divine mercy, Hell, Preparation For Death

The Unrepentant Prostitute

In the year 1707, St. Francis Jerome was preaching, as was his habit, in the neighborhood of the city of Naples. He was speaking of Hell and the awful chastisements that await obstinate sinners.

A brazen courtesan (prostitute) who lived there, troubled by a discourse which aroused her remorse, sought to hinder it by jests and shouts, accompanied by noisy instruments. As she was standing close to the window, the Saint cried out: “Beware, my daughter, of resisting grace; before eight days God will punish you.” The unhappy creature grew only more boisterous. Eight days elapsed, and the holy preacher happened to be again before the same house. This time she was silent; the windows were shut. The hearers, with dismay on their faces, told the Saint that Catharine (that was the name of the bad woman) had a few hours before died suddenly. “Died!” he repeated. “Well, let her tell us now what she has gained by laughing at Hell. Let us ask her.” He uttered these words in an inspired tone, and everyone expected a miracle. Followed by an immense crowd, he went up to the death chamber, and there, after having prayed for an instant, he uncovered the face of the corpse, and said in a loud voice, “Catharine, tell us where art thou now.” At this summons, the dead woman lifted her head while opening her wild eyes; her face borrowed color, her features assumed an expression of horrible despair, and in a mournful voice, she pronounced these words: “In Hell; I am in Hell.” And immediately, she fell back again into the condition of a corpse.

“I was present at that event,” says one of the witnesses who deposed before the Apostolic tribunal, “but I never could convey the impression it produced on me and the bystanders, nor that which I still feel every time I pass that house and look at that window. At the sight of that ill-fated abode, I still hear the pitiful cry resounding: “In Hell; I am in Hell.” (

~Source:”Life of St. Francis Jerome” by Father Bach

divine mercy, spiritual warfare, Visions of the Saints

St.Faustina:Apostle of Divine Mercy

88 years ago today,(Feb 22)Jesus appeared to St. Faustina in her convent cubicle and directed her to “paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the signature: Jesus, I trust in You” (Diary of St. Faustina, 47-48). He attached many promises to those who venerate this image.

In a confessional — that’s where Blessed Michael Sopocko first met Sr. Maria Faustina, a humble nun with a tremendous weight upon her. The Lord had begun revealing to her His message of Divine Mercy — an urgent message that He wanted her to share with the whole world. But who would believe her? At first, no one. Not her superiors in the convent and not her previous confessors.

Sister Faustina had prayed for a spiritual director, someone to help guide her, someone who understood that what she was experiencing was real. Father Sopocko was the answer to her prayers, and eventually he became the main promoter of her revelations, the very linchpin in the Lord’s call to spread Divine Mercy throughout the world.

It was Fr. Sopocko who first instructed Sr. Faustina to keep her Diary. When Sr. Faustina told Fr. Sopocko of her visions of Jesus and His request for a new image to be painted and spread throughout the world, it was he who found the artist, E. Kazimirowski, who would paint The Divine Mercy image.

He didn’t stop there. In actions that mark the beginning of the spread of The Divine Mercy devotion, Fr. Sopocko made sure The Divine Mercy image was displayed on the Sunday after Easter, 1935, over the famous Ostra Brama gate to the city of Vilnius, Lithuania.

In a letter written by Blessed Sopocko in 1958, he gives a thorough description of the efforts to fulfill Christ’s request for the image. His long letter is translated from the Polish and quoted almost in its entirety in Pillars of Fire in My Soul: the Spirituality of St. Faustina (Marian Press, 2003), edited by Dr. Robert Stackpole, STD. Blessed Sopocko writes:

Upon my request Mr. Eugene Kazimirowski began the painting of the image on January 2, 1934. Sister Faustina of blessed memory with the permission of the Superior, Mother Irene, came once or twice a week to the painter’s studio (in the company of another sister) and imparted instructions, how this image is to look. For several months the painter was unable to satisfy the author [Faustina], who became sad on that account, and it was at this time that she wrote in her Diary: “Once when I was at that painter’s, who’s painting this image, and saw that it is not as beautiful as Jesus is, I became very sad, but I hid that deep in my heart. When we left the painter, Mother Superior remained in the city to settle various matters, but I returned home by myself, immediately I made my way to the chapel and I had a good cry. I said to the Lord: ‘Who will paint You as beautiful as You are?’ Of a sudden I heard the words: ‘not in the beauty of the color, nor of the brush is the greatness of this image, but in my grace.'”

And remember the words of Jesus to St. Faustina, “I do not reward for good results but for the patience and hardship undergone for My sake” (Diary, 86).

