SISTER FAUSTINA AND DEVOTION TO THE DIVINE MERCY
By Rev. Herbert C. de Launay
In the last few years, many people have taken up a devotion to the
Divine Mercy according to the writings of Blessed Faustina. Sister
Faustina was a young religious in a convent in Cracow, Poland. She
died on October 5, 1938. However, during the period between 1931
and 1938, our Lord appeared to her several times with messages
about His great mercy. In obedience to our Lord and to her
spiritual director, she put all of this into writing.
After a thorough examination of the matter, on April 15, 1978, the
Holy See permitted the devotion to the Divine Mercy according to
the writings of Sister Faustina. On April 18, 1993, Sister
Faustina was beatified. She is now Blessed Faustina and many are
hoping that one day she will be recognized as Saint Faustina.
Blessed Faustina described our Lord's appearance to her in 1931:
"In the evening, when I was in my cell, I became aware of the Lord
Jesus clothed in a white garment. One hand was raised in blessing,
the other was touching the garment at the breast. From the opening
of the garment at the breast there came forth two large rays, one
red and the other pale. In silence I gazed intently at the Lord;
my soul was overwhelmed with fear, but also with great joy. After
a while Jesus said to me, 'paint an image according to the pattern
you see, with the inscription: Jesus, I trust in You.'"
Our Lord explained this image to her: "The pale ray stands for the
Water which makes souls righteous; the red ray stands for the
Blood which is the life of souls. These two rays issued forth from
the depths of My most tender Mercy at that time when My agonizing
Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross. ... Fortunate is the one
who will dwell in their shelter, for the just hand of God shall
not lay hold of him."
Jesus also spoke of a Feast of the Divine Mercy and confession and
Holy Communion on that day. He said: "I want this image to be
solemnly blessed on the first Sunday after Easter; that Sunday is
to be the Feast of Mercy. On that day, the depths of My Mercy will
be open to all. Whoever will go to confession and Holy Communion
on that day will receive complete forgiveness of sin and
punishment. Mankind will not enjoy peace until it returns to My
Jesus also spoke of a Novena to the Divine Mercy, beginning on
Good Friday and leading up to the Feast of Divine Mercy, the
Sunday after Easter.
How does the Church judge private revelations such as the ones to
Blessed Faustina? Jesus said that you can tell a tree by its fruit
(Matthew 7:15-20 and 12:33-35). One thing we can study is the life
of the individual receiving the revelation. We can also study the
effects of that message or appearance or devotion in the lives of
We also study the message in relation to the teachings of the
Church throughout the centuries. In Galatians 1:6-9, Paul
emphasized that we must not accept any message that is different
from the one we have already received. He said: "Even if we or an
angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel other than the one
that we preached to you, let that one be accursed!"
However, as John explained in 1 John 2:7-8, God often gives us a
new awareness of old truths. God takes the old message and brings
it to new life within us.
The theme of mercy is a very frequent one in the Bible. The words
mercy and merciful appear over 250 times. Mercy was the theme of
Pope John Paul's encyclical in November of 1980.
John 19:34, read on Good Friday, speaks of the blood and water
flowing from the pierced side of Jesus. The Preface for the Feast
of the Sacred Heart of Jesus says: "From His wounded side flowed
blood and water, the fountain of sacramental life in the Church.
To His open heart the Savior invites all men, to draw water in joy
from the springs of salvation."
Many Church Fathers and mystics have seen the blood and water as
symbols of Baptism and the Eucharist. Water can remind us of the
waters of Baptism and the tears of repentance in Confession. Our
sins are forgiven in Baptism. In the Sacrament of Penance or
Confession, we are renewed in the grace of our Baptism. At the
Last Supper, Jesus gave us His Blood in the Eucharist.
The image of the Divine Mercy is similar to many images of the
Sacred Heart of Jesus. The message at the bottom of the picture is
"Jesus, I trust in Thee." In Acts 3:11- 26, the reading for Easter
Thursday, Peter explained that trust in the name of Jesus restored
the crippled man to health. He then exhorted the crowd: "Repent,
turn to God, that your sins may be wiped away!" Regarding trust,
in Luke 1:45 Elizabeth said to Mary: "Blest is she who trusted
that the Lord's words to her would be fulfilled."
Let us also look at the idea of the Sunday after Easter being
regarded as Mercy Sunday. The gospel reading for that day is John
20:19-31. We are drawn in that gospel to meditate on the pierced
side of Jesus. Jesus had mercy on Thomas with all his doubts and
fears. Jesus invited Thomas to put his hand into His side, finding
there the healing for his doubts.
In His mercy, Jesus also seeks to bring us peace and forgiveness.
"As the Father has sent Me, so I send you," Jesus told His
apostles. Then Jesus breathed on them and said: "Receive the Holy
Spirit. If you forgive men's sins, they are forgiven them." This
gospel passage is one of the most important for our understanding
of the Sacrament of Penance. It is certainly appropriate to
celebrate and receive this Sacrament on this day.
The opening prayer for this Sunday also brings out these themes:
"God of mercy, you wash away our sins in water, you give us new
birth in the Spirit, and redeem us in the blood of Christ. As we
celebrate Christ's resurrection increase our awareness of these
blessings, and renew your gift of life within us."
Acts 2:42-47, our first reading this year for the Sunday after
Easter, told us the early Church was devoted to "the breaking of
bread." This is a New Testament term for the Eucharist or Holy
Communion. We see it used also in Luke 24:13-35, our gospel this
year for the third Sunday of Easter.
We also see mention of God's mercy in 1 Peter 1:3-9 and in Psalm
118, both of which were used this year on the Sunday after Easter.
Perhaps our Lord, through Sister Faustina, is calling us to a
renewed awareness of this old teaching about His great mercy.
Taken from the May 1996 edition of THE ACADIANA CATHOLIC,
Copyright (c) 1996 EWTN
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