Divine Mercy in my Soul
The Apostolic Movement of Divine Mercy
HOMILY OF THE HOLY FATHER JOHN PAUL II
Błonie, Kraków, 18 August 2002
"God, rich in mercy". This phrase in a way captures the entire truth about the love of God which has redeemed humanity. "God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ" (Eph 2:4-5).
The fullness of this love was revealed in the sacrifice of the Cross. For "greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (Jn 15:13).
Here is the measure of God’s love!
Here is the measure of God’s mercy!
Once we recognize this truth, we become aware that Christ’s call to love others even as he has loved us calls all of us to that same measure. We feel in some sense impelled to make our lives a daily offering by showing mercy to our brothers and sisters, drawing upon the gift of God’s merciful love. We realize that God, in showing us mercy, calls upon us to become witnesses to mercy in today’s world.
From the beginning of her existence the Church, pointing to the mystery of the Cross and the Resurrection, has preached the mercy of God, a pledge of hope and a source of salvation for man.
Nonetheless, it would appear that we today have been particularly called to proclaim this message before the world.
We cannot neglect this mission, if God himself has called us to it through the testimony of Saint Faustina.
God has chosen our own times for this purpose. Perhaps because the twentieth century, despite indisputable achievements in many areas, was marked in a particular way by the "mystery of iniquity". With this heritage both of good and of evil, we have entered the new millennium. New prospects of development are opening up before mankind, together with hitherto unheard-of dangers.
- Frequently man lives as if God did not exist, and even puts himself in God’s place.
- He claims for himself the Creator’s right to interfere in the mystery of human life.
- He wishes to determine human life through genetic manipulation and to establish the limit of death.
- Rejecting divine law and moral principles, he openly attacks the family.
- In a variety of ways he attempts to silence the voice of God in human hearts;
- He wishes to make God the "great absence" in the culture and the conscience of peoples.
The "mystery of iniquity" continues to mark the reality of the world.
In experiencing this mystery, man lives in fear of the future, of emptiness, of suffering, of annihilation. Perhaps for this very reason, it is as if Christ, using the testimony of a lowly Sister, entered our time in order to indicate clearly the source of relief and hope found in the eternal mercy of God.
The message of merciful love needs to resound forcefully anew.
The world needs this love.
The hour has come to bring Christ’s message to everyone:
- To rulers and the oppressed,
- To those whose humanity and dignity seem lost in the mysterium iniquitatis.
The hour has come when the message of Divine Mercy is able to fill hearts with hope and to become the spark of a new civilization: the civilization of love.
The Church desires tirelessly to proclaim this message, not only by convincing words, but by the ready practice of mercy.
This is why she ceaselessly holds up stupendous examples of individuals who out of love for God and for man "went forth and bore fruit".
I wish to recall once more what I wrote in the Encyclical Dives in Misericordia: "Man attains to the merciful love of God, his mercy, to the extent that he himself is interiorly transformed in the spirit of that love towards his neighbor" (No. 14). On this path, may we rediscover ever more profoundly the mystery of Divine Mercy and live it in our daily lives!
[…] May the message of God’s mercy be reflected always in works of human mercy!
We must take a loving look around ourselves if we are to be aware of the neighbor by our side, who because of the loss of work, home, the possibility to maintain his family in a decent manner and to educate his children - feels a sense of abandonment, of being lost, of distrust.
This "creativity in charity" is needed to provide material and spiritual assistance
- to neglected children;
- to refrain from turning one’s back on the boy or girl who have gotten lost in the world of addiction or crime;
- to give advice, consolation, spiritual support to those engaged in an internal struggle with evil.
May this "creativity" never be lacking when a needy person pleads: "Give us this day our daily bread!” Thanks to brotherly love, this bread will not be lacking. "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy" (Mt 5:7).
Therefore, I asked you: "Never disdain charity, which is ‘the greatest of these’ and which shows itself in the Cross. Without it, human life has no roots and no meaning" (ibid. 5).
Brothers and Sisters, today I repeat this invitation:
- Today, open yourselves to God’s greatest gift, to his love that, through the Cross of Christ, has revealed itself to the world as merciful love.
