Saint Sister Mary Faustina Helena Kowalska (1905-1938)
Sister Mary Faustina, an apostle of the Divine Mercy, belongs today to the group of the most popular and well-known saints of the Church. Through her the Lord Jesus communicates to the world the great message of God's mercy and reveals the pattern of Christian perfection based on trust in God and on the attitude of mercy toward one's neighbors.
She was born on August 25, 1905 in Glogowiec in Poland of a poor and religious family of peasants, the third of ten children. She was baptized with the name Helena in the parish Church of Swinice Warckie. From a very tender age she stood out because of her love of prayer, work, obedience, and also her sensitivity to the poor. At the age of nine she made her first Holy Communion living this moment very profoundly in her awareness of the presence of the Divine Guest within her soul. She attended school for three years. At the age of sixteen she left home and went to work as a housekeeper in Aleksandrow Lodzki, Lodz and Ostrowek in order to find the means of supporting herself and of helping her parents.
At the age of seven she had already felt the first stirrings of a religious vocation. After finishing school, she wanted to enter the convent but her parents would not give her permission. Called during a vision of the Suffering Christ, on August 1, 1925 she entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy and took the name Sister Mary Faustina. She lived in the Congregation for thirteen years and lived in several religious houses. She spent time at Warsaw, Cracow, Plock and Vilnius, where she worked as a cook, gardener and porter.
Saint Sister Faustina died on October 5, 1938 in Cracow.
Saint Sister Faustina Kowalska longest was in Plock (1930-1932)
The years she had spent at the convent were filled with extraordinary gifts, such as: revelations, visions, hidden stigmata, participation in the Passion of the Lord, the gift of bilocation, the reading of human souls, the gift of prophecy, or the rare gift of mystical engagement and marriage. The living relationship with God, the Blessed Mother, the Angels, the Saints, the souls in Purgatory - with the entire supernatural world - was as equally real for her as was the world she perceived with her senses. In spite of being so richly endowed with extraordinary graces, Sr. Mary Faustina knew that they do not in fact constitute sanctity. In her Diary she wrote: "Neither graces, nor revelations, nor raptures, nor gifts granted to a soul make it perfect, but rather the intimate union of the soul with God. These gifts are merely ornaments of the soul, bat constitute neither its essence nor its perfection. My sanctity and perfection consist in the close union of my will with the will of God" (Diary 1107).
The mission of Saint Faustina consisted of three tasks:
First, proclaiming and bringing the world closer to the truth of the merciful love of God for every human being, as revealed in the Scared Scriptures.
Second, imploring God’s mercy for the entire world, and particularly for sinners, through the practice of the new forms of devotion to The Divine Mercy asked for by the Lord Jesus.
Third, initiating the apostolic movement of Divine Mercy whose devotees and apostles shall bring about a religious renewal among the faithful in the spirit of this devotion, namely, acquiring an attitude of childlike trust in God and actively living the commandment of love and mercy toward one’s neighbor.
In obedience to her spiritual director, she wrote a diary of about 600 pages in which she gives account of the revelations she received on the Mercy of God.
The devotions and methods proposed are as follows:
1. Veneration of the Image of the Divine Mercy. The pattern for the image was revealed to St. Faustina on February 22, 1931 in the monastic cell in Plock.
From 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 a while, Jesus said to me: "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" (Diary 47).
"I want this image…to be solemnly blessed on the first Sunday after Easter; that Sunday is to be the feast of my Mercy" (Diary 49). He promised to her, “By means of this Image I shall be granting many graces to souls” (Diary 570).
2. The Chaplet of Divine Mercy. This prayer is a powerful took of intercession in order to atone for sin and appease the justice of God. God promises that those who say this with faith, confidence and trust in His Mercy will obtain their requests, especially those requests related to the graces of conversion and peaceful deaths. About the chaplet, the Lord told St. Faustina, “When this chaplet is said by the bedside of a dying person, God’s anger is placated, unfathomable mercy envelops the soul” (Diary 811)…”It pleases me to grant everything they ask of Me by saying the chaplet” (Diary 1541)…”If what you ask is compatible with my will” (Diary 1731).
3. The Great Hour of Mercy. The Hour of Mercy is 3pm. This is the hour that Jesus died on the Cross, and it is the moment in which “Mercy triumphed over justice” (Diary 1572). Jesus asked St. Faustina, at this hour, to immerse herself in His mercy asking it to cover the whole world, especially sinners. Jesus promises, “In this hour you can obtain everything for yourself and for others for the asking” (Diary 1572). Prayers at this hour should be addressed to Jesus, they should appeal to His mercy and the merits of His passion, and they should be made at 3pm in the afternoon.
4. The Feast of the Divine Mercy. This devotion ranks the highest in the all the forms of devotion to the Divine Mercy. Jesus asked Sr. Faustina to have this Feast of Divine Mercy instituted on the first Sunday after Easter Sunday. This Sunday is to be a time of great graces for all, especially sinners. The Lord promises, “…whoever approaches the Fount of Life on this day will be granted complete remission of sins and punishment” (Diary 300). As well, “On this day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy…Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet” (Diary 699). To reap the benefits of these great graces, one must have trust in God’s mercy, be in the state of sanctifying grace (gone to Confession), and receive Holy Communion.
5. The propagation of the devotion to the Divine Mercy. To those that spread the honor of the Divine Mercy, Jesus promises to “shield through their entire life as a tender mother her infant, and at the hour of death I will not be a Judge for them, but the Merciful Savior” (Diary 1075). Spreading the honor of this to others does not necessarily mean many words (though it does require speaking about it). It primarily means living it. This means living in a spirit of faith and trust in God, and being merciful and kind in your actions and attitudes toward others.
Prayer - The Divine Mercy Chaplet:
Saint Sister Mary Faustina Helena Kowalska (1905-1938)