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DIVINE MERCY WEEKEND ISSUE

April 17-19, 1998             SECTION ONE              vol 9, no. 75



THIS IS DIVINE MERCY WEEKEND

      This is a special weekend for those devoted to the devotions of Divine Mercy for it is the unofficial feast of Divine Mercy Sunday as promoted by Pope John Paul II who has been very close to the Divine Mercy scene all his life from growing up in Poland at the same time as Blessed Sister Faustina Kowalska who received the devotion and a diary on Divine Mercy ("Divine Mercy in my soul") from Our Lord. This issue is dedicated to Divine Mercy with a special background on the devotion and on Blessed Faustina. Click on DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY.

JESUS, I TRUST IN YOU!

    &bnsp; Devotion to Divine Mercy as imparted in the 1930's by Our Lord to His faithful servant Blessed Sister Faustina Kowalska is considered Private Revelation and not officially recognized by the Church. Yet this devotion is so closely related to Sacred Scripture and the Will of God that Holy Mother Church is unofficially favorable, thanks in part to our present pontiff Pope John Paul II who has worked ceaselessly to promote this devotion and veneration of Jesus of Divine Mercy. No one should know better than this Polish prelate who was only a youngster in his teens during the purported messages to Blessed Faustina, but he has lived long enough to see the fruits of this devotion and the truth of these teachings...so much so that he personally oversaw the beatification of Sister Faustina on the unofficial Feast of Divine Mercy on April 18, 1993 in St. Peter's Square before hundreds of thousands. Two years prior to this the Pope spoke about Sister Faustina and this devotion in his Encyclical Dives in Misericordia - "Rich in Mercy" in which he coupled Matthew 5:7 "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy" with the message of Mercy promulgated by this saintly Polish nun - Christ's hand-picked "apostle of Mercy." In elevating Faustina, the Holy Father was fulfilling part of what Our Lord had asked - for it is also Jesus' desire that a "Feast of Mercy" be established officially in the Church calendar when He told her, "This Feast emerged from the very depths of My Mercy, and it is confirmed in the vast depths of My Tender Mercies (420)...It is My desire that it be solemnly celebrated on the First Sunday after Easter...I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, especially for poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My Tender Mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fountain of My Mercy." (699).

      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.

THE STORY OF BLESSED FAUSTINA - THE "APOSTLE OF MERCY"

      On August 25, 1905 Helene Kowalska, the third of ten children, was born in the tiny village of Glogowiec just west of Lodz in Poland. In 1925, seeking a vocation she joined the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy as a postulant. Their mission of taking care of and educating troubled young women appealed to the young Kowalska even though she herself was not educated. In 1926, upon entering the Novitiate, she was given the religious name of Sister Maria Faustina of the Most Blessed Sacrament. During the 1930's as a professed nun Jesus appeared to her asking this humble servant to become His secretary for recording His Plan for Divine Mercy. As it turned out, with the help of Fr. Michael in 1934, she complied, compiling her diary even though this uneducated girl was terrified to write anything down fearing ridicule from her fellow nuns. Yet she did as Jesus asked as well as suffering as a victim soul. Yet she went about her religious duties joyfully and always offered everything to Jesus in atonement for her own sins and those of the whole world. Though she sought out a contemplative way of life in prayer, her fiat was to do whatever Our Lord asked of her including becoming a doer of mercy for and to all she came in contact with as her spiritual life became one of "deep humility, purity of intention, and loving obedience to the will of God in imitation of the virtues of the Blessed Virgin Mary." Her devotion to Our Lady and love for the Eucharist saw her through her darkest times for as the years waned her suffering increased, yet she continued to write, offering everything up and truly living what she was preaching. She knew intuitively from the Holy Spirit that her work would not die with her impending work as she wrote, "I feel certain that my mission will not come to an end upon my death, but will begin. O doubting souls, I will draw aside for you the veils of Heaven to convince you of God's goodness" (281).

      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).

The Memorare to Saint Joseph:

Remember, O most pure spouse of Mary, and my dearly beloved guardian, Saint Joseph, that never was it known that anyone who invoked your care and requested your help was left without consolation. Inspired with this confidence, I come to you, and with all the ardor of my spirit I commend myself to you. Do not reject my prayer, O Foster Father of the Savior, but graciously receive and answer it. Amen.

      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!


For the Sake of Divine Mercy

     We permanently move our weekly SIGNIFICANT SITE OF THE WEEK to the weekend with this issue, reviewing two superb sites dedicated to the devotion of Divine Mercy. They are the Marians of the Immaculate Conception web site which is the official National Shrine of Divine Mercy, and the contemplative, cloistered Institute of Divine Mercy dedicated to fulfilling the prophesy imparted to Blessed Faustina in calling Divine Mercy down upon the world through a life of prayer and sacrifice. These are the two sites we review this weekend and award the "Golden Chalice Award" to, a departure from our normal procedure of reviewing just one site, but because of the occasion both are worthy recipients. Click on SIGNIFICANT SITES OF THE WEEK

For the Sake of Divine Mercy

      In honor of this weekend we review two sites dedicated to the devotion of Divine Mercy, one is the the original and chief spokeswheel for devotion to Divine Mercy run by the Marians of the Immaculate Conception in Stockbridge, Massachusetts where the shrine of Divine Mercy is headquartered, and the other a site for the relatively new contemplative order of nuns devoted to calling down Divine Mercy on the world - the Institute of Divine Mercy headquartered in Dallas, Texas. Both sites offer you almost everything you need to know about this devotion first imparted to Blessed Faustina Kowalska a Polish nun in the 1930's. The devotion was preserved by the Marians who literally smuggled it out from the Nazis and across Russia behind the Iron Curtain to bring it to America where today this devotion is flourishing more than ever before.