- Today, living in different times, at the dawn of the new century and millennium, continue to be "ready to bear witness to the cause of man".
- Today, with all my strength, I beseech the sons and daughters of the Church, and all people of good will: never, ever separate "the cause of man" from the love of God.
Help modern men and women to experience God’s merciful love! This love, in its splendor and warmth, will save humanity!
HOMILY OF THE HOLY FATHER JOHN PAUL II
Kraków-Łagiewniki, 17 August 2002
"O inconceivable and unfathomable Mercy of God, Who can worthily adore you and sing your praises? O greatest attribute of God Almighty, You are the sweet hope of sinners" (Diary, 951).
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
Today I repeat these simple and straightforward words of Saint Faustina, in order to join her and all of you in adoring the inconceivable and unfathomable mystery of God’s mercy.
Like Saint Faustina, we wish to proclaim that apart from the mercy of God there is no other source of hope for mankind. We desire to repeat with faith: Jesus, I trust in you!
This proclamation, this confession of trust in the all-powerful love of God, is especially needed in our own time, when mankind is experiencing bewilderment in the face of many manifestations of evil.
The invocation of God’s mercy needs to rise up from the depth of hearts filled with suffering, apprehension and uncertainty, and at the same time yearning for an infallible source of hope.
With the eyes of our soul, we long to look into the eyes of the merciful Jesus, in order to find deep within his gaze the reflection of his inner life, as well as the light of grace which we have already received so often, and which God holds out to us anew each day and on the last day.
"But the hour is coming, and now is, when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him" (Jn 4:23).
When we read these words of the Lord Jesus here in the Shrine of Divine Mercy, we are particularly aware that no one can come here except in Spirit and truth.
It is the Holy Spirit, the Comforter and the Spirit of Truth, who guides us along the ways of Divine Mercy.
By convincing the world "concerning sin and righteousness and judgment" (Jn 16:8), he also makes known the fullness of salvation in Christ.
This "convincing" concerning sin is doubly related to the Cross of Christ.
- On the one hand, the Holy Spirit enables us, through Christ’s Cross, to acknowledge sin, every sin, in the full dimension of evil which it contains and inwardly conceals.
- On the other hand, the Holy Spirit permits us, again through the Christ’s Cross, to see sin in the light of the mysterium pietatis, that is, of the merciful and forgiving love of God (cf. Dominum et vivificantem, 32).
Consequently, this "convincing concerning sin" also becomes a conviction that sin can be laid aside and that man can be restored to his dignity as a son beloved of God.
Indeed, the Cross "is the most profound condescension of God to man [...]. The Cross is like a touch of eternal love upon the most painful wounds of man’s earthly existence" (Dives in misericordia, 8).
"Eternal Father, I offer to you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of your beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, for our sins and those of the whole world; by the sufferings of his Passion, have mercy upon us and upon the whole world" (Diary, 476).
Upon us and upon the whole world...
How greatly today’s world needs God’s mercy! In every continent, from the depth of human suffering, a cry for mercy seems to rise up.
- Where hatred and the thirst for revenge dominate,
- Where war brings suffering and death to the innocent,
there the grace of mercy is needed in order to settle human minds and hearts and to bring about peace.
Wherever respect for life and human dignity are lacking, there is need of God’s merciful love, in whose light we see the inexpressible value of every human being.
Mercy is needed in order to ensure that every injustice in the world will come to an end in the splendor of truth.
I wish solemnly to entrust the world to Divine Mercy.
I do so with the burning desire that the message of God’s merciful love, proclaimed here through Saint Faustina, may be made known to all the peoples of the earth and fill their hearts with hope.
May this message radiate from this place to our beloved homeland and throughout the world.
May the binding promise of the Lord Jesus be fulfilled: from here there must go forth "the spark which will prepare the world for his final coming" (cf. Diary, 1732).
This spark needs to be lighted by the grace of God.
This fire of mercy needs to be passed on to the world.
In the mercy of God the world will find peace and mankind will find happiness!
I entrust this task to you, dear Brothers and Sisters, to the Church in Kraków and Poland, and to all the votaries of Divine Mercy who will come here from Poland and from throughout the world.
