By the Publisher
Tell sinners that no one shall escape My Hand; if they run away from My Merciful Heart, they will fall into My Just Hands. Tell sinners that I am always waiting for them
Saint Sister Faustina Kowalska is one of the greatest mystics of the Church. She was born on August 25, 1905, in Poland, the third of ten children; she was christened Helen. Her parents were poor peasants. Devoutly religious, they taught their children to love God and respect her neighbor. After only three years of schooling, Helen began hiring herself out as a housekeeper. On August 1, 1925, at the age of 21, she entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy and took the name Sister Maria Faustina. She was a simple person — serene, humble and hard-working. Few of her fellow-sisters were aware of her extraordinarily rich interior life or the depth of her relationship with God. Jesus endowed her with many supernatural graces. Mystical betrothal and stigmata, the ability to participate in Christ’s passion, reading human souls, bilocation, visions, encounters with Jesus, His Blessed Mother, the angels and saints and the souls in Purgatory — these were but some of her gifts. But St. Faustina was aware that sanctity did not depend on extraordinary spiritual gifts and graces. She wrote: “Neither graces, nor revelations, nor raptures, nor gifts granted to a soul make it perfect, but rather the intimate union of the soul with God. These gifts are merely the ornaments of the soul, but constitute neither its essence nor its perfection. My sanctity and perfection consist in the close union of my will with the will of God” (Diary, 1107).
Jesus Christ chose Sister Faustina as the apostle and “Secretary” of His Mercy. To her He assigned the great mission of spreading His message of mercy to the whole world: “Today,” He told her, “I am sending you with My mercy to the people of the whole world. I do not want to punish aching mankind, but I desire to heal it, pressing it to My merciful Heart” (Diary, 1588). “You are the secretary of My mercy; I have chosen you for that office in this and the next life” (Diary, 1605) (…) “to make known to souls the great mercy that I have for them, and to exhort them to trust in the bottomless depth of My mercy” (Diary, 1567). “My daughter,” Jesus said to her, “if I demand through you that people revere My mercy, you should be the first to distinguish yourself by this confidence in My mercy. I demand from you deeds of mercy, which are to arise out of love for Me. You are to show mercy to your neighbors always and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to excuse or absolve yourself from it” (Diary, 742).
St. Faustina discovered the mystery of God dwelling in the human heart. “I am aware that You are dwelling in me, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, or rather I am aware that it is I who am living in You, O incomprehensible God! (...) I have come to know You within my heart, and I have loved You above all things that exist on earth or in heaven” (Diary, 478). “I look for no happiness beyond my own interior where God dwells. I rejoice that God dwells within me; here I abide with Him unendingly; it is here that my greatest intimacy with Him exists; here I dwell with Him in safety; here is a place not probed by the human eye. The Blessed Virgin encourages me to commune with God in this way” (Diary, 454).
God’s mercy is like a most precious thread running through every moment of our life. To discover this truth we must pray with childlike trust in the Lord God, be merciful to our neighbor, avail ourselves frequently of the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist, meditate on the mysteries of the rosary and the stations of the cross, deepen our faith by reading Sacred Scripture and the treasures of spiritual literature.
Four years before her death, at the explicit request of Jesus, St. Faustina began to write her Diary, which reveals God’s unfathomable mercy for every human being. In it she recorded faithfully her encounters with Jesus and the mystery of His merciful love. “Secretary of My most profound mystery,” the Lord Jesus addressed her, “Your task is to write down everything that I make known to you about My mercy, for the benefit of those who by reading these things will be comforted in their souls and will have the courage to approach Me” (Diary, 1693).
St. Faustina records Jesus’ words: “I desire trust from My creatures (Diary, 1059). “[Let] the greatest sinners place their trust in My mercy. They have the right before others to trust in the abyss of My mercy. My daughter, write about My mercy towards tormented souls. Souls that make an appeal to My mercy delight Me. To such souls I grant even more graces than they ask. I cannot punish even the greatest sinner if he makes an appeal to My compassion, but on the contrary, I justify him in My unfathomable and inscrutable mercy. Write: before I come as a just Judge, I first open wide the door of My mercy. He who refuses to pass through the door of My mercy must pass through the door of My justice” (Diary, 1146).
