It has been just over six years since I made a pilgrimage to Krakow, Poland to visit the Shrine of the Divine Mercy. I was able to pray in the Chapel where St. Faustina is buried and venerate the original miraculous image of Merciful Jesus (the popular Divine Mercy image). Because it was the Feast of Divine Mercy, the tram from the city center to the Shrine was free, proving the strength of the Catholic Faith in Poland.
Meeting Divine Mercy
At the time of this pilgrimage, I did not have a great devotion to Divine Mercy nor the great Church mystic St. Faustina. What this pilgrimage did do was provide grace. It planted the seeds for me to be open to reading the Diary of St. Faustina four years later, when my older brother bought it for me, challenging me to read it during Lent. St. Faustina kept this diary at Jesus’ request, as well as at the order of her two confessors.
In her diary, she goes in to the details of her deep spiritual life and her intimate relationship with God. Refreshingly, she also speaks of her human weaknesses and worldly challenges. With a book of over seven-hundred pages, I was hesitant to begin and I was not expecting it to capture my attention. But what I noticed is that with each diary entry, I was hungry for a spiritual treasure from St. Faustian’s words. In my reading, Jesus burrowed me more deeply into His blazing and Sacred Heart of love. A couple of months after starting the Diary, I finished the book on Divine Mercy Sunday itself, celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter.
The Message of Divine Mercy
Jesus appeared to Sister Faustina in her convent cell on February 22, 1931. He asked her to paint His image just as she saw Him in the vision. This is where the image of the Merciful Jesus, or Divine Mercy, comes from. He spoke to her:
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
In this image of Divine Mercy, there are two rays coming out of Jesus’ Heart, one red and one pale. These rays represent the Sacraments. The blood reminds us of Jesus’ Passion and the Eucharist while the water recalls our Baptism and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Trust in His Mercy
The message of Divine Mercy is complete trust in God, despite the discouragement we may feel after falling in sin. Jesus spoke to St. Faustina:
My daughter, write about My mercy… souls that make an appeal to My mercy delight in 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. -Diary 1146
Jesus cannot punish even the greatest sinner, so long as we implore His ocean of mercy. His mercy is inscrutable!
Divine Mercy and New Life
St. Faustina died of tuberculosis in Krakow on October 5, 1938 at just thirty-three years old. She was canonized sixty-two years later on April 30, 2000 when Pope St. John Paul II instituted her feast day as a feast for the whole Church. With the grace of the Sacraments, we can heed Pope St. John Paul II’s message given in Krakow in 2002 that:
The message of Divine Mercy is able to fill hearts with hope and to become the spark of a new civilization: the civilization of love.
We are the civilization that he is talking about. We are to be an example, a “spark” of the fire of love Jesus wants to share with the world. Will you make an appeal to His compassion?
With the Easter graces we are living in, let us take to heart Jesus words to St. Faustina:
At three o’clock implore My mercy, especially for sinners; and, if only for a brief moment, immerse yourself in My Passion, particularly in My abandonment at the moment of agony. This is the hour of great mercy for the whole world. -Diary 1320
How do you celebrate the feast of Divine Mercy?
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Susanna Parent serves as Evangelization Manager for the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis in the Office of Evangelization. She is a recent graduate of the Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry program with the School of Divinity at the University of St. Thomas. When she’s not reading and writing you can find her enjoying life with her new husband, brewing French press coffee in her kitchen, reading wine labels with friends in an effort to discover the perfect Pinot Noir and blogging about her travel adventures. You can learn more about her here.
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