May you be witnesses to mercy!
The Origin of the Apostolic Movement of Divine Mercy
The Apostolic Movement of the Divine Mercy sprung from the charisma and mystical experience of Saint Faustina.
- It undertakes the task of proclaiming to the world the message of Mercy through deeds, words and prayer;
It strives for union with God on the path of trusting in Him and practicing mercy toward neighbors.
The beginnings of the idea of this work goes back to the year 1935.
At that time, Sister Faustina enjoyed the grace of contemplation and a profound life with God; she was content that the wishes of the Lord Jesus were already partially fulfilled because His image had been painted and on the first Sunday after Easter, on April 26-28, 1935, it was publicly displayed and venerated in Ostra Brama during the celebrations connected with the ending of the Jubilee Year of the Redemption of the world.
Still, her joy was marred by a presentiment of new tasks. I was frightened at their greatness - she recorded in her Diary - and felt myself quite incapable of fulfilling them (Diary 429).
It was then that she heard the words of the Lord Jesus: You will prepare the world for My final coming. These words moved me deeply - she writes further on in her spiritual diary - and although I pretended not to hear them, I understood them very well and had no doubt about them (Diary 429).
In the context of these spiritual experiences on the Day of the Pentecost, on June 9, 1935, she received yet another order, this time in the form of a concrete task: By your entreaties, you and your companions shall obtain mercy for yourselves and for the world (Diary 435).
On the day following the conversation with Father M. Sopoćko (June 30, 1935), Sister Faustina saw Jesus during Holy Mass.
He told her that He desired that such a Congregation be founded as soon as possible (Diary 438).
The Lord then defined its spirit: it was to be modeled on His life from the crib to His death on the Cross.
He also defined its task: to spread and implore God's mercy for the entire world (Diary 438).
Such were the circumstances beginning of the Apostolic Movement of the Divine Mercy.
- Its creator and initiator is the Lord Jesus Himself;
- it is He who unveils before His "secretary" His intention to create such a "congregation," namely, a movement whose members are to imitate Him "from the crib to His death on the Cross" as well as proclaim the mercy of God and implore it for the whole world.
In the end, under the date of April 27, 1937, she recorded that during Holy Mass, the Lord God enlightened her and gave her profound understanding concerning this work, and not a shadow of a doubt remained in her soul (Diary 1154). This work is one - she recorded in her Diary - but has, as it were, three aspects.
- The first is that "souls separated from the world will burn as an offering before God's throne and beg for mercy for the whole world... and by their entreaties, they will obtain blessings for priests, and through their prayers prepare the world for the final coming of Jesus" (Diary 1155).
- The second aspect is to create religious congregations that join prayer to acts of mercy. In particular, they will defend the souls of children against the spirit of evil. Prayer and merciful deeds are all that will be required of these souls (...) .And in this egoistic world they will try to rouse up love, the mercy of Jesus (Diary 1156).
- To the third aspect everyone in the world can belong (Diary 1157); without any obligation to take vows and in exchange for prayer and deeds of mercy these persons will have a share in all the merits and privileges of the whole congregation (Diary 1157). A member of this group ought to perform at least one act of mercy a day, but there can be many more, for such deeds can easily be carried out by anyone, even the poorest. (Diary 1158)
With the Diary entry of April 27, 1937, ends the development of the idea of the Apostolic Movement of the Divine Mercy, which in the Lord's utterances were to be understood from the very beginning in a very broad sense - as a movement; whereas in Sister Faustina's mind, it matured gradually, evolving from the concept of a cloistered contemplative convent, to active congregations, and eventually to the inclusion of lay persons in this work.
Later, she wrote that the members of this "congregation" were to be people representing different callings and states in life. Thus, they were to be both men and women, and even all the people living in the world. This wide range of vocations points to a different meaning of this definition: to the biblical sense of the word "congregation," equivalent to the Hebrew term "qahal." The Lord Jesus used this latter term in His conversation with Sister Faustina.
