinarian that most people think. Isn’t it like a breath of fresh air to hear from Jesus himself that He
wants everybody to be saved from hell, no exceptions? No matter how grievously we have sinned, if we only truly repent and resolve to do better, then everything will be okay. Jesus loves us after all!