     The Marians' site is easy to navigate and very little scrolling is necessary. It is divided into five sections with information on the Marians, on the Shrine, on the Association of Marian Helpers, on the facilities at Eden Hill in Stockbridge, on Devotion to Divine Mercy. In addition to a links page, there is a special section on Divine Mercy Sunday outlining the schedule of events at Stockbridge during this weekend. Included on that page is news that the Sunday morning Mass will again be broadcast on EWTN and celebrated by the Apostolic Nuncio of Poland Archbishop Joseph Kowalczyk who will say the morning Mass in Polish with Springfield's Bishop Thomas L. Dupre celebrating an English Mass at 1:30 with the Chaplet and Benediction following at 3 p.m. the Hour of Divine Mercy. There will be the Sacrament of Penance available throughout the weekend and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in the St. Peregrine Chapel until 4 p.m. Sunday. They provide maps and directions for those planning on taking part in this celebration that annually attracts upwards of 15,000 for the two day event. Graphics and pages load superfast in a simplified, easy to follow frame format.

     Frames or non frames is the choice the Institute of Divine Mercy offers at their site which gives a brief summary of the mission imparted to Blessed Faustina and background on the Institute itself and its main purpose of contemplative, cloistered nuns committed to calling down Divine Mercy on the entire world through their life of prayer and sacrifice as "hidden disciples of Mercy." Founded in Dallas, it has a satellite monastery in Puerto Rico and in cooperation with the mother house these "vessels of prayer" are growing and need everyone's prayers and financial help in helping build a permanent monastery to house the growing numbers. There is a special page provided for making a donation to the Institute. One of the best features of this site is the page on Pope John Paul II's involvement and influence on Divine Mercy including the full text, footnotes and all, of his encyclical on the "Mercy of God" Dives in Misericordia. The graphics are inspiring and the pages read well. They are currently in a transition, having just obtained their own domain name, thus some graphics have not been transferred totally as of this writing. For those opting for frames, they offer audio as well. They provide a special prayer request page where one can fill in their intentions and these are placed in a basket at the altar in the Institute's chapel during adoration and Holy Mass, celebrated in Latin daily by Father Karl Claver who has been the spiritual director to the Institute for two years along with confessor Father Santos Mendoza who has been with the Institute since its inception in 1995.

     What we don't provide in our special Divine Mercy Section in this issue, both the above sites make up for and give everyone a well-rounded picture of what Divine Mercy is all about and why it is so vital for our times. Therefore, because of this special occasion this weekend, we award both sites a "Golden Chalice Award" and confer FOUR Hail Mary's to these two sites dedicated to Divine Mercy.


The Power Source is the Current of Divine Mercy

     In this weekend's editorial we go to the power source, to that which fuels our faith and lights our way in a world of darkness. Divine Mercy is that source and we tap in to it with our commentary Divine Mercy is the backup generator in a blacked-out world! Click here for this weekend's CATHOLIC PewPOINT

Divine Mercy is our backup generator in a blacked-out world!

      Isn't it perfect that Divine Mercy Sunday comes on the heels of two dramatic and traumatic events: Good Friday and Tax Day. The reason we say that is because there's an axiom that goes, "there are only two sure things in life: death and taxes!" Of course a week ago we commemorated the most celebrated death in the history of mankind and this past Wednesday we experienced the Ides of April. Seldom have these two events been so close together. Could that be an omen of things to come? Between those two days we celebrated the glorious Resurrection for we know that by Jesus' rising from the dead, it assured victory over death and assured us of the surest ticket to Heaven! But it's not a sure thing if we don't practice it. And few do practice the virtues today as is evident from the amoral and immoral mores of society. God, Who is the Just Judge could stop this nonsense in a heartbeat if He so willed, but He is also equally Merciful and the prayer of the faithful is that the scales will continue to tip in the favor of Mercy over Justice for just a bit longer.

