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Photo: Felix Carroll
Father Anthony Gramlich, MIC, rector of The National Shrine of The Divine Mercy, speaks of the woman behind the saint.
Saint Faustina Maria Faustina Kowalska (1905-38), the Polish nun known as the "Apostle of Divine Mercy," urged the world to turn its heart to Jesus. The Marians of the Immaculate Conception spent a day turning their hearts to her.
Joined by 400 pilgrims, the Marians celebrated the Feast of St. Faustina on Saturday, Oct. 4, at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy, in Stockbridge, Mass. Saint Faustina died 70 years ago on Oct. 5.
*** View a photo gallery from the day. ***
"In the 20th century, Jesus picked this simple nun, Sr. Faustina, to reveal His message of mercy," said Fr. Anthony Gramlich, MIC, the shrine's rector. "Why did He come and reveal this message of mercy? Maybe He saw that the Church needed to be rebuilt."
As most of the attendees would agree, through the message of Divine Mercy, Christ is rebuilding His Church, soul by soul.
"This message is what brought me back to my faith," said Margaret O'Brian, of Albany, N.Y.
"Divine Mercy is helping people to understand that God is our security, that He loves us and wants to give us peace," said Joseph Amuso, of Torrington, Conn.
Through her Diary, which records a series of revelations she had in the 1930s, St. Faustina has sparked what many call the greatest grassroots movement in the history of the Church — a movement defined by works of mercy, prayer, and trust in Jesus.
"My daughter," Jesus said to her, "be diligent in writing down every sentence I tell you concerning My mercy, because this is meant for a great number of souls who will profit from it" (1142).
Though at an early age she was pulled strongly in the direction of God, even St. Faustina could never have guessed the mission she was to be given by our Lord. She was to help re-emphasize God's plan of mercy for the world, as revealed in Sacred Scripture. She was to teach us new prayers of devotion to The Divine Mercy that would lead to the revival of the Christian life. She was to serve as a model of trust in Jesus, of love for God and neighbor.
After taking the name Sr. Maria Faustina, she became our Lord's secretary. Through her Diary, the Lord gives "aching mankind" new ways to draw closer to Him and experience His grace. His urgent message is that mankind shall not have peace until it turns with trust to His mercy.
Our Lord came to this unheralded nun and announced: "In the Old Covenant I sent prophets wielding thunderbolts to My people. Today I am sending you with My mercy to the people of the whole world. I do not want to punish aching mankind, but I desire to heal it, pressing it to My Merciful Heart" (Diary, 1588).
Why so much emphasis on mercy? "Because," said Fr. Anthony, "the world needs it."
The celebration included a presentation by Dave and Joan Maroney, known as Mother of Mercy Messengers (MOMM), a lay apostolate of the Marians. Through their dramatic presentations to schools, parishes, and prisons throughout the United States and abroad and through their series of popular DVDs, MOMM helps people to see that Christ is the means for finding hope, healing and renewal. Their program Oct. 4 was called "The Spark," named for the passage in the Diary in which Jesus tells St. Faustina how from Poland "will come forth the spark that will prepare the world for My final coming" (1732).
That spark is The Divine Mercy message and devotion.
"In her revelations, Jesus speaks to St. Faustina, but He is also speaking to all of us," Joan told the audience before MOMM's dramatic presentation began.
"As we read her Diary and we come to know this message greater and greater, it really amazes me how much the Lord is talking to us about the struggles we're facing in our lives these days," said Joan.
Joan urged attendees to follow the example of St. Faustina and to trust in Jesus. "It may not mean our lives are going to be any easier," said Joan, "but we're going to have a lot more peace. We're going to hurt ourselves a lot less and hurt others less as well."
Dave and Joan also urged the attendees to reach out for Christ's mercy through the sacraments and to share His mercy with others through works of mercy.
The celebration included opportunities for confession, the Rosary, Eucharistic Adoration, Holy Mass, Benediction, and the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy.
In his homily, Fr. Anthony read from some of the writing of Blessed Michael Sopocko, St. Faustina's confessor and spiritual director who was beatified on Sept. 28.
Blessed Sopocko described St. Faustina as "humble ... even-tempered ... characterized by genuineness and simplicity. There was nothing artificial or theatrical about her, no affectation or desire to attract attention to herself. ... Her imagination was rich, but not exalted. ... She always told the truth, although at times it distressed her."
As to her Diary, Blessed Michael said it was the "product of supernatural enlightenment" and that everything in it "aims at a greater knowledge and love of God."
"He was saying that this Divine Mercy devotion brings us back to the liturgy, brings us back to the Fathers of the Church and responds to human needs today," said Fr. Anthony. "He was saying this back in 1948. How much more is the Divine Mercy needed today than it was in 1948."
Father Anthony also noted how people who knew St. Faustina would not only marvel how deeply St. Faustina would immerse herself in prayer, but also how deeply she would immerse herself in the needs of others.
"The other nuns in her convent nicknamed her 'Dump,'" Fr. Anthony said, "because all the sisters would dump their problems on her because she was a good listener."
She continues to be a good listener today, as many people who pray for her intercession can attest. Indeed, all who eagerly await Him should not forget St. Faustina's promise to us: "Poor earth, I will not forget you," she wrote. "Although I feel that I will be immediately drowned in God as in an ocean of happiness, that will not be an obstacle to my returning to earth to encourage souls and incite them to trust in God's mercy. Indeed, this immersion in God will give me the possibility to boundless action" (Diary, 1582).