The Holy Trinity, the Incarnation, the Eucharist, these are holy mysteries indeed, but so, too, is the Image of The Divine Mercy, revealed to St. Faustina in the darkness of her convent cell in the city of Plock in Poland, back in 1931. She describes Christ’s promises to her regarding the image:

“I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish. I also promise victory over [its] enemies already here on earth, especially at the hour of death. I myself will defend it as my own glory.”(Diary of St. Faustina,47-48)

… When St. Faustina asked our Lord about the meaning of the rays, He answered her by telling her that they signified the blood and water that gushed forth from His side on Calvary (see Jn 19:34-35):

When on one occasion my confessor told me to ask the Lord Jesus the meaning of the two rays in the image, I answered, “Very well, I will ask the Lord.”

During prayer I heard these words within me: The two rays denote Blood and Water. The pale ray stands for the water that makes souls righteous. The red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls …

These two rays issued forth from the very depths of My tender mercy when my agonized Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross. (Diary, 299).

The historical reference that Jesus made here is significant (“when My agonized Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross”) because they correspond to what New Testament scholars tell us about this event. The fact is that Jesus was crucified by Roman soldiers, and Roman soldiers were trained to know exactly where to stick their enemies with a lance so that the lance would pass between the ribs and pierce the heart, thereby guaranteeing instant death. In the Gospel story, the Roman soldiers were trying to make sure that Jesus was dead before they took Him down from the cross (Roman soldiers were subject to the death penalty themselves if they failed to successfully execute a criminal condemned under Roman law) so their lance passed into His side between the ribs, but went right up into His Heart (remember that they were thrusting the lance upward, from beneath the Cross). In fact, the phrase that Jesus taught St. Faustina to use in her prayer (“O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus”) is also precisely accurate. It corresponds to the word that St. John used in his gospel for the flow of blood and water: it “gushed out.” The Roman spear evidently pierced the pericardial sack around the heart where relatively clear plasma would have collected after Jesus’ death, and also probably pierced the Heart itself, where blood had settled. The result would have been similar to the piercing of a water balloon: the blood and water “gushed forth” from His Heart. In short, the side of Christ was pierced, according to the Bible, but everything about this incident suggests that the wound in His side entered right into His Heart. …

The rays from the image are meant to transform our hearts, to “mercify” us, as Fr. George Kosicki, CSB, likes to say, so that we can give our hearts back to Him in love.

When we do open our hearts to Him with trust, then those rays and graces beam us back into deep union with the Heart of Jesus, as they did for St. Faustina herself. She writes:

He brought me into such intimacy with Himself that my heart was espoused to His Heart in a loving union, and I could feel the faintest stir of His Heart, and He of mine. The fire of my created love was joined to the ardor of His uncreated love. …

O my Master, I surrender myself completely to You, who are the rudder of my soul; steer it Yourself according to your divine wishes. I enclose myself in Your most compassionate Heart which is a sea of unfathomable mercy. (Diary, 1242 and 1450)

“Today the Lord also shows us His glorious wounds, and His Heart, an inexhaustible source of truth, of love, and forgiveness. … Saint Faustina saw, coming from this Heart that was overflowing with generous love, two rays of light that illuminated the world. “The two rays,” according to what Jesus Himself told her, “represent the blood and the water” (Diary, 299). The blood recalls the sacrifice of Golgotha, and the mystery of the Eucharist. The water, according to the rich symbolism of the Evangelist St. John, makes us think of Baptism and the Gift of the Holy Spirit (cf. Jn 3:5; 4:14).

Through the mystery of this wounded Heart, the restorative tide of God’s merciful love continues to spread over the men and women of our time. Here alone can those who long for true and lasting happiness find its secret.”

~St.John Paul II homily on Divine Mercy Sunday, 2001

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~Excerpted from thedivinemercy.org

divine mercy, February Feast Days

Blessed Michael Sopocko

Michał Sopocko was born on November 1st,1888 in Juszewszczyzna (known also as Nowosady) in Oszmiana district. After graduating municipal school in Oszmiana, he joined the Theological Seminary in Vilnius in 1910 and received the sacrament of his Holy Orders in 1914. His first parish was Taboryszki, where he performed his pastoral duties in the years 1914-1918. In 1918 he went to Warsaw to study moral theology at the Department of Theology of the Warsaw University. In 1923 he received his master’s degree and in 1926 his doctoral degree in theology.

