From experts to beginners, this new booklet by aut... Read more
The Image's Scriptural Foundation? Here It Is.
The following is an excerpt from the new booklet published by Marian Press, The Divine Mercy Image Explained, by Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC:
On February 22, 1931, one of the most famous apparitions in the history of the Catholic Church happened in the city of Plock, Poland. There, Jesus appeared to the great saint and mystic, Maria Faustina Kowalska, an experience that the young nun describes in her diary:
In the evening, when I was in my cell, I saw the Lord Jesus clothed in a white garment. One hand [was] raised in the gesture of blessing, the other was touching the garment at the breast. From beneath the garment, slightly drawn aside at the breast, there were emanating two large rays, one red, the other pale. In silence, I kept my gaze fixed on the Lord; my soul was struck with awe, but also with great joy.
After Sr. Faustina had remained for some time in this contemplative state of joyful wonder, Jesus spoke to her in the following words:
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.
Faustina obeyed the Lord's command with the blessing and help of her spiritual director, Blessed Michael Sopocko. Using his own money, this holy priest commissioned an artist, Eugene Kazimirowski, to paint the image.
Closely working with Sr. Faustina, Kazimirowski completed the painting after no less than 12 tries. Of course, since no painting can fully capture the glory of the Lord as he appears to his saints, it's not surprising that after Faustina first saw the painting, she went to the chapel and wept with sorrow. At one point, in the midst of her tears, she cried to Jesus, "Who will paint You as beautiful as You are?" The Lord consoled her, saying, "Not in the beauty of the color, nor of the brush lies the greatness of this image, but in My grace."
"My grace." What is this "grace" that Jesus speaks of, this grace that makes the Divine Mercy Image so great? That's what we'll explore in the next section. Then, in subsequent sections, we'll look at the meaning behind certain aspects of the image and how you can enthrone it in your home. So, by the end of this booklet, you'll have everything you need to know about a most important image for our time, an image of great grace and blessing, an image that brings Christ to your home — the amazing Image of Divine Mercy.
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The great grace of the image of Divine Mercy is rooted in a passage from the Gospel of John, a passage that's read every year at Mass on Divine Mercy Sunday (the Second Sunday of Easter), a passage that describes the very first Divine Mercy Sunday. Reflecting on this passage will help introduce us to the special grace of the Divine Mercy image. Let's prayerfully read the passage now:
On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent Me, even so I send you." And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained" (20:19-23).
In a certain sense, this scene is the image of Divine Mercy. For just as Jesus suddenly appears here to the apostles who were filled with fear, shame, and sin, so also, in the Divine Mercy image, He suddenly appears to each one of us in the midst of our own darkness. Just as Jesus here brings the apostles His peace, joy, and forgiveness, so also, in the Divine Mercy image, Jesus brings us His saving grace. Finally, just as Jesus here breathes on the apostles and says to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit," so also, through the rays of the Divine Mercy image, Jesus sends us the same gift of the Spirit when we respond with the prayer, "Jesus, I trust in you."
In a beautiful address to the women of St. Faustina's own community, the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, Blessed John Paul II offers a commentary on the image of Divine Mercy that reiterates some of the themes from the above Gospel passage. He says:
Anyone can come [and] look at this image of the merciful Jesus, His Heart radiating grace, and hear in the depths of his own soul what [St.] Faustina heard: "Fear nothing. I am with you always" (Diary of St. Faustina, 412). And if this person responds with a sincere heart: "Jesus, I trust in you!", he will find comfort in all his anxieties and fears. In this dialogue of abandonment, there is established between man and Christ a special bond that sets love free. And "there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear" (1 Jn 4:18).
This is actually kind of interesting. Here, the Pope weaves together Scripture (see 1 Jn 4:18), the image of Divine Mercy, and words from St. Faustina's Diary. But why does he bother to bring in the latter two? Why doesn't he just stick with Scripture? Why bring up the image and Faustina? It's because the Pope well knew that one of the great treasures of Catholicism is that we not only have the gift of the Bible but also that of Sacred Tradition, and through such Tradition, the Holy Spirit continues to bless and enrich the Church with the truth of Christ.
To read more about the image, we invite you to order The Divine Mercy Image Explained. The price is $3.99 plus S&H.