Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska: A Mission to Announce Mercy to the World

Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska was a Sister of the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, responsible for living and proclaiming, in a special way, the Mercy of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Newsroom(0/10/2021 00:40, Gaudium Press) Helena Kowalska was born on 25 August, 1905, in Glogowiec, a small village in Poland. Having been chosen by God for a high mission, at the early age of just seven years she had her first encounters with the One who would be her confidant, guide, and the reason for her existence.

“At that age I heard for the first time the Voice of God in my soul; that is, the invitation to a more perfect life. But I was not always obedient to the voice of grace,” she relates simply in her Diary.

In fact, resisting the calls of the Divine Redeemer at that time, the young girl’s heart had yet to be conquered by Him.

 Victory of the divine appeals

At the age of eighteen, Helen decided to follow the religious way, contrary to her parents’ expectations. Urged on by an insistent call from Jesus, she went to Warsaw and, after visiting several monasteries, joined the Congregation of Our Lady of Mercy, taking there the name of Sr. Maria Faustina.

However, even on this new path, it was often difficult for her to submit to God’s requests. One Christmas Day, for example, in order to escape the Voice of the Lord, she asked the Superior for permission to visit the Sisters living in the new house of Jozefinek, run by the Congregation in the Grochów district.

Before she left, however, on her way back from the cell where she had gone to get her cloak, Jesus appeared to her and said: “Go, but I will take your heart“. At that moment she felt that He was no longer in her heart.

A sort of longing took hold of her along the way, so much so, that after staying for a short time in Jozefinek, she urged her companions to return immediately to the convent.

Rigour and gentleness in her dealings with Jesus

She was drawn to the Divine Jesus with a jealous love.                                            Having next been sent to the house of Plock, she was given the task of decorating the chapel with flowers.

One day she picked some of the most beautiful roses to decorate the cell of one of the Sisters. On the way, she met the Lord, Who asked her in a tone of benign rebuke: “My daughter, to whom are you taking these flowers?” Silence was her reply, for she then realized that it was not out of charity that she was giving those flowers… throwing them to the ground, she hurried off towards the Tabernacle!

On other occasions, the Saviour was more incisive, yet without ceasing to be affable, as happened when she was called to a Judgment and shown all that was in her soul that was not to His liking.

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“You are guilty of a day’s fire in Purgatory,” said the Divine Judge. On hearing the sentence, she desired to throw herself immediately into the purifying flames, but Our Lord stopped her and gave her the choice between Purgatory or continuing life on this earth.

“Jesus, I want to suffer in Purgatory and I want to suffer the greatest torments on earth, even until the end of the world,” she replied.

He responded:

“Now recline your head on My breast, on my Heart, and draw from It strength and vigour for all your sufferings, because nowhere else will you find relief, help or consolation. You must know that you will suffer much, very much, but do not be alarmed by this: I am with you.

Gentle admonition, loving severity.

Severity and gentleness were always the hallmarks of the relationship between the Saint of Divine Mercy and her Lord.

You will prepare the world for my last coming“.

It is proper for every soul with a prophetic vocation to personify, in some way, the message she is called to convey. St. Faustina Kowalska was called to show men and women God’s great love and mercy for humanity, and for this reason there could be no lack of demonstrations of the Divine Redeemer’s unspeakable affection for her: “Your heart is Heaven for Me”.

Nevertheless, neither could reproaches fail to be present: “You cannot go far from Me, for I am everywhere.

Those who think that the message brought by the Merciful Jesus, whom the Saint contemplated, was composed only of affability and affection are therefore mistaken. If we were to consider her in this way, we would be giving a superficial view to her mission and we would be concealing the greatness of God’s designs for her: “You shall prepare the world for My Last Coming“.

A great and enigmatic mission

On 22 November 1931, St Faustina received from the Lord Jesus the commission to have a picture painted as she saw Him, with the inscription: “Jesus, I trust in You”.

Two rays emanated from the Heart of Jesus: one red, representing the divine mercy, and the other white, a symbol of the “water that justifies souls”.

Our Lord explained to her that in His Passion He had shed His most precious Blood in torrents, with a few drops of water. These torrents of Blood were the outpourings of divine mercy that the Savior would pour out on Christendom throughout the centuries, and which would be reciprocated not a few times, and not infrequently responded to by men with ingratitude beyond measure.

He also foretold an historical era in which His Sacred Heart would radiate Divine Justice:

“Before I come as a Just Judge, I come as a King of Mercy. Before the day of justice comes, the heavens will give this sign to men: all light in Heaven will be extinguished, and there will be great darkness on earth. Then the sign of the Cross will appear in the sky, and from the wounds where the hands and feet of the Saviour were nailed will come great lights which will illuminate the earth for a time”.