“Write, speak of My mercy. Tell souls where they are to look for solace; that is, in the Tribunal of Mercy [the Sacrament of Reconciliation] There the greatest miracles take place [and] are incessantly repeated. To avail oneself of this miracle, it is not necessary to go on a great pilgrimage or to carry out some external ceremony; it suffices to come with faith to the feet of My representative and to reveal to him one’s misery, and the miracle of Divine Mercy will be fully demonstrated. Were a soul like a decaying corpse so that, from a human standpoint, there would be no (hope of) restoration and everything would already be lost, it is not so with God. The miracle of Divine Mercy restores that soul in full. Oh, how miserable are those who do not take advantage of the miracle of God’s mercy! You will call out in vain, but it will be too late” (Diary, 1448).
“I am Thrice Holy, and I detest the smallest sin. I cannot love a soul, which is stained with sin; but when it repents, there is no limit to My generosity toward it. My mercy embraces and justifies it. With My mercy, I pursue sinners along all their paths, and My Heart rejoices when they return to Me. I forget the bitterness with which they fed My Heart and rejoice at their return.
“Tell sinners that no one shall escape My Hand; if they run away from My Merciful Heart, they will fall into My Just Hands. Tell sinners that I am always waiting for them, that I listen intently to the beating of their heart... When will it beat for Me? Write, that I am speaking to them through their remorse of conscience, through their failures and sufferings, through thunderstorms, through the voice of the Church. And if they bring all My graces to naught, I begin to be angry with them, leaving them alone and giving them what they want” (Diary, 1728).
“I desire trust from My creatures. 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 unfathomed depths of My mercy” (Diary, 1059).
“All those souls that glorify My mercy and spread its worship, encouraging others to trust in My mercy will not experience terror at the hour of death. My mercy will shield them in that final battle” (Diary, 1540).
“My daughter, encourage souls to say the chaplet which I have given to you. It pleases Me to grant everything they ask of Me by saying the chaplet. When hardened sinners say it, I will fill their souls with peace, and the hour of their death will be a happy one.
“Write this for the benefit of distressed souls; when a soul sees and realizes the gravity of its sins, when the whole abyss of the misery into which it immersed itself is displayed before its eyes, let it not despair, but with trust let it throw itself into the arms of My mercy, as a child into the arms of its beloved mother. These souls have a right of priority to My compassionate Heart, they have first access to My mercy. Tell them that no soul that has called upon My mercy has been disappointed or brought to shame. I delight particularly in a soul, which has placed its trust in My goodness.
“Write that when they say this chaplet in the presence of the dying, I will stand between My Father and the dying person, not as the just Judge but as the merciful Savior” (Diary, 1541).
St. Faustina learned that we cannot trust Jesus when we do not know Him. Difficulty arises because we cannot know God with our senses. Trust in Jesus does not consist in an emotional or intellectual attitude, but rather in a life-long attitude toward God expressed in fulfilling His holy will. God reveals His will in the commandments, the obligations of our daily duties. God desires only our good and happiness. St. Faustina teaches us that we must trust the Lord God in every situation. In the most difficult circumstances of spiritual darkness and suffering she must go before Jesus present in the Eucharist and pray, “O Lord, even if You should put me to death, still would I trust in You.” On another occasion, Faustina confessed: “When my soul is in anguish, I think only in this way: Jesus is good and full of mercy, and even if the ground were to give way under my feet, I would not cease to trust in Him” (Diary, 1192).
St. Faustina perfectly fulfilled her mission as secretary of God’s mercy, accepting innumerable sufferings and offering them as a sacrifice for sinners and particularly for those who are in danger of eternal damnation. In the last years of her life, Faustina experienced the inner sufferings of what is called the mystical “passive night” of the soul. Physically ravaged by spreading tuberculosis, she died in Cracow, Poland, mystically united with God, on October 5, 1938, at the age of only thirty-three, having been a religious for 13 years. Her relics rest at the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Cracow-Lagiewniki, Poland.
Pope John Paul II beatified St. Faustina on April 18, 1993. On April 30, 2000, he canonized her at St. Peter’s Square in Rome.
The above article was published with permission from Miłujcie się! in November 2010