The above religious "congregation" can be characterized by means of the following constituent features:
- This congregation owes its existence to a "convocation" or "summons" issued by God;
- It gathers around the Meeting Tent or a sanctuary, based on the conviction that God lives within it;
- God reveals and expresses His will to the gathered people through theophany or else through an authorized representative;
- The congregation gathers for religious, supplicatory, or penitent purposes and is subject to successive consecration to God.
Thus, the Apostolic Movement of the Divine Mercy, as defined by the Lord Jesus, is as it were
- a newly summoned congregation,
- a new "calling" of the People of God who at this phase in history are to fulfill a goal and certain precisely defined tasks indicated by God.
They consist in:
- renewing the Christian life,
- proclaiming of the mystery of the mercy of God,
- and imploring it for the whole world.
It is worth emphasizing here that these are precisely the tasks which the Holy Father John Paul II placed before the whole Church in his encyclical Dives in Misericordia.
Looking back on this period of Sister Faustina's interior and exterior struggles relating to the founding of a new congregation, from the perspective of ten years later, Father Sopoćko wrote in his recollections:
If at the beginning Sister Faustina was a little worried and afraid that she would be unable to carry out the orders and instructions, with time she gradually became calmer and reached a state of complete security, certainty and deep inner joy.
God demanded of her
- an interior sacrifice,
- boundless trust, and abandonment to His will in order to lay a living foundation for a great work in the Church;
The Apostolic Movement of the Divine Mercy which flows from Sister Faustina's charisma and mystical experience; in her it found its model and perfect guide on the ways of the interior life and apostolic activity.
The Perspective Goal of the Apostolic Movement of the Divine Mercy
You will prepare the world for My final coming (Diary 429), said the Lord Jesus to Sister Faustina. These words seem to define the prospective goal of the apostolic movement of the Divine Mercy.
For, with this very sentence, there begins a whole new chapter in Sister Faustina's mission.
The Lord Jesus' subsequent stipulations concerning the apostolic movement of the Divine Mercy are closely related to this very first injunction.
Secondly, the above goal was clearly defined when talking about the tasks of the first aspect of the movement: Souls separated from the world - wrote Sister Faustina - will burn as an offering (...) and through their prayers, they will prepare the world for the final coming of Jesus (Diary 1155).
If such is the aim of the first aspect and all aspects contribute to a single movement, then the remaining aspects must represent the same prospective goal, although they will realize and implement it in different ways.
Thirdly, the Lord Jesus had talked about this mission on many occasions.
- Before I come as the just Judge - we read already at the beginning of the Diary - I am coming first as the King of Mercy (Diary 83).
- Speak to the world about My mercy; let all mankind recognize My unfathomable mercy. It is a sign for the end times; after it will come a day of justice. While there is still time, let them have recourse to the fount of My mercy; let them profit from the Blood and Water which gushed forth for them (Diary 848).
- Secretary of My mercy, write, tell souls about this great mercy of Mine, because the awful day, the day of My justice, is near (Diary 965).
- Before the Day of Justice I am sending the Day of Mercy (Diary 1588).
If such is the goal of Sister Faustina's entire mission, then it is likewise the goal of the apostolic movement which is to fulfill this mission within the Church and in the world.
Fourthly, the Mother of God also pointed out that this is the goal of Sister Faustina's mission and, at the same time, the goal of the entire apostolic movement of the Divine Mercy. When She appeared to Sister Faustina, She said: I gave the Savior to the world; as for you, you have to speak to the world about His great mercy and prepare the world for the Second Coming of Him (Diary 635). And elsewhere, when addressing Sister Faustina and her companions, she says: Your lives must be like Mine: quiet and hidden, in unceasing union with God, pleading for humanity and preparing the world for the second coming of God (Diary 625)
The four arguments presented above seem to support the thus formulated prospective goal of the movement: You will prepare the world for My final coming (Diary 429).
The defined goal of the Apostolic Movement of the Divine Mercy can be realized by fulfilling the following tasks:
- Renewal of Christian life in the spirit of trust in God and mercy toward one's neighbors,
- proclaiming the mystery of the Divine Mercy,
- imploring the mercy of God for the whole world.
Renewal of Christian Life in the Spirit of Trust and Mercy
My Spirit shall be the rule of your life. Your life is to be modeled on Mine, from the crib to My death on the Cross (Diary 438), said the Lord Jesus addressing all those who would believe in Him and worship His mercy in the sources, that is, the Gospels.
