Saint Mary Faustina Kowalska
from Vatican website
“What a paradise it is for a soul when the heart knows itself to be so loved by God” (St. Faustina – Notebook VI, 1756)
St. Faustina was born on August 25, 1905 in Glogowiec in Poland of a poor and religious family of peasants, the third of ten children. She was baptized with the name Helena. From a very tender age she stood out because of her love of prayer, work, obedience, and also her sensitivity to the poor. At the age of nine she made her first Holy Communion living this moment very profoundly in her awareness of the presence of the Divine Guest within her soul. She attended school for three years. At the age of sixteen she left home and went to work as a housekeeper in order to find the means of supporting herself and of helping her parents.
At the age of seven she had already felt the first stirrings of a religious vocation. After finishing school, she wanted to enter the convent but her parents would not give her permission. Called during a vision of the Suffering Christ, on August 1, 1925 she entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy and took the name Sister Mary Faustina. She lived in the Congregation for thirteen years and lived in several religious houses. She worked as a cook, gardener and porter.
Externally nothing revealed her rich mystical interior life. She zealously performed her tasks and faithfully observed the rule of religious life. She was recollected and at the same time very natural, serene and full of kindness and disinterested love for her neighbor. Although her life was apparently insignificant, monotonous and dull, she hid within herself an extraordinary union with God.
It is the mystery of the Mercy of God which she contemplated in the word of God as well as in the everyday activities of her life that forms the basis of her spirituality. The process of contemplating and getting to know the mystery of God’s mercy helped develop within Sr. Mary Faustina the attitude of child-like trust in God as well as mercy toward the neighbors. O my Jesus, each of Your saints reflects one of Your virtues; I desire to reflect Your compassionate heart, full of mercy; I want to glorify it. Let Your mercy, O Jesus, be impressed upon my heart and soul like a seal, and this will be my badge in this and the future life (Diary 1242). Sister Faustina was a faithful daughter of the Church which she loved like a Mother and a Mystic Body of Jesus Christ. Conscious of her role in the Church, she cooperated with God’s mercy in the task of saving lost souls. At the specific request of and following the example of the Lord Jesus, she made a sacrifice of her own life for this very goal. In her spiritual life she also distinguished herself with a love of the Eucharist and a deep devotion to the Mother of Mercy.
The mission of Sister Mary Faustina consists in 3 tasks:
reminding the world of the truth of our faith revealed in the Holy Scripture about the merciful love of God toward every human being.
Entreating God’s mercy for the whole world and particularly for sinners, among others through the practice of new forms of devotion to the Divine Mercy presented by the Lord Jesus, such as: the veneration of the image of the Divine Mercy with the inscription: Jesus, I Trust in You, the feast of the Divine Mercy celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter, chaplet to the Divine Mercy and prayer at the Hour of Mercy (3 p.m.). The Lord Jesus attached great promises to the above forms of devotion, provided one entrusted one’s life to God and practiced active love of one’s neighbor.
The third task in Sr. Mary Faustina’s mission consists in initiating the apostolic movement of the Divine Mercy which undertakes the task of proclaiming and entreating God’s mercy for the world and strives for Christian perfection, following the precepts laid down by the Blessed Sr. Mary Faustina. The precepts in question require the faithful to display an attitude of child-like trust in God which expresses itself in fulfilling His will, as well as in the attitude of mercy toward one’s neighbors. Today, this movement within the Church involves millions of people throughout the world; it comprises religious congregations, lay institutes, religious, brotherhoods, associations, various communities of apostles of the Divine Mercy, as well as individual people who take up the tasks which the Lord Jesus communicated to them through Sr. Mary Faustina.
Sister Mary Faustina, consumed by tuberculosis and by innumerable sufferings which she accepted as a voluntary sacrifice for sinners, died in Krakow at the age of just thirty three on October 5, 1938 with a reputation for spiritual maturity and a mystical union with God. The reputation of the holiness of her life grew as did the cult to the Divine Mercy and the graces she obtained from God through her intercession. In the years 1965-67, the investigative Process into her life and heroic virtues was undertaken in Krakow and in the year 1968, the Beatification Process was initiated in Rome. The latter came to an end in December 1992. On April 18, 1993 our Holy Father John Paul II raised Sister Faustina to the glory of the altars.
