Photo: Chicago Sun-Times, Inc.
Father Anthony Bus, on a balcony at St. Stanislaus Kostka school looking out over the Kennedy Expressway in the shadow of the proposed Divine Mercy Sanctuary.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following is an excerpt from chapter 1 of A Mother's Plea: Lifting The Veil in Sanctuary (Marian Press), by Fr. Anthony Bus, CR.
The book details a call Fr. Anthony received from Our Lady to build a Sanctuary of The Divine Mercy in Chicago, Ill. On Saturday, May 31, the first physical sign of the sanctuary will be unveiled in the form of a nine-foot-tall, gilded monstrance. The unveiling, which begins at 5 p.m. central time, will be televised live on EWTN and on the Latin America station, El Sembrador. Relevant Radio will also provide coverage.
By Fr. Anthony Bus, CR
On the occasion of the 15th anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood, May 25, 1999, a darkness was lifted that enabled me to pray with greater ease, especially to pray the Rosary. For years I had prayed the Rosary with great difficulty. Just lifting the rosary into my hands was a burden. It had the weight of a rock. This troubled me since I had always been devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
My vocation to the priesthood and religious life was born from and deeply woven in a spirituality that was Eucharistic and Marian, but in the past several years my perception of those spiritual realities had become obscured, if not totally hidden. It was an anniversarycardthat I received from Sister Maria Guadalupe — a Missionary of Charity — that lifted me from the spiritual aridity that I had endured for about ten years. The cardread, quoting Mother Teresa of Calcutta, "Holiness is nothing special for a priest. It is a duty for a priest to be holy because he comes in such close contact with Jesus. Be a true lover of the cross of Jesus in which lies the mystery of your priesthood." Sister Guadalupe also added these words of Mother Teresa. "Mary has a very tender love, a special protection also, for every priest, if he would only turn to her." Deeply touched by these words, I laid the card aside and took the rosary from my pocket. It suddenly had the feel of a feather. I began to pray. From that day the Rosary became anew, the chain that bound me to God. And I began praying the Mysteries daily.
Not surprisingly, by August I found myself preparing for the total consecration of my life to Jesus through Mary following the direction of St. Louis Marie de Montfort, the 17th century devotee to the mystery of the Incarnation and the role of the Blessed Virgin Mary in God's plan of salvation. It was a gnawing desire and need to deepen my priestly and religious consecration that led me to St. Louis Marie de Montfort.
Two weeks into the 33-day preparation for consecration, I had entered into a formal hour of prayer feeling oppressed by the weight of my responsibility as pastor of the very diverse parish of St. Stanislaus Kostka. The parish was financially insecure. We needed $400,000 for a roof. The facade on the exterior wall of the church was falling, and the pillars in the interior of the church were crumbling. During the previous four years, I had tried unsuccessfully to secure money for the parish, and I was tired and overwhelmed. It was during prayer that I interiorly heard Our Lady say in a distinct and direct way, "Give me the parish. Make me Mother and Queen of the parish." In that moment, I consecrated the parish to the Blessed Virgin Mary with total confidence, and the burden was lifted. Three days later I received word from the Archdiocese that St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish was to receive an $850,000 Archdiocesan grant and that work on the church should begin immediately. It had been months since I had talked with anyone about the financial problems of the parish.
Friendship with God
Having consecrated the parish to the Virgin Mary, I continued preparation for my own personal consecration. As I approached the final week of preparation, I struggled with the concept of slavery to Mary. This is at the heart of St. Louis Marie de Montfort's consecration. The disciple makes himself a slave. The word slave was oppressive to me, and every fiber of my being rejected this idea of enslavement.
When I had begun the 33-day preparation for consecration I chose to wear a rosary around my neck. On the last day, the morning of September 13th, I was preparing to go to the gym for exercise. I saw myself in the reflection of the mirror with the rosary hanging from my neck. I remember thinking how odd I looked — as if in bondage, and I asked myself why Ithought it necessary to continue wearing the rosary.