Thus, the Apostolic Movement of the Divine Mercy focuses primarily on:
- imitating Jesus from the crib to His death on the Cross in the spirit of childlike trust toward the heavenly Father
- and in an attitude of mercy toward neighbors, and particularly toward sinners
The Attitude of Trust in God
Trust is the most characteristic feature of the spirituality of the apostles of Divine Mercy.
While instructing Sister Faustina, the Lord Jesus had talked to her on many occasions about trust; He explained to her what trust is and what role it plays in man's life.
Trust is an attitude which Jesus desires from all creatures (Diary 1059),
and particularly from souls striving for perfection who should distinguish themselves by boundless trust in God's mercy (Diary 1578).
The Lord Jesus also wants us to encourage others and lead them onto the path of trust, for no soul will find justification until it turns with confidence to God's mercy (Diary 570), and mankind will not have peace, until it turns to the Fount of His Mercy (Diary 699).
The attitude of trust constitutes man's most appropriate response to the anticipatory operation of the Divine Mercy; it is the very essence of the devotion to the Divine Mercy, for to worship the mercy of God means to trust.
Moreover, it constitutes the foundation of the spirituality in the Apostolic Movement of the Divine Mercy.
For the apostles of the Divine Mercy, who follow in the footsteps of Saint Faustina, striving for trust is
- a duty,
- a fundamental obligation,
- a vessel with which they draw graces, and the shortest way to union with God.
The Attitude of Mercy toward One's Neighbors
Every soul (...) should reflect My mercy (Diary 1148), the Lord Jesus told Sister Faustina, reminding her about the evangelical requirement of showing active love toward every human being, even an enemy.
- This commandment refers particularly to the apostles of the Divine Mercy who are to be a living sign of God's mercy acting in the world.
- The practice of active love toward one's neighbor is the fundamental apostolic task of all those who worship the Divine Mercy.
Proclaiming the Mystery of Divine Mercy
The fundamental form of apostolate in this movement is the exercise of deeds of mercy with respect to one's neighbors out of love of Jesus; every Christian is obliged to this by reason of baptism.
Yet, one cannot stop at this, for Sister Faustina wrote that God demands that there be a Congregation which will proclaim the mercy of God (Diary 436).
On the pages of Sister Faustina's Diary we come across Jesus' insistent calls:
- Tell the whole world about My inconceivable mercy (Diary 699);
- do not tire of proclaiming My mercy (Diary 1521);
- do not be discouraged by the difficulties you encounter in proclaiming My mercy (Diary 1142);
- tell souls about this great mercy of Mine, because the awful day of My justice, is near ( Diary 965).
Let all mankind recognize My unfathomable mercy. It is a sign for the end times; after it will come the day of justice (Diary 848).
For this apostolic task to be effectively fulfilled:
- It must be based on one's personal religious experience.
- It must flow from experiencing the mystery of the Divine Mercy in one's soul.
That is why the Lord Jesus first said:
- “My spirit shall be the rule of your life.
- Your life is to be modeled on Mine, from the crib to My death on the Cross.
- Penetrate My mysteries, and you will know the abyss of My mercy towards creatures and My unfathomable goodness - and this you shall make known to the world.
- Through your prayers, you shall mediate between heaven and earth.” (Diary 438)
At the basis of proclaiming the mystery of Divine Mercy by word is the knowledge of this mystery of our faith.
We should come to know the mystery of God's mercy
- in the work of creation,
- and glory very well and perceive its manifestations in our own life.
So, in order to be an apostle of the Divine Mercy and proclaim it to the world, we have to be aflame with it ourselves and reflect it in our own heart and deeds.
Imploring God's Mercy for the Whole World
God demands that there be a Congregation which will proclaim the mercy of God to the world and, by its prayers, obtain it for the world (Diary 436), we read in Sister Faustina's Diary.
Thus, another task for the apostles of the Divine Mercy is to implore God's mercy for the whole world.
Already at the very beginning, when the Lord Jesus revealed this idea, He said to Sister Faustina: You will reconcile earth with heaven, you will soften the just anger of God, and you will plead for mercy for the world (Diary 531).