In the years 1922-1924 he also studied at the Higher Pedagogical Institute while performing the duties of military chaplain. In 1924 Fr Sopoćko was appointed Head of the Military Chaplaincy for the Vilnius Region and returned to his own diocese where he remained until 1929. In 1927 he was also appointed spiritual father and confessor of the seminary In Vilnus and in 1928 he became the Head of the Department of Pastoral Theology at the Batory University. In 1932 he withdrew from his spiritual activities to devote himself to scientific work. He received his post-doctoral degree in 1934 at the Pastoral Theology Department of the Warsaw University. He received a positive opinion for the title of professor , however he did not get the nomination due to financial difficulties existing at the Theological Faculty of the Batory University. He carried on educational and scientific work up to the closure of the University and Seminary during World War II. His scientific achievements from this period revealed in numerous publications on pastoral theology, homiletics, catechetics and pedagogy. He also wrote numerous studies on popular religious and social issues.

During the German occupation, he managed to avoid arresting and for two and a half years was hiding in the vicinity of Vilnius. In 1944 after the resumption of activity of the Seminary in Vilnius he taught there until it was closed in 1945 by the Soviet authorities and was relegated to Bialystok. In the meantime he was performing pastoral ministry at the church of St. John, catechized, secretly organized catechetical courses. Threatened with arrest for this activity, he left in 1947 to Bialystok. Here he gave lectures at the Seminary in his specialties: pedagogy, catechetics, homiletics, pastoral theology, ascetic theology. He also taught Latin and Russian. An important part of his post-war activities within the Anti-Alcohol Social Committee were his educational programmes promoting sobriety in a society. Then, in the years 1951-1958 he organized a series of monthly and annual catechetical courses for nuns and lay people, and in the 50s and 60s also organized public lectures on religion at the parish church in Bialystok. In 1962, he retired, but devoted himself to pastoral work at the chapel of the Missionary Sisters of St. Family in Poleska Street, which he had expanded in 1957. At that time he also made efforts to build a church in Wiejska Street in Bialystok. Almost to the end of his days he participated actively in the life of the diocese, worked scientifically and published his work. He died in the house of the Missionary Sisters in Poleska Street on February 15, 1975.

Father Michał Sopocko devoted his all life to God and the Church. He was a man of extraordinary zeal for the glory of God which expressed in his numerous activities, rooted in a deep spiritual life. The diversity of his work was astonishing. He was a spiritual leader of a parish, a catechist, an organizer of education, a teacher, a lecturer at the University and Seminary, spiritual father, confessor of seminarians, priests and nuns, army chaplain, anti-alcohol activist, a builder of churches. However, in his life full of various activities, dominant and most beautiful path was the service to the idea of Divine Mercy., He is undoubtedly entitled to the honorable title of Apostle of Divine Mercy, beside St. Faustina Kowalska. As her confessor and spiritual director during the Vilnius period, inspired by her revelations, he devoted himself completely to spreading the truth and Divine Mercy cult. He published a number of works on Divine Mercy, sought to establish the feast, helped to paint the first picture of the Most Merciful Savior Jesus and co-founded the religious congregation of the Sisters of Merciful Jesus. Recognizing his extremely zealous service to God and the Church in the priesthood and the sanctity of his life, in 1987 Fr. Sopoćko’s beatification process was initiated on the diocesan level, which lasted until 1993. In 2002, the documentation of the process, along with an extensive biography of Fr. Sopoćko, compiled in the so-called „Positio”, was forwarded to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome. In 2004 the commission of theologians appointed by the Congregation positively assessed the Positio and then commission of cardinals affirmed the judgment of the theologians. Following this work of the Congregation on 20th December, 2004 in Vatican in the presence of the Holy Father the decree on the heroic virtues of the Servant of God was officially announced. In December 2007 at the Vatican a miracle was approved through the intercession of the Servant of God. The solemn beatification of Fr. Michał Sopocko took place on 28th September 2008 at the Shrine of Divine Mercy, where the mortal remains of the Blessed rest in peace.

-Bishop Henryk Ciereszko

divine mercy, Hell, Miracles of Our Lady, Our Lady of Fatima

How the Fatima Vision of Hell helped Salvador Dali Return to God

Salvador Dali is considered one of the greatest artists of the 20th century and the most famous Surrealist. At the height of his popularity in 1960, he was commissioned by The Blue Army of Our Lady of Fatima to paint the Vision of Hell, as Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco experienced during the July 13, 1917, apparition at Fatima. The idea for the painting came from a Protestant who, having read about the vision from Sister Lucia’s memoirs, converted to Catholicism and entered the seminary. The thought was that Dali could reach young people and unbelievers far more effectively with this message than any sermon on Sunday morning or story about saints. This commission would change Dali’s life and work, and lead him from his avowed atheism back to his Catholic roots.