Principle Source: http://www.vatican.va/news_services/liturgy/documents/ns_lit_doc_20000430_faustina_en.html
Homily of the Holy Father
HOMILY OF THE HOLY FATHER
MASS IN ST PETER’S SQUARE FOR THE CANONIZATION
OF SR MARY FAUSTINA KOWALSKA
Sunday, April 30, 2000
“Confitemini Domino quoniam bonus, quoniam in saeculum misericordia eius”; “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good; his steadfast love endures for ever” (Ps 118: 1). So the Church sings on the Octave of Easter, as if receiving from Christ’s lips these words of the Psalm; from the lips of the risen Christ, who bears the great message of divine mercy and entrusts its ministry to the Apostles in the Upper Room: “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you…. Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (Jn 20: 21-23).
Before speaking these words, Jesus shows his hands and his side. He points, that is, to the wounds of the Passion, especially the wound in his heart, the source from which flows the great wave of mercy poured out on humanity. From that heart Sr Faustina Kowalska, the blessed whom from now on we will call a saint, will see two rays of light shining from that heart and illuminating the world: “The two rays”, Jesus himself explained to her one day, “represent blood and water” (Diary, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, p. 132).
Blood and water! We immediately think of the testimony given by the Evangelist John, who, when a solider on Calvary pierced Christ’s side with his spear, sees blood and water flowing from it (cf. Jn 19: 34). Moreover, if the blood recalls the sacrifice of the Cross and the gift of the Eucharist, the water, in Johannine symbolism, represents not only Baptism but also the gift of the Holy Spirit (cf. Jn 3: 5; 4: 14; 7: 37-39).
Divine Mercy reaches human beings through the heart of Christ crucified: “My daughter, say that I am love and mercy personified”, Jesus will ask Sr Faustina (Diary, p. 374). Christ pours out this mercy on humanity though the sending of the Spirit who, in the Trinity, is the Person-Love. And is not mercy love’s “second name” (cf. Dives in misericordia, n. 7), understood in its deepest and most tender aspect, in its ability to take upon itself the burden of any need and, especially, in its immense capacity for forgiveness?
Today my joy is truly great in presenting the life and witness of Sr Faustina Kowalska to the whole Church as a gift of God for our time. By divine Providence, the life of this humble daughter of Poland was completely linked with the history of the 20th century, the century we have just left behind. In fact, it was between the First and Second World Wars that Christ entrusted his message of mercy to her. Those who remember, who were witnesses and participants in the events of those years and the horrible sufferings they caused for millions of people, know well how necessary was the message of mercy.
Jesus told Sr Faustina: “Humanity will not find peace until it turns trustfully to divine mercy” (Diary, p. 132). Through the work of the Polish religious, this message has become linked for ever to the 20th century, the last of the second millennium and the bridge to the third. It is not a new message but can be considered a gift of special enlightenment that helps us to relive the Gospel of Easter more intensely, to offer it as a ray of light to the men and women of our time.
What will the years ahead bring us? What will man’s future on earth be like? We are not given to know. However, it is certain that in addition to new progress there will unfortunately be no lack of painful experiences. But the light of divine mercy, which the Lord in a way wished to return to the world through Sr Faustina’s charism, will illumine the way for the men and women of the third millennium.
However, as the Apostles once did, today too humanity must welcome into the upper room of history the risen Christ, who shows the wounds of his Crucifixion and repeats: Peace be with you! Humanity must let itself be touched and pervaded by the Spirit given to it by the risen Christ. It is the Spirit who heals the wounds of the heart, pulls down the barriers that separate us from God and divide us from one another, and at the same time, restores the joy of the Father’s love and of fraternal unity.
It is important then that we accept the whole message that comes to us from the word of God on this Second Sunday of Easter, which from now on throughout the Church will be called “Divine Mercy Sunday“. In the various readings, the liturgy seems to indicate the path of mercy which, while re-establishing the relationship of each person with God, also creates new relations of fraternal solidarity among human beings. Christ has taught us that “man not only receives and experiences the mercy of God, but is also called “to practise mercy’ towards others: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy’ (Mt 5: 7)” (Dives et misericordia, n. 14). He also showed us the many paths of mercy, which not only forgives sins but reaches out to all human needs. Jesus bent over every kind of human poverty, material and spiritual.
