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How Did Their Legacies Intertwine?
By Felix Carroll (Jul 29, 2013)
God tapped both for major roles in the renewal of the universal Church. You've heard of her. You may not have heard of him. She is St. Faustina Kowalska. He is Blessed George Matulaitis. They never met, but following their deaths, their missions intertwined in a way neither could have imagined.
Sister Faustina served as God's "secretary" of Divine Mercy. Through revelations she recorded in her Diary, the Lord calls humanity to a deeper understanding that His love is unlimited and available to everyone, especially the greatest sinners. Jesus said His message given through St. Faustina "will prepare the world for [His] final coming" (Diary of St. Faustina, 1732) and must therefore be spread throughout the world.
To that end, enter the visionary mind of Blessed George, who is known affectionately to the Marian Congregation as "Father Renovator." One hundred years ago this month — Aug. 18, 1913, to be exact — Blessed George established a permanent Marian presence in the United States where religious freedom provided a safe haven from which to evangelize, in contrast to the Marians' native lands in war-torn Europe.
Because of that move and because of Blessed George's foresight into the mechanics of effective evangelization, the Marians were uniquely suited to undertake the task given to them by Divine Providence just three years after St. Faustina's death in 1938. That task was to become official promoters of the Divine Mercy message and devotion as given to the world through St. Faustina.
Through his spiritual Journal, Blessed George had provided the blueprints his Marian successors would draw upon. Specifically, he spelled out the need to cultivate the laity as partners in evangelization. This was long before the reforms of Vatican II and Pope John Paul II's Apostolic Exhortation The Lay Members of Christ's Faithful People. For instance, on Oct. 27, 1910, in one of his more widely quoted Journal entries, Blessed George wrote:
We must strive to gather and organize about us people of good will. We must train and prepare them for work. Then, together with them and through them, we must bring Christ into all things and all places, renew and revivify all things in Christ, gain all for Christ, attract all for Christ. Lord Jesus, enkindle our hearts with the fire of this zeal!
Though he died in 1927, 12 years before the Marians became official Divine Mercy promoters, the groundwork Blessed George laid helped launch a great movement of apostles of Divine Mercy who would lead people to a renewal of Christian life. And it is from the United States, particularly from Stockbridge, Mass., home of the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy and spiritual home for the Association of Marian Helpers, where the Marians have gathered and trained countless Divine Mercy apostles through a publishing apostolate, conferences, radio and television interviews, and websites. More than a million lay faithful around the world now call themselves Marian Helpers.
The fruits of all this? Simply put: Divine Mercy has become the greatest grassroots movement in the history of the Church.
"It's been the laity, through Divine Providence, who have been able to take the message into places it wouldn't have otherwise have been taken," says Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC, a world-renowned expert on the life and spirituality of St. Faustina.
One hundred years ago, the Marians were welcomed to the proverbial neighborhood. One hundred years later, the revelations of St. Faustina have been welcomed into the hearts of millions — just as the Lord requested.