While exercising, the rosary seemed to press against my chest in a way that irritated me. I was doing nothing to force its weight against my chest. Finally, the rosary broke and fell to the floor. When I stooped to pick it up, I noticed immediately that the chains had visibly turned gold, a definite change from their previous bright silver. I knew then that in the evening, as the vigil for the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross began, I would have no problem completing the preparation and would entrust my life to Our Lady as a slave.
It was God's providence that I should make the consecration on the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross. I didn't plan it this way. When I celebrated Mass the following morning, I was struck by what was written in the second reading. St. Paul says in his letter written to the Philippians, "Christ Jesus, though He was in the form of God, did not deem equality with God something to grasp at. Rather, He emptied Himself and took the form of a slave, being born in the likeness of man" (Phil 2:6-7). And so I understood that I was inspired to do a good thing; to act in imitation of Christ is the sure means to friendship with God.
The Message of The Divine Mercy
During the final weeks of my preparation, it seemed a little flock was forming. We shared a few things in common. Devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary, grounded in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and devoted to Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, we were drawn to The Divine Mercy. The image of The Divine Mercy and entire message and devotion to The Divine Mercy led us to begin the Hour of Great Mercy on Sundays at 3:00 p.m.
The urgent call to proclaim The Divine Mercy comes as a plea to the Church through the mystic and prophet, St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, who died in Poland in 1938 at the age of 33. She was canonized a saint on April 30, 2000. At the age of 20, Maria Faustina Kowalska was at a dance. In her own words she describes what happened:
Once I was at a dance (probably in Lodz) with one of my sisters. While everybody was having a good time, my soul was experiencing deep torments. As I began to dance, I suddenly saw Jesus at my side, Jesus racked with pain, stripped of His clothing, all covered with wounds, who spoke these words to me: "How long shall I put up with you and how long will you keep putting Me off?" At the moment the charming music stopped, and the company I was with vanished from my sight; there remained Jesus and I. I took a seat by my dear sister, pretending to have a headache in order to cover up what took place in my soul. After a while I slipped out unnoticed, leaving my sister and all my companions behind and made my way to the Cathedral of St. Stanislaus Kostka. It was almost twilight; there were only a few people in the Cathedral. Paying no attention to what was happening around me, I fell prostrate before the Blessed Sacrament and begged the Lord to be good enough to give me to understand what I should do next. Then I heard these words: "Go at once to Warsaw; you will enter a convent there." (Diary of St. Faustina, 9-10).
And so, it began. Maria Faustina went to Warsaw, entered a convent and Jesus commissioned her to begin recording His plea for humanity's return to God.
Through St. Maria Faustina, Jesus shows us how to prepare for the day of justice. He reminds us that we are living in a time of grace and that all people have the chance during this time to turn from darkness to light, to turn from evil to good, to rise from death to life. He awaits the return of fallen humanity. He desires to bathe humanity in the water and blood that flows from His pierced side — from His wounded Heart. It is a message of mercy — a message of forgiveness — acall to conversion and transformation — a call to be free in the love and peace of the suffering, crucified and risen Jesus.
The image and the entire devotion to The Divine Mercy are especially understood in the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. The soul is transformed by the grace and mercy which flows from the Sacred Species, enabling us to be true disciples of mercy through our prayer, our words, and our actions.
There has been a strong call from the Holy Father to establish chapels for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament throughout the world. I, too, felt the need for such a chapel here at St. Stanislaus Kostka from the beginning of my pastorate. Life in the parish is all consuming with little time available even to think about such an endeavor, but the desire for a sanctuary continued to burn. While Our Lady's work on the exterior of the church was under way, I began to labor over the possibility of establishing a Divine Mercy Chapel of perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. We had the space but no money, so I resigned myself to the belief that if Our Lady wanted the sanctuary, she would provide the means.
To order a copy of A Mother's Plea, visit our online gift shop.