His message of mercy continues to reach us through his hands held out to suffering man. This is how Sr Faustina saw him and proclaimed him to people on all the continents when, hidden in her convent at £agiewniki in Kraków, she made her life a hymn to mercy: Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo.
Sr Faustina’s canonization has a particular eloquence: by this act I intend today to pass this message on to the new millennium. I pass it on to all people, so that they will learn to know ever better the true face of God and the true face of their brethren.
In fact, love of God and love of one’s brothers and sisters are inseparable, as the First Letter of John has reminded us: “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments” (5: 2). Here the Apostle reminds us of the truth of love, showing us its measure and criterion in the observance of the commandments.
It is not easy to love with a deep love, which lies in the authentic gift of self. This love can only be learned by penetrating the mystery of God’s love. Looking at him, being one with his fatherly heart, we are able to look with new eyes at our brothers and sisters, with an attitude of unselfishness and solidarity, of generosity and forgiveness. All this is mercy!
To the extent that humanity penetrates the mystery of this merciful gaze, it will seem possible to fulfil the ideal we heard in today’s first reading: “The community of believers were of one heart and one mind. None of them ever claimed anything as his own; rather everything was held in common” (Acts 4: 32). Here mercy gave form to human relations and community life; it constituted the basis for the sharing of goods. This led to the spiritual and corporal “works of mercy”. Here mercy became a concrete way of being “neighbor” to one’s neediest brothers and sisters.
Sr Faustina Kowalska wrote in her Diary: “I feel tremendous pain when I see the sufferings of my neighbours. All my neighbours’ sufferings reverberate in my own heart; I carry their anguish in my heart in such a way that it even physically destroys me. I would like all their sorrows to fall upon me, in order to relieve my neighbour” (Diary, p. 365). This is the degree of compassion to which love leads, when it takes the love of God as its measure!
It is this love which must inspire humanity today, if it is to face the crisis of the meaning of life, the challenges of the most diverse needs and, especially, the duty to defend the dignity of every human person. Thus the message of divine mercy is also implicitly a message about the value of every human being. Each person is precious in God’s eyes; Christ gave his life for each one; to everyone the Father gives his Spirit and offers intimacy.
This consoling message is addressed above all to those who, afflicted by a particularly harsh trial or crushed by the weight of the sins they committed, have lost all confidence in life and are tempted to give in to despair. To them the gentle face of Christ is offered; those rays from his heart touch them and shine upon them, warm them, show them the way and fill them with hope. How many souls have been consoled by the prayer “Jesus, I trust in you”, which Providence intimated through Sr Faustina! This simple act of abandonment to Jesus dispels the thickest clouds and lets a ray of light penetrate every life. Jezu, ufam tobie.
Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo (Ps 88 : 2). Let us too, the pilgrim Church, join our voice to the voice of Mary most holy, “Mother of Mercy”, to the voice of this new saint who sings of mercy with all God’s friends in the heavenly Jerusalem.
And you, Faustina, a gift of God to our time, a gift from the land of Poland to the whole Church, obtain for us an awareness of the depth of divine mercy; help us to have a living experience of it and to bear witness to it among our brothers and sisters. May your message of light and hope spread throughout the world, spurring sinners to conversion, calming rivalries and hatred and opening individuals and nations to the practice of brotherhood. Today, fixing our gaze with you on the face of the risen Christ, let us make our own your prayer of trusting abandonment and say with firm hope: Christ Jesus, I trust in you! Jezu, ufam tobie!
Regina Caeli Message, Eucharistic Celebration for the Repose of the Soul of Pope John Paul II, Feast of the Divine Mercy, Second Sunday of Easter, April 3, 2005.
Icon of St. Faustina Kowalska written by Marek Czarnecki of Seraphic Restorations in Avon, Conn.
Through the mediation of St. Faustina Kowalska (1905-38), Jesus has given us a teaching on God’s mercy, and a new form of devotion known as the Divine Mercy. The devotion centers on veneration of the image of the merciful Jesus. The image was described by the Lord to Sister Faustina, a Polish nun, and then painted by her. The Divine Mercy devotion includes recitation of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, celebration of the feast of Divine Mercy the first Sunday after Easter, and keeping holy the hour of Christ’s death.
