“I protect souls that spread the worship of My Mercy throughout their lives, as a loving mother protects her baby; and at the hour of their death I shall not be a Judge unto them, but their merciful Saviour” (Diary 1075). This is what the Lord Jesus promised to everyone who will proclaim His Mercy, spread its honour in any way. Priests can rejoice at His additional promise: “Hardened sinners will experience contrition and repent at their words when they preach on My infinite mercy, on the compassion I have in My heart for sinners. I shall endow those priests who preach and glorify My mercy with a singular power, I shall invest their words with special authority, and I shall move the hearts of those to whom they preach” (Diary 1521). These promises show how important it is to spread the honour of the Divine Mercy since Jesus promises His maternal care, during the lifetime and at the hour of death, to everyone who will undertake this task. Therefore, apart from the Image, Feast, Chaplet and Hour of Mercy, spreading honour of the Divine Mercy is also a form of the Devotion, because Jesus also attached promises to it and the promises pertain to all people.
Spreading honour of the Mercy, that is, proclaiming the mystery of the Divine Mercy, most fully revealed in the crucified and risen Christ, by the testimony of life, deeds, words and prayer is not only to show the road to a beautiful and happy life on earth but also, and maybe first of all, it is to serve the work of salvation and sanctification of the world as well as it is to prepare humanity for Christ’s second coming to earth: The Lord Jesus said to Sister Faustina: “Secretary of My mercy, write of this, and tell souls about My great mercy, for the terrible day, the day of My justice is close at hand” (Diary 965). “Do not stop preaching My mercy” (Diary 1521). “Tell the whole world of My unfathomable mercy” (Diary 699). “Let all mankind learn of My unfathomable mercy. It is the sign for the end times; after that will come the day of justice” (Diary 848). “Write this down: Before I come as the just Judge, I shall first fling wide open the door of My mercy. Whoever does not want to pass through the door of My mercy must pass through the door of My justice…” (Diary 1146). Therefore, the Lord Jesus’ urgent call directed to Sister Faustina and, through her, to the entire Church and the whole world, can be found so many times in the 'Diary’.
The task of preaching the message of Mercy arises from the gift recei- ved as early as during the Sacrament of Holy Baptism. It is also a right and duty of the Church and, thus, of all the faithful. In 2002 Holy Father John Paul II said in Błonia Park in Cracow: „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”.
1. Coming to know the mystery of the Divine Mercy
In order to preach God’s merciful love and make it present in the world in various manners (by the way we live, by deed, word and prayer), first of all, it is necessary to come to know this most beautiful mystery of our faith – by reading the Bible – and it is essential to search for signs of this love in our life and in the world continuously. This is what Sister Faustina did. Obeying the monastic rule, first she pondered on God’s goodness in the work of creation, salvation, in the Holy Church, in the word of God and in the sacraments, in man’s vocation to union with God already on earth and throughout eternity… Every day, in everything that happened, she tried to see the loving hand of God. Coming to know the mystery of the Divine Mercy in this way led her to the conclusion that in man’s life everything that is good comes from God and is a gift of His merciful love. In the 'Diary’ she wrote: “Your mercy is like a golden thread that passes through the whole of our lives and keeps our very existence in contact with God in the right way, for God does not need anything to be happy; so it’s all just thanks to His mercy. My senses are numbed with joy whenever God gives me a deeper insight into that great attribute of His, His unfathomed mercy” (Diary 1466). She came to know the Divine Mercy by means of her natural powers of intellect and will, which God strengthened by the gift of contemplation. Thanks to this, she was able to penetrate the mystery extremely deeply – in order to proclaim it to the world successfully.
As Sister Faustina’s testimony of life shows, intellectual knowledge of this truth of faith does not suffice to preach about the mystery of the Divine Mercy to the world effectively – it is necessary to live on this truth every day. Therefore, while teaching Sister Faustina, many times the Lord Jesus encouraged her not only to meditate on His merciful love and goodness, but also, above all, to imitate His merciful attitude towards people. He said: “My daughter, look upon My merciful Heart and reflect its compassion in your own heart and deeds, so that it may be ablaze in you, who are spreading word of My mercy to the world” (Diary 1688). Obedient to Jesus’ words, she wanted to be completely transformed into Mercy and be its living reflection. “Each of Your saints reflects one of Your virtues in himself – she wrote – I want to reflect Your Heart, full of compassion and mercy, I want to sing Its praise. Let Your mercy be impressed like a seal on my heart and soul, O Jesus, and that shall be my badge in this life and in the life to come. To sing the praise of Your mercy is the exclusive task of my life” (Diary 1242).
