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, 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).