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This was the great mission of Sister Faustina: to admonish humanity, which has forgotten the redemptive Passion of Jesus; to return to Him during the time of indulgence, before the time of Justice comes. Like the appeal to the city of Nineveh, perhaps God would be willing to change his conduct if men would be converted?

How many enigmas are involved in the revelations of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to St. Faustina Kowalska! How many sufferings did she endure, because she knew so many things of the present and the future, to which no one gave credence, often receiving guidance like this, given by one of the most provident religious persons:

“Sister, get it out of your head that Our Lord can live with a Sister so familiarly, with one so miserable, one so imperfect. Our Lord coexists only with holy souls, remember that.”

Like Abraham (cf. Gen 18:21-33), Saint Faustina implored mercy for the world, presenting to Jesus the righteous who were living at that time, although sometimes she heard answers like this: “There are still a great number of souls who love Me very much, but My Heart desires to be loved by all, and because My Love is great, therefore I threaten and chastise them.”

Power of impenetration of souls

The Divine Saviour was showing her the sufferings of her Sisters in Purgatory who needed prayers, or the spiritual situations of people who were not even close to her.

On one occasion she saw a priest on the point of falling into mortal sin. She begged God to send her all the suffering He wanted, but to deliver the priest from such an occasion. “Jesus heard my prayer and immediately I felt on my head the crown of thorns. The thorns of this crown penetrated even to my brain”.

For three hours she suffered unspeakable torment, that the Lord might fortify the soul of His servant.

On another occasion, she saw two Sisters who were about to be thrown into hell, because they were in a state of grave sin. She prayed for them, and the next day, in obedience to Our Lord’s command, she told the Superior everything, seeing one already “in great fervor, and the other in a great struggle.”

It was not unusual for the Redeemer to show her the future of her nation and even of the Church:

“One day Jesus told me that He had to punish a city, which is the most beautiful city in our country. This punishment was to be the same as the one God sent against Sodom and Gomorrah. I saw the great wrath of God, and a shudder went through my heart.”

Through her prayer, united to the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar, she obtained that Jesus, on the seventh day, would bless the country.

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She also tells how one Friday, in September of 1935, she had a vision: “At night, while I was in my cell, I saw the Angel, executor of the wrath of God. He was dressed in white, his face radiant and a cloud at his feet. Out of the cloud came thunder and lightning into his hands, and from them only then did they strike the earth. When I saw this sign of God’s wrath, which was to strike the earth, and especially in a place that I cannot mention for reasons that are quite understandable, I began to ask the Angel to stop for a few moments, for the world would do penance. But my request was of no avail before the wrath of God.”

She prayed with strength and the Angel suspended the just punishment, deserved because of so many sins.

Heroism on the road to abandonment

How many perplexities and dark nights assailed the spirit of this Saint, which at times almost shook her faith! And with what humility, for whom in other times it had been difficult to submit to the divine requests, she now lowered herself when she heard some comments from her Superiors, from her spiritual directors and even from her own companions

“I have heard that Sister is a visionary, that she is having visions. Poor sister,” a nun of the convent told her regretfully, in confidence.

“Eccentric, hysterical, visionary, get out of my room, I don’t want to see you any more!”, one of the nuns once shouted angrily.

The worst situation was when demons came to her, saying: “Here is the reward for your faithfulness and sincerity; here is your prize. How can one be sincere when one is so misunderstood?”

True heroism was required of her by the King of Glory, for He wanted her to abandon herself into His hands alone! To make those whom He loves suffer so that, having passed through the fire of the crucible, they will come out on the other side more resplendent than gold! “I do not reward success in work, but suffering.”

A special glow for the future life

Saint Faustina Kowalska is one of the principal figures and models of holiness of the twentieth century. This is the reward God foretold to his beloved ones: the joy and glory, not only of the duty done, but of the marvels contemplated, of the conquests and battles well fought.

She already foresaw this joy in this life, when the victory of the good began to be revealed to her, with which history, not only her own, but also the history of the whole world, would be brought to a close.

It is worth suffering so many misfortunes; it is worth going through the valleys and swamps; it is worth facing a real living martyrdom, to contemplate and participate, from eternity, in the fulfilment of all these promises!

Text extracted, with adaptations, from Heralds of the Gospel Magazine n. 202, October 2018.

Compiled by Sandra Chisholm

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