2. Preaching the message of mercy
Above all, Sister Faustina spread the honour of the Mercy by the testimony of her life in the spirit of trust in God and mercy towards neighbour. Solicitude for growing in this spirit every day requires that we work on ourselves properly, nurture our spiritual life, make efforts to fulfil the will of God faithfully and do good to neighbour at every opportunity. A person who trusts God (fulfils His will) and performs acts of mercy is a living image of the Divine Mercy because everyone who looks at this sign knows that God is good, that it is worth trusting Him and imitating His merciful love for people. Being merciful towards neighbour, whether a matter is of little or great importance, is a sign that is especially powerful. This is the strongest argument by means of which the honour of the Divine Mercy is preached successfully. The testimony of one’s life in this spirit is the first, fundamental way of spreading honour of the Divine Mercy.
However, the testimony of one’s life only does not suffice. What is necessary is also to proclaim the Divine Mercy by word. Sister Faustina took every opportunity to speak about God’s goodness and to encourage people to trust Him whenever she was with them. She preached the Divine Mercy message not only by the spoken word but also by writing. At the Lord Jesus’ command she kept her diary in which she wrote down mighty works of God which He had done in her life and in the world. By means of her 'Diary’ she has been telling the world about the Divine Mercy mystery: how good God is, how much He cares about man, his earthly and eternal happiness; she has been calling us to trust God’s mercy and to live in the spirit of mercy.
The task of proclaiming the Divine Mercy by word is usually associated with 'public’ works: it is associated with a sermon, religious instruction at school, radio or TV broadcasts, books, press articles etc. However, most frequently we have opportunities to do that in the daily life, when we meet, speak with a person. We proclaim the Divine Mercy whenever, like Sister Faustina, we try to discern God’s goodness when we converse with someone or interpret facts and events. We do that whenever we can see everyday situations in the light of faith – when we can discern God’s loving hand in them, even in painful trials and great suffering. Such an apostolate – in the daily life – bears great fruit.
Prayer, especially the forms of the Devotion to the Divine Mercy, which Jesus conveyed by Sister Faustina, is another manner of spreading honour of the Divine Mercy. Every day we can worship God in the mystery of His mercy, spread His honour and entreat mercy for the world by taking part in the Liturgy of the Church, by personal veneration of the Image of the Merciful Jesus, by saying the Chaplet or praying at the Hour of Mercy.
The Lord Jesus also says how this task can be carried out in the daily life. He told Sister Faustina: “You shall unite your prayers, fasts, mortifications, works, and all your sufferings with My prayer, fasting, mortifications, work, and suffering; then they will be powerful in the eyes of My Father” (Diary 531). Suffering plays a special role in entreating God’s mercy. The Lord Jesus told her: “There is one price to pay for souls – and that is suffering united with My suffering on the cross” (Diary 324). “Every conversion of a sinful soul calls for a sacrifice” (Diary 961). He asked: “I need your suffering for the salvation of souls” (Diary 1612). “O My daughter, help Me save souls. Unite your suffering with My Passion and offer it up to the Heavenly Father for sinners” (Diary 1032). He told her that she would save more souls through prayer and suffering than would a missionary through his teachings and sermons alone (cf. Diary 1767).
Sister Faustina and everyone who accepts the Divine Mercy message should entreat for graces first of all for sinners, since they are the poorest and need God’s mercy most. Therefore, the Lord Jesus frequently asked her to pray for them. He said: “Pray for such people as well, that they too might worship My mercy” (Diary 1160) and, some other time: “The loss of every soul fills Me with mortal sadness. You always bring Me comfort whenever you pray for sinners. The prayers I find most pleasing are prayers for the conversion of sinful souls; know, O My daughter, that such prayers are always heard” (Diary 1397), because it is compatible with God’s will. What the Lord God desires most is the salvation of all people because He has created everyone out of love, Jesus laid down His life for all people and He wants to be with everyone in the Father’s house for ever.
The second group of those privileged as regards the prayer of apostles of the Divine Mercy comprises priests and religious, thus those who lead the People of God along the roads of salvation and who are in the first front line of the battle for souls. They also need to be helped by prayer a lot. The Lord Jesus said to Sister Faustina: “I entrust to your care two pearls that are precious to my Heart, that is the souls of priests and the souls of religious; you shall pray especially for them; their strength will come from your immolation” (Diary 531).
In Saint Faustina’s 'Diary’ the Lord Jesus asks to pray for the dying. “Pray that they may put their trust in My mercy – He said – for they are the ones most in need of trustfulness, but have it least of all. Know that for some souls the grace of eternal salvation will depend at their last moment on your prayers” (Diary 1777). He also told Sister Faustina to enter often into purgatory, because she was needed there (cf. Diary1738), thus, He ordered her to pray for the dead, to be merciful towards them – by means of prayer and sacrifice. Although the Lord Jesus does not mention other groups of people, He commands her to pray for everyone because He speaks about entreating God’s mercy for the whole world.