Dali grew up in Spain near the border of France in Catalonia. His father was an anti-clerical, atheist and his mother a devout Roman Catholic. Born just nine months after his brother, also Salvador, died, he was often told by his parents that he was his reincarnated brother. Having to juggle between the influences of belief and unbelief in God, Dali grew up confused and uncertain, stating once, “Heaven is to be found exactly in the center of the bosom of the man who has faith. At this moment I do not yet have faith, and I fear I shall die without heaven.”

Dali’s fame grew throughout the ‘30s and ‘40s and he became an immediate sensation in the U.S. after his first exhibition there in 1934. His famous painting, The Persistence in Memory, with the image of melting pocket watches, helped define his method of creativity and surrealism, the “paranoiac-critical method.” Dali’s creativity arose from images he drew from the subconscious as he fell into a state of semi-wakefulness, or hypnogogy.

Throughout his life, Dali struggled with the idea of his own death, a fear he could not overcome. He studied new discoveries related to the third dimension, which led him to seek access to the fourth dimension and immortality. His works are permeated with themes of eroticism, death and decay, but also religious themes and subjects related to scientific progress.

He was 55 when he was approached by The Blue Army to paint the Vision of Hell. Blue Army co-founder John Haffert had received a letter from the seminarian encouraging him to approach Dali with the idea. He also put up his life’s savings to pay for it. Haffert met with Dali in the New York hotel where he was staying and told him about The Blue Army’s mission to spread the message of Fatima. He read him the story of Fatima from Lucia’s writings and the description of the Vision of Hell.”It’s up to you to present this Vision truthfully and vividly,” Haffert told him. “You are being chosen to be Our Lady’s artist. A visual interpreter for God.”

Dali listened intently, then ordered a plate of escargot. When it arrived, he began to probe the snails with escargot forks, explaining to Haffert that the great artists always used pitchforks to depict the devils in hell, but he would use escargot forks instead. “The soul of a sinner is like a snail,” he explained. “It curls and cowls up in the shell and the only way to retrieve it is by using an escargot fork!”

The two of them settled on a commission fee and signed an agreement on a paper napkin.

Haffert set out to try to get a meeting between Dali and Sister Lucia, who in 1960 was a cloistered Carmelite nun in Coimbra, Portugal. He was not having any success, even after writing to her personally. Dali told Haffert it was no problem. He would study what she said about the Vision and put together his own vision, telling him, “I will paint what I see.”

For over a year, Dali poured over Lucia’s description of the Vision of Hell and searched his subconscious for imagery, to no avail. Haffert suggested he go to Fatima for inspiration. Part of Dali’s problem was he did not know how to present the Blessed Virgin Mary. His wife, Gala, was always the face of the women in his paintings.

At Fatima, he was brought directly to the spot where the Blessed Mother appeared and where the children saw the earth open revealing hell. The key to understanding the Vision of Hell, he was told by his guide, Canon Jose Galamba de Oliveira, was the appeal for conversion. And the Immaculate Heart of Mary is sign of hope for all who respond to her message of conversion.

Through Galamba’s influence, Dali was finally able to meet with Sister Lucia during this trip. He spent a short time with her, conversing through the bars of the parlor grill. Dali would later comment how special it felt to “breath the same air as a future saint,” like being in a heavenly presence. Dali finally had the inspiration to paint the Vision of Hell.

Before leaving Fatima, Dali asked Canon Galamba to hear his confession. Galamba later told Haffert, it was “the most moving, sincere and profound confession” he had ever heard in his many decades as a priest.

On March 13, 1962, Haffert received notice that the painting was finished and Mr. Dali wanted to present it to him. He was not able to be there at the time, but Msgr. Harold Colgan, Haffert’s co-founder of The Blue Army, went in his stead. From the look on his face when the painting was revealed, Msgr. Colgan was shocked at the Vision according to Dali. It was not what he expected.

However, upon further study and examination, it is believed that Dali portrayed himself in the vision and painted his own conversion. It shows a dying person, his soul translucent red, tortured and tormented by demons in hell who probe him with escargot forks, trying to extract his soul. The fissured earth opens beneath to the place of hell. The Blessed Mother above, in anguish, revealing her sorrowful and loving heart before the horror of a soul being lost. A lone figure holds up a crucifix to heaven in prayer.

The Fatima children said they would have died of fright at the Vision of Hell if Mary had not been with them. She told the children, “You have seen hell where the souls of sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart.” During the August apparition, she implored them, “Pray, pray very much, for many souls go to hell because they have no one to pray for them.”

