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As catechetical instruction on our forthcoming consecration of Diocesan Shrine of Divine Mercy in Bataan on April 15 the Second Sunday of Easter, let us do some reflections:

The IMAGE of DIVINE MERCY:

The image of Divine Mercy comes from the vision of Sor Faustyna had on February 22, 1931 while she was in the convent at Plock. Jesus desired to have His image painted as Sor Faustyna saw Him during that vision. Beneath the image are three words in Polish “Jezu Ufam Tobie,” meaning “Jesus, I trust in You.

The image is that of the risen Jesus Christ. The hands and feet of Jesus bear the visible marks of the Crucifixion. Two rays of light in red and white shine forth from the pierced heart of Jesus. From the diary of Sor Faustyna, come these words: “In the evening, when I was in my cell, I saw the Lord Jesus clothed in a white garment. One hand was raised in a gesture of blessing, the other was touching the garment at the breast. From the beneath the garment slightly drawn aside at the breast, there were emanating two large rays, one red, the other pale … After a while Jesus said to me, ‘paint an image according to the pattern you see, which the signature: Jesus, I trust in You.

 

The image portrays the richness of God’s mercy. It serves as a vessel in which to obtain abundant graces from God. The Divine Mercy reminds the whole mankind to place its trust in God.

 

Three years later in the Convent at Wilno (now the present day Vilnius, Lithuania), Sor Faustyna learned what the rays meant. Jesus explained to her “Two rays denote Blood and Water. The pale ray stands for Water which makes souls righteous. The red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of the souls. These two rays issued forth from the very depths of My tender mercy when my agonized Heart was opened by a lance on the cross.”

 

In the light of theology, Saint Thomas refers Blood and Water (cf. John 19:34) to the sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and Baptism. In the gospel of Saint John, blood and water signify the Holy Spirit (cf. 3:5; 4;14; 7: 37-39). Devotion to Divine Mercy holds claim to Jesus’ promises of the grace of salvation, great progress on the road to Christian perfection, and the grace of a happy death.

 

TRUST is more than believing. It is being completely dependent on God. To trust is to cling and to hold steadfastly to God. We place everything in God’s hands. We rely only on Him. When there is trust, there is a total confidence that God will not fail us. When there is trust, there is no fear in us for we accept that God is always with us. God will never leave us. With trust in God, we are shielded from doubts; we are secure against danger; we are strong in the face of criticism. Trusting God, we obey Him. We are loyal to Him. We become His faithful follower.

 

MERCY makes us more understanding to others. It signifies compassion. Mercy makes us treat people as special in spite of their failings and mistakes. When there is mercy, there is love. (cf. Dives in Misericordia, 7). When there is mercy, there is forgiveness. Mercy is charity. With mercy, we do good things for others. We cultivate harmonious relationships. We heal and are healed. We set aside feelings of rage and vengence. We don’t resort to violent means of redress.

 

The corporal works of mercy are feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, visiting the sick or the imprisoned, ransoming the captive, and burying the dead. The spiritual works of mercy are instructing the ignorant, advising the doubtful, correcting the sinners, being patient with those in error or who do wrong, forgiving offenses, comforting the afflicted, and praying for the living and the dead.

 

SOR FAUSTYNA, known as Helena Kowalska, was born on August 25, 1905 in the village of Glocowiec in central Poland. She was the third of ten children of Stanislaw Kowalski and Marianna Kowalska. Two days after she was born, she was baptized in the parish church of Swinice Warckice.

The family of Sor Faustyna had a small farm. Her father was a carpenter. The family was faithfully raised according to Christian faith and morals that made Sor Faustyna exemplary in prayers and obedient and committed to service. After three years of schooling, Sor Faustyna left her family to work as a domestic in order to help her parents. She worked with some well-off families in the town of Aleksandrow and then in the city of Lodz.

On August 01, 1928 at the age of twenty, she entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. This Congregation was then already known for its works on educating women and girls in need of moral renewal. She lived her first months as a religious in Warsaw and completed her novitiate in Krakow. Taking the veil in Krakow, she received the name Sor Maria Faustyna. After two years, Sor Faustyna made her perpetual vows of chastity, poverty and obedience which she renewed every five years till May 01, 1933. During her stay in Krakow, Plock and Wilno, Sor Faustyna dutifully performed works as a cook, a gardener and a gate-keeper. Her life was in total communion with God and marked by mystical graces and the stigma of suffering. Her duties, though seemingly ordinary and routinary, were characterized by total sacrifices for the salvation of souls. Her mission through the devotion to the Divine Mercy, was: to remind the whole world of the well-known truth from the Scriptures about God’s merciful love for every human being, even the greatest sinner; to transmit new forms of devotion to Divine Mercy so as to plead for the graces needed by the whole world; and to initiate a great movement of devotees and apostles of Divine Mercy so as to inspire a religious renewal in the spirit of this devotion, that is trust in God and mercy towards one’s neighbor.

Suffering from a bout of tuberculosis and still deep into performing sacrifices for sinners, Sor Faustyna’s health deteriorated. On October 5, 1938, at the age of thirty-three, Sor Faustyna died in odor of sanctity at Krakow.

 

Fifty-five years later, Pope John Paul II, in Saint Peter’s Basilica, elevated Sor Faustyna to the community of blessed. During the Mass of Beatification on April 18, 1993 which was also the First Sunday after Easter and the yearly Feast of Divine Mercy, Pope John Paul II said, “God has spoken to us through the spiritual wealth of Blessed Sor Faustyna Kowalska. She left to the world the great message of Divine Mercy and an incentive to complete self-surrender to the Creator. God endowned her with a singular grace that enabled her to experience His mercy through mystical encounter and by a special gift of contemplative prayer.”

During the Great Jubilee 2000, on the Second Sunday of Easter, Sor Faustyna Kowalska was proclaimed saint and declared an apostle of Divine Mercy. During the Holy Mass of Canonization on April 30, Pope John Paul II said in his homily, “And you, Faustyna, a gift of God to our time, a gift from the land of Poland to the whole Church, obtain for us an awareness of the depth of divine mercy; help us to have a living experience of it and to bear witness to it among our brothers and sisters. May your message of light and hope spread throughout the world, spurring sinners to conversion, calming rivalries and hatred and opening individuals and nations to the practice of brotherhood. Today, fixing our gaze with you on the face of the risen Christ, let us make our own your prayer of trusting abandonment and say with firm hope: ‘Christ Jesus, I trust in you! Jezu Ufam Tobie!

As to conclude our reflections let us recite the 3 o’clock prayer:

 

“You died Jesus,

but the source of life flowed out for souls

and the ocean of mercy opened up for the whole world.

O fountain of Life, immesuarable Divine Mercy,

cover the whole world and empty Yourself out upon us.

 

O Blood and Water which flowed out from the heart of Jesus

as fountain of mercy, I trust in You.

 

Holy God. Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One,

have mercy on us and on the whole world (3x).

Amen.

 

+Ruperto Cruz Santos, Bishop of Balanga

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Diocese of Balanga
(Bataan, Philippines)