     One could look at the natural disasters over the last several years, or better yet in the last week and see He means business. Our Blessed Mother has imparted to visionaries and messengers that she can no longer hold back the hand of the Father. So wicked and base has this world become that Mary has said many times that Sodom and Gomorrah were nothing compared to the wickedness of today. That's a scary thought. Last year on Good Friday the comic strip "Wizard of Id", by Brant Parker and Johnny Hart published a thought-provoking strip in which one only sees cartoon balloons against a sea of black. In one balloon the king of id asks his lackey, "Why is it dark at noon?" and the former responds, "We've had a spiritual outage!" Talk about a light in the darkness. We indeed have had a spiritual outage in this century, and especially during this decade and the wattage is weaker than ever as we are on the brink of the next millennium. The millennium brings so many omens of doom spawned by so many that, if one is not rooted in the faith and secure in the knowledge that we have nothing to fear if we are obedient to God's Holy Will, one can panic and grow very, very, very scared. Groping blindly in the darkness, they forget that the only Light they'll need contains everlasting batteries and to brighten our path all we need do is call on the "Light of Christ" - Lumen Christi. In His Mercy He shows us signs every day, with a map to the Celestial Treasures imprinted on our heart and soul. But if we do not have the "Light of Christ" to read the map, then we are looking in the darkness - in all the wrong places and finding peace of mind and the Truth through signs can be fruitless in a sea of darkness. No wonder God has sent wave after wave of warnings throughout this century to penetrate the darkness and alert us that we are indeed in a "spiritual outage" and the only means of lighting the way is through Him. And through Him He has sent His chief envoy - His very Own Blessed Mother to convey the messages of how to find true peace through conversion, repentance, commitment to God's Will, prayer, penance, sacrifice and a return to the Sacraments - the lifeblood of our faith. That is truly Divine Mercy!

      This weekend we celebrate this wondrous feast - unnofficial though it still is. But every year the support grows more and more to make it recognized universally and we feel it is only a matter of time before it is. It's also only a matter of time until His Mercy will have run its course and the Justice will pour forth. Then the darkness will truly be upon us. So while we still have some "twilight" left let's grab the "Christlight" and point the way for others by doing all God asks through His Holy Church and the Blessed Mother and by making the Chaplet of Divine Mercy a daily habit. For our fragile world, plunged in darkness, Divine Mercy is our backup generator in a blacked-out world!

Michael Cain, editor

Is Jesus the "Great Pretender?"

     We ask that in a reverent manner for that is what Sister Mary Lucy Astuto focuses on the time immediately after Christ's Resurrection through that evening on the Road to Emmaus. She points out that Jesus, Who knew all, went along with the finite nature of those He was with, pretending not to be the Son of God until the time was expedient. For her column, JESUS PRETENDED, click on GETTING TO THE HEART OF THE MATTER

FRIDAY-SATURDAY-SUNDAY: April 17-19    DIVINE MERCY Issue


COLUMNS: GETTING TO THE HEART OF THE MATTER

by Sister Mary Lucy Astuto

JESUS PRETENDED

      "He is risen as He said! Alleluia, alleluia!"

      Isnít Easter wonderful? After forty days of Lenten Penance and remembrance of the Passion and Death of Jesus, we celebrate His Resurrection from the dead. He lives! Jesus lives -- just as He said!

      And thanks be to God for that, for if Jesus had not risen, as He said He would, our Catholic religion would be in vain. We would have to look for another religion, because ours would not be the true one.

      Everything about Easter is wonderful. The music, the aromatic lilies, the liturgy, the colors -- the Easter bonnets and of course, the stories in Scripture of what happened immediately after the Resurrection.

      I love the story about Mary Magdalene weeping outside the tomb of the Risen Savior and telling the Man (she thinks is the gardener): "They have taken Him away and I do not know where they have laid Him. Sir, if you know, please tell me and I will take Him away." Jesus only needed to say one word -- her name -- "Mary! Perhaps it was the way He had said her name so many times before. Maybe it was the fact that He said her name with so much love in His voice! But upon hearing her name, she KNEW it was Jesus. Then immediately the tears stopped. And in proportion to her grief, came her joy!

      "Master!" she exclaimed.

      Yes, Easter is a time for grief to be replaced with ecstatic joy. He is risen as He said!

      There is another Easter story in the Scriptures that I dearly love because the human side of Jesus is very apparent. He did something that all of us humans have done sometime or other. Jesus pretended!

      On the road to Emmaus, Jesus joined a few of His disciples, who did not recognize Him. When first joining them, Jesus asked them: "What are you discussing on your way!"

      Now, you mean to tell me that He didnít know that already??? I love it!

      The disciples were discussing the death of Jesus and were heartbroken over it. So Jesus explained the Scriptures to them. He explained how the Son of Man had to go through what He did so that the Scriptures would be fulfilled. During the explanation, the hearts of the disciples began to burn within them. Truth has a way of burning into oneís soul. When they all arrived in Emmaus, Jesus PRETENDED to continue His journey. He PRETENDED. He acted AS THOUGH He was going to continue on.

      I love it! How wonderfully human Jesus shows Himself to be!

      We know the rest of the story! The disciples (still not recognizing Him) urged Him to stay and have supper with them. During the supper, the disciples recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread.

      What a wondrous gift of joy! How their hearts were filled to the brim and overflowing. They had been walking with the Risen Lord and ate with Him and didnít know it until the "breaking of the bread!"

      Sometimes it is good to pretend as long as truth reigns in the end. Jesus sanctified even that.

      Alleluia! Alleluia! He is risen as He said! May He bless you with great Easter joy!



Click here to go to SECTION TWO or click here to return to the graphics front page of this issue.


Apri1 17-19, 1998 volume 9, no. 75   DAILY CATHOLIC