„A no time – wrote Holy Father John Paul II – and in no historical period – especially at a moment as critical as our own – can the Church forget 'the prayer that is a cry for the mercy of God’ amid the many forms of evil which weigh upon humanity and threaten it. Precisely this is the fundamental right and duty of the Church in Christ Jesus” (Dives in Misericordia 15)
3. Proclaim the Divine Mercy correctly
What is essential for spreading honour of the Mercy is to preach the message correctly, which also requires solicitude for the purity of the Divine Mercy devotion in the forms conveyed by Sister Faustina. It is known that nowadays the Divine Mercy devotion is very popular. Therefore, many publications that have appeared on the shelves spread the Divine Mercy devotion in a way that is oversimplified and often incorrect, which, as a result, leads to an incorrect practice of the devotion.
In his treatise on Sister Faustina’s writings which was prepared for the needs of her beatification process, the Rev. Professor Ignacy Różycki laid the theological foundations for this devotion. An abridged version of the treatise has been published in the booklet entitled: 'The Divine Mercy. Essential Features of The Devotion to The Divine Mercy’ whereas the whole text – in the book: 'The Devotion to the Divine Mercy’ (’Misericordia’ Publishing House, Cracow 1999, second edition – 2008). In the light of the treatise, the attitude of trust in the Lord God (that is, the biblical attitude of trust) and the attitude of mercy towards neighbours are the essence of the Divine Mercy devotion. Only this foundation is the basis of the forms of the devotion: the Image of the Merciful Jesus, the Feast of the Divine Mercy, the Chaplet to the Divine Mercy, the Hour of Mercy and spreading honour of the Divine Mercy. The Lord Jesus attached promises to these forms of the devotion to the Divine Mercy which pertain to everyone (not only to Sister Faustina; for example, as regards the act 'O Blood and Water’ or the 'Novena to the Divine Mercy’ He attached some promises only to her). If there is no foundation, that is, if one’s Christian life is not shaped in the spirit of trust in God and mercy towards neighbour, none of the forms will be a true act of the Devotion and no desired results will be obtained by means of it. „Therefore – writes Rev. I. Różycki – for instance, if someone says the Chaplet to the Divine Mercy, however, he does it without trust, he will not receive anything that Jesus has attached to the Chaplet said with trust„.
As regards spreading and practising the Devotion to the Divine Mercy, the most frequent mistakes result from the fact that only excerpts from the 'Diary’, analysed out of context, are disseminated and also from the fact that the devotion is practised incorrectly.
Certain sentences are taken out of the 'Diary’ and disseminated, however, the entire work is not analysed and a sentence (statement) is considered an axiom or the entire truth about something. Examples:
„I desire that there be a congregation which will proclaim God’s mercy and, by its prayers, obtain it for the world.” Someone who has read this sentence thinks that the Lord Jesus wants a concrete religious congregation to be founded, a congregation which will undertake certain tasks. However, the analysis of the entire 'Diary’ shows that the Lord Jesus does not mean one congregation but a great work in the Church which today we call the Apostolic Movement of the Divine Mercy (cf. Diary 1155).
„The soul that will venerate this image will not perish” (or other promises quoted without the conditions). This promise as well as other promises of the Lord Jesus will be fulfilled if man meets certain conditions and, as regards the Devotion to the Divine Mercy, the conditions are the following: trust in the Lord God and the attitude of an active love towards neighbours. „The soul that will venerate this image” … that is, the soul who prays with trust before it and also performs acts of mercy; it is not a person who, for instance, has the image in the wallet.
What is a frequent mistake is that the forms of the Devotion to the Divine Mercy, for instance the Chaplet, Novena or Litany, are propagated, however the essence of the Devotion to the Divine Mercy is not explained and the privileged forms of the Devotion are not differentiated from other prayers noted down in Sister Faustina’s 'Diary’.The other group of mistakes has its origins in the incorrect practice of the Devotion to the Divine Mercy. Most frequently:
The faithful are not inculcated with the Christian attitude of trust in God and mercy towards neighbours but they are taught devotions only, for instance – to say the Chaplet,
Some of the words are added or omitted when the Chaplet to the Divine Mercy is said,
Private revelations and devotions are combined,
Sister Faustina’s mission is analysed without taking the Holy Scripture into consideration.
The message of Mercy, on which we are to live and which we are to share with others, is God’s great gift for our times. This gift is a sign of hope, pledge of salvation and light on human paths in the third millennium of the faith. Therefore, those who spread this message need to do this very humbly and in accordance with Jesus’ plan. As Holy Father Benedict XVI said: „This message really is a central message precisely for our time: Mercy as God’s power, as a divine barrier against the evil of the world”. Therefore, there is a great need to share this gift as well as possible and very generously.
Sr M. Elisabeth Siepak ISMM
Translated by Iwona Franceschini