On Sept. 13, 1935, in Vilnius (now the capital of Lithuania), Jesus “dictated” the words of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy to Sister Faustina. It is important to note that this took place after a vision of an angel, “the executor of Divine wrath,” during which the mystic nun, terrified, began to “implore God for the world with words heard interiorly.” This was recorded in her diary, Divine Mercy in My Soul (I, 196-197) [Stockbridge, Mass.: Marians of the Immaculate Conception, 2001; subsequent quotes are also from this source]. The next day Christ taught Sister Faustina to pray the chaplet, which she called “the prayer that serves to appease the wrath of God” (I, 197).
Daily Readings for: October 05, 2012
(Readings on USCCB website)
Collect: O God, who manifest your almighty power above all by pardoning and showing mercy, bestow, we pray, your grace abundantly upon us and make those hastening to attain your promises heirs to the treasures of heaven. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever
Ordinary Time: October 5th
Wednesday of the Twenty-Sixth Week of Ordinary Time; St. Faustina Kowalska, virgin
Old Calendar: St. Placid and His Companions, martyrs
Newly canonized in 2000, some areas celebrate the Optional Memorial of St. Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun who was chosen by Jesus to remind the world of the mystery of God’s merciful love, the devotion to Divine Mercy.
According to the 1962 Missal of Bl. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is the commemoration of St. Placid and His Companions. St. Placid was placed in the care of St. Benedict at Subiaco by his father when quite young. There had been a group of fourth-century Sicilian martyrs of whom one had the name Placid. This Placid was erroneously identified with the disciple of St. Benedict; thus arose the legend that the monk Placid, his sister, and thirty monks suffered martyrdom in the port of Messina at the hands of pirates.
St. Faustina Kowalska, Virgin
Saint Faustina was born in the 20th century, and canonized in the year 2000. Jesus chose her to deliver to the modern world a message as old as eternity. It is the message of his love for all people, especially sinners. Jesus said to Faustina, “Today I am sending you with my mercy to the people of the whole world.” It is his desire to heal the aching world, to draw all people into his merciful heart of love.
On February 22, 1931, Jesus appeared to Faustina as the King of Divine Mercy. He asked her to have a picture painted of him as she saw him — clothed in white, with red and white rays of light streaming from his heart. The rays represent the blood and water that flowed from the side of Jesus on the cross. Under the image are the words, “Jesus, I trust in you.”
Many people did not believe Faustina at first. The sisters in her own convent thought that Jesus could not possibly have selected her for this great favor. After all, she was an uneducated peasant girl. Her superiors often refused to give her permission to carry out Jesus’ requests. Church theologians, too, doubted her word. Jesus told Faustina that he loved her obedience and that his will would be done in the end.
In June 1934 an artist completed the painting of the Divine Mercy according to her instructions; and it soon became a focus for devotion. Faustina continued to record in her diary the appearances of Jesus. The diary was translated into English and published in 1987 with the title Divine Mercy in My Soul.
Faustina, baptized Helena, had grown up in a poor Polish family of 10 children. When she was 15 years old, she quit school in order to work as a housemaid to help support her family. By the time she was 18, she was sure that God was calling her to a religious life, but her parents objected. So she tried to put it out of her mind. But one night, while the lively polka music was playing at a village dance, Helena saw Jesus, sad and suffering. The very next day she packed a small bag and went to the capital city of Warsaw to join the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. There she received the name Sister Mary Faustina.
About 10 years later, Faustina contracted tuberculosis. Soon she was too weak to manage the heavy gardening assigned to her. So she was given the job of gatekeeper. She was able to show mercy to the poor people who came to the convent looking for food. Once Jesus came to the door as a poor young man. After he had eaten the soup and bread Faustina gave him, she recognized him. Jesus told her he had come to experience with great joy her tender love and mercy.
Faustina was canonized by the first Polish pope, John Paul II, on April 30, 2000. The first Sunday after Easter was declared Divine Mercy Sunday.
Excerpted from Saints and Feast Days: A Resource and Activity Book by The Sisters of Notre Dame of Chardon, Ohio.
Symbols: young nun in habit; nun with vision of Jesus, with two streams of light, one red and white (Divine Mercy image).