No one knows what Sister Lucia said to Dali after his brief visit with her, but she had a knack for saying exactly what someone needed to hear to return to God, including hardened Communists. She must have helped him know the love of God and the Blessed Mother as well, and that her Immaculate Heart is a refuge for sinners. Dali did not use Gala as his model for the face of Mary in his picture. He returned to his Catholic roots and belief in God and faced his mortality.

When Sister Lucia finally saw his painting of the Vision in 1997, she studied it intently, then said to her interpreter, “Hell is spiritual and not physical, and it is impossible for anyone to make an image of hell. The painting comes as close as humanly possible to representing hell.”

Salvador Dali died of heart failure on January 23, in 1989, at the age of 84. He kept his religious sentiments secret from the world. Sister Lucia must surely have prayed for him.

~Source:bluearmy.com

divine mercy, Preparation For Death

Hope for Those Lost to Suicide

Souls Saved After Committing Suicide

A woman went to Padre Pio to know about her brother, who had committed suicide after a financial difficulty. She went to his Mass but was unable to talk to him. She sat in church, crying and praying, while Padre Pio was confessing. At a certain moment she got a nudge and was told: “Padre Pio is calling you.” She turned towards the confessional. Padre Pio was making a sign to her with the hand, to approach the confessional. She did, and kneeled in front of him, and Padre Pio said: “Don’t worry, stay calm, he is saved.”

St. John Vianney, the Curé of Ars, was renowned for his spiritual wisdom in counseling people. They came from all over Europe and North America seeking his wise advice. The railroad company even built a spur line to Ars to accommodate the flow of visitors. His church was usually full of people, and many others lined the path from the rectory to the church. One day as he was walking to the church, he stopped before a woman and told her: “Between the bridge and the water, your husband repented. Pray for him.” She explained to others that her husband had committed suicide, and she was concerned about his eternal salvation but had never spoken to the saintly pastor before.

Saint Faustina knew firsthand the torments of suicide. She writes in her Diary:

Once, I took upon myself a terrible temptation which one of our students in the house at Warsaw was going through. It was the temptation of suicide. For seven days I suffered; and after the seven days Jesus granted her the grace which was being asked, and then my suffering also ceased. It was a great suffering. I often take upon myself the torments of our students. Jesus permits me to do this, and so do my confessors (192).

Jesus said to St. Faustina:

Pray as much as you can for the dying. By your entreaties, obtain for them trust in My mercy, because they have most need of trust, and have it the least. Be assured that the grace of eternal salvation for certain souls in their final moment depends on your prayer. You know the whole abyss of My mercy, so draw upon it for yourself and especially for poor sinners. Sooner would heaven and earth turn into nothingness than would My mercy not embrace a trusting soul (Diary, 1777)

Today, the Lord came to me and said, “My daughter, help Me to save souls. You will go to a dying sinner, and you will continue to recite the chaplet, and in this way you will obtain for him trust in My mercy, for he is already in despair.”

Suddenly, I found myself in a strange cottage where an elderly man was dying amidst great torments. All about the bed was a multitude of demons and the family, who were crying. When I began to pray, the spirits of darkness fled, with hissing and threats directed at me. The soul became calm and, filled with trust, rested in the Lord. At the same moment, I found myself again in my own room. How this happens … I do not know. (1797-98)

And then there are these comments of St. Faustina:

I often communicate with persons who are dying and obtain the divine mercy for them. Oh, how great is the goodness of God, greater than we can understand. There are moments and there are mysteries of the divine mercy over which the heavens are astounded. Let our judgment of souls cease, for God’s mercy upon them is extraordinary (Diary, 1684).

I often attend upon the dying and through entreaties obtain for them trust in God’s mercy, and I implore God for an abundance of divine grace, which is always victorious. God’s mercy sometimes touches the sinner at the last moment in a wondrous and mysterious way. Outwardly, it seems as if everything were lost, but it is not so. The soul, illumined by a ray of God’s powerful final grace, turns to God in the last moment with such a power of love that, in an instant, it receives from God forgiveness of sin and punishment, while outwardly it shows no sign either of repentance or of contrition, because souls [at that stage] no longer react to external things. Oh, how beyond comprehension is God’s mercy! But – horror – there are also souls who voluntarily and consciously reject and scorn this grace! Although a soul is at the point of death, the merciful God gives the soul that interior vivid moment, so that if the soul is willing, it has the possibility of returning to God. But sometimes, the obduracy in souls is so great that consciously they choose hell; they make useless all the prayers that other souls offer to God for them and even the efforts of God Himself… (1698).