Jesus also asked her to spread devotion to Divine Mercy through the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, an annual special Novena to Divine Mercy and Veneration of the Image above. It is meant to be a reminder of all that Jesus did for us as the Paschal Victim and Victor. He told Blessed Faustina, "I want the image to be solemnly blessed on the first Sunday after Easter, and I want it to be venerated publicly so that every soul may know about it." (341).
Though devotion to Divine Mercy has now spread throughout the world, it had its roots in Poland with an uneducated nun of the Congregation of Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. Closely confiding in her spiritual director Father Michael Sopocko, she wrote down over 600 pages of messages from Jesus which she compiled into what is today called her diary in the form of the book "Divine Mercy in my soul." In this diary Jesus mapped out the course all must take to beg for Mercy through the A,B,C's of Ask for His Mercy, Be Merciful, and Completely Trust in Jesus.
It is often said that God allows evil for good. So was the case with His Devotion to Divine Mercy. Poland was one of the first countries to feel the full brunt of World War II suffering through six painful years which prompted the Slavic peoples to turn to Jesus and petition for His Mercy by constant recital of the Chaplet. As the war heated up in 1941, a Congregation of Marians of the Immaculate Conception priest by the name of Father Joseph Jarzebowski stole away to the United States, smuggling this devotion with him. Though he was at first a doubter, during the tenuous and fearful trip eluding the Nazis, Fr. Joseph vowed that if he safely reached the shores of America he would do all in his power to spread this devotion throughout the U.S. In 1944, after much travail but with cooperation from fellow priests and the Felician Sisters, Fr. Joseph established the "Mercy of God Apostolate" in Stockbridge, Massachusetts on what is today Eden Hill and today the international hub for spreading devotion to Divine Mercy and furthering the cause of canonization for Blessed Faustina.
The axiom "Anything worthwhile is worth fighting for" holds true for this devotion and the perseverance of all involved for in 1958 to 59, the words from Jesus about those who would try to stop it (378) came true when the Vatican proclaimed that no one could spread this devotion specifically given to Blessed Faustina. Their decision was based on false translations of excerpts from the Diary which somehow found their way into the Vatican Halls. It wasn't until the Polish Cardinal Karol Jozef Wojtyla was elected Pope in 1978 that the ban was lifted. He and his dear friend and fellow countryman prelate Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski had fought, through proper channels to get the ban lifted. Once permission was given to once again spread devotion to Divine Mercy as given to Sister Faustina it spread like wildfire. Officially, the Prefect of the Sacred Congregation released a statement on July 12, 1979 to the Congregation of Marians which said in part, "there no longer exists, on the part of this Sacred Congregation, any impediment to the spreading of the devotion to The Divine Mercy in the authentic forms proposed by the Religious Sister mentioned above [Sister Faustina Kowalska]." It cleared the way for the Marians to once again take up the work begun by Fr. Joseph thirty five years before. This time, besides the Supernatural Ally of the Trinity, those spreading this devotion had a powerful earthly ally - the Holy Father himself.
Jesus said in Matthew 7: 7,8, "Ask and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it shall be opened." This is His message of Divine Mercy to Blessed Faustina.
Before Faustina died of tuberculosis in 1938, she had been asked by Jesus to begin a contemplative order of nuns, dedicated solely to calling down Divine Mercy night and day on a sinful world. Already a member of the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy and dying of tuberculosis, Faustina was unable to fulfill this request. But Jesus did not give up, and through His Blessed Mother, made this request known again on February 25, 1991 in a locution to the Hidden Flower of the Immaculate Heart that she and her Divine Son desired this Order be founded. They again reiterated this in later messages, until through the tireless and selfless efforts of the Hidden Flower and many persecutions and setbacks, the Order was at last realized in the Institute of Divine Mercy with its Rule and Constitutions being officially approved and allowed to begin in the Diocese of Dallas by his Excellency Bishop Charles V. Grahmann on May 23, 1995. Less than two years later the Institute's monastery has graduated one class to the novitiate with a second group midway through their postulancy, all housed in a quiet monastic house on a spacious, cloistered lot in the quiet area of Forest Hills in East Dallas near the shores of White Rock Lake.
The Institute's spiritual directors Father Karl Claver and Father Santos Mendoza are devoted not only to the objectives of the Rule, based on the teachings of Blessed Faustina, but are life-long advocates of devotion to Divine Mercy. For more on the Institute of Divine Mercy please see today's review for SIGNIFICANT SITES OF THE WEEK. Each nun is called to become as a chalice into which God will pour out His Infinite Mercy for the whole world. They strive to preserve the Latin tradition stated in their Holy Rule, spending a minimum of six hours each day in choir chanting the Divine Office in addition to the daily Latin Mass, the full fifteen decades of the Rosary, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy three times a day and a generous amount of time before the Most Blessed Sacrament reserved in the Monstrance in the monastery chapel. There also is private time for solid spiritual reading and sessions for discussing Holy Scripture and the Diary of Blessed Faustina "Divine Mercy in my soul."
Yes, finally, all that Jesus asked Blessed Faustina for is being fulfilled. Only one request remains, that of officially making the Feast of Mercy by the Church. There have been petitions processed with over 80,000 signatures and passed on to the Pope and the bishops in prayerful hope they'll follow the lead of John Paul II who on January 23, 1995 officially designated the Sunday after Easter as the Feast of Divine Mercy in Poland. Our prayer is that it will become worldwide. Each year the central focus in the United States is in Stockbridge, Massachusetts where the weekend draws upwards to 15,000 pilgrims. If you would like more information on this and the Devotion to Divine Mercy, you are invited to check out our review this issue on Divine Mercy
A good prayer is the Memorare to St. Joseph of which Faustina wrote: "Saint Joseph urged me to have a constant devotion to him. He himself told me to recite every day three prayers [the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory be] along with the Memorare once every day. He looked at me with great kindness and gave me to know how much he is supporting this work [of mercy]. He has promised me his special help and protection. I recite the requested prayers every day and feel his special protection" (1203).
There are countless other prayers that can be obtained by checking out the Marian Helpers site. We are grateful to the Marians of the Immaculate Conception for their thorough material in helping us compile this article on Divine Mercy and the devotions provided. We leave you with one thought: JESUS, I TRUST IN YOU!