Things to Do:
Read a short biography of Sr. Mary Faustina Kowalska from the Vatican.
Read the Holy Father’s April 30, 2000 Homily at the solemn Mass celebrated for the canonization of Sr. Mary Faustina Kowalska.
From the Directory on Popular Piety and Liturgy: Devotion to the Divine Mercy
In connection with the octave of Easter, recent years have witnessed the development and diffusion of a special devotion to the Divine Mercy based on the writings of Sr. Faustina Kowalska who was canonized 30 April 2000. It concentrates on the mercy poured forth in Christ’s death and resurrection, fount of the Holy Spirit who forgives sins and restores joy at having been redeemed. Since the liturgy of the Second Sunday of Easter or Divine Mercy Sunday — as it is now called — is the natural locus in which to express man’s acceptance of the Redeemer’s mercy, the faithful should be taught to understand this devotion in the light of the liturgical celebrations of these Easter days. Indeed, “the paschal Christ is the definitive incarnation of mercy, his living sign which is both historico-salvific and eschatological. At the same time, the Easter liturgy places the words of the psalm on our lips: “I shall sing forever of the Lord’s mercy” (Ps 89: 2).
Read more from our Catholic Culture library about the Divine Mercy devotion, in particular, a short description of The Divine Mercy devotion
St. Faustina came from Poland. John Paul II was also Polish, and had a great devotion to the Divine Mercy. He made it a feast day on the second Sunday after Easter. Find out more about Poland and its customs. It’s a very Catholic country, with deep devotion to Our Lady. A wonderful book that gives a wonderful understanding of the culture is the Pope’s biography A Witness to Hope by George Wiegel. This site contains many Polish Traditions. The Polish Art Center has many resources for Polish customs.
Try your hand at a Polish dish or two. Perhaps practice making some of the favorite foods for the Polish Wigilia (Christmas Eve Dinner) Pierogi (or Pirohi) is one of the most popular Polish foods, but do some research to find other recipes.
St. Placid and His Companions
St. Placid was born in Rome, in the year 515, of a patrician family. When he was seven years old he was brought to St. Benedict by his father, to be trained in monastic life. He became the most illustrious member in the circle of Benedict’s first followers. Alongside the awe-inspiring figure of the holy patriarch stands little Placid, and with the innocent simplicity of a child he does much to soften the austerity emanating from the patriarch of monks. Pope St. Gregory devotes several chapters to Placid in his second book of Dialogues. “Once while blessed Benedict was in his room, one of his monks, the boy Placid, went down to get some water. In letting the bucket fill too rapidly, he lost his balance and was pulled into the lake, where the current quickly seized him and carried him about a stone’s throw from the shore. Though inside the monastery at the time, the man of God was instantly aware of what had happened and called out to Maurus: ‘Hurry, Brother Maurus! The boy who just went down for water has fallen into the lake, and the current is carrying him away.’
“What followed was remarkable indeed, and unheard of since the time of Peter the apostle! Maurus asked for the blessing and on receiving it hurried out to fulfill his abbot’s command. He kept on running even over the water till he reached the place where Placid was drifting along helplessly. Pulling him up by the hair, Maurus rushed back to shore, still under the impression that he was on dry land. It was only when he set foot on the ground that he came to himself and looking back realized that he had been running on the surface of the water. Overcome with fear and amazement at a deed he would never have thought possible, he returned to his abbot and told him what had taken place.
“The holy man would not take any personal credit for the deed but attributed it to the obedience of his disciple. Maurus on the contrary claimed that it was due entirely to his abbot’s command. He could not have been responsible for the miracle himself, he said, since he had not even known he was performing it. While they were carrying on this friendly contest of humility, the question was settled by the boy who had been rescued. ‘When I was being drawn out of the water,’ he told them, ‘I saw the abbot’s cloak over my head; he is the one I thought was bringing me to shore.'” (From The Life and Miracles of St. Benedict by Pope Gregory the Great, translated by Odo Zimmermann, O.S.B. and Benedict Avery, O.S.B.)
—Excerpted from The Church’s Year of Grace, Pius Parsch.
Symbols: Tongue and knife; crescent; sword.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta once said: “It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.”
The greatest challenge facing the western world is not violence from without, but the tragic decision to take a life within.