The Lord Jesus also wants us to offer prayers and sacrifices particularly for those people who are consecrated to God. I place in your care - He said to Sister Faustina - two pearls very precious to My Heart: these are the souls of priests and religious. You will pray particularly for them; their power will come from your diminishment (Diary 531).
The Lord Jesus also tells us how this should be done.
We are to unite with Him as closely as possible through love and through everything that makes up our everyday life. In this way, we are able to participate in His salvific work.
You will join prayers, fasts, mortifications, labors and all sufferings to My prayer, fasting, mortification, labors and sufferings - the Lord Jesus instructed Sister Faustina - and then they will have power before My Father (Diary 531).
A special role in imploring God's mercy for the world is to be played by suffering. There is but one price at which souls are bought - the Lord Jesus told Sister Faustina - and that is suffering united to My suffering on the cross (Diary 324).
The main emphasis in the Apostolate of Divine Mercy activity is placed on formation, which aims at introducing Faustinum members into the spirituality and apostolic mission of the Congregation in order to prepare the apostles of Divine Mercy to lead independent interior lives and properly understood apostolic work in the spirit of St. Faustina's charisma.
The basic formation program lasts 4 years and consists of 3 cycles:
- The biblical cycle,
- The interior life,
- And the spirituality and mission of Saint Faustina.
Year I covers the foundations relating to:
- The mystery of Divine Mercy,
- The essence of interior life and the means leading
- To its development,
- As well as the spirituality and mission of Saint Faustina
Year II of the formation program focuses on the motto: In the School of Trust.
Year III: The School of Mercy,
Year IV: The School of Man’s Cooperation with Divine Mercy.
The individual topics are prepared on the basis of:
- Sacred Scripture,
- The teaching of the Church,
- And the Diary of St. Faustina.
Besides the monthly conferences and lectures, there is also a Practice exercise relating to the interior life. As they follow in the footsteps of St. Faustina, we suggest to those participating in the formation this Practice which consists in uniting with Jesus dwelling in their souls through a particular exclamatory prayer and for a specific intention relating to the topics discussed during the formation program. The Practice also includes literature which supplements the topics discussed during the conferences.
At present in the Faustinum Association, there are persons from over 50 countries in the world. The secretariat main office and Board of the Association is located at the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Krakow.
The Lay Institute of Divine Mercy
The Lay Institute of Divine Mercy is one of the most active Apostolate of Divine Mercy. The Institute was establish in Poland as the continuation of the research and study initiated by Fr. Michal Sopocko and has been in existence since 2002 in the USA, Russia and other Countries. The principal aim of the Lay Institute of Divine Mercy is to evangelize to make the Church a sign of the saving presence of God in the World, to strive for Christian perfection through trust in God and showing mercy towards one's neighbors, to get to know and proclaim the mystery of God's mercy, to support Catholic Missions around the world and to entreat God's mercy for the whole world. The Lay Institute together with the Publishing Office “Wybor” publishes the magazines “Czas Milosierdzia”, monthly in polish language and “Time of Mercy”, quarterly in English language. In the series of the Library of Mercy the Institute published dozens of books from authors such as Archbishop Edward Ozorowski and the most valuable book of God’s Servant Fr. Michael Sopocko entitled “Bo na wieki Milosierdzie Jego” (“For His Mercy Endures Forever”).
Today, there is probably no country in the world where the image of the Merciful Jesus is not known. The chaplet to Divine Mercy is said even in various African dialects; Since the year 2000, the first Sunday after Easter is being officially celebrated as the Divine Mercy Sunday in the entire Church;
While the practice of prayer at the Hour of Mercy, that is, at the time of Jesus' death on the Cross (3 p.m.) is gaining ever greater popularity.
In all those places where the devotion to Divine Mercy is being practiced, the tasks of the Apostolic Movement of the Divine Mercy are being undertaken to a greater or lesser degree.
Today this Movement is made up of millions of people with different vocations. It includes people living behind papal enclosures, in active male and female congregations, or in secular institutes, and it involves diocesan priests and lay persons as well.