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Saint Claude de la Colombiere and Fr. Michael Sopocko share a few things in common.
By Felix Carroll (Feb 13, 2014)
We celebrate the feast day of Blessed Michael Sopoko on Feb. 15, which makes for a perfect opportunity to discuss one of the more curious details in the life of St. Faustina Kowalska, known today as the Lord's "secretary" of Divine Mercy.
So what's so curious?
Amazing parallels can be drawn between St. Faustina's confessor, Blessed Sopoko, and the confessor of another saint — and "secretary" — St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, who received the revelations of the Sacred Heart in the 1670s.
In other words, the similarities between the holy priests Blessed Michael Sopocko (1888-1975), and St. Claude de la Colombiere, SJ (1641-1682).
Blessed Sopocko, ordained to the priesthood 100 years ago this coming June, served as confessor and spiritual director to St. Faustina, who received revelations of the Divine Mercy in the 1930s. Saint Claude served as confessor and spiritual director of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, who received the revelations of the Sacred Heart in the 1670s.
So here is where the parallels begin. Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, like St. Faustina, had doubts at first about her revelations. For both young women, it was their confessors who played a large role in alleviating their doubts and encouraging them to embrace the special role the Lord seemed to be placing upon them.
But the parallels get even better. Since St. Margaret Mary Alacoque led a cloistered life — quiet and humble — it was her confessor who carried the burden of spreading the Sacred Heart message and devotion to the outside world. This was the same situation with Fr. Sopocko, who led the efforts to introduce the public to Faustina's powerful private revelations and who arranged for the Lord's requests of Faustina to be accomplished. That includes hiring a painter to paint the image of the Merciful Savior, now among Christianity's most recognized images.
Here's another interesting fact:
Saint Claude Colombiere died on Feb. 15. That's the same day Blessed Sopocko died. And Feb. 15 happens to be St. Faustina's name day — the day of her patron saint, St. Faustus.
Of course, when considering how the devotions to Divine Mercy and the Sacred Heart so strongly compliment each other, these details are far more than "curious." Certainly, they are Divine Providence at work, right?
Dr. Robert Stackpole, STD, director of the John Paul II Institute of Divine Mercy, a lay apostolate of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, notes, "Much like the traditional devotion to the Sacred Heart, our Lord gave to St. Faustina new forms in which His Merciful Heart was to be honored, and new vessels for a fresh outpouring of His grace. Namely, the Image of Divine Mercy; the Chaplet of Divine Mercy; and, of course, a new feast for the universal Church — the Feast of Divine Mercy, intended for the Sunday after Easter."
None of these parallels have escaped the attention of Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC, a world-renown expert on the life of St. Faustina and the message of Divine Mercy.
He notes that it took 300 years for Fr. Claude Colombiere to be canonized.
"And here, Fr. Sopocko died in 1975, and he's already beatified [in 2008]," Fr. Seraphim says.
So what does his rapid rise to the honors of the altar mean for us?
"That God is in a hurry to get His message out," says Fr. Seraphim.
Read Dr. Stackpole's series that explores the relationship between The Sacred Heart and The Divine Mercy. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5.
+ + + Also, did you know we have a special web page devoted to Blessed Sopoko? Visit thedivinemercy.org/sopocko. + + +