Saint Faustina and The Divine Mercy
Over the course of the centuries, one can see how God raises up saints as beacons of hope in a world that all too often loses sight of eternity and what really matters in this life. Today’s saint, St. Faustina Kowalska, is no exception as her life and writings reveal to us the Heart of God which is a Heart of mercy.
Born in Poland on August 25, 1905, St. Faustina was from a poor, but religious family and she was the third of 10 children. While she felt a calling to religious life at a young age, she experienced setbacks and difficulties prior to entering the convent. She struggled with illness and hardship amidst her life lived in the convent, but the fruits of her rich interior life have much to offer us in our day.
One can read about her life and writings in a book entitled “Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul.” Anyone who takes the time to delve into this work will surely be inspired by the profound intimacy she had with Jesus. Her conversations with Jesus were so vivid and the messages filled with such divine truth that she was told by her spiritual director to write them down.
Most Catholics will have at some point seen an image which the saint received from Jesus. She describes this experience as follows: "In the evening, when I was in my cell, I saw the Lord Jesus clothed in a white garment. One hand [was] raised in the gesture of blessing, the other was touching the garment at the breast. From beneath the garment, slightly drawn aside at the breast, there were emanating two large rays, one red, the other pale. In silence I kept my gaze fixed on the Lord; my soul was struck with awe, but also with great joy. After a while, Jesus said to me, ‘Paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the signature: Jesus, I trust in You. I desire that this image be venerated, first in your chapel, and [then] throughout the world.’” (Diary 47)
Only two gems will be mentioned here from among many that can be mined from her “diary” which spans nearly 700 pages.
She writes how, on one occasion, her Guardian Angel ordered her to follow him. As she did so, she found herself amidst a crowd of suffering souls in Purgatory. She saw that although they were praying fervently, their prayers were of no avail; only the prayers of others were able to help them. She then asked what was the greatest torment of these suffering souls to which the angel replied, “their greatest torment [is] longing for God.” She writes, “I saw Our Lady visiting the souls in Purgatory. The souls call her ‘The Star of the Sea.’ She brings them refreshment. I wanted to talk to them some more, but my Guardian Angel beckoned me to leave. We went out of that prison of suffering. [I heard an interior voice] which said, ‘My mercy does not want this, but justice demands it.’ Since that time, I am in closer communion with the suffering souls.” (Diary 20)
On another occasion, she describes one of her visions: “…I suddenly saw the Lord Jesus, who said to me with great kindness, ‘My daughter, look at My Merciful Heart.’ As I fixed my gaze on the Most Sacred Heart, the same rays of light, as are represented in the image as blood and water, came forth from it, and again I understood how great is the Lord’s mercy. And again Jesus said to me with kindness, ‘My daughter, speak to priests about this inconceivable mercy of Mine. The flames of mercy are burning Me – clamoring to be spent; I want to keep pouring them out upon souls; souls just don’t want to believe in my goodness.’” (Diary 177)
The saints are our friends. On this day, as we celebrate the feast of St. Faustina, perhaps consider asking her to intercede for you, that you may grow in your desire to avail yourself to the flames of Jesus’ mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. And, as we approach All Souls day next month, remember to pray for those suffering souls in Purgatory who so badly long to be united with God in heaven.